Sunday, April 14, 2013

Poem #8: Song of Myself

Well, not the whole thing, obviously. But one of my favorite sections. My very favorite lines are at the very end of this section.

 from Song of Myself  46  
Walt Whitman

I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured, and never will be measured.

I tramp a perpetual journey—(come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods;
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair;
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy;
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, or exchange;
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents, and a plain public road.

Not I—not any one else, can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far—it is within reach;
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know;
Perhaps it is every where on water and on land.

Shoulder your duds, dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.

If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me;
For after we start, we never lie by again.

This day before dawn I ascended a hill, and look’d at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my Spirit, When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of everything in them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then?
And my Spirit said, No, we but level that life, to pass and continue beyond.

You are also asking me questions, and I hear you;
I answer that I cannot answer—you must find out for yourself.

Sit a while, dear son;
Here are biscuits to eat, and here is milk to drink;
But as soon as you sleep, and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-bye kiss, and open the gate for your egress hence.

Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams;
Now I wash the gum from your eyes;
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light, and of every moment of your life.

Long have you timidly waded, holding a plank by the shore;
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, 

    and laughingly dash with your hair.

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