Poetry Sunday: Song of Myself, 3 by Walt Whitman

The only time I've featured a poem by Walt Whitman here was way back in 2013 with "I Hear America Singing." Time to rectify that.

In this one, Whitman sings of himself. He celebrates the body and he celebrates it, as he did most things, with passion. He accepts and approves of every "organ and attribute" of that body; "Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile."

How much less anguish there would be in the world if we could all be so accepting of our bodies.

Song of Myself, 3

by Walt Whitman, 1819 -1892
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.

Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.

To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well entretied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery here we stand.

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.

Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen,
Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean,
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest.

I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing;
As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread.
Leaving me baskets cover’d with white towels swelling the house with their plenty,
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my eyes,
That they turn from gazing after and down the road,
And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent,
Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and which is ahead?

Comments

  1. I have not gotten into this poet ever before. Guess I will have to take a closer look. Are there a 1 and a 2 to Song of Myself?

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    Replies
    1. There are actually 52 parts to his "Song"! He was a man of many words and many passions - a very interesting poet. I don't know if he is as much studied today as he once was, but he still seems relevant in the 21st century.

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  2. Back in my high school lit days, we analyzed a poem by Walt Whitman and I disliked it. I haven't tried to re-acquaint with his works in the interim years. Maybe feature more of him, and I'll try to rectify that omission on my own as well. :-) Nice poem. Things make more sense as one is growing older. :-)

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    Replies
    1. One of the compensations of aging is that it does confer a certain amount of wisdom and perspective which helps us to see things more clearly perhaps.

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