An excerpt from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself:
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.
I resist any thing better than my own diversity,
Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.
(Full poem available at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45477/song-of-myself-1892-version.)
We just celebrated the 200th anniversary of Uncle Walt’s birth. The Atlantic recently had an excellent article about the importance of Whitman to the discovery of the US spirit:
What America lacked was what [Ralph Waldo] Emerson called for: an evocation of what being a democratic man or woman felt like at its best, day to day, moment to moment. We had a mind, the mind created by Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders, but we did not know our own best spirit
That was supplied, per Mark Edmunson (and I agree), by Whitman.
Do you have a favorite Whitman poem? Share it in the comments.
Image of Whitman found here.
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