Thoughts

Walt Whitman

 
1.
OF the visages of things—And of piercing through to the accepted hells beneath;
Of ugliness—To me there is just as much in it as there is in beauty—And now the ugliness of
         human beings is acceptable to me;
Of detected persons—To me, detected persons are not, in any respect, worse than undetected per-
         sons—and are not in any respect worse than I am myself;
Of criminals—To me, any judge, or any juror, is equally criminal—and any reputable person is
         also—and the President is also.
2.
OF waters, forests, hills;
Of the earth at large, whispering through medium of me;
Of vista—Suppose some sight in arriere, through the formative chaos, presuming the growth, fulness,
         life, now attain'd on the journey;
(But I see the road continued, and the journey ever continued;)
Of what was once lacking on earth, and in due time has become supplied—And of what will yet be supplied,
Because all I see and know, I believe to have purport in what will yet be supplied.
3.
OF persons arrived at high positions, ceremonies, wealth, scholarships, and the like;
To me, all that those persons have arrived at, sinks away from them, except as it results to their     
         Bodies and Souls,
So that often to me they appear gaunt and naked;
And often, to me, each one mocks the others, and mocks himself or herself,
And of each one, the core of life, namely happiness, is full of the rotten excrement of maggots,
And often, to me, those men and women pass unwittingly the true realities of life, and go toward
         false realities,
And often, to me, they are alive after what custom has served them, but nothing more,
And often, to me, they are sad, hasty, unwaked sonnambules, walking the dusk.
4.
OF ownership—As if one fit to own things could not at pleasure enter upon all, and incorporate
         them into himself or herself;
Of Equality—As if it harm'd me, giving others the same chances and rights as myself—As if it
         were not indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same;
Of Justice—As if Justice could be anything but the same ample law, expounded by natural judges
         and saviors,
As if it might be this thing or that thing, according to decisions.
5.
As I sit with others, at a great feast, suddenly, while the music is playing,
To my mind, (whence it comes I know not,) spectral, in mist, of a wreck at sea,
Of the flower of the marine science of fifty generations, founder'd off the Northeast coast, and going
         down—Of the steamship Arctic going down,
Of the veil'd tableau—Women gather'd together on deck, pale, heroic, waiting the moment that
         draws so close—O the moment!
O the huge sob—A few bubbles—the white foam spirting up—And then the women gone,
Sinking there, while the passionless wet flows on— And I now pondering, Are those women indeed
         gone?
Are Souls drown'd and destroy'd so?
Is only matter triumphant?
6.
OF what I write from myself—As if that were not the resumé;
Of Histories—As if such, however complete, were not less complete than my poems;
As if the shreds, the records of nations, could possibly be as lasting as my poems;
As if here were not the amount of all nations, and of all the lives of heroes.
7.
OF obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something profoundly affecting in large masses of men,
         following the lead of those who do not believe in men.
 

Poems by This Author

A child said, What is the grass? by Walt Whitman
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
A Clear Midnight by Walt Whitman
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman
A noiseless patient spider
A Woman Waits for Me by Walt Whitman
A woman waits for me, she contains all, nothing is lacking,
America by Walt Whitman
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
Among the Multitude by Walt Whitman
Among the men and women, the multitude
As I Walk These Broad Majestic Days by Walt Whitman
As I walk these broad majestic days of peace
Calamus [In Paths Untrodden] by Walt Whitman
In paths untrodden
Come Up From the Fields Father by Walt Whitman
Come up from the fields father, here's a letter from our Pete,
Come, said my Soul by Walt Whitman
Come, said my Soul
Continuities by Walt Whitman
Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman
Flood-tide below me! I watch you face to face
Delicate Cluster by Walt Whitman
Delicate cluster! flag of teeming life
Election Day, November, 1884 by Walt Whitman
If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show
Excelsior by Walt Whitman
Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther,
I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
I Sing the Body Electric by Walt Whitman
I sing the body electric,
Mannahatta by Walt Whitman
I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city
Miracles by Walt Whitman
Why, who makes much of a miracle
O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The
O Me! O Life! by Walt Whitman
On the Beach at Night Alone by Walt Whitman
On the beach at night alone
Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking by Walt Whitman
Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out of the Rolling Ocean, the Crowd by Walt Whitman
Out of the rolling ocean, the crowd, came a drop gently to me
Passage to India by Walt Whitman
Singing my days
So Long by Walt Whitman
To conclude—I announce what comes after me
Sometimes with One I Love by Walt Whitman
Sometimes with one I love I fill myself with rage for fear I
Song of Myself, I, II, VI & LII by Walt Whitman
I celebrate myself,
Song of Myself, III by Walt Whitman
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end
Song of Myself, X by Walt Whitman
Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt,
Song of Myself, XI by Walt Whitman
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore
Spirit that Form'd this Scene by Walt Whitman
Spirit that form'd this scene,
Spontaneous Me by Walt Whitman
Spontaneous me, Nature
The Indications [excerpt] by Walt Whitman
The words of the true poems give you more than poems
The Sleepers by Walt Whitman
I wander all night in my vision
The Untold Want by Walt Whitman
The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted
The Wound-Dresser by Walt Whitman
An old man bending I come among new faces
This Compost by Walt Whitman
Something startles me where I thought I was safest
To a Locomotive in Winter by Walt Whitman
Thee for my recitative!
To Think of Time by Walt Whitman
To think of time—of all that retrospection
To You by Walt Whitman
Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
Unfolded Out of the Folds by Walt Whitman
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman, man comes unfolded, and is always to come unfolded
Washington's Monument, February, 1885 by Walt Whitman
Ah, not this marble, dead and cold
When I Heard at the Close of Day by Walt Whitman
When I heard at the close of the day how my name had been receiv'd
When I Heard the Learned Astronomer by Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd by Walt Whitman
When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd
Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand by Walt Whitman
Whoever you are, holding me now in hand
World Below the Brine by Walt Whitman
The world below the brine


Further Reading

Poems about Living
"I'm afraid of death"
by Kathleen Ossip
A Toast
by Ilya Kaminsky
Another Elegy
by Jericho Brown
Ashes of Life
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
August, 1953
by David Wojahn
bonne chance de lycee
by Buck Downs
C'est La Guerre
by Danniel Schoonebeek
Characteristics of Life
by Camille T. Dungy
Corpse Flower, Luna Moth
by Daniel Tobin
Costumes Exchanging Glances
by Mary Jo Bang
Daily Life
by Susan Wood
Difficult Body
by Mark Wunderlich
Elegy in Joy [excerpt]
by Muriel Rukeyser
En Route
by Darcie Dennigan
far memory
by Lucille Clifton
First Things to Hand
by Robert Pinsky
Flowers of Rad
by Sampson Starkweather
Forth Into View, Random Warriors
by Pattiann Rogers
from Oracles for Youth
by Caroline Gilman
from Two Inch Fables
by Marilyn Chin
Frozen
by Natasha Head
How to Uproot a Tree
by Jennifer K. Sweeney
I could suffice for Him, I knew (643)
by Emily Dickinson
I Have a Rendezvous With Life
by Countee Cullen
I Know A Few Things
by Stuart Dischell
In a Landscape: IV
by John Gallaher
In Betweenness
by Pierre Joris
Insomnia
by Alicia Suskin Ostriker
Life
by Joe Brainard
Life is Fine
by Langston Hughes
Little Night Prayer
by Péter Kántor
Living in Numbers
by Claire Lee
Lost and Found
by Ron Padgett
Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus [excerpt]
by Denise Levertov
Meaning
by Carl Dennis
Meditation 29
by Philip Pain
Montparnasse
by Ernest Hemingway
My Teacup
by Alli Warren
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
On Living
by Nazim Hikmet
On the Gallows Once
by Kofi Awoonor
One Train May Hide Another
by Kenneth Koch
Past Inclemency & Present Warmth
by Eryn Green
Poem Excluding Fiction
by Noah Falck
Preparation
by Effie Waller Smith
Primitive State [excerpt]
by Anselm Berrigan
Roar Shack
by Alice Fulton
Samurai Song
by Robert Pinsky
Song for Future Books
by Joanna Fuhrman
Songs of a Girl
by Mary Carolyn Davies
Sonnet
by Bill Knott
Spent
by Mark Doty
sugar is smoking
by Jason Schneiderman
Summer in Winter in Summer
by Noah Eli Gordon
Tear It Down
by Jack Gilbert
The Clouded Morning
by Jones Very
The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz
The Life So Short...
by Eamon Grennan
The Old Stoic
by Emily Brontë
The Pain
by Laura Kasischke
The Secret
by Denise Levertov
This is My Life
by William Stanley Braithwaite
Thrown as if Fierce & Wild
by Dean Young
Variation on a Theme
by W. S. Merwin
Virgil's Hand
by Francesc Parcerisas
What the Living Do
by Marie Howe
What Wild-Eyed Murderer
by Peter Meinke
What's Left (Al-Mutanabbi Street)
by Katrina Roberts
Where I Live
by Maxine Kumin
won't you celebrate with me
by Lucille Clifton
Yellow Beak
by Stephen Dobyns
[I'm not with my]
by Joshua Beckman
Politics and Patriotism
Howl, Parts I & II
by Allen Ginsberg
America
by Robert Creeley
America
by James Monroe Whitfield
America
by Claude McKay
American History
by Michael S. Harper
American Names
by Stephen Vincent Benét
Bomb Crater Sky
by Lam Thi My Da
Dear George Bush
by Kristin Prevallet
December 2, 2002
by Juliana Spahr
Delicate Cluster
by Walt Whitman
Dolphinating
by Juan Felipe Herrera
Election Day, November, 1884
by Walt Whitman
Election Year
by Donald Revell
Exquisite Candidate
by Denise Duhamel
Exquisite Politics
by Denise Duhamel
Fellini in Purgatory
by Jean Valentine
Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind
by Carl Sandburg
How We Did It
by Muriel Rukeyser
I, Too, Sing America
by Langston Hughes
In a Country
by Larry Levis
it: a user’s guide
by Evie Shockley
Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes
Modern Declaration
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds
by Eleanor Lerman
Patriotics
by David Baker
Praise Song for the Day
by Elizabeth Alexander
Thanksgiving Letter from Harry
by Carl Dennis
The Condoleezza Suite [Excerpt]
by Nikky Finney
The Throats of Guantánamo
by Katie Ford
To Roosevelt
by Rubén Darío
Poems about the Mind and Thinking
Experiment in Divination: Voice and Character
by Rebecca Wolff
From Trance Notebook #2 [nerdy questions about exact pitch]
by Wayne Koestenbaum
Intention to Escape from Him
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
It was a hard thing to undo this knot
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Joseph Brodsky in Venice (1981)
by Campbell McGrath
Museum Guard
by David Hernandez
Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow
by Robert Duncan
Panels for the Walls
by Cedar Sigo
Tang
by Bruce Cohen
The Long Hand Wishes It Was Used
by Jackie Clark
The Needle
by Jennifer Grotz
The Whole World Is Gone
by Jennifer Grotz
Why I Am Not a Buddhist
by Charles Bernstein