Song of Myself

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d’oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depressed head surpasses any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels,
And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer’s girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and baking shortcake.
— from “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman, 1855

So many parts of this famous long poem cause me to wince and read even faster so as to get past the uncomfortable part. Even the fast pace of the poem is somewhat offending to my poetic ideals of taking time to savor each word in a poem. And yet, I can’t deny Whitman’s genius (neither can he!). He may not be humble. He may not be careful. He may be long-winded and wild and drafty. But still, he excites. His words tumble and roll along the page like thoughts and feelings inside his head. His images are clear and grand. And he loves nature as much as he loves himself. I would like to find out someday that running blackberry really does adorn the parlors of heaven.


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