“Song of Myself”, who wrote that? Can you send me a link if it’s on the internet?
DHBogucki
11

Oh, are you kidding?!!! Can I actually be the first person to ever introduce you to Walt Whitman? Well, here it is, and there is lots more, if you like it. This is more wonderful than I can say, and I am so happy right now!

It was stanza 52 which your poem and photo instantly brought to mind, but please read the rest …

Also, here is my “close reading” of some of the stanzas (for a poetry MOOC), which might be of interest to you.

My spontaneous, unrevised notes written during an intense reading of the assigned sections of Song of Myself, prior to listening to the video discussions or reading any of the Whitman forums. This seems to me to be the best way to respond viscerally to the poetry itself, rather than merely reacting to others’ ideas, which may be wonderful, but wouldn’t be mine. Anyway, preface aside, here we go.

[My] Song of Myself

(1) Here I am, and you’re coming with me; you are me.

At rest and expectant, I am able to meditate. Of this place to the 5th generation, I’m beginning to really live my life. The training was adequate, but thankfully it’s over, although the influences remain. Now I’m on my own, able to speak and do as I please — free at last, free at last.

(2) Familiar places and their scents carry all of my memories, and also contain the danger of living in the past. I’ll remain away and out, where no such remembrance is invoked, and I am able to merge with nature. Cold air, and my breath is visible, waves upon inner and outer space, my very breath and being become the scent of what surrounds me, and we merge and join. My most careless and casual utterances are caught by nature and spread, becoming physical; the touching, the yin/yang of light and dark, solitude and company, high and low landscapes. I am young and fully alive and “loaded for bear.” Bring it on. What do you really know for yourself, that isn’t second hand? Do you even know what you know? Stick with me, buddy, and I’ll give you the meaning of life, take you on a trip of no return, from illusion to your own clarity, of understanding and knowing for sure. It is work.

(3) Infinity is real and actual. The “talking heads” are trapped in their own misconceptions, squared. The crystaline structure of infinity is real and actual. In the beginning was the word. The big bang was, and is still happening. The only choice is to carry on. It is what it is, and has nothing to do with thought or talking. I’m sure I’m right. Well formed, well made, and true. I speak from innocence and I testify with clean hands. The wheel turns without ceasing. Go right ahead and debate amongst yourselves, while I do something meaningful and necessary. Everything I am is worthy, as are the body and soul of every human who rejects deceit and disease. Happy, fulfilled by this knowledge, should I foolishly reject it, and move on to meaningless pastimes or tasks?

(5) I trust myself in whole, and the foolish struggle between parts should end now. I do not need further instruction from any source, other than my soul’s inner voice. I remember how we were, how we melded, how our souls were one. And I know the ecstasy caused by the presence of angels, and the oneness of all life in all its forms. What binds creation and holds it fast is love; creation and its creatures are infinite, and each has its own nature, worth, and soul.

(6) Who, me? With answers? The Green Man of Celtic May, forever verdant; a message of love and desire and spirit? The fecundity of the soul? Maybe it just is what it is, after all. A reminder and a message available to all, not restricted to the language of predilection. Or, life unending, to be loved by those left behind to grieve, and to cherish. Too disparate to describe or categorize, what is the message? I cannot express the thing I know, the truths I understand to be valued; there is no such thing as death of spirit or soul. A spiral within a circle within a star of light, which explodes. Amen.

(8) Innocent life gets ugly, and I try to do my best, yet babe and mother disappear beyond my comfort. Death engages her victims; I try to pay attention. The police and mob machine engage while I dumbly observe. All the scents and sounds and movement add to whatever the crow remembers and ultimately reports. The whole spectacle of love and hate and violence happens forever around me, and life goes on no matter what I do or not do. There is no resolution, except acknowledgment and rejection. At the end, it doesn’t matter what I feel, think or say.

(10) The perfect bliss of the lone man with his favorite dog and comfortable gun, not seriously trying to murder, but rather finding the meat necessary to survive the coming winter. The ritual of survival.

Out of the woods and back to the sea, I am equally happy. Good freshly harvested seafood and loyal friends around the fire. Who could ask for more?

An elegant ceremony of joining together in love and convenience, common in my time and place — Romeo and Juliet of the wilds, their families long since resigned to inevitability, comfortable with the new order of things.

I’m well aware of the danger to me arising from the new law — The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, billed by the politicians as a “compromise” to the already harsh 1793 Act, but in reality much, much worse in effect — fines, prison, possible death for all those involved, free or not. But, duty and conscience demand that I protect my fellow man, and so I do what I can to heal him, feed him, clothe him, shelter him, and send him on to possible freedom — understanding that I am endangering my own freedom by doing so.

(14) I hear the message of the goose who mates for life, and I don’t take it lightly at all, but with the solemnity of a winged prayer. All the creatures speak to me and share their secrets, which are my own secrets. My umbilical connection with the natural world enfolds me and cannot be undone or expressed in words. I don’t want any walls — I would rather join the men who do the real labor inherent in life-building. I am the one most easily replaced, posturing, attempting seduction, throwing away my good fortune in vain attempts at acceptance.

(47) All that I can do is try to show the path to places I’ve not yet been. Take chances, and do what you love — the safe and sane and careful will take you nowhere. I write to be read and re-read until finally understood. And I’ll drive you crazy to get there, trying to explain the oneness and wholeness is not an idle occupation. Things that matter most are those which need protection from casual consideration. Thinking and reading doesn’t work. The Zen Master says “fetch wood, carry water.” Children know this to be true, and pedants do not. I am one with those who learn through their hands and senses. Those who know enough to seek me are those who are ready for the message. I speak to all who seek, that they may know and carry on the important work.

(52) I made the mistake of walking through the nesting trees in Spring, but I am wild, as well, and equally fierce. Twilight is magical and powerful — the Shaman speaks to and through me. I become ether and ethereal, floating, flying. I give myself back to gravity and compost. You may not recognize me, but I am here for you always. Giving up is not an option, and failure is not a possibility in this university of the soul.

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