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Visit Home Events Exhibitions Library. Newsletter Subscribe Give. Poetry Foundation. Back to Previous. Song of Myself version. By Walt Whitman. For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,. I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,.

Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,. I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,. Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes,. I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,.

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The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it. The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless,. It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,. I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,. My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs,. A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,. The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,.

The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides,. The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun. Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems? Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,. You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, there are millions of suns left,.

You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,. You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,. You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self. 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. 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. Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well entretied, braced in the beams,.

Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,. 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.

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,. 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? People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation,. The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,.

My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,. The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,. The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,. Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events;. These come to me days and nights and go from me again,. Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,. Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,. Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,. Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,.

Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it. Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,. I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait. I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to you,. Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,. Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best,. I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,.

And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,. Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth,. And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,. And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,. And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,. And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,. And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,.

A child said What is the grass? How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,. A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,. Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation. And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,. And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves. It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,.

It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,. This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,. Darker than the colorless beards of old men,. Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths. O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,. And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing. I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,.

And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps. What do you think has become of the young and old men? And what do you think has become of the women and children? The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,. And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,. And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier. I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it. And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good,. The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good. I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,. I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself,.

They do not know how immortal, but I know. Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,. For me those that have been boys and that love women,. For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted,. For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the mothers of mothers,. For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,.

For me children and the begetters of children. I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,. And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away. I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand. The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill,. The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom,.

I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol has fallen.


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The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of the promenaders,. The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the granite floor,. The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-balls,. The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall,.

The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his passage to the centre of the crowd,. The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes,. What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and give birth to babes,. Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips,. I mind them or the show or resonance of them—I come and I depart. The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready,. The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon,.

The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged,. I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other,. I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and timothy,. And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps. Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt,. Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee,. In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night,. The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails, she cuts the sparkle and scud,. My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from the deck.

The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me,. You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle. I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west, the bride was a red girl,. Her father and his friends sat near cross-legged and dumbly smoking, they had moccasins to their feet and large thick blankets hanging from their shoulders,.

On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins, his luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck, he held his bride by the hand,. The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside,. I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,. Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and weak,. And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him,.

And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,. And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;. Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;. Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome. She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,. She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window. Which of the young men does she like the best? Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her. You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room. Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather,.

The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them. It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs. The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,. They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch,.

They do not think whom they souse with spray. The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or sharpens his knife at the stall in the market,. I loiter enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and break-down. Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil,. Each has his main-sledge, they are all out, there is a great heat in the fire.

The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms,. Overhand the hammers swing, overhand so slow, overhand so sure,. They do not hasten, each man hits in his place. The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags underneath on its tied-over chain,. His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over his hip-band,.

His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat away from his forehead,. I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop there,. In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as forward sluing,. To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing,. Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade, what is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.

My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck on my distant and day-long ramble,.

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They rise together, they slowly circle around. And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,. And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional,. And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else,. And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me,. And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me. The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,. Ya-honk he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation,. The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close,.

Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky. The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats,. The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings,. The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections,. They scorn the best I can do to relate them. Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods,. Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses,. I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.

What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me,. Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,. Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me,. Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,. The pure contralto sings in the organ loft,. The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane whistles its wild ascending lisp,. The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiving dinner,.

The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong arm,. The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon are ready,. The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches,. The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel,. The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loafe and looks at the oats and rye,.

The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case,. He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blurr with the manuscript;. The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand, the drunkard nods by the bar-room stove,. The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his beat, the gate-keeper marks who pass,.

The young fellow drives the express-wagon, I love him, though I do not know him;. The half-breed straps on his light boots to compete in the race,. The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some lean on their rifles, some sit on logs,. Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels his piece;. The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee,. As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them from his saddle,.

The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their partners, the dancers bow to each other,. The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron,. The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut eyes bent sideways,. As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is thrown for the shore-going passengers,. The young sister holds out the skein while the elder sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now and then for the knots,. The one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago borne her first child,.

The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts at his desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread,. The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers follow him,. The child is baptized, the convert is making his first professions,. The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, how the white sails sparkle!

The drover watching his drove sings out to them that would stray,. The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, the purchaser higgling about the odd cent;. The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock moves slowly,. The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck,. The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to each other,.

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I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;. The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the great Secretaries,.


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  4. On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined arms,. The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the hold,. The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his cattle,. As the fare-collector goes through the train he gives notice by the jingling of loose change,. The floor-men are laying the floor, the tinners are tinning the roof, the masons are calling for mortar,.

    In single file each shouldering his hod pass onward the laborers;. Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the ground;. Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in the frozen surface,. The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep with his axe,. Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood or pecan-trees,. Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or Altamahaw,.

    Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grandsons around them,. The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time,. The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by his wife;. And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,. And such as it is to be of these more or less I am,. And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.

    I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,. Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,. Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,. One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the largest the same,. A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and hospitable down by the Oconee I live,.

    A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,. A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian,. A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;. At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen off Newfoundland,. At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking,. At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the Texan ranch,.

    Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, loving their big proportions,. Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands and welcome to drink and meat,. A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,. A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,. 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,. The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place,.

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    The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place,. The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place. These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me,. If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing,. If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing,. If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing. This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is,. With music strong I come, with my cornets and my drums,. Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?

    I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won. I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for them. And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea! And to those themselves who sank in the sea! And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes!

    And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known! This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger,. It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make appointments with all,. I will not have a single person slighted or left away,. The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited,. There shall be no difference between them and the rest. This is the press of a bashful hand, this the float and odor of hair,. This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning,.

    This the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face,. This the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again. Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? Well I have, for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of a rock has. Does the daylight astonish? I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.

    Who goes there? How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat? What is a man anyhow? All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own,. I do not snivel that snivel the world over,. That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth. Why should I pray? I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones. In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less,. And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them. To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,.

    All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means. I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood,. I see that the elementary laws never apologize,. I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.

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    If no other in the world be aware I sit content,. And if each and all be aware I sit content. One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,. And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,. I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait. I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,. The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,. The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue. I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,. And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,.

    And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men. We have had ducking and deprecating about enough,. Have you outstript the rest? It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and still pass on. I am he that walks with the tender and growing night,. I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night. Darby Bible Translation because our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against principalities, against authorities, against the universal lords of this darkness, against spiritual [power] of wickedness in the heavenlies. English Revised Version For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

    Webster's Bible Translation For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Weymouth New Testament For ours is not a conflict with mere flesh and blood, but with the despotisms, the empires, the forces that control and govern this dark world--the spiritual hosts of evil arrayed against us in the heavenly warfare.

    World English Bible For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Young's Literal Translation because we have not the wrestling with blood and flesh, but with the principalities, with the authorities, with the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, with the spiritual things of the evil in the heavenly places;.

    Matthew Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. Mark but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

    John Now judgment is upon this world; now the prince of this world will be cast out. Acts to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those sanctified by faith in Me. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable.

    Ephesians Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. Ephesians far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. Ephesians in which you used to walk when you conformed to the ways of this world and of the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit who is now at work in the sons of disobedience.

    Ephesians His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, Colossians He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son,. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers. Ephesians His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, Colossians He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, Treasury of Scripture For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

    Romans For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,.

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    Ephesians Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:. Luke When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. Ephesians Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:. New International Version For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

    New Living Translation For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. English Standard Version For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Berean Literal Bible because to us the wrestling is not against blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

    New American Standard Bible For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. New King James Version For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

    King James Bible For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Christian Standard Bible For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.

    Contemporary English Version We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. Good News Translation For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. Holman Christian Standard Bible For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

    International Standard Version For our struggle is not against human opponents, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers in the darkness around us, and evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm. NET Bible For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.