"The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us.
We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good.
Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It's not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes.
Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us.
You don't know it's happening until one day you feel you've lost something but you're not sure what it is. It's like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you 'sir'. It just happens."
- Robert McCammon, Boy's Life
Give me the splendid, silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
The love is to the lover, and comes back most to him,
The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him—it cannot fail
No man understands any greatness or goodness but his own
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your ice, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved,
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever after-ward resumes its liberty.
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.
I refuse putting from me the best that I am.
To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.
The ecstasy is so short but the forgetting is so long.
That I have not gain'd the acceptance of my own time, but have fallen back on fond dreams of the future.
The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.
To indeed be a god!
Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.
Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes. ,
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.
Resist much, obey little
Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.You must travel it by yourself.
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
Peace is always beautiful.
Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass,
Be not afraid of my body.
I will sleep no more but arise, You oceans that have been calm within me! how I feel you, fathomless, stirring, preparing unprecedented waves and storms.
Dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face
We were together. I forget the rest.
I resist anything better than my own diversity,
Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.
…what is that you express in your eyes?
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.
On the Meaning of life:
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
I am not to speak to you,
I am to think of you when I sit alone or
wake at night alone,
I am to wait,
I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of hell are with me.
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for others’ sakes.
We affect each other without ever seeing each other,
and never perhaps to see each other, is every bit as wonderful
I am satisfied— I see, dance, laugh, sing
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 that a kelson of the creation is love…
I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.
Births have brought us richness and variety,
And other births will bring us richness and variety.
I do not call one greater and one smaller,
That which fills its period and place is equal to any.
The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.
Death is the winner in any war
Nothing noble in dying for your religion
For your country
For ideology, for faith
For another man, yes…
To be at all - what is better than that?
I am not in any callous shell;
I am cased with supple conductors, all over,
They take every object by the hand, and lead it within me;
They are thousands, each one with his entry to himself;
They are always watching with their little eyes, from my head to my feet;
My left hand hooks you around the waist. My right hand points to landscapes of continents, and a plain public road. Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you. You must travel it for yourself. It is not far … It is within reach.
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud.
I am the poet of the body
And I am the poet of the soul.
Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart.
For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings,
we must bear the brunt of danger,
We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, Pioneers! O pioneers!
You are not free until you have no need to impress anybody.
I exist as I am, that is enough.
Come, said my soul,
Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,)
And I will not sing with reference to a day, but with reference to all days
When I read the book, the biography famous,
And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man’s life?
And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught of my life,
Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real life,
Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections
I seek for my own use to trace out here.)
With music strong I come, with my cornets and my drums,
I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for conquer’d and slain persons.
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 discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.
I tramp a perpetual journey.
Keep your face towards the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.
Strange (is it not?) that battles, martyrs, blood, even assassination should so condense—perhaps only really, lastingly condense—a Nationality.
Henceforth I ask not good fortune - I myself am good fortune.
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing.
Strong and content, I travel the open road.
I exist as I am, and that is enough.
What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life
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.
Re-examine all that you have been told….
Do anything, but let it produce joy.
Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.
And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I am too not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
Your very flesh shall be a great poem...
What shall I give? And which are my miracles?
Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning,
Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing,
I tread day and night such roads.
My spirit has pass'd in compassion and determination around the whole earth.
I have look'd for equals and lovers an found them ready for me in all lands,
I think some divine rapport has equalized me with them
The sum of all known value and respect, I add up in you, whoever you are.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass;
I find letters from God dropped in the street, and every one is signed by God's name,
And I leave them where they are,
for I know that others will punctually come forever and ever.
The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.
All music is what awakes within us
when we are reminded by the instruments;
It is not the violins or the clarinets -
It is not the beating of the drums -
Nor the score of the baritone singing
his sweet romanza; not that of the men's chorus,
Nor that of the women's chorus -
It is nearer and farther than they
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it
should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work,
or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his
boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the
hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his
way in the morning, or at noon intermission
or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the
young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to
The day what belongs to the day — at night the
party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen,
And accrue what I hear into myself...and let sound contribute toward me.
I swear I begin to see the meaning of these things.
It is not the earth, it is not America, who is so great,
it is I who am great or to be great…
A blade of grass is the journeywork of the stars
Give me solitude — give me Nature — give me again, O Nature, your primal sanities!
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell. — -
Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak 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,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.
I mind how we lay in June, such a transparent summer morning,
You settled your head athwart my hips, and gently turned over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and
plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart
I hear you are whispering there
O stars of heaven,
O suns—O grass of graves…
If you do not say anything how can I say anything?
I exist as I am, that is enough,
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
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,
seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life,
and does not waitat the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward… .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied-not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is responsible or industrious over the whole earth.
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 yourself.
Only themselves understand themselves
and the like of themselves,
As souls only understand souls.
Sun so generous it shall be you.
Be composed--be at ease with me—
I am, liberal and lusty as Nature,
Not till the sun excludes you do I exclude you,
Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you and the leaves to rustle for you,
do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you.
It avails not, time nor place--distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation,
or ever so many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and the bright flow,
I was refresh'd,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail,
yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships
and the thick-stemm'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.
I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever
so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight,
I swim in it as in a sea.