Monday, July 18, 2011

Walt Whitman, from the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass 

Hello Poets,
Still looking for Walt Whitman's thread of democratic and fraternal humanism?
Here are some frayed beginnings, remembrances of one who contained multitudes and wasn't afraid to begin again.

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 labour to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towards 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 life, 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 the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

by Walt Whitman, from the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass
(reprinted in Leaves of Grass: Comprehensive Reader's Edition,
ed. by Harold W. Blodgett and Sculley Bradley 1965).

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