[3] I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end (from Song of Myself)

by Walt Whitman


Original Language English

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.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
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.

To elaborate is no avail, learned and unlearned feel that it is so.

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well entreatied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery here we stand.

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,
That 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.

I am satisfied -- I see, dance, laugh, sing;
As the hugging and loving bedfellow sleeps at my side through the night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread,
Leaving me baskets covered with white towels swelling the house with their plenty,
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?

-- from Song of Myself, by Walt Whitman

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

One of my favorite chapters from Whitman's "Song of Myself." Some wonderful lines:

And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

...

I and this mystery here we stand.

...

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.

...

Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.


...

A comment about this last quote above:

Certainly Whitman incorporates a great deal of frank sensuality into his poetry, welcoming earthly reality into his concept of the Divine, yet there is a deeper way to interpret some of these references as well. There are strong hints in Whitman's poetry that he often wrote from the mystic's point-of-view; so let's look at another way we can read that line.

Whitman speaks of being silent, bathing, and admiring himself. These can be understood in the context of the experience of mystical union: When you are at peace with the world, when you are utterly silent, so not even a tremor of thought disrupts the awareness, there is often a sense of being immersed in a vast pool of living water. As you bathe in this "water," your sense of yourself vanishes, replaced by a new, incomprehensibly expanded sense of being. Everything is seen to be a part of yourself. Everything you perceive or imagine is inexplicably you. Bathing in this blissful water, how can we fail to admire such immensity and unity?



Recommended Books: Walt Whitman

The Oxford Book of Mystical Verse Song of Myself Leaves of Grass Dead Poets Society (DVD)





3] I have heard