Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman


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, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is so.

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well
     entretied, 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,
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.

I am satisfied — I see, dance, laugh, sing;
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,
Leaving me baskets cover'd 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?

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.


Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman


Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes, 
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it, 
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, 
I am mad for it to be in contact with me. 

The smoke of my own breath, 
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine, 
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs, 
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn, 
The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies of the wind, 
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 reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the earth much? 
Have you practis’d so long to learn to read? 
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. 

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.


Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman


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 loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil,
     this air,
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,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.


To Night

by Thomas Lovell Beddoes

So thou art come again, old black-winged night,
  Like an huge bird, between us and the sun,
Hiding with out-stretched form the genial light;
  And still beneath thine icy bosom's dun
And cloudy plumage hatching fog-breathed blight
  And embryo storms and crabbed frosts, that shun
Day's warm caress. The owls from ivied loop
  Are shrieking homage, as thou towerest high;
Like sable crow pausing in eager stoop
  On the dim world thou gluttest thy clouded eye,
Silently waiting latest time's fell whoop,
  When thou shalt quit thine eyrie in the sky,
    To pounce upon the world with eager claw,
    And tomb time, death, and substance in thy maw.


by Thomas Hood

It is not death, that sometime in a sigh 
This eloquent breath shall take its speechless flight; 
That sometime these bright stars, that now reply 
In sunlight to the sun, shall set in night; 
That this warm conscious flesh shall perish quite, 
And all life's ruddy springs forget to flow; 
That thoughts shall cease, and the immortal sprite 
Be lapped in alien clay and laid below; 
It is not death to know this,--but to know 
That pious thoughts, which visit at new graves 
In tender pilgrimage, will cease to go 
So duly and so oft,--and when grass waves 
Over the past-away, there may be then 
No resurrection in the minds of men. 

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.


Though Now 'Tis Neither May nor June

by Richard Crashaw

Though now 'tis neither May nor June
And Nightingales are out of tune,
Yett in these leaves (Faire one) there lyes
(Sworne servant to your sweetest Eyes)
A Nightingale, who may shee spread
In your white bosome her chast bed,
Spite of all the Maiden snow
Those pure untroden pathes can show,
You streight shall see her wake and rise
Taking fresh Life from your fayre Eyes;
And with clasp't winges proclayme a spring
Where Love and shee shall sit and sing,
For lodg'd so ne're your sweetest throte
What Nightingale can loose her noate?
Nor lett her kinred birds complayne
Because shee breakes the yeares old raigne,
For lett them know shee's none of those
Hedge-Quiristers whose Musicke owes
Onely such straynes as serve to keepe
Sad shades and sing dull Night asleepe.
No shee's a Priestesse of that Grove
The holy chappell of chast Love
Your Virgin bosome. Then what e're
Poore Lawes divide the publicke yeare,
Whose revolutions wait upon
The wild turnes of the wanton sun;
Bee you the Lady of Loves Yeere:
Where your Eyes shine his suns appeare:
There all the yeare is Loves long spring.
There all the yeare Loves Nightingales shall sitt and sing.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.



by William Drummond

My lute, be as thou wert when thou didst grow
With thy green mother in some shady grove,
When immelodious winds but made thee move,
And birds on thee their ramage did bestow.
Sith that dear voice which did thy sounds approve,
Which us'd in such harmonious strains to flow,
Is reft from earth to tune those spheres above,
What art thou but a harbinger of woe?
Thy pleasing notes be pleasing notes no more,
But orphan wailings to the fainting ear,
Each stroke a sigh, each sound draws forth a tear!
Be therefore silent as in woods before,
     Or if that any hand to touch thee deign,
     Like widow'd turtle, still her loss complain.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.