Thursday, January 21, 2010

On Whitman: Do I contradict myself?

I find it impossible to read Walt Whitman's poetry and not come away uplifted from his generous, omniscient, expansive, transcendent voice:

"I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new-washed babe .... and am not contained between my hat and boots"

 A 19th century house-builder-poet whose work I turn to when the 24-hour news cycle goes nuts:

Do I contradict myself? 
Very well, then, I contradict myself; 
(I am large—I contain multitudes.)

The perfect way to detox after a dose of Fox News:

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d; 
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; 685
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 to his kind that lived thousands of years ago; 
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.

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