Excerpts From—Walt Whitman's

"Leaves of Grass"

Now I am terrified at the Earth!

It is that calm and patient,

It grows such sweet things

Out of such corruptions,

It turns ...harmless and stainless on its axis,

With such endless successions

Of diseas'd corpses,

It distils such exquisite winds

—Out of such infused fetor.

It renews with such unwitting looks,

Its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops.

It gives such divine materials to men,

And accepts such leavings

From them at last.

* * *

Whoever you are!

Claim your own at any hazard!

These shows of the East and West are tame, Compared to you;

These immense meadows

—These interminable rivers—

You are immense and interminable as they;

These furies, elements, storms,

Motions of Nature,

Throes of apparent dissolution

You are he or she

Who is master or mistress over them.

Master or Mistress

In your own right over Nature,

Elements, pain, passion, dissolution.

* * *

O living always,—always dying!

O the burials of me —past and present!

O me, while I stride ahead,

Material, visible, imperious as ever!

O me, what I was for years, now dead,

(I lament not—I am content);

O to disengage myself

From those corpses of me,

Which I turn and look at where I cast them!

To pass on, (O living! always living!)

And leave the corpses behind!

Return to Index