Thursday, June 18, 2009

Leaves of Grass

I've been reading a lot of Walt Whitman the last few days. Some of it used to hang as a framed calligraphy on my daughter-in-law Amy's bathroom wall:

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward 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... . The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work. He shall know that the ground is always ready ploughed and manured ... others may not know it but he shall. He shall go directly to the creation. His trust shall master the trust of everything he touches ... and shall master all attachment.

(From the Preface to "Leaves of Grass")


christine said...

A beautiful selection to highlight, Joyce. His words make my heart sing. He's so right on. In Atlanta we recently had a marathon reading of Song of Myself. Very powerful. It took us 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Jo A. T.B. said...

I love the passage Joyce! Thank you for sharing it! The photo does make me want to be a child again, and just run through the tall grass!

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

That is my grandson Keenan running through the tall grass on the banks of Plum Creek, by the remains of the dugout where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived as a child.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Christine, I read about your marathon. That's what inspired me! I'd love to have been there!