Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Walt Whitman (31/5/1819 - 26/3/1892) - Poets to Come

Walt Whitman is an arch-figure in any list of great 19th century writers – original in both form and content, continually surprising in his experimentation, and continually evocative in the sensuality of his words. A master of the love for everyday life. Whitman’s  poetry with its espousal of comradeship  across class lines, and advocacy of a utopian democracy has long inspired, with its interlocking themes of shared values, expressing the divine light in every individual, an almost organic view of society. A big influence on another writer I admire Edward Carpenter. Whitman’s philosophy expressed a divine light in every individual, the value of the individual en masse, can be grabbed for our own times. An early DIY advocate who sold his Leaves of Grass door to door  and self published his own books. A man of deep  deep passion whose birthday I celebrate today. His words still continuing to enrich the earth.

" the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others… re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul…” - Walt Whitman

Here I offer this poem from his pen :-

Poets to Come

POETS to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me, and answer what I am for;
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than
before known,
Arouse! Arouse--for you must justify me--you must answer.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment, only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.

I am a man who, sauntering along, without fully stopping, turns a
casual look upon you, and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.


  1. I love Whitmans's poetry and philosophy of life....

    "re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul…"

    Bloody brilliant..

    My favourite has to be:- When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer

    WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
    When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
    When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
    When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
    How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
    Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
    In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
    Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

    Thanks for posting this Dave..... :-)

  2. ah cheers mate, yes what a voice, actually got into him through Allen Ginsberg,both opened the gates to poetry for me, that at school I did not want to climb over, accessible and speaking my language... all the best, and so many good ones to choose from my fine friend, and your choice very apt. :)