From Leaves of Grass
, by Walt Whitman
Myself and mine gymnastic
To stand the cold or heat, to make good aim with a gun
sail a boat, to manage horses, to beget superb children
To speak readily and clearly, to feel at home among common
And to hold our own in terrible positions on land and sea.
Not for an embroiderer,
(There will always be plenty of embroiderers, I welcome
But for the fibre of things and for inherent men and women.
Not to chisel ornaments,
But to chisel with free stroke the heads and limbs of
plenteous supreme Gods, that the States may realize
them walking and talking.
Let me have my own way,
Let others promulge the laws, I will make no account of
Let others praise eminent men and hold up peace, I hold up
agitation and conflict,
I praise no eminent man, I rebuke to his face the one that
was thought most worthy.
(Who are you? and what are you secretly guilty of all your
Will you turn aside all your life? will you grub and chatter
all your life?
And who are you, blabbing by rote, years, pages, languages,
Unwitting to-day that you do not know how to speak properly
a single word?)
Let others finish specimens, I never finish specimens,
I start them by exhaustless laws as Nature does, fresh and
I give nothing as duties,
What others give as duties I give as living impulses,
(Shall I give the heart's action as a duty?)
Let others dispose of questions, I dispose of nothing, I
arouse unanswerable questions,
Who are they I see and touch, and what about them?
What about these likes of myself that draw me so close
by tender directions and indirections?
I call to the world to distrust the accounts of my friends,
but listen to my enemies, as I myself do,
I charge you forever reject those who would expound
me, for I cannot expound myself,
I charge that there be no theory or school founded out
I charge you to leave all free, as I have left all free.
After me, vista!
O I see life is not short, but immeasurably long,
I henceforth tread the world chaste, temperate, an early
riser, a steady grower,
Every hour the semen of centuries, and still of centuries.
I must follow up these continual lessons of the air, water,
I perceive I have no time to lose.