Song At Sunset

SPLENDOR of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic–hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat–you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.

Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness,
Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection,
Natural life of me, faithfully praising things;
Corroborating forever the triumph of things.

Illustrious every one!
Illustrious what we name space–sphere of unnumber’d spirits;
Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all beings, even the tiniest
insect;
Illustrious the attribute of speech–the senses–the body;
Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale reflection on the
new moon in the western sky!
Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch, to the last.

Good in all,
In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals,
In the annual return of the seasons,
In the hilarity of youth,
In the strength and flush of manhood,
In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age,
In the superb vistas of Death.

Wonderful to depart;
Wonderful to be here!
The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood!
To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand!
To prepare for sleep, for bed–to look on my rose-color’d flesh;
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large;
To be this incredible God I am;
To have gone forth among other Gods–these men and women I love.

Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself!
How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles around!
How the clouds pass silently overhead!
How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun, moon, stars, dart on
and on!
How the water sports and sings! (Surely it is alive!)
How the trees rise and stand up–with strong trunks–with branches
and leaves!
(Surely there is something more in each of the tree–some living
Soul.)

O amazement of things! even the least particle!
O spirituality of things!
O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents–now reaching
me and America!
I take your strong chords–I intersperse them, and cheerfully pass
them forward.

I too carol the sun, usher’d, or at noon, or, as now, setting,
I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth, and of all the
growths of the earth,
I too have felt the resistless call of myself.

As I sail’d down the Mississippi,
As I wander’d over the prairies,
As I have lived–As I have look’d through my windows, my eyes,
As I went forth in the morning–As I beheld the light breaking in the
east;
As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and again on the beach
of the Western Sea;
As I roam’d the streets of inland Chicago–whatever streets I have
roam’d;
Or cities, or silent woods, or peace, or even amid the sights of war;
Wherever I have been, I have charged myself with contentment and
triumph.

I sing the Equalities, modern or old,
I sing the endless finales of things;
I say Nature continues–Glory continues;
I praise with electric voice;
For I do not see one imperfection in the universe;
And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last in the
universe.

O setting sun! though the time has come,
I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated
adoration.

 

–  Walt Whitman

 

To You

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of
dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your
feet and hands,
Even now your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners,
troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs, out of commerce, shops,
work, farms, clothes, the house, buying, selling, eating,
drinking, suffering, dying.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you
be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better
than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb,
I should have made my way straight to you long ago,
I should have blabb’d nothing but you, I should have chanted
nothing but you.

I will leave all and come and make the hymns of you,
None has understood you, but I understand you,
None has done justice to you, you have not done justice to
yourself,
None but has found you imperfect, I only find no
imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you, I only am he who will
never consent to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better,
God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.

Painters have painted their swarming groups and the centre-
figure of all,
From the head of the centre-figure spreading a nimbus of
gold-color’d light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its
nimbus of gold-color’d light,
From my hand from the brain of every man and woman it
streams, effulgently flowing forever.

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are, you have slumber’d upon
yourself all your life,
Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time,
What you have done returns already in mockeries,
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in
mockeries, what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk,
I pursue you where none else has pursued you,
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the
accustom’d routine, if these conceal you from others or
from yourself, they do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if
these balk others they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform’d attitude, drunkenness, greed,
premature death, all these I part aside.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied
in you,
There is no virtue, no beauty in man or woman, but as good
is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits
for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one except I give the like
carefully to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than
I sing the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at an 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.

The hopples fall from your ankles, you find an unfailing
sufficiency,
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest,
whatever you are promulges itself,
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided,
nothing is scanted,
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what
you are picks its way.

 

–  Walt Whitman

 

Beauty

The beautiful, the fair, the elegant,
Is that which pleases us, says Kant,
Without a thought of interest or advantage.

I used to watch men when they spoke of beauty
And measure their enthusiasm. One
An old man, seeing a setting sun,
Praised it a certain sense of duty
To the calm evening and his time of life.
I know another man that never says a Beauty
But of a horse;

Men seldom speak of beauty, beauty as such,
Not even lovers think about it much.
Women of course consider it for hours
In mirrors;

A shrapnel ball –
Just where the wet skin glistened when he swam –
Like a fully-opened sea-anemone.
We both said ‘What a beauty! What a beauty, lad’
I knew that in that flower he saw a hope
Of living on, and seeing again the roses of his home.
Beauty is that which pleases and delights,
Not bringing personal advantage – Kant.
But later on I heard
A canker worked into that crimson flower
And that he sank with it
And laid it with the anemones off Dover.

 

–  Wilfred Owen

 

Behavior

BEHAVIOR–fresh, native, copious, each one for himself or herself,
Nature and the Soul expressed–America and freedom expressed–In it
the finest art,
In it pride, cleanliness, sympathy, to have their chance,
In it physique, intellect, faith–in it just as much as to manage an
army or a city, or to write a book–perhaps more,
The youth, the laboring person, the poor person, rivalling all the
rest–perhaps outdoing the rest,
The effects of the universe no greater than its;
For there is nothing in the whole universe that can be more effective
than a man’s or woman’s daily behavior can be,
In any position, in any one of These States.

 

–  Walt Whitman

 

Among all lovely things my Love had been      

Among all lovely things my Love had been;
Had noted well the stars, all flowers that grew
About her home; but she had never seen
A glow-worm, never one, and this I knew.

While riding near her home one stormy night
A single glow-worm did I chance to espy;
I gave a fervent welcome to the sight,
And from my horse I leapt; great joy had I.

Upon a leaf the glow-worm did I lay,
To bear it with me through the stormy night:
And, as before, it shone without dismay;
Albeit putting forth a fainter light.

When to the dwelling of my Love I came,
I went into the orchard quietly;
And left the glow-worm, blessing it by name,
Laid safely by itself, beneath a tree.

The whole next day, I hoped, and hoped with fear;
At night the glow-worm shone beneath the tree;
I led my Lucy to the spot, ‘Look here,’
Oh! joy it was for her, and joy for me!

 

– William Wordsworth