100 Memorable Quotes By Walt Whitman, The Author Of Leaves Of Grass
Poet & humanist
West Hills, New York
Popularly known as the Father of Free Verse, Walt Whitman was an American poet who revolutionized American poetry. He was called the ‘Bard of Democracy’ and is till date considered America’s most influential poet. He invented a poetic form and introduced a wide range of varied topics to American poetry, something that not many dared to then. His verse collection, ‘Leaves of Grass’ is a landmark in the history of American literature. It caused a stir upon its release as it expounded on frank sexual themes. Essentially a poet, Whitman also contributed as an essayist, journalist and teacher. During the American Civil War, he volunteered as a nurse. Whitman’s works are classics of today. He wrote at a time when the country was reeling under Civil War. As such, most of his works are realistic in nature and incorporate political views. One can also see traces of transcendentalism in Whitman’s works. Prose like in nature, Whitman’s poetries have unusual images and symbols. They also deal with the themes of death and sexuality, including prostitution. One can also witness the same in his quotes that touch varied topics. Read through this section and explore quotes by Walt Whitman.
Resist much, obey little. What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life. Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large -- I contain multitudes. Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you. We were together. I forget the rest. Whatever satisfies the soul is truth. Be curious, not judgmental. I am large, I contain multitudes I have learned that to be with those I like is enough I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world. Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour. Do anything, but let it produce joy. I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best. Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged. Missing me one place, search another. I stop somewhere waiting for you. And your very flesh shall be a great poem. Peace is always beautiful. I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. Pointing to another world will never stop vice among us; shedding light over this world can alone help us. I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person. These are the days that must happen to you. God is a mean-spirited, pugnacious bully bent on revenge against His children for failing to live up to his impossible standards. The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity. Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you/ That you may 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. Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me. If you done it, it ain't bragging. If you want me again look for me under your boot soles. Re-examine all you have been told. Dismiss what insults your soul. Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won. And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch. I am satisfied ... I see, dance, laugh, sing. In the faces of men and women, I see God. Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars. I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. I exist as I am, that is enough. I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. The real war will never get in the books. Give me the splendid, silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling. Every moment of light and dark is a miracle. I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or
wake at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you. Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light
and of every moment of your life Argue not concerning God,…re-examine all that you have been told at church or school or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your soul… All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier. I tramp a perpetual journey. I cannot be awake, for nothing looks to me as it did before, or else I am awake for the first time, and all before has been a mean sleep. A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. The future is no more uncertain than the present. There is no God any more divine than Yourself. From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines. Your very flesh shall be a great poem... Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others...
And your very flesh shall be a great poem. Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you? I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least. I act as the tongue of you,
... tied in your mouth . . . . in mine it begins to be loosened. A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibility of their own souls. I Think it is lost.....but nothing is ever lost nor can be lost .
The body sluggish, aged, cold, the ember left from earlier fires
shall duly flame again. Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find." My words itch at your ears till you understand them You will hardly know who I am or what I mean Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass,
Be not afraid of my body. To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle. I will sleep no more but arise, You oceans that have been calm within me! how I feel you, fathomless, stirring, preparing unprecedented waves and storms. I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware, and by the far the largest to me, and that is myself. This hour I tell things in confidence/ I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you. Let your soul stand cool and composed
before a million universes. It makes such difference where you read I accept Time absolutely.
It alone is without flaw,
It alone rounds and completes all,
That mystic baffling wonder. I will You, in all, Myself, with promise to never desert you,
To which I sign my name. I and this mystery, here we stand. There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now;
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now. I swear to you, there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred. Nothing can happen more beautiful than death. But where is what I started for so long ago?
And why is it yet unfound? Loafe with me on the grass—loose the stop from your throat;
Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or lecture, not even the best;
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice. The road to wisdom is paved with excess.
The mark of a true writer is their ability to mystify the familiar and familiarize the strange. Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning,
Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing,
I tread day and night such roads. The question, O me! so sad, recurring -
What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here - that life
exists and identity,
that the powerful play goes on,
and you may contribute a verse. The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains. Clear and sweet is my soul, clear and sweet is all that is not my soul. Long have you timidly waded
Holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea,
Rise again, nod to me, shout,
And laughingly dash with your hair. The untold want, by life and land ne'er granted,
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find. I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's-self is, I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again / I am to see to it that I do not lose you The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book. To have great poets,
there must be great audiences. Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard."
[Give me the splendid silent sun] Agonies are one of my changes of garments. The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung. Be not dishearten'd -- Affection shall solve the problems of Freedom yet;
Those who love each other shall become invincible.
Unscrew the locks from the doors !
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs !
Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity, when I give I give myself.
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more
What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the words I have read in my life.
Oh, to be alive in such an age, when miracles are everywhere, and every inch of common air throbs a tremendous prophecy, of greater marvels yet to be. I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.