Whitman and the Poetry of the Self
I Hear America Singing
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing
on the steamboat deck,
The showmaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at
noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of
the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her or to none else,
The day what belongs to the day--at night the party of young fellows,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
One's-Self I Sing
One's-Self I sing, a simple, separate person,
Yet utter the word democratic, the word En-Masse.
Of physiology from top to toe I sing,
Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the Muse, I say the
complete is worthier far,
The Female equally with the Male I sing.
Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful, for freest action form'd under the laws divine,
The Modern Man I sing.
I Hear It Was Charged Against Me
I hear it was charged against me that I sought to destroy institutions,
But really I am neither for nor against institutions,
(What indeed have I in common with them? or what with the destruction
Only I will establish in the Mannahatta and in every city of these States
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel little or large that dents
Without edifices or rules or trustees or any argument,
The institution of the dear love of comrades.
Song of Myself, Stanza 51
The past and the present wilt--I have fill'd them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself.
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)