The commonplace I sing,
The democratic wisdom underneath, like solid ground for all;
Wisdom applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,
Is the certainty of the excellence of things.
The real blessings of life are not the fictions generally supposed, but are real, and are mostly within reach of all,
The divinest blessings are the commonest, bestowed everywhere.
Not distant caverns, cataracts, foreign cities, costumes, ceremonies, are any more wonderful than what is common to you, near you now, and continually with you,
Truly, what is commonest, readiest, cheapest, nearest to us, is often the profoundest,
Ever the most precious in the common.
All or any is best,
It is not what you anticipated, it is cheaper, easier, nearer,
The closest, simplest things, this moment with you—
Nothing is better than simplicity.
Will you seek afar off? you surely come back at last,
In things best known to you finding the best, or as good as the best,
In folks nearest to you finding the sweetest, strongest, lovingest,
The old forever new things, you foolish child!
I discover the best hardly ever at first, sometimes suddenly bursting forth, or stealthily opening to me, perhaps after years of unwitting familiarity, unappreciation, usage.
What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is me,
(Subtly and unaccountably, my mind is sweet and odorous within while I clean up and grease my boots,)
My life, upon the whole, toned down, flowing calm enough,
A melange of loafing, looking, sitting, traveling—a little thinking thrown in for salt, but very little—
Sleeping under the sunlight, sleeping under the moonlight, content and silent there at last.
The earth, that is sufficient, I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.
Am I done with reviews and criticisms of life? animating now to life itself,
To those that do not joke with life, but are in earnest with life.
I have charged myself with contentment and triumph,
To live a more serene, calm, philosophic life,
A cool, gentle, (less demonstrative,) more uniform demeanor,
(Yet capable on emergencies of the strongest emotions, resolution, and even hauteur.)
Reticent, far more reticent, generally undemonstrative, very little of a talker,
When expected to talk loudest and best, apt to remain perfectly silent,
(Unless something must inevitably be said, that cannot be left unsaid—
Then I say the word or two that has got to be said, to remind every man and woman of something.)
Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,
Now I have no mockings or arguments,
No fumes, no ennui, no complaints or scornful, querulous criticisms.
Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
While they discuss I walk silent among disputes and assertions,
And go bathe and admire myself,
(But reject not the disputers nor anything that is asserted.)
Here the profound lesson of reception:
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,
They pass, I also pass, anything passes, none can be interdicted,
None but are accepted.
My gait is no faultfinder’s or rejecter’s gait,
I take with entire self-possession whatever comes—
Neither preference nor denial—
There is to be nothing excepted.
Men and women and the earth and all upon it are simply to be taken as they are,
Their traits are facts in nature the same as facts in the landscape, in mathematics, in chemistry,
To be taken calmly and in a spirit of latitude, not criticized and found fault with.
Existing I peer and penetrate still,
Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb me.
Tall and sufficient stand behind and make signs to me,
I see them and complain not,
I read the promise and witness and patiently wait—a year—a century—a hundred centuries.
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious, impervious,
What we believe in waits latent forever through all the continents,
Invites no one, promises nothing, sits in calmness and light, is positive and composed, knows no discouragement,
Waiting patiently, waiting its time,
Not to repel or destroy so much as accept, add, extend, fuse, rehabilitate, complete.
Me imperturbe, standing at ease,
Fluent, luxuriant, self-content,
Secure and content with all, content with the present, content with the past,
Content with the future—Let the future care for itself, where it reveals its troubles.
There is no more borrowing trouble in advance,
What can the future bring me less, or more, than I have?
Let others deprecate, let others weep for sin, remorse, humiliation,
I keep no account with lamentation;
What have I to do with lamentation?
What have I to complain of for myself?
It were unworthy a live man to pray or complain no matter what should happen.
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Sorrows and disappointments cease,
Whist! I am fully content.
A holy calm descends like dew upon me,
I moisten the roots of all that has grown with nature’s calm content, with tacit huge delight,
Ever with pleas’d smile I may keep on.
NEXT: CALM SELF-SUFFICIENCY