I know well enough that man is not only an animal like the others,
Man grows up becoming not a physical being merely, but markedly the mental being of the earth, the aesthetic and spiritual being,
He alone carries all the substances of the world, by this quality, in himself, and illustrates them.
What are yours and destiny’s, 0 universe, (said Marcus Aurelius,) are mine too,
The universe presents its riches, its strength, its beauty, to be parts of a man, a woman.
No one can realise anything unless he has it in him, or has been it,
It must certainly tally with what is in him, otherwise it is all blank to him;
The only way we attach it to our feelings is by identifying it with the human spirit—through love, through pride, through our craving for beauty and happiness.
The animals, the past, light, space—each is understood only by the like of itself,
If I have them not in me, I have them not at all.
This rule runs through all and applies to mediocrity, crime, and all the rest;
The human characters one meets in the woods—identical with the woods.
A man is only interested in anything when he identifies himself with it—
He must shine like the sun,
He must crawl like the pismire,
He must himself be whirling and speeding through space like the planet Mercury,
He would be growing fragrantly in the air like the locust blossom,
He would rumble and crash like thunder in the sky,
He would spring like a cat on his prey.
What is it to own anything?
It is to incorporate it into yourself, as the primal god swallowed the five immortal offspring of Rhea and accumulated to his life and knowledge and strength all that would have grown in them.
The only way in which anything can really be owned is by the infusion or inspiration of it in the soul—
As if one fit to own things could not at pleasure enter upon all, and incorporate them into himself or herself!
Having look’d at the objects of the universe, I find there is no one nor any particle of one but has reference to the soul.
Was somebody asking to see the soul?
See, your own shape and countenance, persons, substances, beasts, the trees, the running rivers, the rocks and sands,
O I say now these are the soul!
Can each see signs of the best by a look in the looking-glass?
Does all sit there with you, with the mystic unseen soul?
Strange and hard that paradox true I give,
Objects gross and the unseen soul are one—
We are each product and influence of the globe.
The soul or spirit transmits itself into all matter—into rocks and can live the life of a rock—into the sea, and can feel itself the sea—into the oak—into an animal, and feel itself a horse, a fish or bird—into the earth—into the motions of suns and stars.
We are rocks, we are oaks,
We are snow, rain, cold, darkness.
We realize the soul only by you, you faithful solids and fluids,
You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers,
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate henceforward,
We descend upon you and all things, we arrest you all,
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold yourselves from us,
We use you, and do not cast you aside—we plant you permanently within us—
Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.
Have you wandered after the meanings of the earth?
You need not wander; behold those forms—
Things, faces, reminiscences, presences, conditions, thoughts, the earth and everything in it,
Tally and make definite a divine, indistinct, spiritual delight in the soul.
How gladly does the soul welcome all that seeks it,
How it runs to the windows like a beautiful woman whose lover comes to sleep with her that night,
And the twain kiss each other, with the deep quality of all-accepting fusion.
There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
Wood-berries, winter-grain sprouts and those of the light-yellow corn,
And the noisy brood of the barnyard or by the mire of the pondside,
And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the tavern whence he had lately risen,
And the schoolmistress that pass’d on her way to the school,
The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow,
The light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown two miles off,
These became part of that child who went forth every day,
And who now goes, and will always go forth every day.
And these become part of him or her that peruses them now,
Who includes diversity and is nature,
Who, constructing the house of himself or herself, not for a day but for all time,
Sees races, eras, dates, generations, the past, the future, dwelling there, inseparable together.
I see in you, as man or woman, no fraction of the universe, but curiously absorbing all, as if all made for you.
I swear to you, whoever you are, you can interfuse yourself with such things that everybody that sees you shall look longingly upon you—
You and your soul, infinite and omnigenous, enclose all things, regardless of estimation.
NEXT: THE POET IS THE UNIVERSE