The Poet Is the Universe


The scope of the world, and of time and space, are upon me,
Walt Whitman, a kosmos,
Whose scope of mind includes all, the whole known universe.

In a little house keep I pictures suspended,
It is not a fix’d house,
It is round, it is only a few inches from one side to the other;
Yet behold, it has room for all the shows of the world, all memories,
Hundreds and thousands—all the varieties,
For wherever I have been has afforded me superb pictures,
And whatever I have heard has given me perfect pictures,
Every rod of land or sea affords me, as long as I live, inimitable pictures.
Such transformations, such pictures and poems;
What shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls?
Here the tableaus of life, and here the groupings of death.

Lit with the infinite, I have the idea of All, and am All;
The universe is in myself—it shall all pass through me as a procession.
In an instant make I fluid and draw to myself, softly and duly, the whole of physical nature,
Somehow I seem to get identity with each and every thing around me, in its condition.
O lands! all so dear to me—what you are, (whatever it is,) I become a part of that, (whatever it is,)
Elasticity I am, and I am the dense rock, and I this invisible gas of the air,
I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, esculent roots,
And am stucco’d with quadrupeds and birds all over.

In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as forward sluing,
To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing,
At random glancing, each as I notice absorbing, absorbing all to 
myself
None but shall be dear to me, myself accepting, rejoicing in all.

The absorption into me from the landscape, stars, thunder, rain, and snow,
Cities, labors, animals, products, war, good and evil,
The wild, just-palpable perfume, and the dappled leaf-shadows, and all the natural-medicinal, elemental-moral influences of the spot—
These me, how they and all grow into me,
Myself a part of them, with their full-beating pulses of life
,
I have all lives, all effects, all hidden invisibly in myself,
They proceed from me,
(Account for it or not—credit or not—it is all true,)
We have met and fused, even if only once, but enough that we have really absorb’d each other and understand each other.

In vain objects stand leagues off and assume manifold shapes,
In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach,
In vain the ocean settling in hollows and the great monsters lying low—
I take you to be mine, you beautiful, terrible, rude forms,
I match my spirit against yours, you orbs, growths, mountains, brutes,
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly different from myself.
Copious as you are I absorb you all in myself.

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
And am not contain’d between my hat and boots,
My right hand is time, and my left hand is space—both are ample.
Within me latitude widens, longitude lengthens,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine,
My ties and ballasts leave me, my elbows rest in sea-gaps,
I skirt sierras, my palms cover continents.
Within me zones, seas, cataracts, forests, volcanoes,
Within me is the longest day, the sun wheels in slanting rings, it does not set for months.

O the joy of my soul leaning pois’d on itself, receiving identity through materials and loving them, observing characters and absorbing them,
My soul vibrated back to me from them, from sight, hearing, touch, reason, articulation, comparison, memory, and the like.

I, turning, call to thee O soul,
And lo, thou gently masterest the orbs,
And fillest, swellest full the vastnesses of space,
The copiousness, the removedness, vitality, loose-clear-crowdedness of that stellar concave spreading overhead, softly absorb’d into me,
Rising so free, interminably high, stretching east, west, north, south,
And I, though but a point in the centre below, embodying all.

Outside the asteroids I reconnoitre at my ease,
I visit the orchards of spheres and look at the product,
And look at quintillions ripen’d and look at quintillions green,
And I carry straight threads thence to the sun and to distant unseen suns—
Through me many long dumb voices of the threads that connect the stars.

Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me,
It is not enough to have this globe or a certain time,
I will have thousands of globes and all time—
How can I do less than pass the clew of the union of them, to afford the like to you?

NEXT: THE POET IS ALL HUMANITY