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.
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—
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.
The absorption into me from the landscape, stars, thunder, rain, and snow,
Cities, labors, animals, products, war, good and evil—
These me, accepting, rejoicing in all,
Myself a part of them, with their full-beating pulses of life.

The spring under the willows pouring a sizeable stream,
The inimitable soft sound-gurgles of it as I sit there hot afternoons,
The wild, just-palpable perfume, and the dappled leaf-shadows, and all the natural-medicinal, elemental-moral influences of the spot—
How they and all grow into me, day after day.

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,
We have met and fused, even if only once, but enough that we have really absorb’d each other and understand each other.

O the joy of my soul leaning pois’d on itself, receiving identity through materials and loving them, observing characters and absorbing them,
The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day,
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.

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
What I shall attain to I can never tell,
For there is something that underlies me, of  whom I am a part and instrument.
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.
I have all lives, all effects, all hidden invisibly in myself,
They proceed from me.

Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me.
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.
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