Your Identity


I celebrate myself, and sing myself, to celebrate every man and woman,
I say nothing of myself which I do not equally say of all others, men and women,
I say that every man is great to himself and every woman to herself,
I say the same word for every man and woman alive.
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself,
I do not doubt that there is far more in myself than I have supposed, and more in all men and women.

Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself,
I celebrate myself to celebrate you,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you;
If you see a good deal remarkable in me,
I see just as much, perhaps more, remarkable in you,
I give nothing to any one except I give the like carefully to you.
Underneath all to me is myself, to you yourself, (the same monotonous old song.)

I know perfectly well my own egotism,
And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.
Great are yourself and myself;
The very sun swings itself and its system of planets around us,
Its sun, and its again, all swing around us.
Wretched is that man who does not esteem himself,
To take an inferior place or be humble is unbecoming.

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
You have not known what you are, you have slumber’d upon yourself all your life,
Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time,
What you have done returns already in mockeries,
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in mockeries, what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk—
Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no.
Silence, the desk, the night, the accustom’d routine,
If these conceal you from others or from yourself, they do not conceal you from me,
Even now your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you.

I pursue you where none else has pursued you,
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away,

Your true soul and body appear before me,
Of your soul I say truths to harmonize if anything can harmonize you.

None has understood you, but I understand you,
None has done justice to you, you have not done justice to yourself,
None but has found you imperfect, I only find no imperfection in 
you.

There is no imperfection in any man or woman—
The most perfect wonders of the earth are not rare and distant but present with every person, you as much as any.
All is for individuals; all is for you,
All is eligible to all,
I, you, any one eligible to the conditions or attributes or advantages of any being.

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than I sing the songs of the glory of you—
There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you,
There is no virtue, no beauty in man or woman, but as good is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits for you.

Yourself! yourself! yourself, for ever and ever!
The whole theory of the universe is directed unerringly to one single individual—namely to you!

You fathomless, more than all outside yourself, however vast and great,
All serves, helps—but in the centre of all, absorbing all, giving, for your purpose, the only meaning and vitality to all, master or mistress of all, under the law, stands yourself.

You are he or she for whom the sun and moon hang in the sky,
You are he or she for whom the earth is solid and liquid,
The divine ship sails the divine sea for you.

What a history is folded, folded inward and inward again, in the single word I,
All the world, and all the inventions of the world, are but the food of the body and the soul of one man—
The past entire, with all its heroes, histories, arts, experiments,
Its store of songs, inventions, voyages, teachers, books,
Garner’d for now and thee—
The heirdom all converged in thee! 

All doctrines, all politics and civilization, exurge from you,
Sculpture and monuments and anything inscribed anywhere are tallied in you,
All architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it—
If you were not breathing and walking here, where would they all be?
The gist of histories and statistics as far back as the records reach is in you this hour,
And myths and tales the same.

From precedents you come, to futurity you go;
Past, present, future, are you and me,
All that we are, the solid and liquid we are, we have advanced to,
We have advanced from what was our own cohesion and formation,
We advance to just as much more, and just as much more.
Time suffices, and the laws suffice.

To think of it!
To think that the sun rose in the east—that men and women were flexible, real, alive—that everything was alive,
To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our part,
To think that we are now here and bear our part.
We are just as good and bad as the oldest and youngest or any,
What the best and worst did, we could do,
What they felt, do not we feel it in ourselves?
What they wished, do we not wish the same?

Each man to himself and each woman to herself, is the word of the past and present, and the true word of immortality;
For none more than you are the present and the past,
For none more than you is immortality.
No one can acquire for another—not one,
No one can grow for another—not one,
The past, the future, light, space, majesty, love—
If they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.

It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and father,
It is to identify you,
It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided.
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest, whatever you are promulges itself,
You are not thrown to the winds,
The hopples fall from your ankles, you find an unfailing sufficiency,

Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, nothing is scanted.

The threads that were spun are gather’d, the weft crosses the warp, the pattern is systematic,
Day and night the weft, the warp, incessant weave, tires not,
You gather certainly and safely around yourself—
Now there shall be a man cohered out of tumult and chaos.
If you are located in yourself you are well located,
You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes,
You can never be dislodged or moved thence.

The guest that was coming, he waited long, he is now housed,
He is one of those who are beautiful and happy,
He is one of those that to look upon and be with is enough.

You are here—life exists and identity,
The eternal powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse,
The role that is what we make it, as great as we like,
Or as small as we like, or both great and 
small.

No life ever lived, even the most uneventful, but, probed to its centre, would be found in itself as subtle a drama as any that poets have ever sung, or playwrights fabled;
For remember that behind all this show of ostensible life—talk, amusements, dress, money, politics, etc.—stands the real life of every man and woman, of those through with their parts and those waiting to commence, of you who hear me now.

I say a man is to vindicate himself above all things and a woman above all things.
Go, dear friend, if need be give up all else, and commence today to inure yourself to pluck, reality, self-esteem, definiteness, elevatedness,
Rest not till you rivet and publish yourself of your own personality,
To confront with your personality all the other personalities of the earth.

Do you not see how it would serve to have such a body and soul that when you enter the crowd an atmosphere of desire and command enters with you, and everyone is impress’d with your personality?
You may so heighten your personality by temperance, by a clean and powerful physique, by elevating the mind through lofty discussions and meditations, and by self-esteem and divine love, that you can hardly go into a room or along the street, but an atmosphere of command and fascination shall exhale out of you upon all you meet.

NEXT: Perfect and Free Individuals