Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Walt Whitman. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Walter Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sensuality. Whitman's own life came under scrutiny for his presumed homosexuality.
Born in Huntington on Long Island, as a child and through much of his career he resided in Brooklyn. At age 11, he left formal schooling to go to work. Later, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, and a government clerk. Whitman's major poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money and became well known. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892.
During the American Civil War, he went to Washington, D.C. and worked in hospitals caring for the wounded. His poetry often focused on both loss and healing. On the death of Abraham Lincoln, whom Whitman greatly admired, he wrote his well known poems, "O Captain! My Captain!" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", and gave a series of lectures. After a stroke towards the end of his life, Whitman moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. When he died at age 72, his funeral was a public event.
Whitman's influence on poetry remains strong. Mary Whitall Smith Costelloe argued: "You cannot really understand America without Walt Whitman, without Leaves of Grass ... He has expressed that civilization, 'up to date,' as he would say, and no student of the philosophy of history can do without him." Modernist poet Ezra Pound called Whitman "America's poet ... He is America."
Happiness, not in another place but this place, not for another hour, but this hour.
The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters is simplicity.
Seeing, hearing and feeling are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
Women sit or move to and fro, some are old, some young. The young are beautiful -- but the old are more beautiful than the young.
Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.
Women sit, or move to and fro -- some old, some young; The young are beautiful -- but the old are more beautiful than the young.
A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
City of orgies, walks and joys! City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one day make you illustrious,.
With perfect health, there are no low spirits and cannot be.
O from his masterful sweep, the warning cry of the eagle!
The most affluent man is he that confronts all the shows he sees by equivalents out of the stronger wealth of himself.
Agonies are one of my changes of garments;
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels ... I myself become the wounded person,
My hurt turns livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe.
How beggarly appear arguments before a defiant deed!
Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning, Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing, I tread day and night such roads.
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.
Many a good man I have seen go under.
O the joy of my spirit -- it is uncaged -- it darts like lightning! It is not enough to have this globe or a certain time, I will have thousands of globes and all time.
Whoever degrades another degrades me.
Come lovely and soothing death, Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving, In the day, in the night, to all, to each, Sooner or later, delicate death.
I know perfectly well my own egotism,
And know my omnivorous words, and cannot say any less,
And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
Thought Of equality- as if it harm'd me, giving others the same chances and rights as myself- as if it were not indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same.
I think of few heroic actions, which cannot be traced to the artistical impulse. He who does great deeds, does them from his innate sensitiveness to moral beauty.
Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? Well I have, for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of a rock has.
Mark the spirit of invention everywhere, thy rapid patents, Thy continual workshops, foundries, risen or rising, See, from their chimneys how the tall flame-fires stream.
Each of us inevitable; Each of us limitless-each of us with his or her right upon the earth.
The known universe has one complete lover and that is the greatest poet.
What beauty there is in words; what a lurking curious charm in the sound some words.
I act as the tongue of you,
... tied in your mouth ... in mine it begins to be loosened.
The chief trait of any given poet is always the spirit he brings to the observation of Humanity and Nature--the mood out of which he contemplates his subjects.
I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.
And as to you Corpse I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me,
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing,
I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polish'd breasts of melons.
My little notebooks were beginnings -- they were the ground into which I dropped the seed... I would work in this way when I was out in the crowds, then put the stuff together at home.
If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred.
I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be complete,
The earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who remains jagged and broken.
There can be no theory of any account unless it corroborate with the theory of the earth.
I am given up by traitors;
I talk wildly ... I have lost my wits ... I and nobody else am the greatest traitor,
I went myself first to the headland ... my own hands carried me there.
I meet new Walt Whitmans everyday. There are a dozen of them afloat. I don't know which Walt Whitman I am.
For America, if eligible at all to downfall and ruin, is eligible within herself, not without;.
Strangle the singers who will not sing you loud and strong.
Logic and sermons never convince, The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.
Camden was originally an accident, but I shall never be sorry I was left over in Camden. It has brought me blessed returns.
Now, dearest comrade, lift me to your face,
We must separate awhile
Here! take from my lips this kiss.
Whoever you are, I give it especially to you;
So long! And I hope we shall meet again.
Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep for the dead I loved so well.
I do not seek good fortune -- I am good fortune!
People who serve you without love get even behind your back.
So here I sit in the early candle-light of old age-I and my book-casting backward glances over out travel'd road.
Of all mankind the great poet is the equable man. Not in him but off from him things are grotesque or eccentric or fail of their sanity.
A man is a great thing upon the earth and through eternity; but every jot of the greatness of man is unfolded out of woman.
A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibility of their own souls.
All architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it.
Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
The new rule shall rule as the soul rules, and as the love and justice and equality that are in the soul rule.
Somehow I have been stunned. Stand back!
Give me a little time beyond my cuffed head and slumbers
and dreams and gaping,
I discover myself on the verge of the usual mistake.
Shut not your doors to me proud libraries.
Unscrew the locks from the doors ! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs !
I wear my hat as I please, indoors or out.
There was a child went forth every day, And the first object he looked upon, that object he became.
Comerado, this is no book,Who touches this, touches a man,(Is it night? Are we here alone?)It is I you hold, and who holds you,I spring from the pages into your arms-decease calls me forth.
I will write the evangel-poem of comrades and of love.
Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost.
Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her that it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
O amazement of things-even the least particle!
Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams, Now I wash the gum from your eyes, You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.
Clear and sweet is my soul, clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.
Are you the new person drawn toward me?
Are you the new person drawn toward me? To begin with, take warning, I am surely far different from what you suppose.
I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash'd babe, and am not contained between my hat and my boots.
I know I am deathless We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers, There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.
If you want me again look for me under your boot soles.
Wisdom is not finally tested by the schools, Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it to another not having it, Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof.
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools, Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it to another not having it, Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof, Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content, Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things; Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.
I am satisfied ... I see, dance, laugh, sing.
Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands my blood? Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?