Never liked Walt Whitman too much as a poet and probably never will. The book I’m reading right now, though, has an 80-page chapter using his work as a springboard for…well, for who knows what? I haven’t finished the chapter yet. Anyway, my estimation aside, he’s not without his quotable moments. Page numbers are from Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, but all words are Whitman’s.
I guess [the grass] is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white…I give them the same, I receive them the same.
I…do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else,
And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me,
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.
I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen,
And accrue what I hear into myself…