From Walt Whitman.
|UNFOLDED out of the folds of the woman, man comes unfolded, and is always to come unfolded;|
|Unfolded only out of the superbest woman of the earth, is to come the superbest man of the earth;|
|Unfolded out of the friendliest woman, is to come the friendliest man;|
|Unfolded only out of the perfect body of a woman, can a man be form’d of perfect body;|
|Unfolded only out of the inimitable poem of the woman, can come the poems of man—(only thence have my poems come;)||5|
|Unfolded out of the strong and arrogant woman I love, only thence can appear the strong and arrogant man I love;|
|Unfolded by brawny embraces from the well-muscled woman I love, only thence come the brawny embraces of the man;|
|Unfolded out of the folds of the woman’s brain, come all the folds of the man’s brain, duly obedient;|
|Unfolded out of the justice of the woman, all justice is unfolded;|
|Unfolded out of the sympathy of the woman is all sympathy:||10|
|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,|
|First the man is shaped in the woman, he can then be shaped in himself.|
Introduction to Walt Whitman’s journal, Specimen Days, by Leslie Jamison:
‘Whitman initially journeyed to the battlefields of the Civil War for personal reasons. After seeing a name he feared was his brother George listed among wartime casualties, in December 1962, he headed to Fredericksburg, where he discovered George had only suffered minor facial lacerations. But this was just the beginning. Whitman started visiting soldiers in hospitals-tens of thousand, all told-and doing what he could: writing letters to families, dressing wounds, bringing treats-rice pudding or blackberry syrup. He once distributed ice cream to all eighteen wards of Carver Hospital.
The goal of a life is to have nothing essential left by the time it leaves its body, the way a flame uses up its wick. This is not sad but as it should be.
Let’s be honest
which doesn’t mean
being harsh, but gentle.
Let’s be clear
which doesn’t mean being dispassionate, but
holding each other up
in the face of what is true.
Let’s be enduring
which doesn’t mean
being important or famous,
but staying useful like a wheel
worn by rain after years of
carrying each other’s burdens.
Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.
‘You shall no longer take things at second or third hand,
nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on
the specters in books;
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take
things from me;
You shall listen to all sides, and filter them from yourself.
“America, if eligible at all to downfall and ruin, is eligible within herself, not without… Always inform yourself; always do the best you can; always vote.”
An essay by Mark Nepo.
‘…All that was left was the bare fact of his own existence, the fact of his breath connecting him to the fact of all existence. He was a piece of life living—that was all.
In discovering your own authority of being, you may want to spend time with the great poem SONG OF MYSELF by Walt Whitman. I urge you to read it slowly, and to be in conversation with the places it awakens in you.
And the next time you’re told you’re good or bad, the next time you’re ignored or rejected, I encourage you to practice your inner resolve; not by criticizing yourself or finding yourself wanting, but by climbing to that place in you that is immune to both submitting and resisting, that place of unquestioned certainty about the fact of life, which Walt Whitman confirms in SONG OF MYSELF when he says:
I do not trouble my spirit
to vindicate itself
or be understood;
I see that the elementary
laws never apologize.
I exist as I am—that is enough;
If no other in the world
be aware, I sit content;
And if each and all be aware,
I sit content.’