I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Ah Poverties, Wincings, And Sulky Retreats (11)

Every moment of light and dark is a miracle. WALT WHITMAN

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars. WALT WHITMAN

If ever I'm feeling down, dispirited, depressed, lacking in motivation and self-belief, I turn to Walt Whitman. His poetry is so open, so free, so celebratory, so life-enhancing. He believed in joyful self-affirmation — quite a different thing from egocentricity — and embraced wholeheartedly the endless variety and contradictory nature of life, being and the self.

Ah Poverties, Wincings, and Sulky Retreats

Ah poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats,
Ah you foes that in conflict have overcome me,
(For what is my life or any man's life but a conflict with foes,
the old, the incessant war?)
You degradations, you tussle with passions and appetites,
You smarts from dissatisfied friendships, (ah wounds the sharpest of all!)
You toil of painful and choked articulations, you meannesses,
You shallow tongue-talks at tables, (my tongue the shallowest of any;)
You broken resolutions, you racking angers, you smother'd ennuis!
Ah think not you finally triumph, my real self has yet to come forth,
It shall yet march forth o'ermastering, till all lies beneath me,
It shall yet stand up the soldier of ultimate victory.

WALT WHITMAN Leaves of Grass

5 comments:

Ruth Mowry said...

Oh yes.

"There is another reason to love our enemies: They force us to become smarter. The riddles they thrust in front of us sharpen our wits and sculpt our souls.

Try this: Act as if your adversaries are great teachers. Thank them for how crucial they've been in your education." — Rob Brezsny

George said...

I agree with you about Whitman. He was liberated before personal liberation was cool.

am said...

This moves me:

"... my real self has yet to come forth ..."

And then I hear this rising up in response:

"... I fought with my twin, that enemy within, 'til both of us fell by the way ..."
-- Bob Dylan, lyrics from "Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)"

sackerson said...

"shallowest of any;)"... I never knew Whitman invented the emoticon! :)

I too have been reading him recently. For me, he always has an aura of weirdness which goes back to my earliest readings of him when I was too young. He said some wonderful things. My fvourite is that oft quoted bit of prose that includes "re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem".

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for this quote about seeing the positive in the negative, Ruth.

Yes, George, he was way ahead!

Thanks for this, Am. I think we have many selves, but only one authentic self, which is not-self.

Dominic :) I looked up that quote you gave and it's from Whitman's 1855 intro. to 'Leaves of Grass' — the whole piece is inspiring and quite wonderful.