American poet Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, is a collection of poems notable for its frank delight in and praise of the senses, during a time when such candid displays were considered immoral. Where much previous poetry, especially English, relied on symbolism, allegory, and meditation on the religious and spiritual, Leaves of Grass exalted the body and the material world.
O Me! O Life! O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring, Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish, Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd, Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me, Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined, The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
One Hour to Madness and Joy One hour to madness and joy! O furious! O confine me not! (What is this that frees me so in storms? What do my shouts amid lightnings and raging winds mean?) O to drink the mystic deliria deeper than any other man! O savage and tender achings! (I bequeath them to you my children, I tell them to you, for reasons, O bridegroom and bride.) O to be yielded to you whoever you are, and you to be yielded to me in defiance of the world! O to return to Paradise! O bashful and feminine! O to draw you to me, to plant on you for the first time the lips of a determin'd man. O the puzzle, the thrice-tied knot, the deep and dark pool, all untied and illumin'd! O to speed where there is space enough and air enough at last! To be absolv'd from previous ties and conventions, I from mine and you from yours! To find a new unthought-of nonchalance with the best of Nature! To have the gag remov'd from one's mouth! To have the feeling to-day or any day I am sufficient as I am. O something unprov'd! something in a trance! To escape utterly from others' anchors and holds! To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dangerous! To court destruction with taunts, with invitations! To ascend, to leap to the heavens of the love indicated to me! To rise thither with my inebriate soul! To be lost if it must be so! To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness and freedom! With one brief hour of madness and joy.
You who celebrate bygones, Who have explored the outward, the surfaces of the races, the life that has exhibited itself, Who have treated of man as the creature of politics, aggregates, rulers and priests, I, habitan of the Alleghanies, treating of him as he is in himself in his own rights, Pressing the pulse of the life that has seldom exhibited itself, (the great pride of man in himself,)
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