Marc Enfroy -Alawys
Excerpts from Song of the Open Road
Walt Whitman (1819–1892).
AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.
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.
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens;
I carry them, men and women—I carry them with me
wherever I go;
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them;
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)
You road I enter upon and look around! I believe you
are not all that is here;
I believe that much unseen is also here.
Here the profound lesson of reception,
neither preference or denial;
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas’d,
the illiterate person, are not denied; The birth,
the hasting after the physician, the beggar’s tramp,
the drunkard’s stagger, the laughing party of mechanics,
The escaped youth, the rich person’s carriage, the fop,
the eloping couple,
The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture
into the town, the return back from the town,
They pass—I also pass—anything passes—none
can be interdicted;
None but are accepted—none but are dear to me.
You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings, and
give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
I think you are latent with unseen existences—you are
so dear to me.
The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping
where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay fresh
sentiment of the road.
O highway I travel! O public road! do you say to me,
Do not leave me?
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you are lost?
Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well-beaten and
undenied—adhere to me?
O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave
you—yet I love you;
You express me better than I can express myself;
You shall be more to me than my poem.
I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air,
and all great poems also;
I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles;
(My judgments, thoughts, I henceforth try by the open air, the road;)
I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like,
and whoever beholds me shall like me;
I think whoever I see must be happy.
From this hour, freedom!
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits
and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of
the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space;
The east and the west are mine, and the north and
the south are mine.
I am larger, better than I thought;
I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me;
I can repeat over to men and women, You have done
such good to me, I would do the same to you.
I will recruit for myself and you as I go;
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go;
I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them;
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and
shall bless me.
Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear, it would
not amaze me;
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear’d,
it would not astonish me.
Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.
Here a great personal deed has room;
A great deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law, and mocks
all authority and all argument against it.
Here is the test of wisdom;
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 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.
Here is realization;
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him;
The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you,
you are vacant of them.
Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you
Here is adhesiveness—it is not previously fashion’d—it is apropos;
Do you know what it is, as you pass, to be loved by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?
Here is the efflux of the Soul;
The efflux of the Soul comes from within, through embower’d
gates, ever provoking questions:
These yearnings, why are they? These thoughts in the darkness,
why are they?
Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me,
the sun-light expands my blood?
Why, when they leave me, do my pennants of joy sink flat
Why are there trees I never walk under, but large and melodious
thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees, and
always drop fruit as I pass;)
What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers?
What with some driver, as I ride on the seat by his side?
What with some fisherman, drawing his seine by the shore,
as I walk by, and pause?
What gives me to be free to a woman’s or man’s good-will?
What gives them to be free to mine?
The efflux of the Soul is happiness—here is happiness;
I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times;
Now it flows unto us—we are rightly charged.
Here rises the fluid and attaching character;
The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and
sweetness of man and woman;
(The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter
every day out of the roots of themselves, than it sprouts
fresh and sweet continually out of itself.)
Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat
of the love of young and old;
From it falls distill’d the charm that mocks beauty and attainments;
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.
Allons! to that which is endless, as it was beginningless,
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and
nights they tend to,
Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys;
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it,
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach
it and pass it,
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for
you—however long, but it stretches and waits for you;
To see no possession but you may possess it—enjoying all
without labor or purchase—abstracting the feast, yet not
abstracting one particle of it;
To take the best of the farmer’s farm and the rich man’s
elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married
couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens,
To take to your use out of the compact cities as you
To carry buildings and streets with you afterward
wherever you go,
To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you
encounter them—to gather the love out of their hearts,
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all
that you leave them behind you,
To know the universe itself as a road—as many roads—as
roads for traveling souls.
The Soul travels;
The body does not travel as much as the soul;
The body has just as great a work as the soul, and parts
away at last for the journeys of the soul.
All parts away for the progress of souls;
All religion, all solid things, arts, governments,—all
that was or is apparent upon this globe or any globe,
falls into niches and corners before the procession
of Souls along the grand roads of the universe.
Of the progress of the souls of men and women along
the grand roads of the universe, all other progress
is the needed emblem and sustenance.
Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad,
turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men,
rejected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know
not where they go;
But I know that they go toward the best—toward
Allons! through struggles and wars!
The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.
Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? nature?
Now understand me well—It is provided in the essence of things,
that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come
forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.
My call is the call of battle—I nourish active rebellion;
He going with me must go well arm’d;
He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry
Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well.
Allons! be not detain’d!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book
on the shelf unopen’d!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in
the court, and the judge expound the law.
Mon enfant! I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?