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Song Of The Open Road

Walt Whitman 1819 (West Hills) – 1892 (Camden)




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. 10

(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, 20
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 equable showers!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
I think you are latent with unseen existences--you are so dear to me.

You flagg'd walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides!
you distant ships! 30
You rows of houses! you window-pierc'd façades! you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
From all that has been near you, I believe you have imparted to
yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me;
From the living and the dead I think you have peopled your impassive
surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable
with 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, 40
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;) 50
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. 60

I am larger, better than I thought;
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:30 min read
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Walt Whitman

Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. more…

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