I cannot too often repeat that Democracy is a word the real gist of which still sleeps, quite unawakened, notwithstanding the resonance and the many angry tempests out of which its syllables have come, from pen or tongue. It is a great word, whose history, I suppose, remains unwritten because that history has yet to be enacted.
Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.
A child said, “What is the grass?” fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? … I do not know what it is any more than he.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?.
What do you think has become of the women andchildren?.
They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward… .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
Topics: Death and Dying, Death
Our leading men are not of much account and never have been, but the average of the people is immense, beyond all history. Sometimes I think in all departments, literature and art included, that will be the way our superiority will exhibit itself. We will not have great individuals or great leaders, but a great average bulk, unprecedentedly great.
There’s a man in the world who is never turned down, whatever he chances to stray; he gets the glad hand in the populous town, or out where the farmers makes hay; he’s greeted with pleasure on deserts of sand, and deep in the aisles of the woods; wherever he goes there’s a welcoming hand-he’s the man who delivers the goods.
I am an acme of things accomplished, and I am encloser of things to be.
The city fireman-the fire that suddenly bursts forth in the close-pack’d square,
The arriving engines, the hoarse shouts, the nimble stepping and daring,
The strong command through the fire-trumpets, the falling in line,
the rise and fall of the arms forcing the water,
The slender, spasmic, blue-white jets-the bringing to bear of the hooks and ladders, and their execution,
The crash and cut away of connecting wood-work, or through floors, if the fire smoulders under them,
The crowd with their lit faces, watching-the glare and dense shadows;….
There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or streching eyeless years,
The early lilacs became part of the child,
And grass and white and red morning-glories and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird…
All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.
Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is gathered, it is the fourth of Seventh-month, (what salutes of cannon and small arms!)
Out of every fruition of success, no matter what, comes forth something to make a new effort necessary.
Topics: Success is not everything
I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least…
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass;
I find letters from God dropped in the street, and everyone is signed by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know
that whereso’er I go
Others will punctually come forever and ever.
Topics: Faith, Faces, Divinity, God, Love, Letters
The beauty of independence, departure, actions that rely on themselves.
O lands! O all so dear to me—what you are, I become part of that, whatever it is.
Freedom – to walk free and own no superior.
I see the President almost every day. I see very plainly Abraham Lincoln’s dark brown face with its deep-cut lines, the eyes always to me with a deep latent sadness in the expression. None of the artists or pictures has caught the deep, though subtle and indirect expression of this man’s face. There is something else there. One of the great portrait painters of two or three centuries ago is needed.
Have you learned lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who rejected you, and braced themselves against you, or disputed the passage with you?
Topics: Learning, Opposition
I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious. – Whitman, Walt
I accept reality and dare not question it.
The beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Nothing endures but personal qualities.
Their manners, speech, dress, friendships,—the freshness and candor of their physiognomy—the picturesque looseness of their carriage—their deathless attachment to freedom—their aversion to anything indecorous or soft or mean—the practical acknowledgment of the citizens of one state by the citizens of all other states—the fierceness of their roused resentment—their curiosity and welcome of novelty—their self-esteem and wonderful sympathy—their susceptibility to a slight—the air they have of persons who never knew how it felt to stand in the presence of superiors—the fluency of their speech—their delight in music, a sure symptom of manly tenderness and native elegance of soul—their good temper and open-handedness—the terrible significance of their elections, the President’s taking off his hat to them, not they to him—these too are unrhymed poetry. It awaits the gigantic and generous treatment worthy of it.
As for me, I know nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water, Or stand under the trees in the woods, Or talk by day with any one I love, Or sleep in bed at night with any one I love, Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon… Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, Or of stars shining so quiet and bright, Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring… What stranger miracles are there?
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Ralph Waldo Emerson American Philosopher
- Henry David Thoreau American Philosopher
- Edna St. Vincent Millay American Poet
- Gore Vidal American Novelist
- James Russell Lowell American Poet, Critic
- Christopher Morley American Novelist, Essayist
- Natalie Clifford Barney American Playwright
- John Jay Chapman American Biographer
- Herman Melville American Novelist
- Gertrude Stein American Writer