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220 Walt Whitman Quotes to Illuminate Your Life

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1. “Resist much, obey little.”

2. “Give me the splendid, silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.”

3. “Happiness, not in another place but this place; not for another hour, but this hour.”

4. “I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.”

5. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.”

6. “Re-examine all that you have been told, dismiss that which insults your soul.”

7. “What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.”

8. “Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”

9. “The first step I say awed me and pleas’d me so much, I have hardly gone and hardly wish’d to go any farther.”

10. “Do anything, but let it produce joy.”

11. “Simplicity is the glory of expression.”

12. “Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel by yourself. It is not far. It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere, on water and land.”

13. “I am an acme of things accomplish’d, and I an encloser of things to be.”

14. “Either define the moment or the moment will define you.”

15. “Henceforth, I ask not good fortune. I myself am good fortune.”

16. “I swear to you, there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.”

17. “Be curious, not judgmental.”

18. “Peace is always beautiful.”

19. “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

20. “I celebrate myself, and sing myself.”

21. “The art of art, the glory of expression, and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.”

22. “I exist as I am, that is enough.”

23. “We were together. I forget the rest.”

24. “Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.”

25. “To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.”

26. “And as for me, I know nothing else but miracles.”

27. “Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me. A far down I see the huge first. Nothing, I know I was even there, I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist and took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon. Long I was hugg’d close—long and long.”

28. “I will make a song for the ears of the President, full of weapons with menacing points, and behind the weapons countless dissatisfied faces.”

29. “Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.”

30. “Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.”

31. “I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.”

32. “All beauty comes from beautiful blood and a beautiful brain.”

33. “Love the earth, and sun, and animals. Despite riches, give alms to everyone that asks.”

34. “They do not sweat and whine about their condition. They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins. They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God. Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things. Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago. No one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.”

35. “I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.”

36. “If you’ve done it, it ain’t bragging.”

37. “When one reaches out to help another he touches the face of God.”

38. “In the name of these States shall I scorn the antique?”

39. “I am satisfied. I see, dance, laugh, sing.”

40. “Pointing to another world will never stop vice among us, shedding light over this world can alone help us.”

41. “I refuse putting from me the best that I am.”

42. “I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.”

43. “Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.”

44. “I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable.”

45. “Let that which stood in front go behind, let that which was behind advance to the front, let bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new propositions, let the old propositions be postponed.”

46. “In the confusion we stay with each other, happy to be together, speaking without uttering a single word.”

47. “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.”

48. “Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch.”

49. “I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained, I stand and look at them long and long.”

50. “Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you. That you may be my poem. I whisper with my lips close to your ear. I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.”

51. “You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, you shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.”

52. “I like the scientific spirit—the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingness to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them, this is ultimately fine—it always keeps the way beyond open—always gives life, thought, affection, the whole man, a chance to try over again after a mistake—after a wrong guess.”

53. “The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung.”

54. “Freedom—to walk free and own no superior.”

55. “Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself.”

56. “Here or henceforward—it is all the same to me, I accept time absolutely.”

57. “I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.”

58. “Only themselves understand themselves and the like of themselves, as souls only understand souls.”

59. “I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone, I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again, I am to see to it that I do not lose you.”

60. “I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”

61. “To me, the sea is a continual miracle. The fishes that swim, the rocks, the motion of the waves, the ships with men in them—what stranger miracles are there?”

62. “The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first. Be not be discouraged, keep on there are divine things, well enveloped.”

63. “You must not know too much or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers and watercraft. A certain free-margin, or even vagueness, ignorance, or credulity helps your enjoyment of these things.”

64. “Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”

65. “Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, strong and content I travel the open road.”

66. “A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.”

67. “After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear, what remains? Nature remains. Me imperturbe, standing at ease in nature, master of all or mistress of all.”

68. “Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?”

69. “To the real artist in humanity, what are called bad manners are often the most picturesque and significant of all.”

70. “The truth is simple. If it was complicated, everyone would understand it.”

71. “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love.”

72. “Other lands have their vitality in a few, a class, but we have it in the bulk of our people.”

73. “Judging from the main portions of the history of the world, so far, justice is always in jeopardy.”

74. “I mind how we once lay such a transparent summer morning. How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn’d over upon me? And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart, and reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my feet.”

75. “In the faces of men and women, I see God.”

76. “Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.”

77. “These are the days that must happen to you.”

78. “Oh while I live, to be the ruler of life, not a slave, to meet life as a powerful conqueror, and nothing exterior to me will ever take command of me.”

79. “Oh, to be alive in such an age, when miracles are everywhere, and every inch of common air throbs a tremendous prophecy, of greater marvels yet to be.”

80. “Failing to fetch me at first, . Missing me one place, search another. I stop somewhere waiting for you.”

81. “The future is no more uncertain than the present.”

82. “I wish to infuse myself among you till I see it common for you to walk hand in hand.”

83. “I dream’d in a dream. I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth. I dream’d that was the new city of friends. Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love, it led the rest.”

84. “The clock indicates the moment, but what does eternity indicate?”

85. “These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me. If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing.”

86. “Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams, now I wash the gum from your eyes, you must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.”

87. “All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses.”

88. “Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road. Healthy, free, the world before me.”

89. “They are alive and well somewhere, the smallest sprout shows that there is really no death. And if ever there was it led forward to life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it. And ceas’d the moment life appear’d. All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses. And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.”

90. “And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”

91. “Nothing endures but personal qualities.”

92. “To have great poets, there must be great audiences.”

93. “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s . We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering. These are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”

94. “The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.”

95. “Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow.”

96. “O captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done. The ship has weather’d every wrack. The prize we sought is won. The port is near, the bells I hear. The people all exulting. While following eyes, the steady keel. The vessel grim and daring. But heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red. Where on the deck my captain lies. Fallen, cold, and dead.”

97. “The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment. To put things down without deliberation, without worrying about their style. Without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote ,wrote, wrote. By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.”

98. “To begin with, take warning, I am surely far different from what you suppose. Do you suppose you will find in me your ideal? Do you think it so easy to have me become your lover? Do you think the friendship of me would be unalloy’d satisfaction? Do you think I am trusty and faithful? Do you see no further than this façade—this smooth and tolerant manner of me? Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground toward a real heroic man? Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all maya, illusion?”

99. “Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you? We convince by our presence.”

100. “The real war will never get in the books.”

101. “There is no week nor day nor hour when tyranny may not enter upon this country, if the people lose their roughness and spirit of defiance.”

102. “Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.”

103. “There is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheeled universe.”

104. “The words of my book are nothing, the drift of it everything.”

105. “And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.”

106. “To die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.”

107. “I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death.”

108. “The beautiful uncut hair of graves.”

109. “Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sunrise would kill me, if I could not now and always send sunrise out of me.”

110. “And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud.”

111. “I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.”

112. “Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave, let him know he has enough.”

113. “Have you learned the 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 braced themselves against you, and disputed passages with you?”

114. “Copulation is no more foul to me than death is.”

115. “I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God, not in the least.”

116. “There is no God any more divine than yourself.”

117. “I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then.”

118. “I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own, and I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own. And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers, and that a kelson of the creation is love.”

119. “God is a mean-spirited, pugnacious bully bent on revenge against His children for failing to live up to his impossible standards.”

120. “I am larger, better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.”

121. “I say to mankind, be not curious about God. For I, who am curious about each, am not curious about God.”

122. “Falter not o book, fulfil your destiny.”

123. “Your facts are useful, and yet they are not my dwelling.”

124. “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.”

125. “Heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air.”

126. “The man’s body is sacred and the woman’s body is sacred. No matter who it is, it is sacred. One of the immigrants just landed on the wharf. Each belongs here or anywhere just as much as the well-off, just as much as you.”

127. “The sum of all known value and respect, I add up in you, whoever you are.”

128. “Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you.”

129. “The poet judges not as a judge judges but as the sun falling around a helpless thing.”

130. “I accept reality and dare not question it.”

131. “The whole theory of the universe is directed unerringly to one single individual.”

132. “If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred.”

133. “Whoever degrades another degrades me, and whatever is done or said returns at last to me.”

134. “Stand up for the crazy and stupid.”

135. “The beauty of independence, departure, actions that rely on themselves.”

136. “There is that indescribable freshness and unconsciousness about an illiterate person that humbles and mocks the power of the noblest expressive genius.”

137. “The shallow consider liberty a release from all law, from every constraint. The wise man sees in it, on the contrary, the potent law of laws.”

138. “All truths wait in all things.”

139. “I heard what was said of the universe, heard it and heard it for several thousand years, it is middling well as far as it goes, but is that all?”

140. “Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity.”

141. “The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book.”

142. “He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.”

143. “Produce great men, the rest follows.”

144. “Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all.”

145. “The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.”

146. “I see great things in . It’s our game, the American game.”

147. “A great city is that which has the greatest men and women.”

148. “I say that democracy can never prove itself beyond cavalry, until it finds and luxuriantly grows its own forms of art, poems, schools, theology, displacing all that exists, or that has been produced anywhere in the past, under opposite influences.”

149. “The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.”

150. “I cannot be awake, for nothing looks to me as it did before, or else I am awake for the first time, and all before has been a mean sleep.”

151. “There was never any more inception than there is now. Nor any more youth or age than there is now. And will never be any more perfection than there is now. Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.”

152. “Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of love, white-blow and delirious juice.”

153. “I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen, and accrue what I hear into myself and let sound contribute toward me.”

154. “It makes such a difference where you read.”

155. “I swear I begin to see the meaning of these things. It is not the earth, it is not America, who is so great, it is I who am great or to be great.”

156. “A leaf of grass, the egg of the wren, the running blackberry, and a mouse is a miracle enough.”

157. “I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.”

158. “From this hour, freedom! Going where I like, my own master.”

159. “I inhale great draught of space, the east and west are mine, and the north and south are mine.”

160. “If you see a good deal remarkable in me I see just as much remarkable in you.”

161. “Loafe with me on the grass—lose the stop from your throat. Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or lecture, not even the best. Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.”

162. “To me, every cubic inch of space is a miracle.”

163. “To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.”

164. “My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach, with the twirl of my tongue I encompass words and volumes of words.”

165. “All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own, else it were time lost listening to me.”

166. “The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and loitering.”

167. “Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass, be not afraid of my body.”

168. “It seems to me that everything in the light and air ought to be happy.”

169. “I will sleep no more but arise, you oceans that have been calm within me! how I feel you, fathomless, stirring, preparing unprecedented waves and storms.”

170. “From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines.”

171. “I laugh at what you call dissolution, and I know the amplitude of time.”

172. “All forces have been steadily employ’d to complete and delight me. Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.”

173. “In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less, and the good or bad, I say of myself I say of them.”

174. “I do not say these things for a dollar, or to fill up the time while I wait for a boat.”

175. “I meet new Walt Whitmans everyday. There are a dozen of them afloat. I don’t know which Walt Whitman I am.”

176. “If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.”

177. “Sometimes with one I love I fill myself with rage for fear I effuse unreturned love, but now I think there is no unreturned love, the pay is certain one way or another.”

178. “It alone is without flaw, it alone rounds and completes all. That mystic baffling wonder.”

179. “Women sit or move to and for, some old, some young, the young are beautiful—but the old are more beautiful than the young.”

180. “Clear and sweet is my soul, clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.”

181. “I and this mystery, here we stand.”

182. “How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick. Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself. In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time. Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.”

183. “My words itch at your ears till you understand them.”

184. “You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, but I shall be good health to you nevertheless and filter and fibre your blood.”

185. “I have said that the soul is not more than the body. And I have said that the body is not more than the soul and nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s-self is.”

186. “I am for those who believe in loose delights, I share the midnight orgies of young men, I dance with the dancers and drink with the drinkers.”

187. “I swear I will never mention love or death inside a house. And I swear I never will translate myself at all, only to him or her who privately stays with me in the open air.”

188. “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

189. “I tramp a perpetual journey.”

190. “I hate commas in the wrong places.”

191. “A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibility of their own souls.”

192. “You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, not look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books.”

193. “The last scud of the day holds back for me. It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds. It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.”

194. “Of equality—as if it harmed me, giving others the same chances and rights as myself—as if it were not indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same.

195. “Each of us is inevitable. Each of us limitless. Each of us with his or her right upon the earth.”

196. “This hour I tell things in confidence. I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.”

197. “I am the poet of the body and I am the poet of the soul. The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me. The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.”

198. “When I give, I give myself.”

199. “I wear my hat as I please, indoors or out.”

200. “Long have you timidly waded. Holding a plank by the shore, now I will you to be a bold swimmer. To jump off in the midst of the sea. Rise again, nod to me, shout and laughingly dash with your hair.”

201. “Agonies are one of my changes of garments.”

202. “The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.”

203. “Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever after-ward resumes its liberty.”

204. “And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero.”

205. “When the materials are ready, the architects shall appear.”

206. “And that all the things of the universe are perfect miracles, each as profound as any.”

207. “The road to wisdom is paved with excess. The mark of a true writer is their ability to mystify the familiar and familiarize the strange.”

208. “It is only the novice in political economy who thinks it is the duty of the government to make its citizens happy government has no such office.”

209. “This is the city, and I am one of the citizens. Whatever interests the rest interests me.”

210. “Are you the new person drawn toward me?”

211. “Lilac, with a branch of pine, some moss which I pull’d off a live-oak in Florida as it hung trailing down. Here, some pinks and laurel leaves, and a handful of sage.”

212. “We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers, there are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.”

213. “Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!”

214. “Press close bare-bosomed night—press close magnetic nourishing night! Night of south winds—night of the large few stars! Still nodding night—mad naked summer night.”

215. “If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.”

216. “The ecstasy is so short but the forgetting is so long.”

217. “The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him, it cannot fail.”

218. “When I heard the learned astronomer, when the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me. When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them. When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room.”

219. “Those who love each other shall become invincible.”

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