Word Play

Poetry Friday (for H.)


This is the female form;  
A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot;  
It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction!  
I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor—
       all falls aside but myself and it;
Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, the atmosphere and the
       clouds, and what was expected of heaven or
       fear’d of hell, are now consumed;  
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it—the response likewise
Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands, all diffused—
       mine too diffused;  
Ebb stung by the flow, and flow stung by the ebb—love-flesh swelling
       and deliciously aching;  
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of love,
       white-blow and delirious juice;
Bridegroom night of love, working surely and softly into the prostrate dawn;  
Undulating into the willing and yielding day,  
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh’d day.  
This is the nucleus—after the child is born of woman, the man is born of woman;  
This is the bath of birth—this is the merge of small and large, and the outlet again.
Be not ashamed, women—your privilege encloses the rest, and is the exit
       of the rest;  
You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul.  
The female contains all qualities, and tempers them—she is in her place,
       and moves with perfect balance;  
She is all things duly veil’d—she is both passive and active;  
She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons as well as daughters.
As I see my soul reflected in nature;  
As I see through a mist, one with inexpressible completeness and beauty,  
See the bent head, and arms folded over the breast—the female I see

  — Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892), American poet, essayist, journalist and humanist.

One Reply to “Poetry Friday (for H.)

  1. Walt Whitman invented modern American poetry. Ginsberg and all the rest owe and pay him homage. A wonderful excerpt. I was just reading this not long ago while waiting to fight (and win) a traffic ticket I got while cycling!

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