Song of myself
          - Jenny Maxwell

                                                       MRes Art: Theory and Philosophy Graduate




A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,

Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.

Always sex,

Always substance and increase,

Always the procreant urge of the world.

And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent,

And none shall be less familiar than the rest.

And of any man hearty and clean,

And of hay in the barn,

And of the shore and dark-color'd sea-rocks,

And what I assume you shall assume,

And which is ahead?

And will never be any more perfection than there is now,

And withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread,

As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the night,

Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,

But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

Clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.

Clear and sweet is my soul, and

Creeds and schools in abeyance,

Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine,

Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?

Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much?

Have you reckon'd the earth much?

Hoping to cease not till death.

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes,

I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing;

I and this mystery here we stand.

I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,

I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,

I have heard what the talkers were talking,

I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

I loafe and invite my soul,

I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,

I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,

It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,

Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things,

Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen,

Leaving me baskets cover'd with white towels swelling the house with their plenty,

My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart,

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,

Nature without check with original energy.

Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Nor any more youth or age than there is now,

Nor feed on the spectres in books,

Nor look through the eyes of the dead,

Nor take things from me,

Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile,

Out of the dimness opposite equals advance,

Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,

Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my eyes,

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,


Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,

Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights,

That they turn from gazing after and down the road,

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless,

The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides,

The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The feeling of health, the full-noon trill,

The passing of blood and air through my lungs,

The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,

The smoke of my own breath,

The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves,

The song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.

The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind,

The talk of the beginning and the end,

There are millions of suns left,

There was never any more inception than there is now,

Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.

To elaborate is no avail, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is so.

Urge and urge and urge,

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me,

Well entretied, braced in the beams,

While they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.

You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

You shall no longer take things at second or third hand,

You shall not look through my eyes either,

You shall possess the good of the earth and sun,

... the orginal text is from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself (1892)
... rewriting and image courtesy of Jenny Maxwell