Published Works

Books by Whitman



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page ] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -




GREAT ARE THE MYTHS.

1

1GREAT are the myths—I too delight in them;
Great are Adam and Eve—I too look back and accept
them;
Great the risen and fallen nations and their poets,
women, sages, inventors, rulers, warriors, and
priests.

2Great is Liberty! great is Equality! I am their fol-
lower;
Helmsmen of nations, choose your craft! where you
sail, I sail,
I weather it out with you, or sink with you.

3Great is Youth—equally great is Old Age—great are
the Day and Night;
Great is Wealth—great is Poverty—great is Expression
—great is Silence.

4Youth, large, lusty, loving—Youth, full of grace, force,
fascination!
Do you know that Old Age may come after you, with
equal grace, force, fascination?

5Day, full-blown and splendid—Day of the immense
sun, action, ambition, laughter,
The Night follows close, with millions of suns, and
sleep, and restoring darkness.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 250] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



6Wealth, with the flush hand, fine clothes, hospi-
tality;
But then the Soul's wealth, which is candor, knowl-
edge, pride, enfolding love;
(Who goes for men and women showing Poverty richer
than wealth?)

7Expression of speech! in what is written or said, for
-get not that Silence is also expressive,
That anguish as hot as the hottest, and contempt as
cold as the coldest, may be without words.


2

8Great is the Earth, and the way it became what it is;
Do you imagine it has stopt at this? the increase aban-
don'd?
Understand then that it goes as far onward from this,
as this is from the times when it lay in covering
waters and gases, before man had appear'd.

9Great is the quality of Truth in man;
The quality of truth in man supports itself through all
changes,
It is inevitably in the man—he and it are in love, and
never leave each other.

10The truth in man is no dictum, it is vital as eye-
sight;
If there be any Soul, there is truth—if there be man or
woman there is truth—if there be physical or
moral, there is truth;
If there be equilibrium or volition, there is truth—if
there be things at all upon the earth, there is
truth.

11O truth of the earth! I am determin'd to press my
way toward you;
Sound your voice! I scale mountains, or dive in the
sea after you.




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 251] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



3

12Great is Language—it is the mightiest of the sci-
ences,
It is the fulness, color, form, diversity of the earth, and
of men and women, and of all qualities and pro-
cesses;
It is greater than wealth—it is greater than buildings,
ships, religions, paintings, music.

13Great is the English speech—what speech is so great
as the English?
Great is the English brood—what brood has so vast a
destiny as the English?
It is the mother of the brood that must rule the earth
with the new rule;
The new rule shall rule as the Soul rules, and as the
love, justice, equality in the Soul rule.

14Great is Law—great are the few old land-marks of
the law,
They are the same in all times, and shall not be dis-
turb'd.


4

15Great is Justice!
Justice is not settled by legislators and laws—it is in
the Soul;
It cannot be varied by statutes, any more than love,
pride, the attraction of gravity, can;
It is immutable—it does not depend on majorities—
majorities or what not, come at last before the
same passionless and exact tribunal.

16For justice are the grand natural lawyers, and per-
fect judges—is it in their Souls;
It is well assorted—they have not studied for nothing
—the great includes the less;
They rule on the highest grounds—they oversee all
eras, states, administrations.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 252] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



17The perfect judge fears nothing—he could go front to
front before God;
Before the perfect judge all shall stand back—life and
death shall stand back—heaven and hell shall
stand back.


5

18Great is Life, real and mystical, wherever and who-
ever;
Great is Death—sure as life holds all parts together,
Death holds all parts together.

19Has Life much purport?—Ah, Death has the great-
est purport.


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.