This is What You Shall Do

“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass


An Olive Aside: Have you read Leaves of Grass? I am just delving into its rich celebration of life. (Perhaps too much of a celebration for its nineteenth-century readers, who balked at its language of the body and sexual love). It’s readily available online, so you have no excuse not to at least take a glance.

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2 Responses to This is What You Shall Do

  1. SueAnn September 25, 2011 at 10:05 am #

    It has been a long time since I have read it. I will give it a go!
    Thanks for sharing the excerpt

  2. Anonymous September 25, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Wise words to live by! I don't think I have ever read this. It looks to be the longest sentence in history though. :P
    Keep the updates rolling! Missed em'

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