Sunday, August 08, 2010

This is what you shall do

". . . this is what you shall do: love the earth and the sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone 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. . . "

Walt Whitman

Alice Walker posted this piece on her blog a week or so ago - The Cushion and the Road: Meditation and Wandering As the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm's Way. I go there often and always find succour. She reminds me of things I know and hold dear but sometimes lose sight of. She reminds me to look inside and outside, both. Her Chicken Chronicles: A Memoir (a tender and unhurried unfolding; each new chapter appears on the blog as it comes to her) is especially penetrating and affecting.

And - oh, oh oh - you have to read this poem. . . Loving Humans


  1. "Dismiss whatever insults your soul..." Thank you, Claire, for the clear-headedness of Whitman and the link to Alice Walker's poem. Having just given demons some air, it is so warming to be reminded of what is also true.

  2. Hi Marylinn - I think we might have been visiting each other's blogs at the same time. . .

    I wonder whether it is by giving our demons an airing that we deflate them, dilute their hold? I find it interesting that there's only one letter's difference between daemon and demon, suspect we do well to tune in to them both since both have something to tell us?

    Wouldn't Alice Walker and Walt Whitman have had plenty to talk about!

  3. The poem's a beauty, isn't it, Melissa...

  4. Good choices Claire. I loved both the Walt Whitman piece and the Alice walker poem.....if only every one lived by these values.

  5. Richardg - your visits are always welcome! I do like to think of people like Alice Walker and Walt Whitman sitting under a tree, talking together... and listening. Or perhaps Theodore Roethke and Jeanette Winterson?
    They are so linked in, drinking from the same water in the same well. Thanks, as always, for coming by.

  6. Oh Claire, thank you for the link to Alice Walker - and her poem - and especially for that wonderful piece from Walt Whitman. Every reading of your blog brings forth people, thoughts, poems, pictures, to enrich the spirit.

  7. Bless you for your generous words, Carol.

    (I thought I'd joined your 'followers' list weeks ago but noticed just now that my pic isn't up there with the rest of your community... Sorry! It is now... your most recent book "Drifting" looks beautiful and was clearly an act of love and courage.