Tuesday, April 11, 2017

a somebody?

About a decade after he made his oft-quoted proclamation in Leaves of Grass — 
“Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, 
/ (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
 — Whitman considers the cohesion of those multitudes:

There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a thought that rises, 
independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shining eternal.
This is the thought of identity — yours for you, whoever you are, 
as mine for me. Miracle of miracles, beyond statement, most spiritual
 and vaguest of earth’s dreams, yet hardest basic fact,
 and only entrance to all facts. 
In such devout hours,
 in the midst of the significant wonders of heaven and earth, 
(significant only because of the Me in the centre,)
 creeds, conventions, fall away and become of no account 
before this simple idea. Under the luminousness of real vision,
 it alone takes possession, takes value. Like the shadowy dwarf in the fable,
 once liberated and look’d upon, it expands over the whole earth,
 and spreads to the roof of heaven.

~ Walt Whitman
 from the essay Democratic Vistas
Illustration by Mimmo Paladino for a rare edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses
with thanks to Brain Pickings