From Song of Myself. Unable to find a publisher for the first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855, Whitman sold a house to pay for its printing. The poet and essayist once wrote, “I respect Assyria, China, Teutonia, and the Hebrews / I adopt each theory, myth, god, and demigod.” Elsewhere he stated, “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral dressed in his shroud,
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe,
And I say to any man or woman, let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
And I say to mankind, be not curious about God,
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death).
I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropped in the street, and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come forever and ever.