I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise;


I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise;
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuff’d with the stuff that is coarse, and stuff’d with the stuff that is fine; 325
One of the Great Nation, the nation of many nations, the smallest the same, and the largest the same;
A southerner soon as a northerner—a planter nonchalant and hospitable, down by the Oconee I live;
A Yankee, bound by my own way, ready for trade, my joints the limberest joints on earth, and the sternest joints on earth;
A Kentuckian, walking the vale of the Elkhorn, in my deer-skin leggings—a Louisianian or Georgian;
A boatman over lakes or bays, or along coasts—a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye; 330
At home on Kanadian snow-shoes, or up in the bush, or with fishermen off Newfoundland;
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking;
At home on the hills of Vermont, or in the woods of Maine, or the Texan ranch;
Comrade of Californians—comrade of free north-westerners, (loving their big proportions;)
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen—comrade of all who shake hands and welcome to drink and meat; 335
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest;
A novice beginning, yet experient of myriads of seasons;
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion;
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker;
A prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest. 340

I resist anything better than my own diversity;
I breathe the air, but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

(The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place;
The suns I see, and the suns I cannot see, are in their place; 345
The palpable is in its place, and the impalpable is in its place.)

17

These are the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands—they are not original with me;
If they are not yours as much as mine, they are nothing, or next to nothing;
If they are not the riddle, and the untying of the riddle, they are nothing;
If they are not just as close as they are distant, they are nothing. 350

This is the grass that grows wherever the land is, and the water is;
This is the common air that bathes the globe.
Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is often seen as a founder of American poetry, as is Whitman, whom you encountered earlier. I suggest you read her short poem #303 while thinking of Whitman’s work. Then read the rest of this Note.

Emily Dickinson Poem #303

The Soul selects her own Society –
Then — shuts the Door –
To her divine Majority –
Present no more –

Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing –
At her low Gate –
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat –

I’ve known her — from an ample nation –
Choose One –
Then — close the Valves of her attention –
Like Stone –

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