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On the Beach at Night Alone
Walt Whitman


On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future.
A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann'd,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

This poem is in the public domain.




Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) is primarily known for a collection of poems called Leaves of Grass, which he completely revised at least five times during the course of his life and which appeared in print in at least three different editions. Though his formal education ended with elementary school, Whitman was an educator at several points in his life. More often, he worked as a printer, a clerk, or a nurse; he was chronically poor, but managed to interject culture (he loved opera) and travel into his life. He achieved international acclaim during the course of his career, but probably had as many detractors as he did fans.


Post New Comment:
Nils Peterson:
I love this piece and urge music lovers to get a copy of Vaughn Williams' Sea Symphony where there is a beautiful setting of this for baritone, chorus and orchestra. It is the second or 3rd movement. The fourth movement is based on Passage to India, Whitman's most mystical piece and is deeply moving to me.
Posted 10/08/2016 11:53 AM
I will never read Walt Whitman again without hearing Josh Brolin. I'm currently enthralled with the Volvo commercial where he is reading Song of the Open Road, also from Leaves of Grass. Thanks, Jayne for this great "new" poem. Can you just see a new Volvo commercial along a dramatic Pacific coast?
Posted 10/08/2016 09:16 AM
A shining keeper! Thanks to our good poetic guru Walt. Smiles.
Posted 10/08/2016 08:00 AM
How true this poem rings to me. When I walk along the ocean, its immensity puts me in my place. I am reminded that I am just one of "all the souls."
Posted 10/08/2016 06:41 AM

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