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Song of the Open Road
Walt Whitman


Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road . . .

. . . From this hour, freedom!
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me . . .  

. . . I inhale great draughts of space;
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought;
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me;
I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me, 
I would do the same to you.

I will recruit for myself and you as I go;
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go;
I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them;
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me. 

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:
It's nice to see a beautiful poem recognized in pop culture. The edit is nice and speaks to the person that feels that the whole world is connected to his or her driveway in some way.
Posted 03/16/2017 01:58 AM
I got called back to this poem after thirty years, by hearing a bad reading on a car commercial by an actor with a beautiful voice. It needs a better reading. What a magnificent statement.
Posted 03/14/2017 06:12 PM
Dear Brenda, I'm sorry you feel this way but I'm sure I'm not alone in being introduced to these amazing words that seem to explain my very purpose, I am here now for good and new .
Posted 03/14/2017 12:24 AM
Brenda Fox :
Sad to see this poem used in a commercial. It's artsy and we'll done. But still...
Posted 01/09/2017 09:45 PM
To wallow in good poetry is to bring our own reflection to mind, to see for ourselves what is necessary to live thusly. How have we missed what the poets tell us?
Posted 08/10/2014 01:38 PM
Larry Schug:
It's sad that those days seem to be gone. Wanderers are looked on with suspicion; seekers are relegated to electronically seeking information but not knowledge. Be careful what you inhale in "great draughts of space". Let poems take you awanderin'.
Posted 08/10/2014 11:17 AM
A wonderful poem of innocence and innocent expectation, and of the American version of wanderlust. All this before the Civil War would change much about the poet and his country.
Posted 08/10/2014 10:11 AM

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