[4] Trippers and askers surround me (from Song of Myself)

by Walt Whitman


Original Language English

Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.
Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.
Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.

-- from Song of Myself, by Walt Whitman

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Sometimes it takes several years, but I keep returning to Whitman...

Trippers and askers surround me...

People, society, busyness, news, work, position, love, health, emotion, terror, elation -- the world, the world. So much surrounds us and swirls about, crying constantly for attention. We get caught up in the drama and pageantry, the suffering and the victories. We derive our sense of value and well-being according to their ebb and flow.

Yet all this is what we experience, not what we are.

But they are not the Me myself.
Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am...


This is more than a reassuring idea we can use to mentally regroup. It can be directly experienced as our real nature. We can arrive at a point where we no longer feel the gravitational tug of it all. It's not that the "pulling and hauling" around us stops, but we are surprised to find ourselves seated in easy majesty in the midst of the maelstrom, yet remaining invulnerable, whole, clear seeing.

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it...


I love the image of this unitary Self where it "bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest." That so perfectly and poetically describes it: There is no tangible or logical support for such ease of the soul, yet this inner self rests nonetheless.

While so much action and emotion circles about it, what does this Self in its stillness do? It sees.

I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.

It doesn't judge. It doesn't even isolate or categorize specific experiences. This Self sees it all at once, as a moving, living whole.

Seeing this way, it also knows. It knows interrelationships and patterns, the indivisibility of things. This sort of seeing and knowing leads to instant "compassionating." In this great vision of the Great Self, no thing is a separate thing. One thread's tension pulls all the way through the tapestry.

This is the vision the Universe seeks through us. Our purpose is fulfilled in being the eyes through which the Universe knows itself once more.



Recommended Books: Walt Whitman

The Oxford Book of Mystical Verse Song of Myself Leaves of Grass Dead Poets Society (DVD)





4] Trippers and