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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger
Several of the lines from this selection just ring through the decades. I know this is a bit longer than most of the poems I send out, but don't rush through it. Take a restful few moments to read this slowly. Enjoy the flavor of the words on your tongue, let them sweeten your thoughts.
Find the lines that sing to you.
Like so much of Walt Whitman's 'Song of Myself,' this chapter has a wonderful sense of the sacred tumult of life. He is especially meditating upon how all of life and the ages of the past "trillions of winters and summers" has led up to this moment, to this scintillating instant.
And it is in the present moment that he discovers himself resting upon the crest of the wave of eternity:
Long was I hugged close -- long and long.
Immense have been the preparations for me...
Whitman isn't interested in some sort of religious idea of perfection. For him, what is important is to inhabit the present ("That which fills its period and place is equal to any.") and to recognize in the present (and in yourself) the fulfillment of eons ("I am an acme of things accomplished...").
Yet, in the messy and sometimes "murderous" fullness of the present, nothing is static. The present continuously flows into the future: "...I am the encloser of things to be," "...and still I mount and mount."
Whitman comes to a profound realization when he sees back to "the huge first Nothing," and proclaims, "I know I was even there." He is not talking about some ancient event that he was present for in an historical sense. He is recognizing a fundamental truth of reality, that all of life and form is given birth from a living Void or Womb... and his awareness was there, and is still there now. In other words, he has discovered and is shouting out the realization that awareness precedes the world of physicality and form and time. That line, "I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there," sounds startlingly like the Buddhist koan or instruction to 'discover your original face before you were born,' guidance that can lead the practitioner to discover Nirvana or the Nothingness that is the true foundation of reality.
In this mighty vision of reality, Whitman continuously asserts that everything has led up to the immensity of the present moment, and to the vastness of the one who inhabits it -- his very own Self. "All forces have been steadily employed to complete and delight me."
Whitman invites us to call out with him:
Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.
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M. Granger's original poetry, stories and commentaries are Copyright ©
2002 - 2011 by Ivan M. Granger.
All other material is copyrighted by the respective authors, translators and/or publishers.