Two Poems by Walt Whitman

A Noiseless Patient Spider (1881)
by Walt Whitman

A noiseless patient spider,

I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,

Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,

It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,

Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

 

And you O my soul where you stand,

Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,

Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking

the spheres to connect them,

Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,

Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

 

“I Saw In Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing” (1867)
by Walt Whitman

I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing,

All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches,

Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous leaves

of dark green,

And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself,

But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone

there without its friend

                near, for I knew I could not,

And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it,

and twined around it a

                little moss,

And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room,

It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends,

(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,)

Yet it remains to me a curious token,

it makes me think of manly love;

For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in

Louisiana solitary in a wide flat

                space,

Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near,

I know very well I could not.

Shared with the Humanities  Institute by Phillip Barrish, Professor of English and Associate Director for Health and Humanities, UT Humanities Institute.

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