Then opening  like a smile 

Forsythia  hangs ,oh flexible and flowered
A wig of  natural hair by breezes stirred
A budded branch  has caught my face and eye
While squirrels laugh from woodpiles yet unburned

We are sick but garden flowers will come
Pushing shoots into the mad March air
So eager to find light, to  patterns grow
Then opening  like a smile  its flowers to share

Now  my friends are all awayI’m sad
I see  the falls by Buttermere  in dreams
Not the mills and dirt of my  home town
In Buttermere we first saw those clear streams

Silence  has its joys and  lets us  hear
The  still, small voice, the whisper. the blessed ear

Walt Whitman

building with tree
Photo by James Wheeler on


Throughout, Whitman emphasizes that his personal history has been shaped by geography and history, which in turn are the results of cosmic, natural processes. At the same time, he implies that he was in just the right places at the right moments to experience the epic transformations of the nineteenth century. The result is a kind of justification of his life course as the author accommodates himself to his physical debility and the approach of death—and strives to ensure his place in the continuum of American democratic development.

Specimen Days presents the formation of a self through participation in communal and even ecological process; unlike most confessional autobiographies in the Western tradition, Whitman’s emphasizes the dependence of individual identity upon community identity, and thus upon historical placement. Even in the early genealogical portion of the book (the conventional starting point for biographies of the day) the poet links his family experience to the public experience of the nation as a whole. Meditating on the succession of generations buried in the Whitman and Van Velsor cemeteries on Long Island, representing a lineage going back to the first European settlement of the area, he also describes the setting in nationalistic terms, drawing attention to a grove of old black walnuts, “the sons or grandsons, no doubt, of black-walnuts during or before 1776” (Specimen Days 6).

Similarly, when narrating the key experiences of his early life, Whitman emphasizes such events as learning to set type under a man who remembered the American Revolution, being lifted up as a child and kissed by Lafayette a half century after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and experiencing the growth of New York City—which for Whitman epitomizes the emergence of modern America. Throughout the book one finds such links between geography and history

All are one,it shall be so

Gently dancing in the sun
Wildflowers grow;
they bloom,
are gone.

With no thoughts,they have no cares;
Yet their lives are gentle prayers.
May I walk in such a way
That I am alive to this day.

So I see with widening view,
And joy and sorrows embrace too.
Then my time will come like yours...
And of us no part endures.

As to the earth our bodies go,
All are one;it shall be so

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Love was,oh,so long ago.


Waxy flowers poking through
Snow so white
Flowers bright.
Made me think of you.

I see once more yoursweet white hair,
Soft as snow
On pillow.
Now my bed is bleak and bare

Face alight,flower to sun,
I loved you.
Love so  true.
Fear by love was overcome.

Cyclamen in  the snow,
Pink and red,
Now frozen,dead.
Love was,oh,so long ago.

But never gone from in my mind.
Thoughts so deep,
Upwards seep.
Love was gentle,love was kind
And always in my mind