Walt Whitman

“Passage to India” (1872) by Walt Whitman

(Excerpts) Italicized comments are mine ~ RE

On science, scientists and inventors:

…Ah! Who shall soothe these feverish children?
Who justify these restless explorations?
Who speak the secret of impassive earth?
Who bind it t us? What is this separate Nature so unnatural?
What is this earth to our affections? (unloving earth, without a throb to answer ours,
Cold earth the place of graves.)
Yet soul, be sure the first intent remains, and shall be carried out,
Perhaps even now the time has arrived…

On the artist/poet:

After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the geologist, ethnologist,
Finally shall come the poet worthy of that name,
The true son of God shall come singing his songs.

Then not your deeds only O voyagers, O scientists and inventors shall be justified
All these hearts of fretted children shall be soothed,
All affection shall be fully responded to, the secret shall be told,
All these separations and gaps shall be taken up and hook’d and link’d together
The whole earth, this cold impassive voiceless earth, shall be completely justified,
Trinitas Divine shall be gloriously accomplished and compacted by the true son of God,
the poet,
(He shall indeed pass the straits and conquer the mountains,
He shall double the cape of Good Hope to some purpose,)
Nature and Man shall be disjoin’d and diffused no more,
The true son of God shall absolutely fuse them…

…Passage indeed O soul to primal thought,
Not lands and seas alone, thy own clear freshness,
The young maturity of brood and bloom,
to realms of budding bibles.

O soul repressless, I with thee and thee with me,
The circumnavigation of the world begin,
Of man, the voyage of his mind’s return.
To reason’s early paradise,
Back, back to wisdom’s birth, to innocent intuitions,
Again with fair creation...

Bathe me O God in thee, mounting to thee,
I and my soul to range in thee of thee.

O thou transcendent,
Nameless, the fibre and the breath,
Light of the light, shedding forth universes, thou centre of them,
Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving…
Thou pulse, thou motive of the stars, sun, systems,
That, circling, move in order, safe, harmonious,
Athwart the shapeless vastness of space,
How should I think, how breathe a single breath, how speak if out of
I could not launch, to those superior universes?

The journey to the East is more than a physical one:

…Passage to more than India! Are thy wings plumed indeed for such far flights!
O secret of the earth and sky!
Of you O waters of the sea! O winding creeks and rivers!
Of you O woods and fields! Of you strong mountains of my land!
Of you O prairies! Of you gray rocks!

O morning red! O clouds! O rain and snows!
O day and night passage to you!

O sun and moon and all you stars! Sirius and Jupiter!
Passage to you

Passage, immediate passage! The blood burns in my veins!
Away, O soul! Hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?...

O brave soul!
O farther farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther farther sail!