Your very flesh shall be a great poem

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.

From Preface to Leaves of Grass, 1855
Walt Whitman

9 thoughts on “Your very flesh shall be a great poem”

  1. This is a beautiful poem, always helps me remember that no matter what it is SO IMPORTANT to be yourself. no need to conform to society.


  2. A poem that inspires and reminds, a poem that lifts me out of a deep, bottomless trough–this poem is just what i needed on a day like today.


  3. Beautiful and powerful. May have lost the love of my life after sharing my favorite line “your very flesh shall be a great poem” with another, only for the sake of beautiful poetry !


  4. Just reading these words elevates me! Thank you for posting this, Michelle.I want my very flesh to be a walking, talking poem. Dismissing whatever insults my soul is a good way to start.


  5. I found this in a book I’m reading today. It set me free from so much doubt about my ability to write. I am off on my writer’s journey – a journey I have pushed aside for decades until I knew I was ready. I am ready.


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