"I sing the body electric."
Poetry, according to Aristotle, is the rendering not of actual events but of such things as might or could happen in accordance with probability or necessity. When this is turned into an act of great beauty, the cleansing and quieting of the mind and soul can ensue.
“Come, said my soul,
Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,)
That should I after return,
Or, long, long hence, in other spheres,
There to some group of mates the chants resuming,
(Tallying Earth’s soil, trees, winds, tumultuous waves,)
Ever with pleas’d smile I may keep on,
Ever and ever yet the verses owning–as, first, I here and now
Signing for Soul and Body, set to them my name,
The work of a lifetime and Walt Whitman’s masterpiece, Leaves of Grass was originally a small book that Whitman intended to be so small as to be carried in a pocket. An ode to the human body and the mind thus materialized, the book combines the rhythms of the earth and the sea with the charge of a deep, philosophical gaze upon the immediacy of the human body and mind in the world of the elements. “Being one with nature,” Withman’s aim, is the idea behind the poems in the book, some of the most beautiful that have ever been written in the English language.
Here’s what he asks in I Sing the Body Electric:
"And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?"
This is a book that will question you, as it questions itself. It is a book that will make you ponder and will make you see. Leaf by leaf, it will open up to you in all its sensuality and uniqueness which was perceived, at the time of its publication, as oddity and extravagance.
Those of you who read poetry and especially those of you who don’t, know that this is one of those rarest books which can make you happy.