Song of Walt

Walt Whitman, bless our multitudes:

we congregate
we consecrate
commemorate our liberator

you who dreamt past mortal coils
exceeding meager metric lines
and boundlessly shrugged measured planning

clutching raw exuberance
a renegade of cadenced thought

hymnals spinning

rhythms lending such sedition
candid hearts must dance with chance

like subversive ballerinas loathing hints of inhibition
twirling, prancing
mischievous, precarious
thrusts uncontrived by comely choice

(yet inwardly ascension-bent
so impulse wholly conquers logic
and will resist strict discipline)

thus bursting forthright
night by sighing dream
by trying day by artless fits
if crashing

vivacious arts
unbridled starts

dismissing limbs from stillness, death
for fevered whims
or sovereign leaps

while drumming from torrential songs
storm fiery in primal heartbeats pounding hotter by the hour

percussive wondrous

feet-first thunders
crushing unabashed ballet
conveying restless zestful feelings

words reeling toward their rightful arias
however long, beloved, wrong.

Go gallivant, enchant, descant as skylarks soaring
- hark, they sing!

Their fragile strainings fortify our infinitely cosmic song
heard over forests yawning older than language, crying, history

(not nearly drowned out by the rivers rushing
flooding muddied fields
sunken plains where all may gaze
but none must tread
if we are getting anywhere)

past chapels full of searchers, sinners,
forgivers, grievers, non-believers,
pale gilded crosses, echoed prayers,
cracked wedding bells divorced from time


outpacing every last-paved trail
eternally externally

if evidenced to be so found
if imprecisely
just right


to follow, leave,
conceive, receive

regardless how impetuous
a muse might choose to be at last:

let unheard verses light the way
with beauty's incandescent truth
and freedom's ever-flaming say.

Song of Walt © Copyright 2021, Robert J. Tiess.

View this poem at

270 words.  Originally 29 lines, submitted to 19th Century challenge prompt - link:

Poem partly inspired by Whitman's "Song of Myself."

Poem substantially revised on 8/31/21 for the Honoring Walt Whitman challenge:
Submitted: September 6, 2019