The Song of Walt Is Our Song

Walt Whitman,
bless our multitudes:

we congregate

we consecrate

we celebrate and sing ourselves
among your loves
for life

our lives.

We excavate your heart of truth.

We venerate and venture forward
arm in arm

embrace ourselves

as you, with you, together, now.

We meditate on what we were.

We speculate on who we'd be.

We cultivate our lives with light
beginning with this mirroring

reflecting in each other's eyes

to see how much we are alike

to know the warmth that only comes
when we stand closer
side by side.

Unwritten maps upon our palms,
we navigate at night
by touch

the intimacies brushed by love
when we step past our broken bones
and hold devotion
soul to soul.

We advocate

we adulate

commemorate you, liberator,

who dreamt past time-worn mortal coils
exceeding meager meter's edge,
boundlessly shrugged measured plans
for measureless exuberance

you renegade of cadenced thought



hymnals spinning

rhythms lending such sedition
candid hearts must dance with chance

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

(yet inwardly ascension-bent
so impulse wholly conquers limits,
slips from chains of disciplines)

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

384 words. Revised February 2022.   (First draft 29 lines, as submitted to 19th Century challenge prompt - link:

This poem draws inspiration from and responds to Whitman's "Song of Myself":

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