Walt Whitman, on Animals

I’ve been revisiting the poems of Walt Whitman lately, listening to them read aloud on Librivox by a skilled reader, enjoying every moment of them in their rich simplicity. This one especially struck me, and I feel compelled to share it with you.

From Song of Myself, Book 3

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d.
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
So they show their relations to me and I accept them,
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession.


You know me, dear readers, as one who enjoys mentally taking apart things to see how the world works, a little too obsessively at times, perhaps. Yet I am an animal too, just one who does that kind of thing. But it’s good to remember to be the kind of animal that just takes in, and enjoys, simply, sometimes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.