by Walt Whitman
I SAY whatever tastes sweet to the most perfect person, that is
I say nourish a great intellect, a great brain;
If I have said anything to the contrary, I hereby retract it.
I say man shall not hold property in man;
I say the least developed person on earth is just as important and
sacred to himself or herself, as the most developed person is
to himself or herself.
I say where liberty draws not the blood out of slavery, there slavery
draws the blood out of liberty,
I say the word of the good old cause in These States, and resound it
hence over the world.
I say the human shape or face is so great, it must never be made
I say for ornaments nothing outre can be allowed,
And that anything is most beautiful without ornament, 10
And that exaggerations will be sternly revenged in your own
physiology, and in other persons' physiology also;
And I say that clean-shaped children can be jetted and conceived only
where natural forms prevail in public, and the human face and
form are never caricatured;
And I say that genius need never more be turned to romances,
(For facts properly told, how mean appear all romances.)
I say the word of lands fearing nothing--I will have no other land;
I say discuss all and expose all--I am for every topic openly;
I say there can be no salvation for These States without innovators--
without free tongues, and ears willing to hear the tongues;
And I announce as a glory of These States, that they respectfully
listen to propositions, reforms, fresh views and doctrines,
from successions of men and women,
Each age with its own growth.
I have said many times that materials and the Soul are great, and
that all depends on physique; 20
Now I reverse what I said, and affirm that all depends on the
æsthetic or intellectual,
And that criticism is great--and that refinement is greatest of all;
And I affirm now that the mind governs--and that all depends on the
With one man or woman--(no matter which one--I even pick out the
With him or her I now illustrate the whole law;
I say that every right, in politics or what-not, shall be eligible to
that one man or woman, on the same terms as any.