Walter “Walt” Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. He contributed to the movements of transcendentalism and realism, adopting both in his literary works. Walt Whitman is among the most influential American poets. He is famous for Leaves of Grass, a compilation of poems infused with vitality and an ecstatic tenor reminiscent of the great Sufi poets, perhaps inspired by a recent exposure in the West to Eastern influences such as Hafiz.
Whitman on As Above so Below
“A leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars.”
Whitman titled his book “Leaves of Grass”, and the quotation above poetically expresses why he chose that title. As above so below meaning the miraculous is in the simplest objects of everyday life. His poetry is a celebration of life’s simplicity, as well as celebrating the Self that was able to cherish that simplicity.
Whitman on As Within so Without
Whitman stands out in his elevation of the Self to the status of God, a sensational claim to existing religious orthodoxy. Irreverent, yet not disrespectful, he praises the Self as identical to God, as inseparable from Him, and in so doing, echoes the Hindu approach to divinity.
“I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is.
I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.”