I SiNgThE BodY ElecTRic!

One of my favorite poems arrived from Poets.org today. “I Sing the Body Electric” [excerpt] by Walt Whitman.

I am pretty sure that Walt and I are kin. I wrote about him in the chapter on Drowning in Chasing the Dance of Life: A Faith Journey. Do you feel that way about someone you’ll never meet? Who is it?

One’s mystic family is a rich source of strength. I sometimes joke that the Dalai Lama is my brother. Ridiculous as that is, it inspires me. Sometimes we even get to share time and space with such a phenomenal family of spirit. To be in body with those we love is the highest form of joy.

1
I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body
were not the soul, what is the soul?

2
The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself
balks account,
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

The expression of the face balks account,
But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of
his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist
and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.

The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and heads of women, the
folds of their dress, their style as we pass in the street, the
contour of their shape downwards,
The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen as he swims through
the transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up and rolls
silently to and from the heave of the water,
The bending forward and backward of rowers in row-boats, the
horse-man in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances,
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open
dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child, the farmer’s daughter in the garden or
cow-yard,
The young fellow hoeing corn, the sleigh-driver driving his six
horses through the crowd,
The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys, quite grown, lusty,
good-natured, native-born, out on the vacant lot at sundown
after work,
The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of love and resistance,
The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled over and blinding the eyes;
The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play of masculine
muscle through clean-setting trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes
suddenly again, and the listening on the alert,
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent head, the curv’d
neck and the counting;
Such-like I love–I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother’s
breast with the little child,
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with
the firemen, and pause, listen, count.

One Response to “I SiNgThE BodY ElecTRic!”

  1. i love the permission to say that i feel akin to someone i will never meet and who is “famous” or not famous…thank you cynthia!
    there is a part of me that resonates with being unworthy and i like trumping her right now to say out loud that i feel akin to hildegard of bingen.
    her words, music, natural healing remedies, all speak to me, always have…was fascinated by her as a teen, and have continued my love affair even today as i muse her words, “i am a feather on the breath of God” for a new performance piece i am working on.

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