Walter “Walt” Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. He contributed to the movement from transcendentalism and realism, adopting both in his literary works. Walt Whitman is among the most influential American poets. He is most famous for his Leaves of Grass, a compilation of poems infused with vitality and an ecstatic tenor reminiscent of the great Sufi poets. Indeed, during his days, the west was opening up to eastern influences like Hafiz.
Whitman on As Above so Below
Whitman titled his book “Leaves of Grass”, and in the quotation above explains poetically why he chose that title. As above so below, and the poet saw the miraculous 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 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.
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.
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.