Brooklyn bard Walt Whitman, born in Long Island on this day, is the subject of a new opera by composer Matthew Aucoin called Crossing. “Whitman is a figure that I have been fascinated by for a long time, and his personal journey, his decision to drop everything and volunteer in the hospitals for three or four years [post Leaves of Grass], and the mystery of that,” said the artist. “What was he really doing beforehand? Was he in some sort of middle-life crisis? What were his motives?” Whitman’s life and words continue to provoke questions and inspire readers. The poet’s humanist, transcendentalist approach to relationships, nature, beauty, and the soul is life-affirming — as evidenced in these quotes and fragments of his poetry.
“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”
“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.”
“Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”
“I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.”
“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.”