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Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in TESOL, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now anatomizing the prosody of E. A. Robinson’s sonnets for his dissertation at Amerika Institut of LMU Munich, where also he edits a poetry weekly. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor of Review of International American Studies.

20150228

Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman

14


The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night, 
Ya-honk he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation, 
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close, 
Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky. 


The sharp-hoof’d moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog, 
The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats, 
The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings, 
I see in them and myself the same old law. 


The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections, 
They scorn the best I can do to relate them. 


I am enamour’d of growing out-doors, 
Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods, 
Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses, 
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out. 


What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me, 
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns, 
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me, 
Not asking the sky to come down to my good will, 
Scattering it freely forever.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

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