Road Trip With Walt

“Song of the Open Road” – Walt Whitman

1.
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)

Edward Hopper, Road in Maine, 1914:

4.
The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me?
Do you say Venture not—if you leave me you are lost?
Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?

O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,
You express me better than I can express myself,
You shall be more to me than my poem.

I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all free poems also,
I think I could stop here myself and do miracles,
I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me,
I think whoever I see must be happy.

Paul-Camille Guigou, Road by the Mediterranean, 1866:

5.
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently,but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

I am larger, better than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women You have done such good to me I would do the same to you,
I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,
Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,
Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.

Andrei Ryabushkin, Road, 1887:

Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman – Poetry Foundation

5 thoughts on “Road Trip With Walt

  1. Bill says:

    Ah yes, for this New Englander, at least, the road trip speaks of the warmer, kinder days of summer.

    Now, if I could only drive for more than 2 hours without having to stop to stretch my weary back . . .:-)

  2. Bill says:

    Not in the Winter — not even for the Super Bowl! 🙂

    Actually, Craig and I have both been to Minneapolis on business trips. He did find time to go to their art museum and gave it a good review: https://new.artsmia.org/

    My main memory is of the Governor Jesse “The Body” Venture bobble head dolls I saw in the airport shops.

  3. Bruce Day says:

    Claudia,

    What a delightful post. The Whitman poem is personal and universal at the same time – so powerful. Great choice of visuals. The “roadscapes” are all knockouts! Might you be yerning for a trip of your own?

    Bruce Day

    • artmodel says:

      Bruce,

      The poem IS personal and universal at the same time, you’re so right! I like to think of Walt Whitman as America’s Homer. And I spent a lot of time going through ‘roadscapes’ to choose! There are so many great ones. Glad you liked my selections.

      As for me yearning for a trip, I always am. It’s a perpetual state for me.

      Wonderful to hear from you! Hope you had a beautiful holiday and new year. Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

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