Monday, December 5, 2011

"I Sit and Look Out" by Walt Whitman

At this time of year when celebration is in the air and the buying of material goods reaches a nearly religious level of obsession, I think it is important to stop, sit and think about the state of the world and the unending plight of those less fortunate. This poem by Walt Whitman always helps me remember to do that.


I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves,
     remorseful after deeds done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate;
I see the wife misused by her husband--I see the treacherous seducer of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid--
     I see these sights on the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny--I see martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea--I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill'd,
     to preserve the lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor,
     and upon negroes, and the like;
All these--All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.

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