Reflections on Walt Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric”

I don’t know that I agree with Walt Whitman that the body IS the soul – because I’m still not clear on if, and what exactly, the “soul” is.

Those who believe in it speak of it as being eternal.  And that the body clearly is not.  Those who believe in the soul speak of it as being“transcendent, which means “not subject to the limitations of the material universe”.  And “subject” the body clearly is.

I don’t know that I agree with Walt Whitman about all that.

But I do resonate with his sense of awe and wonder at the human form.  All its “attitudes and belongs.” Not just his own. Not just those most readily visible. Not just those considered particularly attractive or fit for public consideration.

His recitation of those “parts and poems” of the body took me aback when I first encountered it.  It seemed a bit vulgar to point out the obvious.  I read on, curious what words he would choose to describe some of those parts.  Expecting, I don’t know what.

But as I read on, those words took on the feel of a prayer.  One that lived within my flesh, within my bones, circling within me and through my own breath, mingling with the prayers of all those subject to time, and space, and gravity.

The likes of other men and women. The likes of friends and lovers and strangers, like you.Image

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