“O Shunn’d Persons, I Will Be Your Poet”

O431px-Joan_of_arc_burning_at_stakene of the many things I appreciate about Whitman is that he is the poet of the earth, of the senses, of all loves. Despiser of bad religion, lover of beauty, friend of the shunned and oppressed.

In that he reminds me of Jesus.

I think it’s interesting how the God who abhorred religious pride in all its forms has been co-opted and made into a spokesperson for a system of religion every bit as oppressive as that of the Pharisees. The one who was accused of drinking too much now forbids us from drinking at all. The man who scandalized the pious by cavorting with sinners now wags his finger and warns us to shun them.

And I think even for those with a healthy view of God, it can sometimes be hard to really see Jesus through all the abstractions. How scandalous, how offensive, how different he was.

And that’s why we need people like St. Francis and G. K. Chesterton and Edith Stein and Joan of Arc and Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman.

To remind us.

To help us to see the Gospel with fresh eyes.

 

          “NATIVE MOMENTS”

          By Walt Whitman

 

“Native moments—when you come upon me—ah you are here now,

Give me now libidinous joys only,

Give me the drench of my passions, give me life coarse and rank,

Today I go consort with Nature’s darlings, to-night too,

I am for those who believe in loose delights…

I dance with the dancers and drink with the drinkers,

The echoes ring with our indecent calls, I pick out some low person for my dearest friend,

He shall be lawless, rude, illiterate, he shall be one condemn’d by others for deeds done,

I will play a part no longer, why should I exile myself from my companions?

O you shunn’d persons, I at least do not shun you,

I come forthwith in your midst, I will be your poet,

I will be more to you than to any of the rest.”

Blasphemous, irreverent, enraging.

But that was Walt Whitman. A friend of sinners.

Who are you friends with?

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5 thoughts on ““O Shunn’d Persons, I Will Be Your Poet”

    • Thanks, Morgan. Whitman’s love for all people and things inspires me daily. Reminding me to stay awake, to pay attention. To withhold judgment and not criticize what I don’t understand. To observe, to explore, to love.

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