Wednesday, April 30, 2008

TT #7 Advice from Walt Whitman

Advice from Walt Whitman

When I earned a doctorate in 1993 from the University of Alabama, the speaker at graduation was Howell Raines, an Alabama native, who was editorial page editor at the New York Times. He delivered a memorable address, and, in keeping with the custom of including advice for the graduates, Raines quoted Walt Whitman. In Whitman's preface to Leaves of Grass, his collection of twelve poems published in 1855 and added to over his lifetime, he wrote (all the words are quoted exactly from Whitman; I added only the numbers):

"This is what you shall do:

  1. Love the earth and sun and the animals,

  2. despise riches,

  3. give alms to every one that asks,

  4. stand up for the stupid and crazy,

  5. devote your income and labor to others,

  6. hate tyrants,

  7. argue not concerning God,

  8. have patience and indulgence toward the people,

  9. take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men,

  10. go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families,

  11. read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life,

  12. re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book,

  13. dismiss whatever insults your own soul;

and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."

Good advice 150 years later, I think!

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SJ Reidhead said...

I'm impressed.
The Pink Flamingo

Nicholas said...

Excellent advice, all these long years later. Of course, some people might regard #12 as very subversive.

Anonymous said...

WOW! Wonderfully Awesome advice.

Happy T13!

random moments said...

Oh wow, I feel like I need to read that again. What a unique and educational TT!

SandyCarlson said...

That gave me the chills. All insults are dismissed, so I'm free for 1 through 12. Thanks and God bless, lovely lady.

pussreboots said...

All very sage advice. Happy TT.

Lesley said...

I love that! And I wish everyone would follow this advice!

On a limb with Claudia said...

Boy that is great! Thanks for sharing! I don't think I've read/heard much Whitman - of course, I know his name.

Happy TT!

marcia said...

dismiss whatever insults your own soul;is good--- a couple I do not ness embrace

Christina said...


Gray Matters said...

Love this - great list!

Lazy Daisy said...

I had to laugh at #4 ....seems like I fall into that category too many time. I've always loved Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

Anonymous said...

That is beautiful and so appropriate!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Cindy said...

This is wonderful...definately will take these wise words to heart!

Thank you!

WillThink4Wine said...

Walt Whitman's advice is timeless! Wonderful TT! I especially love 'dismiss whatever insults your own soul' as I have done that since I can remember.

Lilibeth said...

Ah Whitman as ever. They can be taken two ways, methinks. Thanks for a thoughtful reading session. And Welcome to blogging.

Celticlibrarian said...

And to think that I didn't like Walt Whitman in High School. Where was my brain?

Ivanhoe said...

That is some powerful stuff! Have a great Thursday and thanks for stopping by!

Linda said...

You have something in common with my son. He earned his doctorate from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

I agree after 150 years, this is still good advice.

DoubleDeckerBusGuy said...

"Despise the rich"... well, I'm a capitalist at heart so how about "Learn from the rich... but only how to make money."

Love Walt... but disagreed with him on that one!

Melanie said...

Some amazing advice!!

Our Happy Happenings

Laura said...

Happy TT Kay. Advice is so much easier to give than to take. :) Just reading that makes me feel more worn out than I already was. Kind of hard to find the balance between being kind to your fellow man and respecting yourself enough not to become a doormat to the masses.

TLC said...

Love it. Especially #13.

My TT is up, too.