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from frontispiece to

Leaves of Grass, 1855

Walt Whitman


In Paths Untrodden

from Calamus, 1860 



calamus plant


In paths untrodden,


In the growth by margins of pond-waters,


Escaped from the life that exhibits itself,


From all the standards hitherto publish’d—from the pleasures, profits, eruditions, conformities,


Which too long I was offering to feed my soul;


Clear to me, now, standards not yet publish’d—clear to me that my Soul,


That the Soul of the man I speak for, feeds, rejoices most in comrades;


Here, by myself, away from the clank of the world,


Tallying and talk’d to here by tongues aromatic,


No longer abash’d—for in this secluded spot I can respond as I would not dare elsewhere,


Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet contains all the rest,


Resolv’d to sing no songs to-day but those of manly attachment,


Projecting them along that substantial life,


Bequeathing, hence, types of athletic love,


Afternoon, this delicious Ninth-month, in my forty-first year,


I proceed, for all who are, or have been, young men,


To tell the secret of my nights and days,


To celebrate the need of comrades.




from The Lutheran Book of Worship. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1978. p. 153 ("Following the sermon one of these prayers is said")

Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.




Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), Swimming 1885


Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), Walt Whitman 1887