Walt Whitman Poem To Bryant, the Poet of Nature

walt whitman

From the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Newsroom:

Wendy Katz, associate professor of art history, has discovered a new poem by Walt Whitman. While researching art criticism in the penny newspapers as a Smithsonian Senior Fellow in Washington, D.C., she found a poem by “W.W” in the June 23, 1842, issue of New Era.

I tend to avoid poetry, along with any other literature or art that reminds me how uncultured and unread I am in comparison to people who understand these things. On the other hand, I seek out activities like camping and hiking and rock climbing that are uncomfortable and that remind me how weak and small I am in comparison to the long steep trail, the gnarly route, the bitter cold, and the raging storm. So, I’m going to branch out and give poetry a chance.

The poem is titled To Bryant, the Poet of Nature. FYI – a diadem is a crown with jewels, and a lyre is a miniature harp.

Let Glory diadem the mighty dead —
Let monuments of brass and marble rise
To those who have upon our being shed
A golden halo, borrowed from the skies,
And given to time its most enduring prize;
For they but little less than angels were:
But not to thee, oh! nature’s OWN, we should
(When from this clod the minstrel-soul aspires
And joins the glorious band of purer lyres)
Tall columns build: thy monument is here —
For ever fixed in its eternity —
A monument God-built! ‘Tis seen around —
In mountains huge and many gliding streams —
Where’er the torrent lifts a melancholy sound,
Or modest flower in broad savannah gleams.
W.W., “New Era,” June 23, 1842