"Our most ancient metaphor says life is a journey. Memoir is travel writing, then, notes taken along the way, telling how things looked and what thoughts occurred. . . .This is the traveler who goes on foot, living the journey, taking on mountains, enduring deserts, marveling at the lush green places...as a pilgrim, seeking, wondering." -Patricia Hampl

September 05, 2003

Song of the Open Road

by Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

"AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,  
Healthy, free, the world before me,  
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.  
  
"Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good fortune;  
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,          
Strong and content, I travel the open road.  

. . .

"O highway I travel! O public road! do you say to me, Do not leave me?  
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you are lost?  
Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well-beaten and undenied—adhere to me?  
  
"O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave you—yet I love you;   
You express me better than I can express myself;  
You shall be more to me than my poem.

. . .

"From this hour, freedom!  
From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,  
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,   
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,  
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,  
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.  . . ."

from Leaves of Grass (1900)