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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Prose Works. 1892.

I. Specimen Days

182. An Egotistical “Find”

“I HAVE found the law of my own poems,” was the unspoken but more-and-more decided feeling that came to me as I pass’d, hour after hour, amid all this grim yet joyous elemental abandon—this plenitude of material, entire absence of art, untrammel’d play of primitive Nature—the chasm, the gorge, the crystal mountain stream, repeated scores, hundreds of miles—the broad handling and absolute uncrampedness—the fantastic forms, bathed in transparent browns, faint reds and grays, towering sometimes a thousand, sometimes two or three thousand feet high—at their tops now and then huge masses pois’d, and mixing with the clouds, with only their outlines, hazed in misty lilac, visible. (“In Nature’s grandest shows,” says an old Dutch writer, an ecclesiastic, “amid the ocean’s depth, if so might be, or countless worlds rolling above at night, a man thinks of them, weighs all, not for themselves or the abstract, but with reference to his own personality, and how they may affect him or color his destinies.”)