Whitman diagnoses our malady

I Sit and Look Out

from Leaves of Grass
(Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891–92 [9th ed.]), pp. 215–16

by Walt Whitman

I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all
oppression and shame,
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men at anguish with
themselves, remorseful after deeds done,
I see in low life the mother misused by her children, dying,
neglected, gaunt, desperate,
I see the wife misused by her husband, I see the treacherous
seducer of young women,
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love attempted to
be hid, I see these sights on the earth,
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny, I see martyrs and
prisoners,
I observe a famine at sea, I observe the sailors casting lots who
shall be kill’d to preserve the lives of the rest,
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons
upon laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
All these—all the meanness and agony without end I sitting look
out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.

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  1. I love these verses. I gotta use them on my own blog sooner or later. Our man sits looking out on tragic and terrible things, as we do today . . . sees, hears, and is silent . . . . What do we make of his silence — or of ours?

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