Sunday, July 6, 2014

I Sit and Look Out (Whitman)

I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame,

George Caleb Bingham, Fur Traders Descending the Mississippi, 1845

I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done,

I see in love life the mother missed by her children, dying, elected, gaunt, desperate,

I see the wife missed 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 working battle, pestilence, tyranny, I see martyrs and prisoners,

Winslow Homer, The Gulf Stream, 1899

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;

Wm. Sidney Mount, The Verdict of the People, 1854-55

All these -- all the meanness and agony without end I sit looking out upon,

See, hear, and am silent.

-Walt Whitman

John Frederick Kensett, Sunset at Sea, ca. 1873