Tuesday Poem – Miracles by Walt Whitman

Why! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love – or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds – or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down – or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best – mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savants – or to the soiree – or to the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring – yet each distinct, and in its place.

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass – the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.

To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim – the rocks – the motion of the waves – the ships, with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

Poet and journalist Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 in West Hills, New York. Considered one of America’s most influential poets, Whitman aimed to transcend traditional epics and eschew normal aesthetic form to mirror the potential freedoms to be found in America. In 1855 he self-published the collection Leaves of Grass; the book is now a landmark in American literature, though at the time of its publication it was considered highly controversial. Read more


I was sitting at the computer yesterday paying bills online when up popped this quote from Albert Einstein.

‘There are two ways to live your life.

One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’ 

Miracle is a much-used word to the point where it can sometimes lose its impact. After reading this quote I started looking at definitions of miracle. And then I looked for poems about miracles. They were as different as the many definitions. I chose the one above. It seems as if Walt lived surrounded by miracles. I find it interesting that he lists them all rather than going into detail about why they are miraculous. The ‘show don’t tell’ that writers are often cautioned about!  I’ve a lot more thinking to do on this topic myself. I do believe that the ability to show the miracle qualities of a subject is a vital part of a poet’s toolbox.

If you want to read some more poems for Tuesday (yes I know today is Thursday) you can pop over to the Tuesday Poem page here.  Tomorrow is National Poetry Day in New Zealand . Enjoy.