Friday, November 09, 2012

Election Day, November, 1884 by Walt Whitman

If I should need to name, O Western World, your
powerfulest scene and show,
'Twould not be you, Niagara--nor you, ye limitless
prairies--nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite--nor Yellowstone, with all its
spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies,
appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's white cones--nor Huron's belt of mighty
lakes--nor Mississippi's stream:
--This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now,
I'd name--the still small voice vibrating--America's
choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen--the act itself the
main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd--sea-board
and inland--Texas to Maine--the Prairie States--
Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West--the
paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling--(a swordless
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern
Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity--welcoming the darker
odds, the dross:
--Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to
purify--while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.


  1. Amen to that, Broad. The ability to choose, even if that means we sometimes have to put up with other people's choices, is irreplaceable.

    1. And so needed to be remembered when one's candidate has lost and our hearts are broken...

  2. It was an amazing thing this year, too. I just heard last night that the last ballot was cast in Miami-Dade county after 1:00am. It take a lot of gumption to stand around that long to vote. But it's an important privilege to do it.

    1. My goodness -- 1.00 a.m. So great to hear the polls were still open...

  3. An old saw, the more things change the more the stay the same may be turned in its head: the more things stay the same (elections) the more they change (the beautiful demographic of America).

  4. If only the system threw up politicians worthy of Whitman's sentiments...and of their electorates.

  5. Hello Katherine:
    What a perfect choice of poem to commemorate this significant occasion. And, indeed, the freedom to vote ascends above everything else.

  6. These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
    Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.

    These last lines are powerful and poetic.

  7. Yes, most important of all, the freedom to vote. And shame on those who tried to take that away this time around.

    1. Yes, shame on those who sadly succeeded in some states.

  8. To be able to have a say (however small) is the ultimate freedom. We need to live up to this responsibility.

    Beautiful verse, well chosen.

  9. Dear Broad, thank you for introducing me to this Whitman poem--which I never before read. Voting is such a privilege and some in the United States do not cast a ballot because they think one vote doesn't matter. But I think that the Gore/Bush election in 2000 is disproof of that belief. I'm now studying the electoral college and considering whether I think it needs to be abolished or kept. Peace.

    1. I've been explaining and re-explaining the process to my husband -- which I need to do every election. In the broadest sense it is definitely not democratic. However, it does balance the scales for those who do not live in an urban society. Fortunately, most of the time the popular vote coincides with the electoral vote.


Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!