PERSONALISM

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman (1819–1892), a famous poet of America. He used the term ‘American personalism’ in his essey “Peronalism” (The Galaxy, May 1868) and published Leaves of Grass (1855).

“The women of America… greater than man, we may admit, through their divine maternity” (“Democracy,” 1867).

“Not the book needs so much to be the complete thing, but the reader of the book does,” Democratic Vistas (1871).

To Democracy, the leveller, the unyielding first principle of the average, is surely joined another principle, equally unyielding, closely tracking the first, indispensable to it, opposite, (as the sexes are opposite), and whose existence, coequal, confronting and ever modifying the other, often clashing, even defiant, paradoxical, yet neither of highest avail without the other, plainly supplies to these grand cosmic politics of ours, and to the launched forth mortal dangers of Republicanism, the analogic counterpart and offset, whereby Nature restrains the deadly original relentlessness of all her first–class laws.

This second principle is Individuality, the pride and centripetal isolation of a human being in himself, – Identity – Personalism. Whatever the name, its acceptance and thorough infusion through the organizations of political commonalty now shooting Aurora–like about the world, are of utmost importance, as the principle itself is needed for very life’s sake. It forms, in a sort, or is to form, the com-pensating balance–wheel and sine qua non of the successful working machinery of toward such result Democracy alone, on anything like Nature’s scale, breaks up the limitless fallows of humankind, and plants the seed, and gives fair play, that its claims now precede the rest. America.

And, if we think of it, what does civilization itself rest upon – and what object has it, with its religions arts, schools, etc., but Personalism? To that, all bends; and it is because toward such result Democracy alone, on anything like Nature’s scale, breaks up the limitless fallows of humankind, and plants the seed, and gives fair play, that its claims now precede the rest.

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