The Past-Present by Walt Whitman

The Past-Present

by Walt Whitman

I was looking a long while for the history of the past for myself, and for
these chants and now I have found it.
It is not in those paged fables in the libraries, (them I neither accept
nor reject;)
It is no more in the legends than in all else;
It is in the present it is this earth to-day;
It is in Democracy in this America the Old World also;
It is the life of one man or one woman to-day, the average man of to-day;
It is languages, social customs, literatures, arts;
It is the broad show of artificial things, ships, machinery, politics,
creeds, modern improvements, and the interchange of nations,
All for the average man of to-day.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was an influential American poet, essayist, and journalist. Born on Long Island, New York, he worked various jobs before self-publishing his groundbreaking poetry collection, “Leaves of Grass,” in 1855. Known for his free verse style and themes celebrating nature, the human body, and individuality, Whitman continually revised and expanded “Leaves of Grass” throughout his life. He volunteered as a nurse during the Civil War, which inspired his works “Drum-Taps” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” Despite facing financial challenges and health issues in his later years, Whitman left an indelible mark on American literature, influencing generations of poets and writers with his innovative style and profound insights into the human experience.