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(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

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All Is Truth


O ME, man of slack faith so long!
Standing aloof--denying portions so long;
Only aware to-day of compact, all-diffused truth;
Discovering to-day there is no lie, or form of lie, and can be none,
but grows as inevitably upon itself as the truth does upon
itself,
Or as any law of the earth, or any natural production of the earth
does.

(This is curious, and may not be realized immediately--But it must be
realized;
I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with the rest,
And that the universe does.)

Where has fail'd a perfect return, indifferent of lies or the truth?
Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the spirit of man?
or in the meat and blood? 10

Meditating among liars, and retreating sternly into myself, I see
that there are really no liars or lies after all,
And that nothing fails its perfect return--And that what are called
lies are perfect returns,
And that each thing exactly represents itself, and what has preceded
it,
And that the truth includes all, and is compact, just as much as
space is compact,
And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of the truth--but
that all is truth without exception;
And henceforth I will go celebrate anything I see or am,
And sing and laugh, and deny nothing.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002


Read poems about / on: truth, faith, water, fire

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Comments about this poem (A Promise To California by Walt Whitman )

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  • James Mccallum (2/12/2010 1:14:00 PM)

    I think the clue to what Walt is saying is the effect. The perfect return. That no idea, statement or action is in itself a truth or a lie. It is the consequence of the idea, statement or action, 'the perfect return' that embodies the truth. Consider the first chapter of James from the New Testament. How hardship is a blessing. You are the perfect result of the life you lived. The connection of opposites 'consider all your hardships a blessing, so as my truth my work may be complete in you.' No judgment no relativism, just perseverance.

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  • seriz o (4/8/2008 3:03:00 AM)

    how can there be any bond between two things that are exact opposites, really? some things can not and should not be determined by observations alone. even Satan takes the form of an angel of light. there are absolute truths. flawed views of sin cause us to romanticize that we could ever reconcile good and evil. relativism (not relativity) so effectively leads men astray, and ever so often, even the greatest of men.

  • nobody anonymous (8/27/2007 4:13:00 AM)

    Truth and lies...what are the differences? Indeed, there are none, for the boundaries are obscured...the truth are twisted and tarnished as spinning of information is so widespread nowadays. Perhaps, we should all agree that the world was never meant to be black or white but grey....so true indeed the poem...all is truth for there are no lies...

  • Jake Ralston (12/17/2005 2:21:00 PM)

    I really enjoyed how Walt Whitman described lieing in this poem. He looked at as if there really was no liers at all, just what people believed was right. It puts a big twist in how you look at people who don't tell the truth. It makes you lighten up a little more and just go with the flows of what people tell you and not get freakishly angry if someone happens to not know what they're talking about. Great poem.

  • Samantha Pauley (12/15/2005 10:12:00 AM)

    I liked this poem because it makes it seem as if there are no real truths or lies, only what a person believes to be true or false.

  • Sara Stone (12/9/2005 11:09:00 AM)

    Someone once told me that one does not lie, but tells alterations of reality to suit different truths. This poem seems to embrace the idea as everything being true in the eyes of the person who beleives in it. It brings on a new perspective to the 'facts' of life and existence.

  • Kevin Howard (4/24/2005 8:47:00 PM)

    Here, Whitman defines truth by perspective...our own. Truth is. Typically, we define truth in terms of its consistency with the origin...it is what it appears to be. Whitman offers an alternative steeped in wisdom and insight. Truth is what we experience...see, feel, taste, smell, hear. The quality of these truths are revealed over time...they always return perfectly. So let us take his wise advice: absorb everything, deny nothing, and discern what experience teaches.

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