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Walt Whitman

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

I Was Looking A Long While



I WAS looking a long while for a clue to 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--(the purport and aim of all the past;)
It is the life of one man or one woman to-day--the average man of
to-day;
It is in languages, social customs, literatures, arts;
It is in 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.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Lauren York (12/8/2005 10:35:00 AM)

    I believe that this poem is about trying to find out more to the story than just the facts. I believe is discussing the matter of recieving a deeper and stronger meaning in the topic than what you can read in a book. You can gain knowledge facts, and opinions, and feelings when your learing about something through someone who was there rather than a book. Opinions, beliefs, and feelings can all be expressed through art, (like a story or painting) but history books tend to be based more on facts. (Report) Reply

  • Alex Allan (12/2/2005 10:58:00 AM)

    in the poem 'i was looking a long while' whitman is saying that books or a library might not be the best way to find out pieces of history. you can find it in the lives of people today and in different peoples languages, social customs, literatures, and arts, like whitman said. (Report) Reply

  • Cameron Richardson (12/2/2005 10:56:00 AM)

    In this poem, Whitman talks about how he found a clue of history and the past. He found this in the 'languages, social customs, literature, and arts.' He means that the history of different countries carry their history through their customs and arts and such. So therefore the history was carried on through the ages. (Report) Reply

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