A Riddle Song Poem by Walt Whitman

A Riddle Song

Rating: 2.9

THAT which eludes this verse and any verse,
Unheard by sharpest ear, unform'd in clearest eye or cunningest mind,
Nor lore nor fame, nor happiness nor wealth,
And yet the pulse of every heart and life throughout the world
Which you and I and all pursuing ever ever miss,
Open but still a secret, the real of the real, an illusion,
Costless, vouchsafed to each, yet never man the owner,
Which poets vainly seek to put in rhyme, historians in prose,
Which sculptor never chisel'd yet, nor painter painted,
Which vocalist never sung, nor orator nor actor ever utter'd, 10
Invoking here and now I challenge for my song.

Indifferently, 'mid public, private haunts, in solitude,
Behind the mountain and the wood,
Companion of the city's busiest streets, through the assemblage,
It and its radiations constantly glide.

In looks of fair unconscious babes,
Or strangely in the coffin'd dead,
Or show of breaking dawn or stars by night,
As some dissolving delicate film of dreams,
Hiding yet lingering. 20

Two little breaths of words comprising it.
Two words, yet all from first to last comprised in it.

How ardently for it!
How many ships have sail'd and sunk for it!
How many travelers started from their homes and ne'er return'd!
How much of genius boldly staked and lost for it!
What countless stores of beauty, love, ventur'd for it!
How all superbest deeds since Time began are traceable to it--and
shall be to the end!
How all heroic martyrdoms to it!
How, justified by it, the horrors, evils, battles of the earth! 30
How the bright fascinating lambent flames of it, in every age and
land, have drawn men's eyes,
Rich as a sunset on the Norway coast, the sky, the islands, and the
Or midnight's silent glowing northern lights unreachable.

Haply God's riddle it, so vague and yet so certain,
The soul for it, and all the visible universe for it,
And heaven at last for it.

Alain Ilan Braun 19 September 2011

Just a magnificent and deep poem! It appeals to me as if it was freshly written, perhaps yesterday? People, poets, please comment this most beautiful song!

9 126 Reply
Ralph Mason 11 December 2012

I totally agree! I just started reading Walt Whitman and this one is my love.

8 4 Reply
Shania K. Younce 10 May 2014

This is a beautiful poem. Bien!

5 2 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 15 April 2018

Open! ! But still a secret! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

0 1 Reply
Konab Ghumman 30 June 2019

so beautiful and inspiring For I know very well that I and robust love belong among you, inland, and along the Western Sea; For These States tend inland, and toward the Western Sea- and I will also.

0 0 Reply
Ben Oshel 23 May 2018

“I AM”

1 0 Reply
Kumarmani Mahakul 15 April 2018

Haply God's riddle it, so vague and yet so certain, The soul for it, and all the visible universe for it, And heaven at last for it........touching expression with nice theme. Beautiful poem.

1 0 Reply
Ramesh T A 15 April 2018

A great riddle heaven indeed is that cannot be defined by all great geniuses, poets, leaders and all as Whitman says!

1 1 Reply
Bernard F. Asuncion 15 April 2018

Such a great composition by Walt Whitman??????

1 1 Reply
Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

New York / United States
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