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Observations placeholder

Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass - I am an acme of things accomplished



Type of Spiritual Experience


A huge number of ideas are contained in Whitman's poem, as they always are, part of their joy, but it can be seen that he believes that growth of the soul is a progression.    I have kept the full  text of this section in, as it makes very clear allusions to the fact that the growth of our soul can take place over several lives.  Thus the poem combines both the imagery of spiritual journey, with the imagery of reincarnation.

He also alludes to the fact that he 'looked' down at the underworld and beyond into chaos, and that he spent a long time where he was not reincarnated when he was 'hugged close', and that he was helped.

The last section of the poem is simply an allusion to the amount of evolution that had to take place before the world was capable of supporting his soul. 

A description of the experience

Walt Whitman – from Leaves of Grass

 I am an acme of things accomplished
I an encloser of things to be
My feet strike an apex of the epices of the stairs
On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps
All below duly travelled – and still I mount and mount
Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, the vapour from the nostrils of death
I know I was even there – I waited unseen and always
And slept while God carried me through the lethargic mist
And took my time … and took no hurt from the foetid carbon
Long I was hugged close .. long and long
Immense have been the preparations for me
Faithful and friendly the arms that have  helped me
Before I was born out of my mother, generations guided me
My embryo has never been torpid – nothing could overlay it
For it the nebula cohered to an orb – the long slow strata
 piled to rest it on –  vast vegetables gave it sustenance
Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it with care
All forces have been steadily employed to complete and delight me
Now I stand on this spot with my soul

The source of the experience

Whitman, Walt

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Drinking absinthe