Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE GODS LAUGHED ON HIGH OLYMPUS, by LEONORA SPEYER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE GODS LAUGHED ON HIGH OLYMPUS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I think the gods laughed on high olympus as thy
Last Line: We listen -- for your coming, walt whitman!
Subject(s): Olympus (mountain), Greece; Poetry & Poets; Whitman, Walt (1819-1891)

I think the gods laughed on high Olympus as they plucked you like a green,
singing leaf from off their wreathed brows,
And planted you on the flat shores of Manhattan!

-- This was their wild jest, Walt Whitman!
How the gods laughed as you pushed your grappling roots, lifted your clamorous
As you spread, lush, rank, magnificent, singing your unpruned songs;
As you unfolded passionate buds and ripened strange, sweet fruits among the home
fields and farms;
How the gods laughed and how they listened!
As you shouted your bold thoughts,
Matched your metres with the rhymes and rhythms of wind and sea, forest and
Punctuated carelessly with lightnings and thunders and with the stars,
As you called from the roofs and from the hills and rivers and from your lovers'
Your great, unshackled song!
Song of serene defiance and joyous challenge,
Of vision and prophecy and truth courageous,
Of men and women and generations past and generations to come,
Of all things living and all things green-growing,
Of governments and peoples, marching armies and vast ships, distant lands and
These States,
Of music, colors, perfumes, games, occupations, trades,
Of cities of the East and cities of the West, their streets and crowds, their
sounds and silences,
Of public opinion and cosmic brotherhood,
Of the body, its weaknesses and its strengths, its abominations and its
Of the soul,
Of life and death!
Song of God and all Gods,
Song of love and all loves,
Song of Walt Whitman!

-- What would your song be now, O poet insurgent?
You that sang,
"Did we think victory great?
So it is -- But now it seems to me, when it cannot be help'd, that defeat is
And that death and dismay are great."

You that sang,
"Resist much, obey little."
What would your songs be today?

See! The gods laugh no more!
For singing lies bound in the silent dungeons of thought suppressed,
Thousands of sweet singers are inarticulate, thousands are dead, their young
songs rotting in their dead throats!

-- And we whisper among ourselves and we listen;
We wade through our own turgid impatience,
We wait at our own doors,
We hammer at our own souls!

There is a hush on Manhattan;
There is a hush on all the world;
We listen -- for your swirling song,
We listen -- for your coming, Walt Whitman!

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