I have enjoyed thinking about life, the Universe, Earth, and Nature in terms of the vibrational songs that they emit, the songs that we can perceive and compose to express our own feelings. As I have considered these songs of existence, Walt Whitman’s work in Leaves of Grass, his own songs, and his spirit have sung sweetness, sanity, wisdom, creativity, and joy to me; they have encouraged and affirmed my own songs and added to the harmony and fullness of them as well as offered new thoughts, fresh insights.
Walt is known as the foremost and representative poet of American democracy, and I believe that his place as such was built on something deeper than many commentators consider: a metaphysical foundation and an analysis based on the self-awakening of individuals. He wrote his heart, and because of walking in the fellowship of the heart, he did not put much stock in others’ opinions of his work or in the reactions of critics to his writing or philosophies.
This focus of looking at life in a holistic, spiritual sense becomes evident in “Song of Prudence.” In this poem, Walt sees something as common as Manhattan and its environs and receives, senses something much deeper than the common: “Manhattan’s streets I saunter’d pondering, / On Time, Space, Reality — on such as these, and abreast with Prudence.” And it is not common prudence. This distinction has direct bearing on the aspect of Walt’s view of life — not just “Well, here’s a street, and the people are working. It would be prudent if they would save their money for retirement.” No, it’s a prudence beyond the common, beyond the physical streets of Manhattan.
He clarifies how he hears the vibrations, the inspiration, that translates into his song: “The last explanation always remains to be made about prudence, / Little and large alike drop quietly aside from the prudence that suits immortality.” Get that? “Prudence that suits immortality.” The wisdom that one uses to think beyond and listen and see beyond what we sense physically is different than the prudence used to simply address physical, mortal, temporal topics.
How? “The soul is of itself, / All verges to it, all has reference to what ensues, / All that a person does, says, thinks, is of consequence,… / But the same affects him or her onward afterward through the indirect lifetime.” Like I said — metaphysical, holistically bound together are the soul and body, so the spiritual, soul characteristics need to be brought into the observation of the spiritual senses.
When this happens, voila, a song is born — when the right prudence, good judgment, wisdom, is applied: “All that a male or female does, that is vigorous, benevolent, clean, is so much profit… / In the unshakable order of the universe and through the whole scope of it forever. // Who has been wise receives interest…” And then Walt goes on to list many things that may seem inconsequential or forgotten or not observed or considered in common, everyday ways of thinking. There are too many to quote here, but they are beautiful and end like this: “All suggestions of the divine mind of man or the divinity of his mouth, or the shaping of his great hands, / All that is well thought or said… .” These things of the soul and work of one’s hands are often thought small and inconsequential.
All of the things listed, though, will come into operation for eternity: “Did you guess any thing lived only its moment? / The world does not so exist, no parts palpable or impalpable so exist…” This is prudence used to observe and make judgments about mortal bodies containing an immortal essence. All that is done in the mortal ripples into immortality, eternity.
And we need to learn to judge ourselves and, as Walt did, not give a damn about the opinions or judgments of others. How do we view what we do in the light of eternity? “Now I breathe the work of the prudence that walks abreast with time, space, reality, / That answers the pride which refuses every lesson but its own.” Only my opinion counts when it comes to judging the validity of the work I do based on the knowledge and fellowship of my heart, and that which is good, which is spiritually prudent, “is well thought or said this day on any part of the globe, or on any of the wandering stars…”
The spiritual and physical are intimately linked; to sense and address only the physical leads to untold sorrow, confusion, desperation, and a host of other ills, especially an emptiness in the: “Whatever is prudence is indivisible, / Declines to separate one part of life from every part, / …Knows that only that person has really learn’d who has learn’d to prefer results, / Who favors body and soul the same, / Who perceives the indirect assuredly following the direct…”
No wonder so many folks today feel incomplete, feel like they don’t know self, aren’t living their lives with purpose; it has to be each one’s, each individual’s, purpose, truth, reality which is judged as prudent by them and which has results beyond the end of physical life.
I rejoice in this “Song of Prudence.” I know who I am and what I am to be living. It’s prudent for me, and even though I know others who are close to me don’t think I’m being wise, it doesn’t matter. My time, space, and reality are filled with my purpose to be a discoverer and help others discover, and I am doing this for now through my writing and activities associated with that.
What about you? Be prudent; judge yourself for yourself, not anyone else. Know and live your heart, create your purpose, and actively do something about that — a mission of action. That’s my song, well, at least one of them.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!