walt whitman quotes

45 Walt Whitman Quotes That Teach Important Lessons

When I was a kid, my dream was to write the next Great American novel. Although I have quite a long way to go, I still dream of nothing else. Some days, my goal seems particularly unattainable. That’s when I read a few of Walt Whitman quotes (or works) and get fresh inspiration to create.

Now, you might be wondering why I take inspiration from a poet instead of a novelist. Well, his frank, daring approach and penchant for simplicity are a great reminder that writing is supposed to come from the heart.

Not to mention, the man was the inspiration behind Stoker’s Dracula. What’s not to love?

In all seriousness, Whitman wasn’t scared to stand up and speak his mind. He advocated against slavery and for equality. Even in today’s terms, Whitman was a hero.

Hopefully, these Walt Whitman quotes manage to inspire you as much as they do me. If nothing else, they’ll shine a light on the man’s brilliance and tender, explicit poetry.

Most Memorable and Heartening Walt Whitman Quotes

Short Walt Whitman Quotes That capture the Essence of Him

#1. “Simplicity is the glory of expression.”

#2. “Happiness, not in another place but this place; not for another hour, but this hour.”

#3. “Resist much, obey little.”

#4. “These are the days that must happen to you.”

#5. “Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”

#6. “The future is no more uncertain than the present.”

#7. “I exist as I am, that is enough.”

#8. “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.”

#9. “Do anything, but let it produce joy.”

#10. “In the faces of men and women, I see God.”

#11. “Be curious, not judgmental.”

#12. “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

#13. “I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.”

#14. “If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.”

Walt Whitman Quotes About Life and God

#15. “Oh, to be alive in such an age, when miracles are everywhere, and every inch of common air throbs a tremendous prophecy, of greater marvels yet to be.”

#16. “Pointing to another world will never stop vice among us; shedding light over this world can alone help us.”

#17. “Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.”

#18. “I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least.”

#19. “God is a mean-spirited, pugnacious bully bent on revenge against His children for failing to live up to his impossible standards.”

#20. “All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.”

#21. “I have said that the soul is not more than the body, And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s-self is.”

Walt Whitman Quotes About Writing and Work Ethics

#22. “The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote…By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.”

#23. “Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you, You must travel it for yourself.”

#24. “The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung.”

#25. “The art of art, the glory of expression, and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.”

#26. “To have great poets, there must be great audiences.”

#27. “A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibility of their own souls.”

#28. “The road to wisdom is paved with excess. The mark of a true writer is their ability to mystify the familiar and familiarize the strange.”

Wise and Prudent Walt Whitman Quotes

#29. “Re-examine all you have been told. Dismiss what insults your soul.”

#30. “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

#31. “To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.”

#32. “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

#33. “Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave, let him know he has enough.”

Walt Whitman Quotes About Love and Longing

#34. “I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again. I am to see to it that I do not lose you.”

#35. “Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem; I whisper with my lips close to your ear, I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.”

#36. “This hour I tell things in confidence. I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.”

#37. “What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the words I have read in my life.”

#38. “Love the earth and sun and animals, Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, Stand up for the stupid and crazy, Devote your income and labor to others… And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”

Walt Whitman Quotes About Learning and Leading

#39. “Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you, and disputed passage with you?”

#40. “He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.”

#41. “The shallow consider liberty a release from all law, from every constraint. The wise man sees in it, on the contrary, the potent Law of Laws.”

#42. “Nothing endures but personal qualities.”

#43. “And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud.”

#44. “Let that which stood in front go behind, let that which was behind advance to the front, let bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new propositions, let the old propositions be postponed.”

#45. “There is that indescribable freshness and unconsciousness about an illiterate person that humbles and mocks the power of the noblest expressive genius.”

To Conclude

So, there you have it! One of the most innovative and influential poets in the history of American poetry, Walt Whitman was eccentric and stubborn to the point of being scandalous. But with radical thoughts and ideas, Whitman was a true champion. What’s more, he wasn’t scared to speak up against what’s wrong and stand up for what’s right.

A man who always earned an honest living, struggled most of his life to feed his family, and never failed to share what little he had with others is today one of the most revered poets ever. As you can see from these Walt Whitman quotes, he deserves nothing less.


Image source: Walt Whitman photo from commons.wikimedia.org

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