Monday, July 21, 2014

The Common People

The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors . . but always most in the common people. Their manners, speech, dress, friendships,-the freshness and candor of their physiognomy-the picturesque looseness of their carriage. . . their deathless attachment to freedom-their aversion to anything indecorous or soft or mean-the practical acknowledgment of the citizens of one state by the citizens of all other states-the fierceness of their roused resentment-their curiosity and susceptibility to a slight-the air they have of persons who never knew how it felt to stand in the presence of superiors-the fluency of their speech-their delight in music, the sure symptom of manly tenderness and native elegance of soul. . . their good temper and openhandedness-the terrible significance of their elections-the President's taking off his hat to them and not they to him-these too are unrhymed poetry.

 (From the preface to Leaves of Grass)

Walt Whitman

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