Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was a great American poet who expressed many dimensions of mysticism in his writings. Gary David Comstock, a University Protestant Chaplain at Wesleyan University, notes: "Whitman sought to tear down the belief that the spiritual resides only in the religious. In the whole universe, he believed, there is nothing more divine than humankind, and all of the universe is divine as well."
Whitman sang praises to the body at a time when the prevailing sentiment was against any mention of the flesh in poetry or prose. He was a lover of nature in all its wild profusions but also a devotee of the drama and the dynamism of the city. Ralph Waldo Emerson called Leaves of Grass "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed." Part of Whitman's genius is that he wrote as if literature never existed. As a self-made man, he loved the diversity and the brawny vitality of the American experience. Many of the poems in this volume reveal his mystical celebration of wonder, enthusiasm, unity, and yearning.
In "Divine Am I Inside and Out," he sings:
"Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy
whatever I touch or am touched from;
The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than
This head is more than churches or bibles or