The Key!

As promised in my most recent post, I am today turning to a poem by Walt Whitman titled Clef Poem. The poem was printed in his 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass. At some point in time the poem was abridged and known as “On the Beach at Night Alone.” Whitman, using the French word for key – “clef”- and also what we know as the musical clef indicating the key of the music – writes this poem in an attempt to unlock the secrets of the cosmos. I share his poem with you, and as before, take time to ponder the words he chooses and the way he intends to address the wonder all around us, present and future. Does the poem express hope?

 Clef Poem – Walt Whitman

THIS night I am happy,
As I watch the stars shining, I think a thought of the clef
of the universes, and of the future.

What can the future bring me more than I have?
Do you suppose I wish to enjoy life in other spheres?

I say distinctly I comprehend no better sphere than this earth,
I comprehend no better life than the life of my body.

I do not know what follows the death of my body,
But I know well that whatever it is, it is best for me,
And I know well that what is really Me shall live just as much as before.

I am not uneasy but I shall have good housing to myself,
But this is my first—how can I like the rest any better?
Here I grew up—the studs and rafters are grown parts of me.

I suppose I am to be eligible to visit the stars, in my time,
I suppose I shall have myriads of new experiences—and that
the experience of this earth will prove only one out of myriads;
But I believe my body and my soul already indicate those experiences,
And I believe I shall find nothing in the stars more majestic
and beautiful than I have already found on the earth,
And I believe I have this night a clue through the universes,
And I believe I have this night thought a thought of the clef of eternity.
A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets, comets,
All the substances of the same, and all that is spiritual upon the same,
All distances of place, however wide,
All distances of time—all inanimate forms,
All souls—all living bodies, though they be in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All men and women—me also,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe or any globe,
All lives and deaths—all of past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spanned,
and shall forever span them.

Lord of Heaven and Earth,
of past, present, and future,
hear our prayer.
Amid summer heat we know
the earth exists in a delicate balance.
All around us we see evidence
of the disturbance of such balance.
Our planet is in peril,
and we are so slow
to change our behavior.
Lord of Love and Peace,
hear our prayer.
All around us we see our greed play out
at the expense of others. All too
many are without, because we few, cling on
to wanting more.
We see destruction and evil play out because of
our greed to possess land, countries, peoples.
All too many die because of the desires of a few.
Discord and distrust
comes ever so close to destroy
hopefulness and harmony,
To you Lord of Heaven and Earth
to you O Lord,
of past, present, and future,
we turn.
Help us we pray. Amen.

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