15 Leaves Of Grass Quotes That Will Inspire The Next Walt Whitman

Published July 3, 2016
Updated November 9, 2023

The poems in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass constitute a connected series representing the poet’s philosophy of life and humanity. Whitman wrote, revised and added to the book throughout his life, publishing the final edition only months before his death in 1892.

Leaves of Grass was highly controversial during its time, as Whitman exposed his thoughts on sensual pleasures in a candid display then considered to be immoral.

Though contentious upon its release, Leaves of Grass has long since been recognized as one of the central works of American poetry. These stunning lines and verses illustrate why:

Walt Whitman Quotes


1. “Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light
and of every moment of your life”

2. “Of Equality–as if it harm’d me, giving others the same chances and rights as myself–as if it were not indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same.”

3. “All beauty comes from beautiful blood and a beautiful brain. If the greatnesses are in conjunction in a man or woman it is enough…the fact will prevail through the universe…but the gaggery and gilt of a million years will not prevail.”

4. “Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light
and of every moment of your life”

5. “Give me the splendid, silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.”


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6. “I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen,
And accrue what I hear into myself…and let sound contribute toward me.”

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

8. “Only themselves understand themselves and the like of themselves,
As souls only understand souls.”

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

10. “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.”

Dance Sing

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11. “The question, O me! so sad, recurring –
What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here – that life
exists and identity,
that the powerful play goes on,
and you may contribute a verse.”

12. “Your very flesh shall be a great poem…”

13. “Loafe with me on the grass—loose the stop from your throat;
Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or lecture, not even the best; Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.”

14. “I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

15. “The sum of all known value and respect, I add up in you, whoever you are.”

Enjoy these Walt Whitman quotes? Next, check out 21 stunning Ernest Hemingway quotes on life and war. Then, check out the 22 best F. Scott Fitzgerald quotes.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.