Taylor Mac: Whitman in the Woods.


Song of Myself: XXIV

Taylor Mac performs section XXIV of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself” in glamorous drag costume and makeup inspired by the woodland surroundings of the Lower Hudson Valley.

AIRED: April 25, 2021 | 0:05:49

[ Water trickling ]

[ Birds chirping ]

Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son.

Turbulent, fleshy, eating, drinking, and breeding.

No sentimentalist, no stander above men or women

or apart from them.

No more modest than immodest.

Unscrew the locks from the doors.

Unscrew the doors themselves from the jambs.

Whoever degrades another degrades me.

Whatever is done and said returns at last to me.

Through me the afflatus surging and surging.

Through me the current and index.

I speak the pass-word primeval!

I give the sign of democracy.

By God, I will accept nothing

which all cannot have their counterpart of

on the same terms.

Through me many long dumb voices.

Voices of the interminable generation

of prisoners and slaves.

Voices of the diseas'd and despairing

and of thieves and dwarfs,

and the cycles of preparation and accretion

and of the threads that connect the -- the stars,

and of wombs and of the father-stuff!

And the rights of them the others are down upon,

the deform'd, the trivial, flat, foolish.

Fog in air, despised,

beetles rolling balls of dung.

Through me forbidden voices,

voices of sexes and lusts,

voices veil'd.

And I remove the veil.

Voices indecent by me transformed and clarified.

I do not press my fingers across my mouth

I keep as delicate around the bowels

as around the head and heart.

Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

I believe in the flesh and the appetites,

Seeing, hearing, feeling are miracles,

and each and every part and tag of me is a miracle.

Divine am I inside and out,

and I make holy all that I touch...

or am touch'd from.

Scent of these armpits.

[ Sniffs deeply ]

Aroma finer than prayer.

This head --

more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.

If I worship one thing more than another,

it shall be the spread of my own body.

Translucent mold of me? Pfft!

It shall be you.

Shaded ledges and rests, it shall be you.

Firm masculine colter, it shall be you.

Whatever goes to the tilth of me,

it shall be you.

You, my rich blood,

your milky streams, pale strippings away of my life.

Breast that presses against other breasts,

it shall be you.

My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions,

root of wash'd sweet-flag,

timorous pond-snipe,

nest of the guarded duplicate eggs --

it shall be you.

Mix'd tussled hay of head, it shall be you.

Trickling sap of maple,

fiber of manly wheat,

it shall be you.

Sun so generous, it shall be you.

Vapors lighting and shading my face, it shall be you.

You, sweaty brooks and dews, it shall be you.

Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me...

...it shall be you!

Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak,

loving loungers in my winding path,

it shall be you.

Hands I have taken,

face I have kissed,

mortal I have ever touched,

it shall be you.

I dote on myself.

There is that lot of me and all so luscious.

Each moment

and whatever happens thrills me with joy.

I-I cannot tell how my ankle bends,

nor whence the cause of my faintest wish,

nor the cause of the friendship I emit,

nor the cause of the friendship I take again.

That I walk up a stoop,

I pause to consider if it really be,

a morning-glory at my windowsill

satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.

To behold the day-break.

The little light fades the immense shadows.

The air tastes good to my palate.

Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols

silently rising, freshly exuding,

scooting obliquely high and low.

Something I cannot see puts forth libidinous prongs.

Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.

The earth by the sky staid,

the daily close of their junction,

the heaved challenge from the east,

that moment over my head,

the mocking taunt.

See then whether you shall be master.

Walt Whitman.

[ Birds chirping ]

[ Chirping continues ]


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