The soul is a very perfect judge of her own emotions, if your mind doesn't dictate to her. Because the mind says Charity! Charity! you don't have to force your soul into kissing lepers or embracing syphilitics. Your lips are the lips of your soul, your body is the body of your soul. That is Whitman's message. And your soul hates syphilis and leprosy. Because it is a soul, it hates these things, which are against the soul. And therefore to force the body of your soul into contact with uncleanness is a great violation of your soul. The soul wishes to keep clean and whole. The soul's deepest will is to preserve its own integrity against the mind and the whole mass of disintegrating forces.
Soul sympathizes with soul. And that which tries to kill my soul my soul hates. My soul and body are one. Soul and body wish to keep clean and whole. Only the mind is capable of great perversion. Only the mind tries to drive my soul and body into uncleanness and unwholesomeness.
What my soul loves, I love.
What my soul hates, I hate.
When my soul is stirred with compassion, I am compassionate.
What my soul turns away from, I turn away from.
That is the true interpretation of Whitman's creed: the true revelation of his Sympathy.
And my soul takes the open road. She meets the souls that are passing, she goes along with the souls that are going her way. And for one and all, she has sympathy. The sympathy of love, the sympathy of hate, the sympathy of simple proximity; all the subtle sympathizings of the incalculable soul, from the bitterest hate to passionate love.
It is not I who guide my soul to heaven. It is I who am guided by my own soul along the open road, where all men tread. Therefore I must accept her deep motions of love, or hate, or compassion, or dislike, or indifference. And I must go where she takes me, for my feet and my lips and my body are my soul. It is I who must submit to her.
This is Whitman's message of American democracy.
The true democracy, where soul meets soul, in the open road. Democracy. American democracy where all journey down the open road, and where a soul is known at once in its going. Not by its clothes or appearance. Whitman did away with that. Not by its family name. Not even by its reputation. Whitman and Melville both discounted that. Not by a progression of piety, or by works of Charity. Not by works at all. Not by anything, but just itself. The soul passing unenhanced, passing on foot and being no more than itself. And recognized, and passed by or greeted according to the soul's dictate. If it be a great soul, it will be worshipped in the road.
source: D H Lawrence - 1923 - 'Studies in Classic American Literature'
- Other D H Lawrence poems, quotes, etc. may be found at my Poet-in-Residence blog.