At Peace About God, And About Death

Walt Whitman’s Tomb. Photograph by Patti Smith, Camden New Jersey, 2007



I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul;
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy, walks to his own funeral, drest in his shroud,
And I or you, pocketless of a dime, may purchase the pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye, or show a bean in its pod, confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel’d universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.

And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I, who am curious about each, am not curious about God;
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God, and about death.)

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then;
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass;
I find letters from God dropt in the street—and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come forever and ever.

Walt Whitman

Song of Myself (excerpt)

Françoise Sagan quoted the firsts lines of this excerpt in her novel Des bleus à l’âme (Scars on the Soul)

Rimbaud’s Prayer

French poet Arthur Rimbaud at the time of his First Communion, age 11, 1866.

Patti Smith’s Easter LP insert reproduces this portrait of Frédéric and Arthur Rimbaud


“…To the adolescent I was. To this old saint, hermitage or mission.  To the spirit of the poor. And to a very high clergy. Also to every cult, in such a place of memorial cults and among such events that one must surrender, according to the aspirations of the moment or our own serious vices…”

Arthur Rimbaud

Excerpt from Prayer

(Illuminations XXXVI: Devotion)