All without me were seeds only.

Glorious autumn showers! We are having several days of warmish gentle rain. I attended my grandson’s freshman football game in Davis and we paltry few fans sat on aluminum benches with drippings from our neighbors’ umbrellas slowly wetting us. But we didn’t need sweaters under our rain jackets, and the rain was laving our dust-layers, as it is described in the poem below.

On my drive over, I heard a garden man on the radio tell how this is the perfect time to scatter our poppy seeds and other such perennials. I am hoping to do that if I can synchronize my schedule with the pauses between showers. I have these two packets that I had decided not to start earlier in the greenhouse, and also my milkweed seeds from Siskiyou County… and perhaps I still have North Coast lupine seeds I collected years ago. We’ll see if the breaks in the rain are long enough for my deliberations about which patches of ground are likely for my experiments. And then: let the Poem of the Earth descend!



And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated:
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea,
Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form’d, altogether changed,
and yet the same,
I descend to lave the drouths, atomies*, dust-layers of the globe,
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn;
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own
origin, and make pure and beautify it;

(For song, issuing from its birth-place, after fulfilment, wander-
Reck’d or unreck’d, duly with love returns.)

-Walt Whitman


*atomy: a skeleton or emaciated body.

10 thoughts on “All without me were seeds only.

  1. How have I missed this poem?? It’s wonderful. Thanks for bringing it out!

    Also, I see a poem of yours within the post. All I added was a title:


    I heard a garden man tell
    how this is the time
    to scatter poppy seeds
    and other perennials.

    Hoping I can synchronize
    my schedule with pauses
    between showers,

    I have milkweed seeds
    from Siskiyou County
    and North Coast lupine

    seeds collected years ago.
    We’ll see if breaks in the rain
    are long enough, and which
    patches of ground are likely.

    And then:
    let the Poem
    of the Earth

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, you remind me. This is our bulb planting season and every year I promise myself I will bury daffodils and tulips for the Spring. This week: I must! Would you please tell us foreigners about Walt Whitman? Here he sounds so very, very modern. I know I could do the Google, but I would so much rather hear it from erudite you x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our boys at school adore getting muddy!

    I hope you have success with your seeds.

    That poem is really beautiful and so evocative- I can see it so clearly in my head!

    Thank you so much for all your kind comments, particularly about Norma.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Whitman is such a wonder. I didn’t appreciate him in my youth (or in my forced march through his verse during school years) but I’m thinking now that I need to re-explore his work. There may be something in Leaves of Grass that would match nicely with prairie photos.

    After Hurricane Ike, we went through a period of drought, and by the time it was over, the hurricane-mud dust was thick on everything. The rain-washing was such a blessing. Everything shone when it was done.


    1. Linda, I also don’t know much about Whitman, but he is a fascinating character. I don’t even remember reading any of his poetry in school, and I haven’t spent enough time since to gain an appreciation for him – this poem I found in an anthology and it was short enough and accessible enough for my simple mind. I love that word atomy – and I discovered that last droughty summer (2015) when I was in the mountains during thundershowers, I wrote, “We were gleeful, as if our own skins had been shriveled and were now plumping up again.” I didn’t know it then, but we had been atomies!


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