Facing West from California's Shores

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Walt Whitman (1819—1892) American poet

Albery Allson Whitman (1851—1901)

Passage to India


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Poem by Whitman, published in the “Children of Adam” section of Leaves of Grass (1860), and given its present title in the 1867 edition.

The poet, “a child, very old … long having wander'd,” represents himself as symbolic of mankind looking backward “towards the house of eternity,” the mystic Orient, from the vigorous utilitarian West, and questioning where he is to find fulfilled his search for the complete man. The poem thus foreshadows the theme of “Passage to India.” Its being placed in the “Children of Adam” section indicates that Whitman believed the instinct of sex to be both the physical and the spiritual force of creative progress in man and nature.

Subjects: Literature.

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