I exist as I am

Literary Tattoos: Walt Whitman Song of Myself Literary Tattoos: Walt Whitman Song of Myself

This is Geneva’s tattoo.

The story behind it is that I’ve suffered for a long time with body image issues and accepting myself as I am. Reading Whitman’s poetry, especially “Song of Myself”, and going back to graduate school have really made me rethink my life, and I got this tattoo as a celebration of myself and my new found confidence. Dandelions symbolic for faithfulness and happiness, so I thought one would be especially appropriate. I also like the transience of dandelions, with their seeds that can seemingly float along the breeze, wherever the wind wills them to go. They’re also a common flower, much like Whitmans “leaves of grass”, and I’ve always thought that sometimes the common and the ordinary should be just as celebrated and thought of as beautiful as the extraordinary. Roses are beautiful, but dandelions are more so in a way, because they’re not as valued.

Literary Tattoos: Walt Whitman Song of Myself

This belongs to Winnter.

I love it because Walt Whitman is a favorite poet of mine. The tattoo really represents the poet in me, and in all of us. It also truly celebrates the human being as being beautiful, and giving us the freedom to really celebrate that. My flesh is a poem, as is anyone else’s who loves themselves.

 

This belongs to Lukas.

So, the reason I decided to get this tattoo when I turned 18 goes pretty far back. When I was about 4 or 5 my parents gave me this lamp for my bedroom, it was yellow with purple writing, and it had a whole mess of quotes from different authors, including Hemingway, Frost, and Kerouac. As the years went by, pieces of the quotes chipped off whenever we moved, but the one quote that always remained intact and always stood out in my mind when I thought of my childhood and the lamp was this one. So when I turned 18, I had already been thinking about what I wanted my tattoo to be, and I decided that this one wouldn’t only serve as a reminder of my childhood, but also as a guiding point for the rest of my life.

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.

- Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

I contain multitudes

This is Emma’s tattoo.

For me, it’s a statement that I am not an open book and there are many facets to my personality

The font is King. I chose a typewriter font because of nostalgia (I learned to type on a typewriter) and the poem is quite old, so I thought it fit.

Literary Tattoos: Walt Whitman Song of Myself

Do I contradict myself? 
Very well then I contradict myself, 
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

- Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

a great poem

This tattoo belongs to Zachary Dean.

Literary Tattoos: Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.

- Walt Whitman, preface to Leaves of Grass

I Sing the Body Electric

This is Mai’s tattoo.

I was always fascinated by this poem, and especially by the first line, I always loved the way the words looked together, their ring and what they meant. It’s merely the opening line to a beautiful question.

Literary Tattoos: Walt Whitman I Sing the Body Electric

I SING the Body electric;
The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them;
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the Soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves; 5
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do as much as the Soul?
And if the body were not the Soul, what is the Soul?

- “I Sing the Body Electric” by Walt Whitman.  Read the whole poem here.

This is what you shall do…

Literary Tattoos: Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

This is Benjamin’s tattoo:

My tattoo is from Walt Whitman.  The first printing of Leaves of Grass (and none of the subsequent printings) had a preface with the following quote:

“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

I got this tattoo because the quote sums up my ethics very well, and I wanted to make those ethics a part of my body, plus the hope that it helps make my flesh a great poem.

Walt Whitman

Literary Tattoos: Walt Whitman Song of Myself

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.

One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten
million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.

My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite,
I laugh at what you call dissolution,
And I know the amplitude of time.

- Excerpt from Song of Myself by Walt Whitman

(source)