Passage to India

The poets say things better than anyone else. This is a fact. I am of the opinion that the deepest and most important things can only be said as poetry. Furthermore, poetry can only be heard, it cannot be “explained.” So either it speaks to you or it doesn’t. Either you get it or you don’t. Tonight I found some lines in a poem that not only speak to me, they speak for me. These lines speak to me and for me as I contemplate my lifelong quest to know God. Allow me to share with you a few select lines from the poem Passage to India by America’s greatest poet, Walt Whitman.

O we can wait no longer,
We too take ship O soul,
Joyous we launch out on trackless seas,
Fearless for unknown shores,
Caroling free, singing our song of God,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.
Ah, more than any priest O soul we too believe in God,
But with the mystery of God we dare not dally.
Bathe me O God in thee, mounting to thee,
I and my soul range in range of thee.
O Thou transcendent,
Nameless, the fibre and the breath,
Light of the light, shedding forth universes, thou centre of them,
Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving,
Thou reservoir.
(O pensive soul of me—O thirst unsatisfied—waitest not there?)
Swiftly I shrivel at the thought of God.
Reckoning ahead O soul, when thou, the time achiev’d,
The seas all cross’d, weather’d the capes, yieldest the aim attain’d,
As filled with the friendship, love complete, the Elder Brother found,
The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.
Passage to more than India!
O soul, voyagest thou indeed on voyages like those?
Passage, immediate passage!
The blood burns in my veins!
Away O Soul!
Hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovel’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Sail forth—steer for the deep waters only,
Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me,
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we risk the ship, ourselves and all.
O my brave soul!
O farther farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe!
Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!

These words are my confession, my defense, my “explanation.”
They will have to suffice.
God awaits.
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
May we farther sail!