A Riddle Song
THAT which eludes this verse and any verse,
Unheard by sharpest ear, unform'd in clearest eye or cunningest mind,
Nor lore nor fame, nor happiness nor wealth,
And yet the pulse of every heart and life throughout the world
Which you and I and all pursuing ever ever miss,
Open but still a secret, the real of the real, an illusion,
Costless, vouchsafed to each, yet never man the owner,
Which poets vainly seek to put in rhyme, historians in prose,
Which sculptor never chisel'd yet, nor painter painted,
Which vocalist never sung, nor orator nor actor ever utter'd, 10
Invoking here and now I challenge for my song.
Indifferently, 'mid public, private haunts, in solitude,
Behind the mountain and the wood,
Companion of the city's busiest streets, through the assemblage,
It and its radiations constantly glide.
In looks of fair unconscious babes,
Or strangely in the coffin'd dead,
Or show of breaking dawn or stars by night,
As some dissolving delicate film of dreams,
Hiding yet lingering. 20
Two little breaths of words comprising it.
Two words, yet all from first to last comprised in it.
How ardently for it!
How many ships have sail'd and sunk for it!
How many travelers started from their homes and ne'er return'd!
How much of genius boldly staked and lost for it!
What countless stores of beauty, love, ventur'd for it!
How all superbest deeds since Time began are traceable to it--and
shall be to the end!
How all heroic martyrdoms to it!
How, justified by it, the horrors, evils, battles of the earth! 30
How the bright fascinating lambent flames of it, in every age and
land, have drawn men's eyes,
Rich as a sunset on the Norway coast, the sky, the islands, and the
Or midnight's silent glowing northern lights unreachable.
Haply God's riddle it, so vague and yet so certain,
The soul for it, and all the visible universe for it,
And heaven at last for it.
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (A Riddle Song by Walt Whitman )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
Poem of the Day
- The Way You Touch Me, Spiritwind Wood
- Forever By You, Spiritwind Wood
- Thank You Lord, Kathryn Tyler King
- I Wanted You To Know, Spiritwind Wood
- Light Of Heaven, Spiritwind Wood
- Through Echoes Of The Wind, Spiritwind Wood
- Zophy, Luo Zhihai
- The Grotto, David Lewis Paget
- Heaven's Only Angel, Spiritwind Wood
- Deeper into the Sea, Joseph Narusiewicz