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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

228. Excelsior

WHO has gone farthest? For lo! have not I gone farther?

And who has been just? For I would be the most just person of the earth;

And who most cautious? For I would be more cautious;

And who has been happiest? O I think it is I! I think no one was ever happier than I;

And who has lavish’d all? For I lavish constantly the best I have;

And who has been firmest? For I would be firmer;

And who proudest? For I think I have reason to be the proudest son alive—for I am the son of the brawny and tall-topt city;

And who has been bold and true? For I would be the boldest and truest being of the universe;

And who benevolent? For I would show more benevolence than all the rest;

And who has projected beautiful words through the longest time? Have I not outvied him? have I not said the words that shall stretch through longer time?

And who has receiv’d the love of the most friends? For I know what it is to receive the passionate love of many friends;

And who possesses a perfect and enamour’d body? For I do not believe any one possesses a more perfect or enamour’d body than mine;

And who thinks the amplest thoughts? For I will surround those thoughts;

And who has made hymns fit for the earth? For I am mad with devouring extasy to make joyous hymns for the whole earth!