Monthly Archives: June 2015

Daily Whitman


O Living Always, Always Dying

  O living always, always dying!
  O the burials of me past and present,
  O me while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperious as ever;
  O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not, I am content;)
  O to disengage myself from those corpses of me, which I turn and
      look at where I cast them,
  To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the corpses behind.


Daily Whitman


A Noiseless Patient Spider

  A noiseless patient spider,
  I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
  Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
  It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament out of itself,
  Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

  And you O my soul where you stand,
  Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
  Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to
      connect them,
  Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
  Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.



Quote for the Week


Most physicists use quantum mechanics every day in their working lives without needing to worry about the fundamental problem of its interpretation. Being sensible people with very little time to follow up all the ideas and data in their own specialties and not having to worry about this fundamental problem, they do not worry about it. A year or so ago, while Philip Candelas (of the physics department at Texas) and I were waiting for an elevator, our conversation turned to a young theorist who had been quite promising as a graduate student and who had then dropped out of sight. I asked Phil what had interfered with the ex-student’s research. Phil shook his head sadly and said, “He tried to understand quantum mechanics.”
So irrelevant is the philosophy of quantum mechanics to its use, that one begins to suspect that all the deep questions about the meaning of measurement are really empty, forced on us by our language, a language that evolved in a world governed very nearly by classical physics. But I admit to some discomfort in working all my life in a theoretical framework that no one fully understands. And we really do need to understand quantum mechanics better in quantum cosmology, the application of quantum mechanics to the whole universe, where no outside observer is even imaginable. The universe is much too large now for quantum mechanics to make much difference, but according to the big-bang theory there was a time in the past when the particles were so close together that quantum effects must have been important. No one today knows even the rules for applying quantum mechanics in this context.

–Steven Weinberg, Dreams of the Final Theory (2011), Ch. 4. Quantum Mechanics and Its Discontents

Daily Whitman


What Ship Puzzled at Sea

  What ship puzzled at sea, cons for the true reckoning?
  Or coming in, to avoid the bars and follow the channel a perfect
      pilot needs?
  Here, sailor! here, ship! take aboard the most perfect pilot,
  Whom, in a little boat, putting off and rowing, I hailing you offer.


Daily Whitman


That Music Always Round Me

  That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning, yet long
      untaught I did not hear,
  But now the chorus I hear and am elated,
  A tenor, strong, ascending with power and health, with glad notes of
      daybreak I hear,
  A soprano at intervals sailing buoyantly over the tops of immense waves,
  A transparent base shuddering lusciously under and through the universe,
  The triumphant tutti, the funeral wailings with sweet flutes and
      violins, all these I fill myself with,
  I hear not the volumes of sound merely, I am moved by the exquisite
  I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving,
      contending with fiery vehemence to excel each other in emotion;
  I do not think the performers know themselves—but now I think
      begin to know them.



Debussy for the Weekend

Daily Whitman


Quicksand Years

  Quicksand years that whirl me I know not whither,
  Your schemes, politics, fail, lines give way, substances mock and elude me,
  Only the theme I sing, the great and strong-possess'd soul, eludes not,
  One's-self must never give way—that is the final substance—that
      out of all is sure,
  Out of politics, triumphs, battles, life, what at last finally remains?
  When shows break up what but One's-Self is sure?


Daily Whitman



  I need no assurances, I am a man who is preoccupied of his own soul;
  I do not doubt that from under the feet and beside the hands and
      face I am cognizant of, are now looking faces I am not cognizant
      of, calm and actual faces,
  I do not doubt but the majesty and beauty of the world are latent in
      any iota of the world,
  I do not doubt I am limitless, and that the universes are limitless,
      in vain I try to think how limitless,
  I do not doubt that the orbs and the systems of orbs play their
      swift sports through the air on purpose, and that I shall one day
      be eligible to do as much as they, and more than they,
  I do not doubt that temporary affairs keep on and on millions of years,
  I do not doubt interiors have their interiors, and exteriors have
      their exteriors, and that the eyesight has another eyesight, and
      the hearing another hearing, and the voice another voice,
  I do not doubt that the passionately-wept deaths of young men are
      provided for, and that the deaths of young women and the
      deaths of little children are provided for,
  (Did you think Life was so well provided for, and Death, the purport
      of all Life, is not well provided for?)
  I do not doubt that wrecks at sea, no matter what the horrors of
      them, no matter whose wife, child, husband, father, lover, has
      gone down, are provided for, to the minutest points,
  I do not doubt that whatever can possibly happen anywhere at any
      time, is provided for in the inherences of things,
  I do not think Life provides for all and for Time and Space, but I
      believe Heavenly Death provides for all.



Daily Whitman


As If a Phantom Caress’d Me

  As if a phantom caress'd me,
  I thought I was not alone walking here by the shore;
  But the one I thought was with me as now I walk by the shore, the
      one I loved that caress'd me,
  As I lean and look through the glimmering light, that one has
      utterly disappear'd.
  And those appear that are hateful to me and mock me.



Daily Whitman


Yet, Yet, Ye Downcast Hours

  Yet, yet, ye downcast hours, I know ye also,
  Weights of lead, how ye clog and cling at my ankles,
  Earth to a chamber of mourning turns—I hear the o'erweening, mocking
  Matter is conqueror—matter, triumphant only, continues onward.

  Despairing cries float ceaselessly toward me,
  The call of my nearest lover, putting forth, alarm'd, uncertain,
  The sea I am quickly to sail, come tell me,
  Come tell me where I am speeding, tell me my destination.

  I understand your anguish, but I cannot help you,
  I approach, hear, behold, the sad mouth, the look out of the eyes,
      your mute inquiry,
  Whither I go from the bed I recline on, come tell me,—
  Old age, alarm'd, uncertain—a young woman's voice, appealing to
      me for comfort;
  A young man's voice, Shall I not escape?