Friday, August 20, 2010

Poetry 109: Walt Whitman

When I think of my favorite commercials, those that I don't mind being played so often, one comes to mind. It is a Levi jeans commercial, and it gives me goosebumps all the time. Some people think it's weird, but I like.

See, when I first saw this commercial, I was not yet introduced to Walt Whitman's poem "Pioneers! O Pioneers!" which is the inspiration behind the commercial. The poem is fantastically patriotic and I love that it's directed at the youth.

"Pioneers! O Pioneers!" -Walt Whitman

Come my tan-faced children,

Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?

Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,

We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,

Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,

Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,

Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?

We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,

Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,

Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,

Pioneers! O pioneers!

There are 21 more stanzas. Yes, it's also fantastically long, and I thought I'd do y'all a favor by focusing only on the first five. Go forth!


  1. Ah, I remember that commercial! Usually I mute the commercials and leave the room or something, but that one just draws you in with the combination of the cinematography and Walt Whitman's words.

  2. That commercial is giving his work new life in a whole new perspective.