15 A Woman Waits for Me

A WOMAN waits for me, she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the
right man were lacking.

Sex contains all, bodies, souls,

Meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal
milk,
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals, all the passions, loves, beauties,
delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow’d persons of the earth,
These are contain’d in sex as parts of itself and justifications of
itself.
Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness
of his sex,

Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women
that are warm-blooded and sufficient for me,
I see that they understand me and do not deny me,
I see that they are worthy of me, I will be the robust husband
of those women.
They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann’d in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike,
retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right—they are calm, clear, well-
possess’d of themselves.

 

Walt Whitman’s “A Woman Waits for Me,” first titled “Poem of Procreation,” was published in the 1856 edition of Enfans d’Adam. By 1867, the book Enfans d’Adam became what is now known as Children of Adam. “A Woman waits for me” is a poem describing the heterosexual love-making between a man and a woman to make the perfect child.

The poem asserts every man as being equal to Adam, assisting in the creation of “perfect men and women out of [their] lovespendings” (260). Sex is the essences for madness, but also the key to human happiness. The madness contains: “all bodies, souls, meanings, proofs…” (258), the draining of, “the pent-up rivers” (260) into the woman “who waits for [him]” (259). This represents the unification of man and woman, who shall make the perfect “crops” (260). These “crops” will then, “from the birth, life, death, immortality. . . ,” acquire the essences of creating the perfect child.

The sexual intercourse occurring, materializes the sperm fertilizing the seed, and the relation of the planting process for the perfect “crop.” The results of these acts creates the “new gestation” (72). As readers, Whitman is presenting this radical idea for us as the readers to become new artists and poets because of this planted seed idea, while in the poem the lovers are creating this new perfect child through true sexual seed planting, “out of. . .lovespending” (260).

Phrenology may have encouraged Whitman’s “notion that human character could be “read” in a person’s physical attributes and that moral character, as well as physical traits, could be passed down from one generation to the next” (Killingsworth). Through Whitman’s “A Woman Waits for Me,” it has been said that it demonstrates his, “theme of human perfectibility wove with eugenic themes.” The ability that flawless human creation can be achieved only through those who are perfect. Thus meaning the perfect offspring can only be cultivated from Adam and the unification with whichever maiden he chooses. Whitman is presenting this theme in the poem through these explicit sexual experiences and through this, those reading this poem can experience an intimate experience themselves, a kind of, “sexual act of interpenetration” (Folsom and Price 72).

Melanie Murphy

Biography and Further Reading Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price. Re-scripting Walt Whitman: an introduction to his life and work. (Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.2005.Print); Jimmie M. Killingsworth. Whitman’s poetry of the body: sexuality, politics, and the text. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.1989. Print); Jimmie M. Killingsworth. “The Walt Whitman Archive.” M. Jimmie, Killingsworth, “Human Body.” (Web. 28 Oct. 2013); James E. Miller Jr.”The Walt Whitman Archive.” James E., Jr., Miller, “Children of Adam [1860].”(Web. 28 Oct. 2013); Whitman, Walt. Poetry and prose.( New York: Library of America, 1996. Print).

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A Woman Waits for Me by Mark C. Long is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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