[Rotting Silver] “To Dionysos, After Reading Walt Whitman” by B. T. Newberg

To be in any form, what is that?–he says,

O Dionysos, what is that? The man, he writes

In long, sensuous lines a song about himself,

As if to praise a god who slips between his thumbs,

Makes a circuit of his back, and crooks his toes,

Who glides along his nape, and titillates his calves…

Now isn’t that your gift, O joyful Dionysos?–

To make us mad with being, drunk with form, a mass

Of tingling nerves and fingertips? Happy, he says,

I merely stir and press and feel, and I am happy.


If it were true of all men, as it was of him!

O Dionysos, if it were! But those who loafe

On leaves of grass, when loafing’s over, go to work,

When summer’s gone, and leaves fall, in winter too;

And then to stir and press and feel, and be so happy?

Could I praise a god who smiling takes his coat,

Walks to work, and wraps his throat against the wind,

Who counts the sores of cold and, tingling, laughs?

To be in any form–to be in any form–

Happy, O joyful Dionysos, what is that?


Image Credit: Public Domain

Rotting Silver is a column devoted to this Earth in all its tarnished radiance: poetry, prose, and parables of ugliness alloyed with joy.

This piece was first published at The Witch’s Voice.

The Author

B. T. Newberg

B. T. Newberg:  Since the year 2000, B. T. has been practicing meditation and ritual from a naturalistic perspective. He currently volunteers as Education Director for the Spiritual Naturalist Society, where he created and now teaches an online course in naturalistic spirituality (including Naturalistic Paganism!). His writings can also be found at Patheos and Pagan Square, as well as right here at HP.

Professionally, he teaches English as a Second Language, and hopes to begin a PhD program in the psychology of religion soon.  After living in Minnesota, England, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea, he currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and cat.

After founding HumanisticPaganism.com in 2011 and serving as managing editor till 2013, he now serves as advising editor, and feels blessed to be a part of this community.

3 Comments on “[Rotting Silver] “To Dionysos, After Reading Walt Whitman” by B. T. Newberg

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