Walt’s image was the first sign I ordered and I shared my office with him for several weeks prior to hoisting him up on his sign post adjacent to the PCT. I know Leaves of Grass so well, and Walt through this work that was his life blood, that I found myself engaging in conversations with this new, unexpectedly-taciturn, office mate. … “So, Walt, what do you think of that?” When Walt failed to respond, I simply responded for him, uttering what I knew he would say, if only he could speak.
I love this image of him. It is a reproduction of the frontispiece for the first edition (1855) of Leaves of Grass. According to Ivan Marki, it is stipple engraving, based on a daguerreotype of Walt taken the previous year. (Walt would have been a vigorous 35 years old when it was taken, a “goodshaped and wellhung man,” not the elderly Walt shown in most of the photographs of him.)
The quotation is from the end of “Song of Myself” and is, I think, most appropriate for sharing with PCT thru hikers:
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass