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in 1856, Walt Whitman predicted

the coming of a race of  “fierce & athletic” girls who

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.


at the time pretty much everyone thought he was crazy

that those lines were blasphemous obscene 

a vision of unnatural women impossible freaks


early mornings walking Gracie the collie

i see on our streets

sunlit running blondes

pony tails waving

spandex agleam

sun spangled

goddesses indeed


avatars of Artemis

look there’s one

with hunting hounds

running at heel


divine fierce lovely fast

visions of the golden age

of the dreamtime








Recommended Reading

Sherry Ceniza, Walt Whitman and 19th Century Women Reformers, -  Available from RIT, UR,

Women Without Superstition : No Gods No Masters: The Collected Writings of Women Freethinkers of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries , Editor Annie Laurie Gaynor   : Available from Monroe County Library

And, of course, Leaves of Grass – the best edition is the Norton Critical