First and foremost, I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple — or a green field — a place to enter, and in which to feel. Only in a secondary way is it an intellectual thing — an artifact, a moment of seemly and robust wordiness — wonderful as that part of it is. I learned that the poem was made not just to exist, but to speak — to be company. It was everything that was needed, when everything was needed.
- Mary Oliver, on reading Walt Whitman in childhood, from her essay "My Friend Walt Whitman" in Upstream: Selected Essays.