The first is from section 7 of “I Sing the Body Electric,” by Walt Whitman. This poem appears, (rather appropriately, as you will see), in his group of poems titled, “Children of Adam”:
A man’s body at auction,
(For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale,)
I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business.
Gentlemen look on this wonder,
Whatever bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it,
For the globe lay preparing quintillions of years without one animal or plant,
For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily roll’d.
In it and below it the makings of heroes.
Examine these limbs, red, black, or white, they are cunning in tendon and nerve,
They shall be stript that you may see them.
Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition,
Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant backbone and neck, flesh not flabby, good-sized arms and legs,
And wonders within there yet.
Within there runs blood,
The same old blood! the same red-running blood!
There swells and jets a heart, there all passions, desires, reachings, aspirations,
(Do you think they are not there because they are not expressed in parlors and lecture-rooms?)
This is not only one man, this is the father of those that who shall be fathers in their turns,
In him the start of populous states and rich republics,
Of him countless immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments.
How do you know who shall come from the offspring of his offspring through the centuries?
(Who might you find you have come from yourself, if you could trace back through the centuries?)
“The odds, based on what [records] actually survive, strongly suggest that President Barack Obama is a descendant (he would be the 11th great-grandson) of the first enslaved African in America,” Ms. Harman and her team wrote in a research paper that Ancestry.com intended to release on its Web site on Monday.
The team shared its findings with The New York Times, which consulted two independent genealogists — Ms. Mills, who specializes in Southern genealogy, and Johni Cerny, who specializes in black ancestry — about the findings. Both said there was no way to be certain of the [proposed] connection. But both also said the Ancestry.com team made a solid case.