AFTER the Sea—Ship—after the whistling winds;
After the white—gray sails, taut to their spars and ropes,
Below, a myriad, myriad waves, hastening, lifting up their necks,
Tending in ceaseless flow toward the track of the ship:
Waves of the ocean, bubbling and gurgling, blithely prying,
Waves, undulating waves—liquid, uneven, emulous waves,
Toward that whirling current, laughing and buoyant, with curves,
Where the great Vessel, sailing and tacking, displaced the surface;
Larger and smaller waves, in the spread of the ocean, yearnfully
The wake of the Sea—Ship, after she passes—flashing and frolicsome,
under the sun, 10
A motley procession, with many a fleck of foam, and many fragments,
Following the stately and rapid Ship—in the wake following.
NOT my enemies ever invade me—no harm to my pride from
them I fear;
But the lovers I recklessly love—lo! how they master me!
Lo! me, ever open and helpless, bereft of my strength!
Utterly abject, grovelling on the ground before them.
1 WHAT shall I give? and which are my miracles?
2 Realism is mine—my miracles—Take freely,
Take without end—I offer them to you wherever your
feet can carry you, or your eyes reach.
3 Why! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the
edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love—or sleep in the
bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at the table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey—bees busy around the hive, of a sum—
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds—or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down—or of stars
shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new-moon
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that
like me best—mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savans—or to the soiree—or to the
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the
perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring—yet each distinct and in its
4 To me, every hour of the light and dark is a
Every inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread
with the same,
Every cubic foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass—the frames, limbs, organs, of
men and women, and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
5 To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the
waves—the ships, with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?
WOMEN sit, or move to and fro—some old, some
The young are beautiful—but the old are more beauti–
ful than the young.
SAUNTERING the pavement, or riding the country by–
road—lo! such faces!
Faces of friendship, precision, caution, suavity,
The spiritual prescient face—the always welcome,
common, benevolent face,
The face of the singing of music—the grand faces of
natural lawyers and judges, broad at the back–
The faces of hunters and fishers, bulged at the brows—
the shaved blanch’d faces of orthodox citizens;
The pure, extravagant, yearning, questioning artist’s
The ugly face of some beautiful Soul, the handsome
detested or despised face;
The sacred faces of infants, the illuminated face of the
mother of many children;
The face of an amour, the face of veneration;
The face as of a dream, the face of an immobile rock;
The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a castrated
A wild hawk, his wings clipp’d by the clipper;
A stallion that yielded at last to the thongs and knife
of the gelder.
Sauntering the pavement, thus, or crossing the
ceaseless ferry, faces, and faces, and faces:
I see them, and complain not, and am content with
Do you suppose I could be content with all, if I
thought them their own finale?
This now is too lamentable a face for a man;
Some abject louse, asking leave to be—cringing for it;
Some milk-nosed maggot, blessing what lets it wrig to
This face is a dog’s snout, sniffing for garbage;
Snakes nest in that mouth—I hear the sibilant threat.
This face is a haze more chill than the arctic sea;
Its sleepy and wobbling icebergs crunch as they go.
This is a face of bitter herbs—this an emetic—they
need no label;
And more of the drug-shelf, laudanum, caoutchouc, or
This face is an epilepsy, its wordless tongue gives
out the unearthly cry,
Its veins down the neck distend, its eyes roll till
they show nothing but their whites,
Its teeth grit, the palms of the hands are cut by the
The man falls struggling and foaming to the ground
while he speculates well.
This face is bitten by vermin and worms,
And this is some murderer’s knife with a half-pull’d
This face owes to the sexton his dismalest fee;
An unceasing death-bell tolls there.
Those then are really men—the bosses and tufts of
the great round globe!
Features of my equals, would you trick me with
your creas’d and cadaverous march?
Well, you cannot trick me.
I see your rounded never-erased flow;
I see neath the rims of your haggard and mean dis–
Splay and twist as you like—poke with the tangling
fores of fishes or rats;
You’ll be unmuzzled, you certainly will.
I saw the face of the most smear’d and slobbering
idiot they had at the asylum;
And I knew for my consolation what they knew not;
I knew of the agents that emptied and broke my
The same wait to clear the rubbish from the fallen
And I shall look again in a score or two of ages,
And I shall meet the real landlord, perfect and un–
harm’d, every inch as good as myself.
The Lord advances, and yet advances;
Always the shadow in front—always the reach’d hand
bringing up the laggards.
Out of this face emerge banners and horses—O su–
perb! I see what is coming;
I see the high pioneer-caps—I see the staves of run–
ners clearing the way,
I hear victorious drums.
This face is a life-boat;
This is the face commanding and bearded, it asks no
odds of the rest;
This face is flavor’d fruit, ready for eating;
This face of a healthy honest boy is the programme of
These faces bear testimony slumbering or awake;
They show their descent from the Master himself.
Off the word I have spoken I except not one—red,
white, black, are all deific;
In each house is the ovum—it comes forth after a
Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb me;
Tall and sufficient stand behind, and make signs to
I read the promise, and patiently wait.
This is a full-grown lily’s face,
She speaks to the limber-hipp’d man near the garden
Come here, she blushingly cries—Come nigh to me, lim–
Stand at my side till I lean as high as I can upon you,
Fill me with albescent honey, bend down to me,
Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my breast and
The old face of the mother of many children!
Whist! I am fully content.
Lull’d and late is the smoke of the First-day
It hangs low over the rows of trees by the fences,
It hangs thin by the sassafras, the wild-cherry, and
the cat-brier under them.
25 I saw the rich ladies in full dress at the soiree,
I heard what the singers were singing so long,
Heard who sprang in crimson youth from the white
froth and the water-blue.
Behold a woman!
She looks out from her quaker cap—her face is clearer
and more beautiful than the sky.
She sits in an arm-chair, under the shaded porch of
The sun just shines on her old white head.
Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen,
Her grandsons raised the flax, and her grand—daugh—
ters spun it with the distaff and the wheel.
The melodious character of the earth,
The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go, and
does not wish to go,
The justified mother of men.
1 I WANDER all night in my vision,
Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noiselessly step–
ping and stopping,
Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of sleepers,
Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-assorted,
Pausing, gazing, bending, and stopping.
2 How solemn they look there, stretch’d and still!
How quiet they breathe, the little children in their
3 The wretched features of ennuyés, the white fea–
tures of corpses, the livid faces of drunkards,
the sick-gray faces of onanists,
The gash’d bodies on battle-fields, the insane in their
strong-door’d rooms, the sacred idiots, the new–
born emerging from gates, and the dying emer–
ging from gates,
The night pervades them and infolds them.
4 The married couple sleep calmly in their bed—he
with his palm on the hip of the wife, and she
with her palm on the hip of the husband,
The sisters sleep lovingly side by side in their bed,
The men sleep lovingly side by side in theirs,
And the mother sleeps, with her little child carefully
5 The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep,
The prisoner sleeps well in the prison—the run-away
The murderer that is to be hung next day—how does
And the murder’d person—how does he sleep?
6 The female that loves unrequited sleeps,
And the male that loves unrequited sleeps,
The head of the money-maker that plotted all day
And the enraged and treacherous dispositions—all,
7 I stand in the dark with drooping eyes by the
worst-suffering and the most restless,
I pass my hands soothingly to and fro a few inches
The restless sink in their beds—they fitfully sleep.
8 Now I pierce the darkness—new beings appear,
The earth recedes from me into the night,
I saw that it was beautiful, and I see that what is not
the earth is beautiful.
9 I go from bedside to bedside—I sleep close with
the other sleepers, each in turn,
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other
And I become the other dreamers.
10 I am a dance—Play up, there! the fit is whirling
11 I am the ever-laughing—it is new moon and twi–
I see the hiding of douceurs—I see nimble ghosts
whichever way I look,
Cache, and cache again, deep in the ground and sea,
and where it is neither ground or sea.
12 Well do they do their jobs, those journeymen di–
Only from me can they hide nothing, and would not
if they could,
I reckon I am their boss, and they make me a pet
And surround me and lead me, and run ahead when
To lift their cunning covers, to signify me with
stretch’d arms, and resume the way;
Onward we move! a gay gang of blackguards! with
mirth-shouting music, and wild—flapping pen—
nants of joy!
13 I am the actor, the actress, the voter, the politician;
The emigrant and the exile, the criminal that stood
in the box,
He who has been famous, and he who shall be famous
The stammerer, the well-form’d person, the wasted or
14 I am she who adorn’d herself and folded her hair
My truant lover has come, and it is dark.
15 Double yourself and receive me, darkness!
Receive me and my lover too—he will not let me go
16 I roll myself upon you, as upon a bed—I resign
myself to the dusk.
17 He whom I call answers me, and takes the place of
He rises with me silently from the bed.
18 Darkness! you are gentler than my lover—his flesh
was sweaty and panting,
I feel the hot moisture yet that he left me.
19 My hands are spread forth, I pass them in all direc–
I would sound up the shadowy shore to which you are
20 Be careful, darkness! already, what was it touch’d
I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he are
I hear the heart-beat—I follow, I fade away.
21 O hot-cheek’d and blushing! O foolish hectic!
O for pity’s sake, no one must see me now! my clothes
were stolen while I was abed,
Now I am thrust forth, where shall I run?
22 Pier that I saw dimly last night, when I look’d from
Pier out from the main, let me catch myself with you,
and stay—I will not chafe you,
I feel ashamed to go naked about the world.
23 I am curious to know where my feet stand—and
what this is flooding me, childhood or manhood
—and the hunger that crosses the bridge
24 The cloth laps a first sweet eating and drinking,
Laps life-swelling yolks—laps ear of rose-corn, milky
and just ripen’d;
The white teeth stay, and the boss-tooth advances in
And liquor is spill’d on lips and bosoms by touching
glasses, and the best liquor afterward.
25 I descend my western course, my sinews are flaccid,
Perfume and youth course through me, and I am their
26 It is my face yellow and wrinkled, instead of the
I sit low in a straw-bottom chair, and carefully darn
my grandson’s stockings.
27 It is I too, the sleepless widow, looking out on the
I see the sparkles of starshine on the icy and pallid
28 A shroud I see, and I am the shroud—I wrap a body,
and lie in the coffin,
It is dark here under ground—it is not evil or pain
here—it is blank here, for reasons.
29 It seems to me that everything in the light and air
ought to be happy,
Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave, let
him know he has enough.
30 I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer, swimming naked
through the eddies of the sea,
His brown hair lies close and even to his head—he
strikes out with courageous arms—he urges
himself with his legs,
I see his white body—I see his undaunted eyes,
I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash him
head-foremost on the rocks.
31 What are you doing, you ruffianly red-trickled waves?
Will you kill the courageous giant? Will you kill him
in the prime of his middle age?
32 Steady and long he struggles,
He is baffled, bang’d, bruis’d—he holds out while his
strength holds out,
The slapping eddies are spotted with his blood—they
bear him away—they roll him, swing him, turn
His beautiful body is borne in the circling eddies, it is
continually bruis’d on rocks,
Swiftly and out of sight is borne the brave corpse.
33 I turn, but do not extricate myself,
Confused, a past-reading, another, but with darkness
34 The beach is cut by the razory ice-wind—the wreck–
The tempest lulls—the moon comes floundering
through the drifts.
35 I look where the ship helplessly heads end on—I
hear the burst as she strikes—I hear the howls
of dismay—they grow fainter and fainter.
36 I cannot aid with my wringing fingers,
I can but rush to the surf, and let it drench me and
freeze upon me.
37 I search with the crowd—not one of the company is
wash’d to us alive;
In the morning I help pick up the dead and lay them
in rows in a barn.
38 Now of the old war-days, the defeat at Brooklyn,
Washington stands inside the lines—he stands on the
intrench’d hills, amid a crowd of officers,
His face is cold and damp—he cannot repress the
He lifts the glass perpetually to his eyes—the color is
blanch’d from his cheeks,
He sees the slaughter of the southern braves confided
to him by their parents.
39 The same, at last and at last, when peace is declared,
He stands in the room of the old tavern—the well–
beloved soldiers all pass through,
The officers speechless and slow draw near in their
The chief encircles their necks with his arm, and
kisses them on the cheek,
He kisses lightly the wet cheeks one after another—
he shakes hands, and bids good-by to the army.
40 Now I tell what my mother told me to-day as we
sat at dinner together,
Of when she was a nearly grown girl, living home
with her parents on the old homestead.
41 A red squaw came one breakfast-time to the old
On her back she carried a bundle of rushes for rush–
Her hair, straight, shiny, coarse, black, profuse, half–
envelop’d her face,
Her step was free and elastic, and her voice sounded
exquisitely as she spoke.
42 My mother look’d in delight and amazement at the
She look’d at the freshness of her tall-borne face, and
full and pliant limbs,
The more she look’d upon her, she loved her,
Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty and
She made her sit on a bench by the jamb of the fire–
place—she cook’d food for her,
She had no work to give her, but she gave her re–
membrance and fondness.
43 The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward
the middle of the afternoon she went away,
O my mother was loth to have her go away!
All the week she thought of her—she watch’d for her
many a month,
She remember’d her many a winter and many a
But the squaw never came, nor was heard of there
44 Now Lucifer was not dead—or if he was, I am his
sorrowful terrible heir;
I have been wrong’d—I am oppress’d—I hate him
that oppresses me,
I will either destroy him, or he shall release me.
45 Damn him! how he does defile me!
How he informs against my brother and sister, and
takes pay for their blood!
How he laughs when I look down the bend, after the
steamboat that carries away my woman!
46 Now the vast dusk bulk that is the whale’s bulk, it
Warily, sportsman! though I lie so sleepy and slug–
gish, the tap of my flukes is death.
47 A show of the summer softness! a contact of some–
thing unseen! an amour of the light and air!
I am jealous, and overwhelm’d with friendliness,
And will go gallivant with the light and air myself,
And have an unseen something to be in contact with
48 O love and summer! you are in the dreams, and in
Autumn and winter are in the dreams—the farmer
goes with his thrift,
The droves and crops increase, and the barns are well–
49 Elements merge in the night—ships make tacks in
The sailor sails—the exile returns home,
The fugitive returns unharm’d—the immigrant is
back beyond months and years,
The poor Irishman lives in the simple house of his
childhood, with the well-known neighbors and
They warmly welcome him—he is barefoot again, he
forgets he is well off;
The Dutchman voyages home, and the Scotchman and
Welshman voyage home, and the native of the
Mediterranean voyages home,
To every port of England, France, Spain, enter well–
The Swiss foots it to toward his hills—the Prussian goes
his way, the Hungarian his way, and the Pole
The Swede returns, and the Dane and Norwegian re–
50 The homeward bound, and the outward bound,
The beautiful lost swimmer, the ennuyé, the onanist,
the female that loves unrequited, the money–
The actor and actress, those through with their parts
and those waiting to commence,
The affectionate boy, the husband and wife, the voter,
the nominee that is chosen, and the nominee
that has fail’d,
The great already known, and the great any time
The stammerer, the sick, the perfect-form’d, the
The criminal that stood in the box, the judge that
sat and sentenced him, the fluent lawyers, the
jury, the audience,
The laugher and weeper, the dancer, the midnight
widow, the red squaw,
The consumptive, the erysipelite, the idiot, he that is
The antipodes, and every one between this and them
in the dark,
I swear they are averaged now—one is no better than
The night and sleep have liken’d them and restored
51 I swear they are all beautiful;
Every one that sleeps is beautiful—everything in the
dim light is beautiful,
The wi1dest and bloodiest is over, and all is peace.
52 Peace is always beautiful,
The myth of heaven indicates peace and night.
53 The myth of heaven indicates the Soul;
The Soul is always beautiful—it appears more or it
appears less—it comes, or it lags behind,
It comes from its embower’d garden, and looks
pleasantly on itself, and encloses the world,
Perfect and clean the genitals previously jetting, and
perfect and clean the womb cohering,
The head well-grown, proportion’d and plumb, and
the bowels and joints proportion’d and plumb.
54 The Soul is always beautiful,
The universe is duly in order, everything is in its
What has arrived is in its place, and what waits is in
The twisted skull waits, the watery or rotten blood
The child of the glutton or venerealee waits long, and
the child of the drunkard waits long, and the
drunkard himself waits long,
The sleepers that lived and died wait—the far ad–
vanced are to go on in their turns, and the far
behind are to come on in their turns,
The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall
flow and unite—they unite now.
55 The sleepers are very beautiful as they lie unclothed,
They flow hand in hand over the whole earth, from
east to west, as they lie unclothed,
The Asiatic and African are hand in hand—the Eu–
ropean and American are hand in hand,
Learn’d and unlearn’d are hand in hand, and male
and female are hand in hand,
The bare arm of the girl crosses the bare breast of
her lover—they press close without lust—his
lips press her neck,
The father holds his grown or ungrown son in his
arms with measureless love, and the son holds
the father in his arms with measureless love,
The white hair of the mother shines on the white
wrist of the daughter,
The breath of the boy goes with the breath of the
man, friend is inarm’d by friend,
The scholar kisses the teacher, and the teacher kisses
the scholar—the wrong’d is made right,
The call of the slave is one with the master’s call, and
the master salutes the slave,
The felon steps forth from the prison—the insane
becomes sane—the suffering of sick persons is
The sweatings and fevers stop—the throat that was
unsound is sound—the lungs of the consump–
tive are resumed—the poor distres’t head is
The joints of the rheumatic move as smoothly as ever,
and smoother than ever,
Stiflings and passages open—the paralyzed become
The swell’d and convuls’d and congested awake to
themselves in condition,
They pass the invigoration of the night, and the
chemistry of the night, and awake.
56 I too pass from the night,
I stay a while away, O night, but I return to you
again, and love you.
57 Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you?
I am not afraid—I have been well brought forward by
I love the rich running day, but I do not desert her
in whom I lay so long.
I know not how I came of you, and I know not where
I go with you—but I know I came well, and
shall go well.
58 I will stop only a time with the night, and rise be–
I will duly pass the day, O my mother, and duly
return to you.
BATHED in war’s perfume—delicate flag!
O to hear you call the sailors and the soldiers! flag like
a beautiful woman!
O to hear the tramp, tramp, of a million answering men!
O the ships they arm with joy!
O to see you leap and beckon from the tall masts of
O to see you peering down on the sailors on the decks!
Flag like the eyes of women.
TURN, O Libertad, no more doubting;
Turn from lands retrospective, recording proofs of the
From the singers that sing the trailing glories of the
From the chants of the feudal world—the triumphs of
kings, slavery, caste;
Turn to the world, the triumphs reserv’d and to come—
give up that backward world;
Leave to the singers of hitherto—give them the trailing
But what remains, remains for singers for you—wars
to come are for you;
(Lo! how the wars of the past have duly inured to you
—and the wars of the present shall also inure:)
—Then turn, and be not alarm’d, O Libertad—turn
your undying face,
To where the future, greater than all the past,
Is swiftly, surely preparing for you.