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Walt whitman

Walt Whitman

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
72

O, Death! a black and pierceless pall
    Hangs round thee, and the future state;
No eye may see, no mind may grasp
    That mystery of fate.

This braid, which now alternate throbs
    With swelling hope and gloomy fear;
This heart, with all the changing hues,  
    That mortal passions bear—

This curious frame of human mould,
    Where unrequited cravings play,
This brain, and heart, and wondrous form
    Must all alike decay.

The leaping blood will stop its flow;
    The hoarse death-struggle pass; the cheek
Lay bloomless, and the liquid tongue
    Will then forget to speak.

The grave will tame me; earth will close
    O’er cold dull limbs and ashy face;
But where, O, Nature, where shall be
    The soul’s abiding place?

Will it e’en live? For though its light
    Must shine till from the body town;
Then, when the oil of life is spent,  
    Still shall the taper burn?

O, powerless is this struggling brain
    To rend the mighty mystery;
In dark, uncertain awe it waits
    The common doom, to die.

I do not despise you priests, all time, the world over,
My faith is the greatest of faiths and the least of faiths,
Enclosing worship ancient and modern and all between ancient and modern,
Believing I shall come again upon the earth after five thousand years,
Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the gods, saluting the sun,
Making a fetich of the first rock or stump, powowing with sticks in the circle of obis,
Helping the llama or brahmin as he trims the lamps of the idols,
Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic procession, rapt and austere in the woods a gymnosophist,
Drinking mead from the skull-cup, to Shastas and Vedas admirant, minding the Koran,
Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the stone and knife, beating the serpent-skin drum,
Accepting the Gospels, accepting him that was crucified, knowing assuredly that he is divine,
To the mass kneeling or the puritan’s prayer rising, or sitting patiently in a pew,
Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting dead-like till my spirit arouses me,
Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of pavement and land,
Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.

One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang I turn and talk like a man leaving charges before a journey.

Down-hearted doubters dull and excluded,
Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten’d, atheistical,
I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair and unbelief.

How the flukes splash!
How they contort rapid as lightning, with spasms and spouts of blood!

Be at peace bloody flukes of doubters and sullen mopers,
I take my place among you as much as among any,
The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the same,
And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me, all, precisely the same.

I do not know what is untried and afterward,
But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and cannot fail.

Each who passes is consider’d, each who stops is consider’d, not a single one can it fail.

It cannot fail the young man who died and was buried,
Nor the young woman who died and was put by his side,
Nor the little child that peep’d in at the door, and then drew back and was never seen again,
Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and feels it with bitterness worse than gall,
Nor him in the poor house tubercled by rum and the bad dis– order,
Nor the numberless slaughter’d and wreck’d, nor the brutish koboo call’d the ordure of humanity,
Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths for food to slip in,
Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest graves of the earth,
Nor any thing in the myriads of spheres, nor the myriads of myriads that inhabit them,
Nor the present, nor the least wisp that is known.

Trickle drops! my blue veins leaving!
O drops of me! trickle, slow drops,
Candid from me falling, drip, bleeding drops,
From wounds made to free you whence you were prison’d,
From my face, from my forehead and lips,
From my breast, from within where I was conceal’d, press forth red
drops, confession drops,
Stain every page, stain every song I sing, every word I say, bloody drops,
Let them know your scarlet heat, let them glisten,
Saturate them with yourself all ashamed and wet,
Glow upon all I have written or shall write, bleeding drops,
Let it all be seen in your light, blushing drops.

Stretch’d and still lies the midnight,
Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness,
Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass to the one we have conquer’d,
The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet,
Near by the corpse of the child that serv’d in the cabin,
The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curl’d whiskers,
The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and below,
The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty,
Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars,
Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves,
Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent,
A few large stars overhead, silent and mournful shining,
Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore, death-messages given in charge to survivors,
The hiss of the surgeon’s knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw,
Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long, dull, tapering groan,
These so, these irretrievable.

1

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil,
     this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and
     their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never
     forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

2

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are
     crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the
     distillation, it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised
     and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love—root, silk—thread,
     crotch and vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the
     passing of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and
     dark—color’d sea—rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the
     eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs
     wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the
     fields and hill—sides,
The feeling of health, the full—noon trill, the song of me rising
     from bed and meeting the sun.

Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d
     the earth much?
Have you practis’d so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the
     origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are
     millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor
     look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the
     spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things
     from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

3

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the
     beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always
     substance and increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed
     of life.

To elaborate is no avail, learn’d and unlearn’d feel that it is so.

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well
     entretied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery here we stand.

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is
     not my soul.

Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen,
Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while
     they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man
     hearty and clean,
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be
     less familiar than the rest.

I am satisfied —I see, dance, laugh, sing;
As the hugging and loving bed—fellow sleeps at my side
     through the night, and withdraws at the peep of the day
     with stealthy tread,
Leaving me baskets cover’d with white towels swelling the
     house with their plenty,
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream
     at my eyes,
That they turn from gazing after and down the road,
And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent,
Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and
     which is ahead?

4

Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward
     and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors
     old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I
     love,
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill—doing or
     loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful
     news, the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.
Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle,
     unitary,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable
     certain rest,
Looking with side—curved head curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering
     at it.

Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog
     with linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.

5

I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself
     to you,
And you must not be abased to the other.

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture,
     not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer
     morning,
How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn’d
     over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom—bone, and plunged your
     tongue to my bare—stript heart,
And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held
     my feet.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge
     that pass all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my
     own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the
     women my sisters and lovers,

And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap’d stones, elder,
     mullein and poke—weed.

6

A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
     hands,
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any
     more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
     green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we
     may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the
     vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
     zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
     same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken
     soon out of their mothers’ laps,
And here you are the mothers’ laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
     mothers,
Darker than the colourless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
     for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
     and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
     taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and
     children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at
     the end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
     luckier.

7

Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I
     know it.

I pass death with the dying and birth with the new—wash’d
     babe, and am not contain’d between my hat and boots,
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one
     good,
The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all
     good.

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal
     and fathomless as myself,
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and
     female,
For me those that have been boys and that love women,
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be
     slighted,

For me the sweet—heart and the old maid, for me mothers and
     the mothers of mothers,
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,
For me children and the begetters of children.

Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot
     be shaken away.

8

The little one sleeps in its cradle,
I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away
     flies with my hand.

The youngster and the red—faced girl turn aside up the bushy
     hill,
I peeringly view them from the top.

The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom,
I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the
     pistol has fallen.

The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot—soles, talk of
     the promenaders,
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb,
     the clank of the shod horses on the granite floor,
The snow—sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow—balls,
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous’d mobs,
The flap of the curtain’d litter, a sick man inside borne to the
     hospital,
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall,
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly
     working his passage to the centre of the crowd,
The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes,
What groans of over—fed or half—starv’d who fall sunstruck or
     in fits,
What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry
     home and give birth to babes,

What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what
     howls restrain’d by decorum,
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made,
     acceptances, rejections with convex lips,
I mind them or the show or resonance of them —I come and I
     depart.

9

The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready,
The dried grass of the harvest—time loads the slow—drawn
     wagon,
The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged,
The armfuls are pack’d to the sagging mow.

I am there, I help, I came stretch’d atop of the load,
I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other,
I jump from the cross—beams and seize the clover and
     timothy,
And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps.

10

Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt,
Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee,
In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night,
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh—kill’d game,
Falling asleep on the gather’d leaves with my dog and gun by
     my side.

The Yankee clipper is under her sky—sails, she cuts the sparkle
     and scud,
My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously
     from the deck.

The boatmen and clam—diggers arose early and stopt for
     me,
I tuck’d my trowser—ends in my boots and went and had a
     good time;
You should have been with us that day round the chowder—kettle.

I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far
     west, the bride was a red girl,
Her father and his friends sat near cross—legged and dumbly
     smoking, they had moccasins to their feet and large
     thick blankets hanging from their shoulders,
On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins,
     his luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck, he held
     his bride by the hand,
She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight
     locks descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach’d
     to her feet.

The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside,
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,
Through the swung half—door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy
     and weak,
And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured
     him,
And brought water and fill’d a tub for his sweated body and
     bruis’d feet,
And gave him a room that enter’d from my own, and gave
     him some coarse clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,
And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and
     ankles;
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and
     pass’d north,
I had him sit next me at table, my fire—lock lean’d in the
     corner.

11

Twenty—eight young men bathe by the shore,
Twenty—eight young men and all so friendly;
Twenty—eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.

She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the
     window.

Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.

Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty—ninth bather,
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.

The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from
     their long hair,
Little streams pass’d all over their bodies.

An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies,
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.

The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge
     to the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and
     bending arch,
They do not think whom they souse with spray.

12

The butcher—boy puts off his killing—clothes, or sharpens his
     knife at the stall in the market,
I loiter enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and break—down.

Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil,
Each has his main—sledge, they are all out, there is a great
     heat in the fire.

From the cinder—strew’d threshold I follow their movements,
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive
     arms,
Overhand the hammers swing, overhand so slow, overhand
     so sure,
They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.

13

The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block
     swags underneath on its tied—over chain,
The negro that drives the long dray of the stone—yard, steady
     and tall he stands pois’d on one leg on the string—piece,
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens
     over his hip—band,
His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of
     his hat away from his forehead,
The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the
     black of his polish’d and perfect limbs.

I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not
     stop there,
I go with the team also.

In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well
     as forward sluing,
To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object
     missing,
Absorbing all to myself and for this song.

Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade,
     what is that you express in your eyes?
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.

My tread scares the wood—drake and wood—duck on my
     distant and day—long ramble,
They rise together, they slowly circle around.

I believe in those wing’d purposes,
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,
And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional,
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not
     something else,
And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills
     pretty well to me,
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.

14

The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,
Ya—honk he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation,
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close,
Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky.

The sharp—hoof’d moose of the north, the cat on the housesill,
     the chickadee, the prairie—dog,
The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats,
The brood of the turkey—hen and she with her half—spread
     wings,
I see in them and myself the same old law.

The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred
     affections,
They scorn the best I can do to relate them.

I am enamour’d of growing out—doors,
Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods,
Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes
     and mauls, and the drivers of horses,
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.

What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me,
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take
     me,
Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,
Scattering it freely forever.

15

The pure contralto sings in the organ loft,
The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane
     whistles its wild ascending lisp,
The married and unmarried children ride home to their
     Thanksgiving dinner,
The pilot seizes the king—pin, he heaves down with a strong
     arm,
The mate stands braced in the whale—boat, lance and harpoon
     are ready,

The duck—shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches,
The deacons are ordain’d with cross’d hands at the altar,
The spinning—girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big
     wheel,
The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First—day loafe
     and looks at the oats and rye,
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm’d case,
(He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his
     mother’s bedroom;)
The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his
     case,
He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blurr with the
     manuscript;
The malform’d limbs are tied to the surgeon’s table,
What is removed drops horribly in a pail;
The quadroon girl is sold at the auction—stand, the drunkard
     nods by the bar—room stove,
The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his
     beat, the gate—keeper marks who pass,
The young fellow drives the express—wagon, (I love him,
     though I do not know him;)
The half—breed straps on his light boots to compete in the race,
The western turkey—shooting draws old and young, some lean
     on their rifles, some sit on logs,
Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position,
     levels his piece;
The groups of newly—come immigrants cover the wharf or levee,
As the woolly—pates hoe in the sugar—field, the overseer views
     them from his saddle,
The bugle calls in the ball—room, the gentlemen run for their
     partners, the dancers bow to each other,
The youth lies awake in the cedar—roof’d garret and harks to
     the musical rain,
The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron,
The squaw wrapt in her yellow—hemm’d cloth is offering
     moccasins and bead—bags for sale,
The connoisseur peers along the exhibition—gallery with
     half—shut eyes bent sideways,

As the deck—hands make fast the steamboat the plank is
     thrown for the shore—going passengers,
The young sister holds out the skein while the elder sister
     winds it off in a ball, and stops now and then for the
     knots,
The one—year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago
     borne her first child,
The clean—hair’d Yankee girl works with her sewing—machine
     or in the factory or mill,
The paving—man leans on his two—handed rammer, the
     reporter’s lead flies swiftly over the note—book, the signpainter
     is lettering with blue and gold,
The canal boy trots on the tow—path, the book—keeper counts
     at his desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread,
The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers
     follow him,
The child is baptized, the convert is making his first professions,
The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, (how the
     white sails sparkle!)
The drover watching his drove sings out to them that would stray,
The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser
     higgling about the odd cent;)
The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute—hand of the
     clock moves slowly,
The opium—eater reclines with rigid head and just—open’d lips,
The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her
     tipsy and pimpled neck,
The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and
     wink to each other,
(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;)
The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the
     great Secretaries,
On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with
     twined arms,
The crew of the fish—smack pack repeated layers of halibut in
     the hold,
The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his
     cattle,

As the fare—collector goes through the train he gives notice by
     the jingling of loose change,
The floor—men are laying the floor, the tinners are tinning the
     roof, the masons are calling for mortar,
In single file each shouldering his hod pass onward the
     laborers;
Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is
     gather’d, it is the fourth of Seventh—month, (what salutes
     of cannon and small arms!)
Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the
     mower mows, and the winter—grain falls in the ground;
Off on the lakes the pike—fisher watches and waits by the hole
     in the frozen surface,
The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter
     strikes deep with his axe,
Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton—wood
     or pecan—trees,
Coon—seekers go through the regions of the Red river or through
     those drain’d by the Tennessee, or through those of the Arkansas,
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or
     Altamahaw,
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and
     great—grandsons around them,
In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers
     after their day’s sport,
The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time,
The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband
     sleeps by his wife;
And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,
And such as it is to be of these more or less I am,
And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.

16

I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuff’d with the stuff that is coarse and stuff’d with the stuff
     that is fine,

One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same
     and the largest the same,
A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant
     and hospitable down by the Oconee I live,
A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the
     limberest joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,
A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer—skin
     leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian,
A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier,
     Badger, Buck—eye;
At home on Kanadian snow—shoes or up in the bush, or with
     fishermen off Newfoundland,
At home in the fleet of ice—boats, sailing with the rest and
     tacking,
At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine,
     or the Texan ranch,
Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North—Westerners,
     (loving their big proportions,)
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake
     hands and welcome to drink and meat,
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,
A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
Prisoner, fancy—man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.

I resist any thing better than my own diversity,
Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

(The moth and the fish—eggs are in their place,
The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in
     their place,
The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.)

17

These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands,
     they are not original with me,
If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or
     next to nothing,

If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they
     are nothing,
If they are not just as close as they are distant they are
     nothing.

This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the
     water is,
This the common air that bathes the globe.

18

With music strong I come, with my cornets and my drums,
I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches
     for conquer’d and slain persons.

Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?
I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in
     which they are won.

I beat and pound for the dead,
I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for
     them.

Vivas to those who have fail’d!
And to those whose war—vessels sank in the sea!
And to those themselves who sank in the sea!
And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome
     heroes!
And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest
     heroes known!

19

This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger,
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make
     appointments with all,
I will not have a single person slighted or left away,
The kept—woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited,
The heavy—lipp’d slave is invited, the venerealee is invited;
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.

This is the press of a bashful hand, this the float and odor of
     hair,

This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning,
This the far—off depth and height reflecting my own face,
This the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again.

Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?
Well I have, for the Fourth—month showers have, and the mica
     on the side of a rock has.

Do you take it I would astonish?
Does the daylight astonish? does the early redstart twittering
     through the woods?
Do I astonish more than they?

This hour I tell things in confidence,
I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.

20

Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude;
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?

What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you?

All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own,
Else it were time lost listening to me.

I do not snivel that snivel the world over,
That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth.

Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids,
     conformity goes to the fourth—remov’d,
I wear my hat as I please indoors or out.

Why should I pray? why should I venerate and be ceremonious?

Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsel’d
     with doctors and calculated close,
I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.

In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley—corn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.

I know I am solid and sound,
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.

I know I am deathless,
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter’s compass,
I know I shall not pass like a child’s carlacue cut with a burnt
     stick at night.

I know I am august,
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood,
I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house
     by, after all.)

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.

One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is
     myself,
And whether I come to my own to—day or in ten thousand or
     ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can
     wait.

My foothold is tenon’d and mortis’d in granite,
I laugh at what you call dissolution,
And I know the amplitude of time.

21

I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,
The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are
     with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I
     translate into a new tongue.

I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,
And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,
And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.

I chant the chant of dilation or pride,
We have had ducking and deprecating about enough,
I show that size is only development.

Have you outstript the rest? are you the President?
It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and
     still pass on.

I am he that walks with the tender and growing night,
I call to the earth and sea half—held by the night.

Press close bare—bosom’d night —press close magnetic
     nourishing night!
Night of south winds —night of the large few stars!
Still nodding night —mad naked summer night.

Smile O voluptuous cool—breath’d earth!
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!
Earth of departed sunset —earth of the mountains misty—topt!
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue!
Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river!
Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake!
Far—swooping elbow’d earth —rich apple—blossom’d earth!
Smile, for your lover comes.

Prodigal, you have given me love —therefore I to you give
     love!
O unspeakable passionate love.

22

You sea! I resign myself to you also —I guess what you mean,
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers,
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me,
We must have a turn together, I undress, hurry me out of
     sight of the land,
Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse,
Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you.

Sea of stretch’d ground—swells,
Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths,
Sea of the brine of life and of unshovell’d yet always—ready
     graves,
Howler and scooper of storms, capricious and dainty sea,
I am integral with you, I too am of one phase and of all phases.

Partaker of influx and efflux, I, extoller of hate and conciliation,
Extoller of amies and those that sleep in each others’ arms.

I am he attesting sympathy,
(Shall I make my list of things in the house and skip the house
     that supports them?)

I am not the poet of goodness only, I do not decline to be the
     poet of wickedness also.

What blurt is this about virtue and about vice?
Evil propels me and reform of evil propels me, I stand
     indifferent,
My gait is no fault—finder’s or rejecter’s gait,
I moisten the roots of all that has grown.

Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging pregnancy?
Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work’d over and
     rectified?

I find one side a balance and the antipodal side a balance,
Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine,
Thoughts and deeds of the present our rouse and early start.

This minute that comes to me over the past decillions,
There is no better than it and now.

What behaved well in the past or behaves well to—day is not
     such a wonder,
The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean
     man or an infidel.

23

Endless unfolding of words of ages!
And mine a word of the modern, the word En—Masse.

A word of the faith that never balks,
Here or henceforward it is all the same to me, I accept Time
     absolutely.

It alone is without flaw, it alone rounds and completes all,
That mystic baffling wonder alone completes all.

I accept Reality and dare not question it,
Materialism first and last imbuing.

Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demonstration!
Fetch stonecrop mixt with cedar and branches of lilac,
This is the lexicographer, this the chemist, this made a
     grammar of the old cartouches,
These mariners put the ship through dangerous unknown
     seas,
This is the geologist, this works with the scalpel, and this is a
     mathematician.

Gentlemen, to you the first honors always!
Your facts are useful, and yet they are not my dwelling,
I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.

Less the reminders of properties told my words,
And more the reminders they of life untold, and of freedom
     and extrication,
And make short account of neuters and geldings, and favor
     men and women fully equipt,
And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives and
    them that plot and conspire.

24

Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son,
Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding.

No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or
     apart from them,
No more modest than immodest.

Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

Whoever degrades another degrades me,
And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.

Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the
     current and index.

I speak the pass—word primeval, I give the sign of democracy,
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their
     counterpart of on the same terms.

Through me many long dumb voices,
Voices of the interminable generation of prisoners and slaves,
Voices of the diseas’d and despairing and of thieves and dwarfs,
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,
And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs and
     of the father—stuff,
And of the rights of them the others are down upon,
Of the deform’d, trivial, flat, foolish, despised,
Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.

Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil’d and I remove the veil,
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur’d.

I do not press my fingers across my mouth,
I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and
     heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag
     of me is a miracle.

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch
     or am touch’d from,
The scent of these arm—pits aroma finer than prayer,
This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.

If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread
     of my own body, or any part of it,
Translucent mould of me it shall be you!
Shaded ledges and rests it shall be you!
Firm masculine colter it shall be you!
Whatever goes to the tilth of me it shall be you!
You my rich blood! your milky stream pale strippings of my
     life!
Breast that presses against other breasts it shall be you!
My brain it shall be your occult convolutions!
Root of wash’d sweet—flag! timorous pond—snipe! nest of
     guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you!
Mix’d tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you!
Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it shall be you!
Sun so generous it shall be you!
Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be you!
You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you!
Winds whose soft—tickling genitals rub against me it shall be
     you!
Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving lounger in
     my winding paths, it shall be you!
Hands I have taken, face I have kiss’d, mortal I have ever
     touch’d, it shall be you.

I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious,
Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy,
I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of
     my faintest wish,
Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the
     friendship I take again.

That I walk up my stoop, I pause to consider if it really be,
A morning—glory at my window satisfies me more than the
     metaphysics of books.

To behold the day—break!
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows,
The air tastes good to my palate.

Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols silently rising,
     freshly exuding,
Scooting obliquely high and low.

Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs,
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.

The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close of their junction,
The heav’d challenge from the east that moment over my head,
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be master!

25

Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun—rise would kill
     me,
If I could not now and always send sun—rise out of me.

We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun,
We found our own O my soul in the calm and cool of the
     day—break.

My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach,
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes
     of worlds.

Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself,
It provokes me forever, it says sarcastically,
Walt you contain enough, why don’t you let it out then?

Come now I will not be tantalized, you conceive too much of
     articulation,
Do you not know O speech how the buds beneath you are
     folded?
Waiting in gloom, protected by frost,
The dirt receding before my prophetical screams,
I underlying causes to balance them at last,

My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with the
     meaning of all things,
Happiness, (which whoever hears me let him or her set out in
     search of this day.)

My final merit I refuse you, I refuse putting from me what I
     really am,
Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me,
I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking toward
     you.

Writing and talk do not prove me,
I carry the plenum of proof and every thing else in my face,
With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic.

26

Now I will do nothing but listen,
To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute
     toward it.

I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of
     flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals.
I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or
     following,
Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the
     day and night,
Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh
     of work—people at their meals,
The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the
     sick,
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips
     pronouncing a death—sentence,
The heave’e’yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves,
     the refrain of the anchor—lifters,
The ring of alarm—bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of
     swift—streaking engines and hose—carts with premonitory
     tinkles and color’d lights,
The steam—whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching
     cars,

The slow march play’d at the head of the association marching
     two and two,
(They go to guard some corpse, the flag—tops are draped with
     black muslin.)

I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man’s heart’s complaint,)
I hear the key’d cornet, it glides quickly in through my ears,
It shakes mad—sweet pangs through my belly and breast.

I hear the chorus, it is a grand opera,
Ah this indeed is music —this suits me.

A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me,
The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full.

I hear the train’d soprano (what work with hers is this?)
The orchestra whirls me wider than Uranus flies,
It wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possess’d
     them,
It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are lick’d by the indolent
     waves,
I am cut by bitter and angry hail, I lose my breath,
Steep’d amid honey’d morphine, my windpipe throttled in
     fakes of death,
At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,
And that we call Being.

27

To be in any form, what is that?
(Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back
     thither,)
If nothing lay more develop’d the quahaug in its callous shell
     were enough.

Mine is no callous shell,
I have instant conductors all over me whether I pass or stop,
They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me.

I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy,
To touch my person to some one else’s is about as much as I
     can stand.

28

Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity,
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,
Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them,
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is
     hardly different from myself,
On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs,
Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip,
Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial,
Depriving me of my best as for a purpose,
Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist,
Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and
     pasture—fields,
Immodestly sliding the fellow—senses away,
They bribed to swap off with touch and go and graze at the
     edges of me,
No consideration, no regard for my draining strength or my
     anger,
Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a while,
Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry me.

The sentries desert every other part of me,
They have left me helpless to a red marauder,
They all come to the headland to witness and assist against
     me.

I am given up by traitors,
I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody else am the
     greatest traitor,
I went myself first to the headland, my own hands carried me
     there.

You villain touch! what are you doing? my breath is tight in
     its throat,
Unclench your floodgates, you are too much for me.

29

Blind loving wrestling touch, sheath’d hooded sharp—tooth’d
     touch!
Did it make you ache so, leaving me?

Parting track’d by arriving, perpetual payment of perpetual
     loan,
Rich showering rain, and recompense richer afterward.

Sprouts take and accumulate, stand by the curb prolific and
     vital,
Landscapes projected masculine, full—sized and golden.

30

All truths wait in all things,
They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,
They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon,
The insignificant is as big to me as any,
(What is less or more than a touch?)

Logic and sermons never convince,
The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.

(Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so,
Only what nobody denies is so.)

A minute and a drop of me settle my brain,
I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps,
And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman,
And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for
     each other,
And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it
     becomes omnific,
And until one and all shall delight us, and we them.

31

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey—work of
     the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and
     the egg of the wren,
And the tree—toad is a chef—d’oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,

And the cow crunching with depress’d head surpasses any
     statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of
     infidels.

I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long—threaded moss, fruits,
     grains, esculent roots,
And am stucco’d with quadrupeds and birds all over,
And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons,
But call any thing back again when I desire it.

In vain the speeding or shyness,
In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my
     approach,
In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder’d
     bones,
In vain objects stand leagues off and assume manifold shapes,
In vain the ocean setting in hollows and the great monsters
     lying low,
In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky,
In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs,
In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods,
In vain the razor—bill’d auk sails far north to Labrador,
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the
     cliff.

32

I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid
    and self—contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of
     owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands
     of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

So they show their relations to me and I accept them,
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in
     their possession.

I wonder where they get those tokens,
Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop
     them?

Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them,
Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers,
Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on
     brotherly terms.

A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my
     caresses,
Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears,
Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly
     moving.

His nostrils dilate as my heels embrace him,
His well—built limbs tremble with pleasure as we race around
     and return.
I but use you a minute, then I resign you, stallion,
Why do I need your paces when I myself out—gallop them?
Even as I stand or sit passing faster than you.

33

Space and Time! now I see it is true, what I guess’d at,
What I guess’d when I loaf’d on the grass,
What I guess’d while I lay alone in my bed,
And again as I walk’d the beach under the paling stars of the
     morning.

My ties and ballasts leave me, my elbows rest in sea—gaps,
I skirt sierras, my palms cover continents,
I am afoot with my vision.

By the city’s quadrangular houses —in log huts, camping
     with lumbermen,
Along the ruts of the turnpike, along the dry gulch and rivulet
     bed,
Weeding my onion—patch or hoeing rows of carrots and
     parsnips, crossing savannas, trailing in forests,
Prospecting, gold—digging, girdling the trees of a new
     purchase,
Scorch’d ankle—deep by the hot sand, hauling my boat down
     the shallow river,
Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead, where
     the buck turns furiously at the hunter,
Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock, where
     the otter is feeding on fish,
Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the bayou,
Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey, where
     the beaver pats the mud with his paddle—shaped tail;
Over the growing sugar, over the yellow—flower’d cotton
     plant, over the rice in its low moist field,
Over the sharp—peak’d farm house, with its scallop’d scum
     and slender shoots from the gutters,
Over the western persimmon, over the long—leav’d corn, over
     the delicate blue—flower flax,
Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and buzzer
     there with the rest,
Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades in the
     breeze;
Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, holding on
     by low scragged limbs,
Walking the path worn in the grass and beat through the
     leaves of the brush,
Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods and the
     wheatlot,
Where the bat flies in the Seventh—month eve, where the great
     gold—bug drops through the dark,
Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and
     flows to the meadow,
Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous
     shuddering of their hides,

Where the cheese—cloth hangs in the kitchen, where andirons
     straddle the hearth—slab, where cobwebs fall in festoons
     from the rafters;
Where trip—hammers crash, where the press is whirling its
     cylinders,
Where the human heart beats with terrible throes under its
     ribs,
Where the pear—shaped balloon is floating aloft, (floating in
     it myself and looking composedly down,)
Where the life—car is drawn on the slip—noose, where the heat
     hatches pale—green eggs in the dented sand,
Where the she—whale swims with her calf and never forsakes it,
Where the steam—ship trails hind—ways its long pennant of smoke,
Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of the water,
Where the half—burn’d brig is riding on unknown currents,
Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the dead are
     corrupting below;
Where the dense—starr’d flag is borne at the head of the
     regiments,
Approaching Manhattan up by the long—stretching island,
Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my
     countenance,
Upon a door—step, upon the horse—block of hard wood
     outside,
Upon the race—course, or enjoying picnics or jigs or a good
     game of base—ball,
At he—festivals, with blackguard gibes, ironical license,
     bull—dances, drinking, laughter,
At the cider—mill tasting the sweets of the brown mash,
     sucking the juice through a straw,
At apple—peelings wanting kisses for all the red fruit I find,
At musters, beach—parties, friendly bees, huskings,
     house—raisings;
Where the mocking—bird sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles,
     screams, weeps,
Where the hay—rick stands in the barn—yard, where the dry—stalks
     are scatter’d, where the brood—cow waits in the hovel,

Where the bull advances to do his masculine work, where the
     stud to the mare, where the cock is treading the hen,
Where the heifers browse, where geese nip their food with
     short jerks,
Where sun—down shadows lengthen over the limitless and
     lonesome prairie,
Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square
     miles far and near,
Where the humming—bird shimmers, where the neck of the
     long—lived swan is curving and winding,
Where the laughing—gull scoots by the shore, where she laughs
     her near—human laugh,
Where bee—hives range on a gray bench in the garden half hid
     by the high weeds,
Where band—neck’d partridges roost in a ring on the ground
     with their heads out,
Where burial coaches enter the arch’d gates of a cemetery,
Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled
     trees,
Where the yellow—crown’d heron comes to the edge of the
     marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs,
Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools the warm
     noon,
Where the katy—did works her chromatic reed on the
     walnut—tree over the wall,
Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver—wired
     leaves,
Through the salt—lick or orange glade, or under conical firs,
Through the gymnasium, through the curtain’d saloon,
     through the office or public hall;
Pleas’d with the native and pleas’d with the foreign, pleas’d
     with the new and old,
Pleas’d with the homely woman as well as the handsome,
Pleas’d with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and
     talks melodiously,
Pleas’d with the tune of the choir of the whitewash’d church,
Pleas’d with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist
     preacher, impress’d seriously at the camp—meeting;
Looking in at the shop—windows of Broadway the whole
     forenoon, flatting the flesh of my nose on the thick plate glass,

Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn’d up to the
     clouds, or down a lane or along the beach,
My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, and I
     in the middle;
Coming home with the silent and dark—cheek’d bush—boy,
     (behind me he rides at the drape of the day,)
Far from the settlements studying the print of animals’ feet,
     or the moccasin print,
By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a feverish
     patient,
Nigh the coffin’d corpse when all is still, examining with a
     candle;
Voyaging to every port to dicker and adventure,
Hurrying with the modern crowd as eager and flickle as any,
Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife him,
Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from
     me a long while,
Walking the old hills of Judaea with the beautiful gentle God
     by my side,
Speeding through space, speeding through heaven and the
     stars,
Speeding amid the seven satellites and the broad ring, and
     the diameter of eighty thousand miles,
Speeding with tail’d meteors, throwing fire—balls like the rest,
Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full mother in
     its belly,
Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning,
Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing,
I tread day and night such roads.

I visit the orchards of spheres and look at the product,
And look at quintillions ripen’d and look at quintillions green.

I fly those flights of a fluid and swallowing soul,
My course runs below the soundings of plummets.

I help myself to material and immaterial,
No guard can shut me off, no law prevent me.

I anchor my ship for a little while only,
My messengers continually cruise away or bring their returns
     to me.

I go hunting polar furs and the seal, leaping chasms with a
     pike—pointed staff, clinging to topples of brittle and blue.

I ascend to the foretruck,
I take my place late at night in the crow’s—nest,
We sail the arctic sea, it is plenty light enough,
Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the
     wonderful beauty,
The enormous masses of ice pass me and I pass them, the
     scenery is plain in all directions,
The white—topt mountains show in the distance, I fling out
     my fancies toward them,
We are approaching some great battle—field in which we are
     soon to be engaged,
We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment, we pass
     with still feet and caution,
Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin’d city,
The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living
     cities of the globe.

I am a free companion, I bivouac by invading watchfires,
I turn the bridegroom out of bed and stay with the bride
     myself,
I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.

My voice is the wife’s voice, the screech by the rail of the stairs,
They fetch my man’s body up dripping and drown’d.

I understand the large hearts of heroes,
The courage of present times and all times,
How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of
     the steamship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm,
How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was faithful
     of days and faithful of nights,
And chalk’d in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer, we
     will not desert you;

How he follow’d with them and tack’d with them three days
     and would not give it up,
How he saved the drifting company at last,
How the lank loose—gown’d women look’d when boated
     from the side of their prepared graves,
How the silent old—faced infants and the lifted sick, and the
     sharp—lipp’d unshaved men;
All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it becomes mine,
I am the man, I suffer’d, I was there.

The disdain and calmness of martyrs,
The mother of old, condemn’d for a witch, burnt with dry
     wood, her children gazing on,
The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence,
     blowing, cover’d with sweat,
The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the
     murderous buckshot and the bullets,
All these I feel or am.

I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs,
Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the
     marksmen,
I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn’d with the
     ooze of my skin,
I fall on the weeds and stones,
The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close,
Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with
     whip—stocks.

Agonies are one of my changes of garments,
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself
     become the wounded person,
My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe.

I am the mash’d fireman with breast—bone broken,
Tumbling walls buried me in their debris,
Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling shouts of my
     comrades,
I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels,
They have clear’d the beams away, they tenderly life me forth.

I lie in the night air in my red shirt, the pervading hush is for
     my sake,
Painless after all I lie exhausted but not so unhappy,
White and beautiful are the faces around me, the heads are
     bared of their fire—caps,
The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the torches.

Distant and dead resuscitate,
They show as the dial or move as the hands of me, I am the
     clock myself.

I am an old artillerist, I tell of my fort’s bombardment,
I am there again.

Again the long roll of the drummers,
Again the attacking cannon, mortars,
Again to my listeing ears the cannon responsive.

I take part, I see and hear the whole,
The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well—aim’d shots,
The ambulanza slowly passing trailing its red drip,
Workmen searching after damages, making indispensable
     repairs,
The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the fan—shaped
     explosion,
The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in the air.

Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general, he furiously
     waves with his hand,
He gasps through the clot Mind not me —mind
     —the entrenchments.

34

Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth,
(I tell not the fall of Alamo,
Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo,
The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo,)
'Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and
     twelve young men.

Retreating they had form’d in a hollow square with their
     baggage for breastworks,
Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy’s, nine
     times their number, was the price they took in advance,
Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone,
They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv’d writing
     and seal, gave up their arms and march’d back prisoners
     of war.

They were the glory of the race of rangers,
Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship,
Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and
     affectionate,
Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters,
Not a single one over thirty years of age.

The second First—day morning they were brought out in
     squads and massacred, it was beautiful early summer,
The work commenced about five o’clock and was over by
    eight.

None obey’d the command to kneel,
Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and
     straight,
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and
     dead lay together,
The maim’d and mangled dug in the dirt, the new—comers saw
     them there,
Some half—kill’d attempted to crawl away,
These were despatch’d with bayonets or batter’d with the
     blunts of muskets.
A youth not seventeen years old seiz’d his assassin till two
     more came to release him,
The three were all torn and cover’d with the boy’s blood.

At eleven o’clock began the burning of the bodies;
That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve
     young men.

35

Would you hear of an old—time sea—fight?
Would you learn who won by the light of the moon and stars?
List to the yarn, as my grandmother’s father the sailor told it
     to me.

Our foe was no skulk in his ship I tell you, (said he,)
His was the surly English pluck, and there is no tougher or
     truer, and never was, and never will be;
Along the lower’d eve he came horribly raking us.

We closed with him, the yards entangled, the cannon touch’d,
My captain lash’d fast with his own hands.

We had receiv’d some eighteen pound shots under the water,
On our lower—gun—deck two large pieces had burst at the first
     fire, killing all around and blowing up overhead.

Fighting at sun—down, fighting at dark,
Ten o’clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks on the
     gain, and five feet of water reported,
The master—at—arms loosing the prisoners confined in the
     after—hold to give them a chance for themselves.

The transit to and from the magazine is now stopt by the sentinels,
They see so many strange faces they do not know whom to trust.

Our frigate takes fire,
The other asks if we demand quarter?
If our colors are struck and the fighting done?

Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my little captain,
We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just begun
     our part of the fighting.

Only three guns are in use,
One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy’s
     main—mast,
Two well serv’d with grape and canister silence his musketry
     and clear his decks.

The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially
     the main—top,
They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.

Not a moment’s cease,
The leaks gain fast on the pumps, the fire eats toward the
     powder—magazine.

One of the pumps has been shot away, it is generally thought
     we are sinking.

Serene stands the little captain,
He is not hurried, his voice is neither high nor low,
His eyes give more light to us than our battle—lanterns.

Toward twelve there in the beams of the moon they surrender
     to us.

36

Stretch’d and still lies the midnight,
Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness,
Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass
     to the one we have conquer’d,
The captain on the quarter—deck coldly giving his orders
     through a countenance white as a sheet,
Near by the corpse of the child that serv’d in the cabin,
The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and
     carefully curl’d whiskers,
The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and
     below,
The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty,
Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of
     flesh upon the masts and spars,
Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe
     of waves,
Black and impassive guns, litter of powder—parcels, strong
     scent,
A few large stars overhead, silent and mournful shining,
Delicate sniffs of sea—breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields
     by the shore, death—messages given in charge to survivors,

The hiss of the surgeon’s knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw,
Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and
     long, dull, tapering groan,
These so, these irretrievable.

6

You laggards there on guard! look to your arms!
In at the conquer’d doors they crowd! I am possess’d!
Embody all presences outlaw’d or suffering,
See myself in prison shaped like another man,
And feel the dull unintermitted pain.

For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch,
It is I let out in the morning and barr’d at night.

Not a mutineer walks handcuff’d to jail but I am handcuff’d to him and walk by his side,
(I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat on my twitching lips.)

Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried and sentenced.

Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the last gasp,
My face is ash-color’d, my sinews gnarl, away from me people retreat.

Askers embody themselves in me and I am embodied in them,
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg.

1
O take my hand Walt Whitman!
Such gliding wonders! such sights and sounds!
Such join’d unended links, each hook’d to the next,
Each answering all, each sharing the earth with all.
What widens within you Walt Whitman?
What waves and soils exuding?
What climes? what persons and cities are here?
Who are the infants, some playing, some slumbering?
Who are the girls? who are the married women?
Who are the groups of old men going slowly with their arms about
each other’s necks?
What rivers are these? what forests and fruits are these?
What are the mountains call’d that rise so high in the mists?
What myriads of dwellings are they fill’d with dwellers?

2
Within me latitude widens, longitude lengthens,
Asia, Africa, Europe, are to the east—America is provided for in the west,
Banding the bulge of the earth winds the hot equator,
Curiously north and south turn the axis—ends,
Within me is the longest day, the sun wheels in slanting rings, it
does not set for months,
Stretch’d in due time within me the midnight sun just rises above
the horizon and sinks again,
Within me zones, seas, cataracts, forests, volcanoes, groups,
Malaysia, Polynesia, and the great West Indian islands.

3
What do you hear Walt Whitman?

I hear the workman singing and the farmer’s wife singing,
I hear in the distance the sounds of children and of animals early
in the day,
I hear emulous shouts of Australians pursuing the wild horse,
I hear the Spanish dance with castanets in the chestnut shade, to
the rebeck and guitar,
I hear continual echoes from the Thames,
I hear fierce French liberty songs,
I hear of the Italian boat—sculler the musical recitative of old poems,
I hear the locusts in Syria as they strike the grain and grass with
the showers of their terrible clouds,
I hear the Coptic refrain toward sundown, pensively falling on the
breast of the black venerable vast mother the Nile,
I hear the chirp of the Mexican muleteer, and the bells of the mule,
I hear the Arab muezzin calling from the top of the mosque,
I hear the Christian priests at the altars of their churches, I hear
the responsive base and soprano,
I hear the cry of the Cossack, and the sailor’s voice putting to sea
at Okotsk,
I hear the wheeze of the slave—coffle as the slaves march on, as the
husky gangs pass on by twos and threes, fasten’d together
with wrist—chains and ankle—chains,
I hear the Hebrew reading his records and psalms,
I hear the rhythmic myths of the Greeks, and the strong legends of
the Romans,
I hear the tale of the divine life and bloody death of the beautiful
God the Christ,
I hear the Hindoo teaching his favorite pupil the loves, wars,
adages, transmitted safely to this day from poets who wrote three
thousand years ago.

4
What do you see Walt Whitman?
Who are they you salute, and that one after another salute you?
I see a great round wonder rolling through space,
I see diminute farms, hamlets, ruins, graveyards, jails, factories,
palaces, hovels, huts of barbarians, tents of nomads upon the surface,
I see the shaded part on one side where the sleepers are sleeping,
and the sunlit part on the other side,
I see the curious rapid change of the light and shade,
I see distant lands, as real and near to the inhabitants of them as
my land is to me.

I see plenteous waters,
I see mountain peaks, I see the sierras of Andes where they range,
I see plainly the Himalayas, Chian Shahs, Altays, Ghauts,
I see the giant pinnacles of Elbruz, Kazbek, Bazardjusi,
I see the Styrian Alps, and the Karnac Alps,
I see the Pyrenees, Balks, Carpathians, and to the north the
Dofrafields, and off at sea mount Hecla,
I see Vesuvius and Etna, the mountains of the Moon, and the Red
mountains of Madagascar,
I see the Lybian, Arabian, and Asiatic deserts,
I see huge dreadful Arctic and Antarctic icebergs,
I see the superior oceans and the inferior ones, the Atlantic and
Pacific, the sea of Mexico, the Brazilian sea, and the sea of Peru,
The waters of Hindustan, the China sea, and the gulf of Guinea,
The Japan waters, the beautiful bay of Nagasaki land—lock’d in its
mountains,
The spread of the Baltic, Caspian, Bothnia, the British shores, and
the bay of Biscay,
The clear—sunn’d Mediterranean, and from one to another of its islands,
The White sea, and the sea around Greenland.

I behold the mariners of the world,
Some are in storms, some in the night with the watch on the lookout,
Some drifting helplessly, some with contagious diseases.

I behold the sail and steamships of the world, some in clusters in
port, some on their voyages,
Some double the cape of Storms, some cape Verde, others capes
Guardafui, Bon, or Bajadore,
Others Dondra head, others pass the straits of Sunda, others cape
Lopatka, others Behring’s straits,
Others cape Horn, others sail the gulf of Mexico or along Cuba or
Hayti, others Hudson’s bay or Baffin’s bay,
Others pass the straits of Dover, others enter the Wash, others the
firth of Solway, others round cape Clear, others the Land’s End,
Others traverse the Zuyder Zee or the Scheld,
Others as comers and goers at Gibraltar or the Dardanelles,
Others sternly push their way through the northern winter—packs,
Others descend or ascend the Obi or the Lena,
Others the Niger or the Congo, others the Indus, the Burampooter
and Cambodia,
Others wait steam’d up ready to start in the ports of Australia,
Wait at Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, Marseilles, Lisbon, Naples,
Hamburg, Bremen, Bordeaux, the Hague, Copenhagen,
Wait at Valparaiso, Rio Janeiro, Panama.

5
I see the tracks of the railroads of the earth,
I see them in Great Britain, I see them in Europe,
I see them in Asia and in Africa.

I see the electric telegraphs of the earth,
I see the filaments of the news of the wars, deaths, losses, gains,
passions, of my race.

I see the long river—stripes of the earth,
I see the Amazon and the Paraguay,
I see the four great rivers of China, the Amour, the Yellow River,
the Yiang—tse, and the Pearl,
I see where the Seine flows, and where the Danube, the Loire, the
Rhone, and the Guadalquiver flow,
I see the windings of the Volga, the Dnieper, the Oder,
I see the Tuscan going down the Arno, and the Venetian along the Po,
I see the Greek seaman sailing out of Egina bay.

6
I see the site of the old empire of Assyria, and that of Persia, and
that of India,
I see the falling of the Ganges over the high rim of Saukara.

I see the place of the idea of the Deity incarnated by avatars in
human forms,
I see the spots of the successions of priests on the earth, oracles,
sacrificers, brahmins, sabians, llamas, monks, muftis, exhorters,
I see where druids walk’d the groves of Mona, I see the mistletoe
and vervain,
I see the temples of the deaths of the bodies of Gods, I see the old
signifiers.

I see Christ eating the bread of his last supper in the midst of
youths and old persons,
I see where the strong divine young man the Hercules toil’d
faithfully and long and then died,
I see the place of the innocent rich life and hapless fate of the
beautiful nocturnal son, the full—limb’d Bacchus,
I see Kneph, blooming, drest in blue, with the crown of feathers on
his head,
I see Hermes, unsuspected, dying, well—belov’d, saying to the people
Do not weep for me,
This is not my true country, I have lived banish’d from my true
country, I now go back there,
I return to the celestial sphere where every one goes in his turn.

7
I see the battle—fields of the earth, grass grows upon them and
blossoms and corn,
I see the tracks of ancient and modern expeditions.

I see the nameless masonries, venerable messages of the unknown
events, heroes, records of the earth.

I see the places of the sagas,
I see pine—trees and fir—trees torn by northern blasts,
I see granite bowlders and cliffs, I see green meadows and lakes,
I see the burial—cairns of Scandinavian warriors,
I see them raised high with stones by the marge of restless oceans,
that the dead men’s spirits when they wearied of their quiet
graves might rise up through the mounds and gaze on the tossing
billows, and be refresh’d by storms, immensity, liberty, action.

I see the steppes of Asia,
I see the tumuli of Mongolia, I see the tents of Kalmucks and Baskirs,
I see the nomadic tribes with herds of oxen and cows,
I see the table—lands notch’d with ravines, I see the jungles and deserts,
I see the camel, the wild steed, the bustard, the fat—tail’d sheep,
the antelope, and the burrowing wolf

I see the highlands of Abyssinia,
I see flocks of goats feeding, and see the fig—tree, tamarind, date,
And see fields of teff—wheat and places of verdure and gold.

I see the Brazilian vaquero,
I see the Bolivian ascending mount Sorata,
I see the Wacho crossing the plains, I see the incomparable rider of
horses with his lasso on his arm,
I see over the pampas the pursuit of wild cattle for their hides.

8
I see the regions of snow and ice,
I see the sharp—eyed Samoiede and the Finn,
I see the seal—seeker in his boat poising his lance,
I see the Siberian on his slight—built sledge drawn by dogs,
I see the porpoise—hunters, I see the whale—crews of the south
Pacific and the north Atlantic,
I see the cliffs, glaciers, torrents, valleys, of Switzerland—I
mark the long winters and the isolation.

I see the cities of the earth and make myself at random a part of them,
I am a real Parisian,
I am a habitan of Vienna, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Constantinople,
I am of Adelaide, Sidney, Melbourne,
I am of London, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Limerick,
I am of Madrid, Cadiz, Barcelona, Oporto, Lyons, Brussels, Berne,
Frankfort, Stuttgart, Turin, Florence,
I belong in Moscow, Cracow, Warsaw, or northward in Christiania or
Stockholm, or in Siberian Irkutsk, or in some street in Iceland,
I descend upon all those cities, and rise from them again.

10
I see vapors exhaling from unexplored countries,
I see the savage types, the bow and arrow, the poison’d splint, the
fetich, and the obi.
I see African and Asiatic towns,
I see Algiers, Tripoli, Derne, Mogadore, Timbuctoo, Monrovia,
I see the swarms of Pekin, Canton, Benares, Delhi, Calcutta, Tokio,
I see the Kruman in his hut, and the Dahoman and Ashantee—man in their huts,
I see the Turk smoking opium in Aleppo,
I see the picturesque crowds at the fairs of Khiva and those of Herat,
I see Teheran, I see Muscat and Medina and the intervening sands,
see the caravans toiling onward,
I see Egypt and the Egyptians, I see the pyramids and obelisks.
I look on chisell’d histories, records of conquering kings,
dynasties, cut in slabs of sand—stone, or on granite—blocks,
I see at Memphis mummy—pits containing mummies embalm’d,
swathed in linen cloth, lying there many centuries,
I look on the fall’n Theban, the large—ball’d eyes, the
side—drooping neck, the hands folded across the breast.

I see all the menials of the earth, laboring,
I see all the prisoners in the prisons,
I see the defective human bodies of the earth,
The blind, the deaf and dumb, idiots, hunchbacks, lunatics,
The pirates, thieves, betrayers, murderers, slave—makers of the earth,
The helpless infants, and the helpless old men and women.

I see male and female everywhere,
I see the serene brotherhood of philosophs,
I see the constructiveness of my race,
I see the results of the perseverance and industry of my race,
I see ranks, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, I go among them, I
mix indiscriminately,
And I salute all the inhabitants of the earth.

11
You whoever you are!
You daughter or son of England!
You of the mighty Slavic tribes and empires! you Russ in Russia!
You dim—descended, black, divine—soul’d African, large, fine—headed,
nobly—form’d, superbly destin’d, on equal terms with me!
You Norwegian! Swede! Dane! Icelander! you Prussian!
You Spaniard of Spain! you Portuguese!
You Frenchwoman and Frenchman of France!
You Belge! you liberty—lover of the Netherlands! (you stock whence I
myself have descended;)
You sturdy Austrian! you Lombard! Hun! Bohemian! farmer of Styria!
You neighbor of the Danube!
You working—man of the Rhine, the Elbe, or the Weser! you working—woman too!
You Sardinian! you Bavarian! Swabian! Saxon! Wallachian! Bulgarian!
You Roman! Neapolitan! you Greek!
You lithe matador in the arena at Seville!
You mountaineer living lawlessly on the Taurus or Caucasus!
You Bokh horse—herd watching your mares and stallions feeding!
You beautiful—bodied Persian at full speed in the saddle shooting
arrows to the mark!
You Chinaman and Chinawoman of China! you Tartar of Tartary!
You women of the earth subordinated at your tasks!
You Jew journeying in your old age through every risk to stand once
on Syrian ground!
You other Jews waiting in all lands for your Messiah!
You thoughtful Armenian pondering by some stream of the Euphrates!
you peering amid the ruins of Nineveh! you ascending mount Ararat!
You foot—worn pilgrim welcoming the far—away sparkle of the minarets
of Mecca!
You sheiks along the stretch from Suez to Bab—el—mandeb ruling your
families and tribes!
You olive—grower tending your fruit on fields of Nazareth, Damascus,
or lake Tiberias!
You Thibet trader on the wide inland or bargaining in the shops of Lassa!
You Japanese man or woman! you liver in Madagascar, Ceylon, Sumatra, Borneo!
All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, indifferent
of place!
All you on the numberless islands of the archipelagoes of the sea!
And you of centuries hence when you listen to me!
And you each and everywhere whom I specify not, but include just the same!
Health to you! good will to you all, from me and America sent!

Each of us inevitable,
Each of us limitless—each of us with his or her right upon the earth,
Each of us allow’d the eternal purports of the earth,
Each of us here as divinely as any is here.

12
You Hottentot with clicking palate! you woolly—hair’d hordes!
You own’d persons dropping sweat—drops or blood—drops!
You human forms with the fathomless ever—impressive countenances of brutes!
You poor koboo whom the meanest of the rest look down upon for all
your glimmering language and spirituality!
You dwarf’d Kamtschatkan, Greenlander, Lapp!
You Austral negro, naked, red, sooty, with protrusive lip,
groveling, seeking your food!
You Caffre, Berber, Soudanese!
You haggard, uncouth, untutor’d Bedowee!
You plague—swarms in Madras, Nankin, Kaubul, Cairo!
You benighted roamer of Amazonia! you Patagonian! you Feejeeman!
I do not prefer others so very much before you either,
I do not say one word against you, away back there where you stand,
(You will come forward in due time to my side.)

13
My spirit has pass’d in compassion and determination around the whole earth,
I have look’d for equals and lovers and found them ready for me in
all lands,
I think some divine rapport has equalized me with them.

You vapors, I think I have risen with you, moved away to distant
continents, and fallen down there, for reasons,
I think I have blown with you you winds;
You waters I have finger’d every shore with you,
I have run through what any river or strait of the globe has run through,
I have taken my stand on the bases of peninsulas and on the high
embedded rocks, to cry thence:

What cities the light or warmth penetrates I penetrate those cities myself,
All islands to which birds wing their way I wing my way myself.

Toward you all, in America’s name,
I raise high the perpendicular hand, I make the signal,
To remain after me in sight forever,
For all the haunts and homes of men.

   O LIVING always—always dying!
   O the burials of me, past and present!
   O me, while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperious as ever!
   O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not—I am content;)
   O to disengage myself from those corpses of me, which I turn and look
         at, where I cast them!
   To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the corpses behind!

   TO the East and to the West;
   To the man of the Seaside State, and of Pennsylvania,
   To the Kanadian of the North—to the Southerner I love;
   These, with perfect trust, to depict you as myself—the germs are in
         all men;
   I believe the main purport of These States is to found a superb
         friendship, exalté, previously unknown,
   Because I perceive it waits, and has been always waiting, latent in
         all men.

Silent and amazed, even when a little boy,
I remember I heard the preacher every Sunday put God in his statements,
As contending against some being or influence.

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

                                      Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
4

How they are provided for upon the earth, (appearing at intervals;)
     How dear and dreadful they are to the earth;
     How they inure to themselves as much as to any—What a paradox
          appears their age;
     How people respond to them, yet know them not;
     How there is something relentless in their fate, all times;
     How all times mischoose the objects of their adulation and reward,
     And how the same inexorable price must still be paid for the same
          great purchase.