Leaves of Grass


1  On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro, singing her
        savage and husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining—I think a thought
        of the clef of the universes, and of the future.
2  A VAST SIMILITUDE interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons,
        planets, comets, asteroids,
All the substances of the same, and all that is spiritual
        upon the same,
All distances of place, however wide,
All distances of time—all inanimate forms,
All Souls—all living bodies, though they be ever so
        different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes—the
        fishes, the brutes,
All men and women—me also;
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages;
All identities that have existed, or may exist, on this
        globe, or any globe;
All lives and deaths—all of the past, present, future;
This vast similitude spans them, and always has
        spann’d, and shall forever span them, and com–
        pactly hold them.


1  TO ORATISTS—to male or female,
Vocalism, breath, measure, concentration, determina–
        tion, and the divine power to use words.
2  Are you full-lung’d and limber-lipp’d from long
        trial? from vigorous practice? from physique?
Do you move in these broad lands as broad as they?
Come duly to the divine power to use words?
3  For only at last, after many years—after chastity,
        friendship, procreation, prudence, and naked–
After treading ground and breasting river and lake;
After a loosen’d throat—after absorbing eras, temper–
        aments, races—after knowledge, freedom,
After complete faith—after clarifyings, elevations, and
        removing obstructions;
After these, and more, it is just possible there comes
        to a man, a woman, the divine power to use
4  Then toward that man or that woman, swiftly hasten
        all—None refuse, all attend;
Armies, ships, antiquities, the dead, libraries, paintings,
        machines, cities, hate, despair, amity, pain, theft,
        murder, aspiration, form in close ranks;
They debouch as they are wanted to march obediently
        through the mouth of that man, or that woman.
5  O I see arise orators fit for inland America;
And I see it is as slow to become an orator as to be–
        come a man;
And I see that power is folded in a great vocalism.
6  Of a great vocalism, the merciless light thereof shall
        pour, and the storm rage,
Every flash shall be a revelation, an insult,
The glaring flame on depths, on heights, on suns, on
On the interior and exterior of man or woman,
On the laws of Nature—on passive materials,
On what you called death—(and what to you there–
        fore was death,
As far as there can be death.)


1  LAWS for Creations,
For strong artists and leaders—for fresh broods of
        teachers, and perfect literats for America,
For diverse savans, and coming musicians.
2  All must have reference to the ensemble of the
        world, and the compact truth of the world;
There shall be no subject too pronounced—All works
        shall illustrate the divine law of indirections.
3  What do you suppose creation is?
What do you suppose will satisfy the Soul, except to
        walk free, and own no superior?
What do you suppose I have intimated to you in a
        hundred ways, but that man or woman is as
        good as God?
And that there is no God any more divine than Your–
And that that is what the oldest and newest myths
        finally mean?
And that you or any one must approach Creations
        through such laws?


1  POETS to come!
Not to-day is to justify me, and Democracy, and what
        we are for;
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental,
        greater than before known,
You must justify me.
2  I but write one or two indicative words for the
I but advance a moment, only to wheel and hurry back
        in the darkness.
3  I am a man who, sauntering along, without fully
        stopping, turns a casual look upon you, and
        then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.

Leaves of Grass


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