O MAGNET-SOUTH! O glistening, perfumed South! My
        South!
O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse, and love! Good
        and evil! O all dear to me!
O dear to me my birth-things—All moving things,
        and the trees where I was born—the grains,
        plants, rivers;
Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they
        flow, distant, over flats of silvery sands, or
        through swamps;
Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altama–
        haw, the Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee, the
        Coosa, and the Sabine;
O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my Soul
        to haunt their banks again;
Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes—I float
        on the Okeechobee—I cross the hummock land,
        or through pleasant openings, or dense forests;
I see the parrots in the woods—I see the papaw tree
        and the blossoming titi;
Again, sailing in my coaster, on deck, I coast off
        Georgia—I coast up the Carolinas,
I see where the live-oak is growing—I see where the
        yellow-pine, the scented bay-tree, the lemon and
        orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto;
 
I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico Sound
        through an inlet, and dart my vision inland;
O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar,
        hemp!
The cactus, guarded with thorns—the laurel-tree,
        with large white flowers;
The range afar—the richness and barrenness—the old
        woods charged with mistletoe and trailing moss,
The piney odor and the gloom—the awful natural
        stillness, (Here in these dense swamps the free–
        booter carries his gun, and the fugitive slave
        has his conceal’d hut;)
O the strange fascination of these half—known, half—
        impassable swamps, infested by reptiles, re–
        sounding with the bellow of the alligator, the
        sad noises of the night-owl and the wild-cat,
        and the whirr of the rattlesnake;
The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all
        the forenoon—singing through the moon-lit
        night,
The humming-bird, the wild-turkey, the raccoon, the
        opossum;
A Tennessee corn-field—the tall, graceful, long-leav’d
        corn—slender, flapping, bright green, with
        tassels—with beautiful ears, each well-sheath’d
        in its husk;
An Arkansas prairie—a sleeping lake, or still bayou;
O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs—I can stand
        them not—I will depart;
O to be a Virginian, where I grew up! O to be a
        Carolinian!
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Ten–
        nessee, and never wander more!

Leaves of Grass

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