1 O TO make the most jubilant poems!
O full of music! Full of manhood, womanhood, in–
O full of common employments! Full of grain and
2 O for the voices of animals! O for the swiftness
and balance of fishes!
O for the dropping of rain-drops in a poem!
O for the sunshine, and motion of waves in a poem.
3 O to be on the sea! the wind, the wide waters
O to sail in a ship under full sail at sea.
4 O the joy of my spirit! It is uncaged! It darts
It is not enough to have this globe, or a certain time
—I will have thousands of globes, and all time.
5 O the engineer’s joys
To go with a locomotive!
To hear the hiss of steam—the merry shriek—the
steam-whistle—the laughing locomotive!
To push with resistless way, and speed off in the dis–
6 O the horseman’s and horsewoman’s joys!
The saddle—the gallop—the pressure upon the seat
—the cool gurgling by the ears and hair.
7 O the fireman’s joys!
I hear the alarm at dead of night,
I hear bells—shouts!—I pass the crowd—I run!
The sight of the flames maddens me with pleasure.
8 O the joy of the strong-brawn’d fighter, towering
in the arena, in perfect condition, conscious of
power, thirsting to meet his opponent.
9 O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which
only the human Soul is capable of generating
and emitting in steady and limitless floods.
10 O the mother’s joys!
The watching—the endurance—the precious love—
the anguish—the patiently yielded life.
11 O the joy of increase, growth, recuperation,
The joy of soothing and pacifying—the joy of con–
cord and harmony.
12 O to go back to the place where I was born!
To hear the birds sing once more!
To ramble about the house and barn, and over the
fields, once more,
And through the orchard and along the old lanes
13 O male and female!
O the presence of women! (I swear there is nothing
more exquisite than the presence of women;)
O for the girl, my mate! O for the happiness with
O the young man as I pass! O I am sick after
the friendship of him who, I fear, is indifferent
14 O the streets of cities!
The flitting faces—the expressions, eyes, feet, cos–
tumes! O I cannot tell how welcome they are
O, of the men—of women toward me as I pass—The
memory of only one look—the boy lingering
15 O to have been brought up on bays, lagoons, creeks
or along the coast!
O to continue and be employ’d there all my life!
O the briny and damp smell—the shore—the salt
weeds exposed at low water,
The work of fishermen—the work of the eel-fisher
16 O it is I!
I come with my clam-rake and spade! I come with
Is the tide out? I join the group of clam-diggers on
I laugh and work with them—I joke at my work, like
a mettlesome young man.
17 In winter I take my eel-basket and eel-spear and
travel out on foot on the ice—I have a small
axe to cut holes in the ice;
Behold me, well-clothed, going gaily, or returning in
the afternoon—my brood of tough boys accom–
My brood of grown and part-grown boys, who love
to be with no one else so well as they love to
be with me,
By day to work with me, and by night to sleep with
18 Or, another time, in warm weather, out in a boat,
to lift the lobster-pots, where they are sunk
with heavy stones, (I know the buoys;)
O the sweetness of the Fifth-month morning upon
the water, as I row, just before sunrise, toward
I pull the wicker pots up slantingly—the dark green
lobsters are desperate with their claws, as I
take them out—I insert wooden pegs in the
joints of their pincers,
I go to all the places, one after another, and then row
back to the shore,
There, in a huge kettle of boiling water, the lobsters
shall be boil’d till their color becomes scarlet.
19 Or, another time, mackerel-taking,
Voracious, mad for the hook, near the surface, they
seem to fill the water for miles;
Or, another time, fishing for rock-fish in Chesapeake
Bay—I one of the brown-faced crew;
Or, another time, trailing for blue-fish off Paumanok,
I stand with braced body,
My left foot is on the gunwale—my right arm throws
the coils of slender rope,
In sight around me the quick veering and darting of
fifty skiffs, my companions.
20 O boating on the rivers!
The voyage down the Niagara, (the St. Lawrence,)—
the superb scenery—the steamers,
The ships sailing—the Thousand Islands—the occa–
sional timber—raft, and the raftsmen with long—
The little huts on the rafts, and the stream of smoke
when they cook supper at evening.
21 O something pernicious and dread!
Something far away from a puny and pious life!
Something unproved! Something in a trance!
Something escaped from the anchorage, and driving
22 O to work in mines, or forging iron!
Foundry casting—the foundry itself—the rude high
roof—the ample and shadow’d space,
The furnace—the hot liquid pour’d out and running.
23 O the joys of the soldier!
To feel the presence of a brave general! to feel his
To behold his calmness! to be warm’d in the rays of
To go to battle! to hear the bugles play, and the
To hear the crash of artillery! to see the glittering of
the bayonets and musket-barrels in the sun!
To see men fall and die and not complain!
To taste the savage taste of blood! to be so devilish!
To gloat so over the wounds and deaths of the enemy.
24 O the whaleman’s joys! O I cruise my old cruise
I feel the ship’s motion under me—I feel the Atlan–
tic breezes fanning me,
I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-head,
There she blows,
Again I spring up the rigging, to look with the rest—
We see—we descend, wild with excitement,
I leap in the lower’d boat—We row toward our prey,
where he lies,
We approach, stealthy and silent—I see the moun–
tainous mass, lethargic, basking,
I see the harpooner standing up—I see the weapon
dart from his vigorous arm;
O swift, again, now, far out in the ocean, the wounded
whale, settling, running to windward, tows me,
Again I see him rise to breathe—We row close again,
I see a lance driven through his side, press’d deep,
turn’d in the wound,
Again we back off—I see him settle again—the life is
leaving him fast,
As he rises, he spouts blood—I see him swim in circles
narrower and narrower, swiftly cutting the
water—I see him die,
He gives one convulsive leap in the centre of the cir–
cle, and then falls flat and still in the bloody
25 O the old manhood of me, my joy!
My children and grand-children—my white hair and
My largeness, calmness, majesty, out of the long
stretch of my life.
26 O the ripen’d joy of womanhood!
O perfect happiness at last!
I am more than eighty years of age—my hair, too, is
pure white—I am the most venerable mother;
How clear is my mind! how all people draw nigh to
What attractions are these, beyond any before? what
bloom, more than the bloom of youth?
What beauty is this that descends upon me, and rises
out of me?
27 O the joy of my soul leaning poised on itself—re–
ceiving identity through materials, and loving
them—observing characters, and absorbing
O my soul, vibrated back to me, from them—from
facts, sight, hearing, touch, my phrenology,
reason, articulation, comparison, memory, and
O the real life of my senses and flesh, transcending
my senses and flesh;
O my body, done with materials—my sight, done with
my material eyes;
O what is proved to me this day, beyond cavil, that it
is not my material eyes which finally see,
Nor my material body which finally loves, walks,
laughs, shouts, embraces, procreates.
28 O the farmer’s joys!
Ohioan’s, Illinoisian’s, Wisconsinese’, Kanadian’s, Io–
wan’s, Kansian’s, Missourian’s, Oregonese’ joys,
To rise at peep of day, and pass forth nimbly to work,
To plow land in the fall for winter-sown crops,
To plough land in the spring for maize,
To train orchards—to graft the trees—to gather ap–
ples in the fall.
29 O the pleasure with trees!
The orchard—the forest—the oak, cedar, pine, pekan–
The honey-locust, black—walnut, cottonwood, and mag—
30 O Death!
O the beautiful touch of Death, soothing and be–
numbing a few moments, for reasons;
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O that of myself, discharging my excrementitious
body, to be burn’d, or render’d to powder, or
My real body doubtless left to me for other spheres,
My voided body, nothing more to me, returning to
the purifications, further offices, eternal uses of
31 O to bathe in the swimming-bath, or in a good
place along shore!
To splash the water! to walk ankle-deep—to race
naked along the shore.
32 O to realize space!
The plenteousness of all—that there are no bounds;
To emerge, and be of the sky—of the sun and moon,
and the flying clouds, as one with them.
33 O, while I live, to be the ruler of life—not a slave,
To meet life as a powerful conquerer,
No fumes—no ennui—no more complaints or scornful
34 O me repellent and ugly!
To these proud laws of the air, the water, and the
ground, proving my interior Soul impregnable,
And nothing exterior shall ever take command of me.
35 O to attract by more than attraction!
How it is I know not—yet behold! the something
which obeys none of the rest,
It is offensive, never defensive—yet how magnetic it
36 O the joy of suffering!
To struggle against great odds! to meet enemies un–
To be entirely alone with them! to find how much one
To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, death,
face to face!
To mount the scaffold! to advance to the muzzles of
guns with perfect nonchalance!
To be indeed a God!
37 O the gleesome saunter over fields and hill-sides!
The leaves and flowers of the commonest weeds—the
moist fresh stillness of the woods,
The exquisite smell of the earth at day-break, and all
through the forenoon.
38 O love-branches! love-root! love-apples!
O chaste and electric torrents! O mad-sweet drops.
39 O the orator’s joys!
To inflate the chest—to roll the thunder of the voice
out from the ribs and throat,
To make the people rage, weep, hate, desire, with
To lead America—to quell America with a great
40 O the joy of a manly self-hood!
Personality—to be servile to none—to defer to none
—not to any tyrant, known or unknown,
To walk with erect carriage, a step springy and
To look with calm gaze, or with a flashing eye,
To speak with a full and sonorous voice, out of a
To confront with your personality all the other per–
sonalities of the earth.
41 O to have my life henceforth my poem of joys!
To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on,
An athlete—full of rich words—full of joys.