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WALT WHITMAN.

1

1   I celebrate myself ; 
And what I assume you shall assume ; 
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to 
            you. 

2     I loafe and invite my Soul ; 
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of sum- 
            mer grass. 

3    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. 
 
4    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 undis- 
            guised and naked ; 
I am mad for it to be in contact with me. 

 
  
5    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 ; 
 

 
24
LEAVES OF GRASS.
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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, words 
        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. 

6    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? 
 
7    Stop this day and night with me, and you shall pos- 
        sess 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. 
 

8    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. 
 
9    There was never any more inception than there is 
        now, 
Nor any more youth or age than there is now ; 


 
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WALT WHITMAN
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And will never be any more perfection than there is 
        now, 
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now. 

10    Urge, and urge, and urge ; 
Always the procreant urge of the world. 
 
11    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. 

12    To elaborate is no avail—learn'd and unlearn'd feel 
        that it is so. 

13    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. 

14    Clear and sweet is my Soul, and clear and sweet is 
        all that is not my Soul. 

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

16    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. 

17    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. 


 
26
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
18    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, swell- 
        ing 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 a cent, 
Exactly the contents of one, and exactly the contents 
        of two, and which is ahead? 
 

19    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. 
 
20    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 impalpa- 
        ble certain rest, 


 
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Looking with side-curved head, curious what will come 
        next ; 
Both in and out of the game, and watching and won- 
        dering at it. 

21    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. 
 

22    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. 

23    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. 
 
24    I mind how once we lay, such a transparent sum- 
        mer 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. 

25    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 ; 


 
28 
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
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, and heap'd stones, 
        elder, mullen, and pokeweed. 
 

26    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. 

27    I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of 
        hopeful green stuff woven. 
 
28    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
 
29    Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced 
        babe of the vegetation. 
 
30    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. 

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

32    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. 


 
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It may be you are from old people, and from women, 
        and from offspring taken soon out of their 
        mothers' laps ; 
And here you are the mothers' laps. 

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

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

35    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. 

36    What do you think has become of the young and 
        old men? 
And what do you think has become of the women and 
        children? 
 
37    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. 

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


 
30
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 

39    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. 
 
40    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. 
 
41    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.) 
 
42    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 sweetheart 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. 
 
43    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. 


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

45    The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up 
        the bushy hill ; 
I peeringly view them from the top. 

46    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. 

47    The blab of the pave, the 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, the 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 
        sun-struck, 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, 


 
32
 LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
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. 
 

48    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 in- 
        tertinged ; 
The armfuls are packt to the sagging mow. 
 
49    I am there—I help—I came stretcht 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 . 
 

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50    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. 
 
51    The Yankee clipper is under her three sky-sails— 
        she cuts the sparkle and scud ; 
My eyes settle the land—I bend at her prow, or shout 
        joyously from the deck. 
 
52    The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt 
        for me ; 


 
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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. 
 
53    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 pro- 
        tected his neck—he held his bride by the hand ; 
She had long eyelashes—her head was bare—her 
        coarse straight locks descended upon her volup- 
        tuous limbs and reach'd to her feet. 
 
54    The runaway slave came to my house and stopt out- 
        side ; 
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the wood- 
        pile ; 
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.) 


 
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LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
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55    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 lone- 
        some. 

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

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

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

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

60    The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it 
        ran from their long hair ; 
Little streams pass'd all over their bodies. 
 
61    An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies ; 
It descended tremblingly from their temples and 
        ribs. 
 
62    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 pen- 
        dant and bending arch ; 
They do not think whom they souse with spray. 


 
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63    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. 
 
64    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.) 

65    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. 
 

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66    The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses 
        —the blocks swag underneath on its tied-over 
        chain ; 
The negro that drives the dray of the stone-yard— 
        steady and tall he stands, poised 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 moustache—falls 
        on the black of his polish'd and perfect limbs. 

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


 
36
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
68    In me the caresser of life wherever moving—back- 
        ward as well as forward slueing ; 
To niches aside and junior bending. 
 
69    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. 
 
70    My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck, on 
        my distant and day-long ramble ; 
They rise together—they slowly circle around. 
 
71    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. 
 
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72    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 listen 
        close ; 
I find its purpose and place up there toward the 
        wintry sky.) 

73    The sharp-hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the 
        house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog ; 


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

75    I am enamour'd of growing outdoors, 
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. 

76    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 
 
77    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 ; 


 
38
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
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 bed-room ;) 
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 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 ; 


 
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The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with 
        half-shut eyes bent side-ways ; 
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 nine months' gone is in the parturition chamber, 
        her faintness and pains are advancing ; 
The paving-man leans on his two handed rammer— 
        the reporter's lead flies swiftly over the notebook 
        —the sign-painter is lettering with red and gold ; 
The canal boy trots on the tow path—the bookkeeper 
        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 pur- 
        chaser higgling about the odd cent ; ) 
The camera and plate are prepared, the lady must sit 
        for her daguerreotype ; 
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 ; 


 
40
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
(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 pekan-trees ; 
Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river, 
        or through those drain'd by the Tennessee, or 
        through those of the Arkansaw ; 
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chatta- 
        hooche 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 ; 


 
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WALT WHITMAN.
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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 one and all tend inward to me, and I tend 
        outward to them ; 
And such as it is to be of these, more or less, I am. 
 
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78    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 great nation, the nation of many nations, 
        the smallest the same, and the largest the same ; 
A southerner soon as a northerner—a planter non- 
        chalant 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, Buckeye ; 
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-west- 
        erners, (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 thought- 
        fullest ; 


 
42
LEAVES OF GRASS
 
A novice beginning, yet experient of myriads of sea- 
        sons ; 
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and re- 
        ligion ; 
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker ; 
A prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, 
        priest. 
 
79    I resist anything better than my own diversity ; 
I breathe the air, but leave plenty after me, 
And am not stuck up, and am in my place. 

80    (The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place ; 
The suns I see, and the suns I cannot see, are in their 
        place ; 
The palpable is in its place, and the impalpable is in its 
        place.) 
 

17 

81    These are 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 rid- 
        dle, they are nothing ; 
If they are not just as close as they are distant, they 
        are nothing. 

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

18 

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


 
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WALT WHITMAN.
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84    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. 

85    I beat and pound for the dead ; 
I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gay- 
        est for them. 

86    Vivas to those who have fail'd! 
And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea! 
And 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 

87    This is the meal pleasantly set—this is 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. 

88    This is the press of a bashful hand—this is the float 
        and odor of hair ; 
This is the touch of my lips to yours—this is the mur- 
        mur of yearning ; 
This is the far-off depth and height reflecting my own 
        face ; 
This is the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet 
        again. 
 
89    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. 


 
44
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
90    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? 

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

20 

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

93    What is a man, anyhow? What am I? What are you? 

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

95    I do not snivel that snivel the world over, 
That months are vacuums, and the ground but wal- 
        low and filth ; 
That life is a suck and a sell, and nothing remains at 
        the end but threadbare crape, and tears. 
 
96    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. 
 
97    Why should I pray? Why should I venerate and 
        be ceremonious? 
 
98    Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, 
        counsell'd with doctors, and calculated close, 
I find no sweeter fat then sticks to my own bones. 


 
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99    In all people I see myself—none more, and not one 
        a barleycorn less ; 
And the good or bad I say of myself, I say of them. 
 
100    And I know I am solid and sound ; 
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetu- 
        ally flow ; 
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing 
        means. 
 
101    I know I am deathless ; 
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by the car- 
        penter's compass ; 
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with 
        a burnt stick at night. 
 
102    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.) 
 
103    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. 
 
104    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 cheerful- 
        ness I can wait. 
 
105    My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite ; 
I laugh at what you call dissolution ; 
And I know the amplitude of time. 


 
46
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
21 
 
106    I am the poet of the Body ; 
And I am the poet of the Soul. 
 
107    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. 

108    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. 
 
109    I chant the chant of dilation or pride ; 
We have had ducking and deprecating about enough ; 
I show that size is only development. 
 
110    Have you outstript the rest? Are you the Presi- 
        dent? 
It is a trifle—they will more than arrive there, every 
        one, and still pass on. 
 
111    I am he that walks with the tender and growing 
        night ; 
I call to the earth and sea, half-held by the night. 
 
112    Press close, bare-bosom'd night! Press close, mag- 
        netic, nourishing night! 
Night of south winds! night of the large few stars! 
Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night. 
 
113    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! 


 
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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! 
 
114    Prodigal, you have given me love! Therefore I to 
        you give love! 
O unspeakable, passionate love! 
 
22 
 
115    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. 
 
116    Sea of stretch'd ground-swells! 
Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths! 
Sea of the brine of life! sea of unshovell'd and 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. 
 
117    Partaker of influx and efflux—extoller of hate and 
        conciliation ; 
Extoller of amies, and those that sleep in each others' 
        arms. 
 
118    I am he attesting sympathy ; 
(Shall I make my list of things in the house, and skip 
        the house that supports them?) 


 
48
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
119    I am not the poet of goodness only—I do not de- 
        cline to be the poet of wickedness also. 
 
120    Washes and razors for foofoos—for me freckles and 
        a bristling beard. 
 
121    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. 
 
122    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? 
 
123   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. 
 
124    This minute that comes to me over the past decil- 
        lions, 
There is no better than it and now. 
 
125    What behaved well in the past, or behaves well 
        to-day, is not such a wonder ; 
The wonder is, always and always, how can there be 
        a mean man or an infidel. 
 
23 

126    Endless unfolding of words of ages! 
And mine a word of the modern—a word En- 
        masse. 
 
127    A word of the faith that never balks ; 
Here or henceforward, it is all the same to me— 
        I accept time, absolutely. 


 
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128    It alone is without flaw—it rounds and completes all ; 
That mystic, baffling wonder I love, alone completes all. 

129    I accept reality and dare not question it ; 
Materialism first and last imbuing. 

130    Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demon- 
        stration! 
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 un- 
        known seas ; 
This is the geologist—this works with the scalpel— 
        and this is a mathematician. 
 
131    Gentlemen! to you the first honors always : 
Your facts are useful and real—and yet they are not 
        my dwelling ; 
(I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.) 
 
132    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 

133    Walt Whitman, am I, of mighty Manhattan the son, 
Turbulent, fleshy and sensual, eating, drinking and 
        breeding, 
No sentimentalist—no stander above men and women, 
        or apart from them ; 
No more modest than immodest. 


 
50
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
134    Unscrew the locks from the doors! 
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! 

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

136    Through me the afflatus surging and surging— 
        through me the current and index. 
 
137    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. 

138    Through me many long dumb voices ; 
Voices of the interminable generations of slaves ; 
Voices of prostitutes, and of deform'd persons ; 
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 fatherstuff, 
And of the rights of them the others are down upon ; 
Of the trivial, flat, foolish, despised, 
Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung. 

139    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. 
 
140    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. 
 
141    I believe in the flesh and the appetites ; 
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part 
        and tag of me is a miracle. 


 
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142    Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy what- 
        ever 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. 
 
143    If I worship one thing more than another, it shall 
        be the spread of my own body, or any part of it. 

144    Translucent mould of me, it shall be you! 
Shaded ledges and rests, it shall be you! 
Firm masculine colter, it shall be you. 
 
145    Whatever goes to the tilth of me, it shall be you! 
You my rich blood! Your milky stream, pale strip- 
        pings of my life. 
 
146    Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall be 
        you! 
My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions. 
 
147    Root of wash't sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! 
        nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you! 
Mix't tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be 
        you! 
Trickling sap of maple! fibre of manly wheat! it shall 
        be you! 
 
148    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! lov- 
        ing 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. 


 
52
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
149    I dote on myself—there is that lot of me, and all so 
        luscious ; 
Each moment, and whatever happens, thrills me with 
        joy. 
 
150    O I am so wonderful! 
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. 
 
151    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. 
 
152    To behold the day-break! 
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous 
        shadows ; 
The air tastes good to my palate. 
 
153    Hefts of the moving world, at innocent gambols 
        silently rising, freshly exuding, 
Scooting obliquely high and low. 
 
154    Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous 
        prongs ; 
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven. 
 
155    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! 


 
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25 

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

157    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. 
 
158    My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach ; 
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds, and 
        volumes of worlds. 

159    Speech is the twin of my vision—it is unequal to 
        measure itself ; 
It provokes me forever ; 
It says sarcastically, Walt, you understand enough—why 
        don't you let it out then
 
160    Come now, I will not be tantalized—you conceive 
        too much of articulation. 
 
161    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 things ; 
Happiness—which, whoever hears me, let him or her 
        set out in search of this day. 
 
162    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 to- 
        ward you. 


 
54
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
163    Writing and talk do not prove me ; 
I carry the plenum of proof, and everything else, in 
        my face ; 
With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skep- 
        tic. 
 
26 
 
164    I think I will do nothing now but listen, 
To accrue what I hear into myself—to let sounds con- 
        tribute toward me. 
 
165    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 
        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 ap- 
        proaching 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.) 


 
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166    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. 
 
167    I hear the chorus---it is a grand-opera ; 
Ah, this indeed is music! This suits me. 
 
168    A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me ; 
The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me 
        full. 
 
169    I hear the train'd soprano—(what work, with hers, 
        is this?) 
The orchestra 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 exposed, cut by bitter and angry hail—I lose my 
        breath, 
Steep'd amid honey'd morphine, my windpipe throt- 
        tled in fakes of death ; 
At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles, 
And that we call BEING
 
27 

170    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 cal- 
        lous shell were enough. 
 
171    Mine is no callous shell, 
I have instant conductors all over me, whether I pass 
        or stop ; 


 
56
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
They seize every object, and lead it harmlessly through 
        me. 
 
172    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 
 
173    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. 

174    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. 


 
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175    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. 
 
176    You villain touch! what are you doing? My breath 
        is tight in its throat ; 
Unclench your floodgates! you are too much for me. 
 
29 

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

178    Parting, track't by arriving—perpetual payment of 
        perpetual loan ; 
Rich, showering rain, and recompense richer after- 
        ward. 

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

30 

180    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?) 

181    Logic and sermons never convince ; 
The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul. 
 
182    Only what proves itself to every man and woman 
        is so ; 
Only what nobody denies is so. 


 
58
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
183    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 every one shall delight us, and we them. 
 
31 
 
184    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 depres't head surpasses 
        any statue, 
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions 
        of infidels, 
And I could come every afternoon of my life to look 
        at the farmer's girl boiling her iron tea-kettle 
        and baking short-cake. 
 
185    I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, 
        fruits, grains, esculent roots, 
And am stuccoed with quadrupeds and birds all over, 
And have distanced what is behind me for good 
        reasons, 
And call anything close again, when I desire it. 
 
186    In vain the speeding or shyness ; 


 
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In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against 
       my approach ; 
In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own pow- 
        der'd bones ; 
In vain objects stand leagues off, and assume manifold 
        shapes ; 
In vain the ocean settling 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 

187    I think I could turn and live with animals, they are 
        so placid and self-contain'd ; 
I stand and look at them long and long. 

188    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 industrious over the whole 
        earth. 
 
189    So they show their relations to me, and I accept 
        them ; 
They bring me tokens of myself—they evince them 
        plainly in their possession. 


 
60 LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
190     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 remem- 
        brancers ; 
Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him 
        on brotherly terms. 

191    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 well apart, full of sparkling wickedness—ears 
        finely cut, flexibly moving. 
 
192    His nostrils dilate, as my heels embrace him ; 
His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, as we speed 
        around and return. 
 
193    I but use you a moment, 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 
 
194    O swift wind! O 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. 


 
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195    My ties and ballasts leave me—I travel—I sail—my 
        elbows rest in the sea-gaps ; 
I skirt the sierras—my palms cover continents ; 
I am afoot with my vision. 

196    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 over- 
        head—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 cot- 
        ton 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'd 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 ; 


 
62
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, hold- 
        ing 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 wheat-lot ; 
Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve—where 
        the great gold-bug drops through the dark ; 
Where the flails keep time on the barn floor ; 
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 cob- 
        webs fall in festoons from the rafters ; 
Where trip-hammers crash—where the press is whirl- 
        ing its cylinders ; 
Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes 
        out of its ribs ; 
Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, float- 
        ing 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 cur- 
        rents, 
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 ; 


 
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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 heifers browse—where geese nip their food 
        with short jerks ; 
Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limit- 
        less 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 ; 


 
64
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
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 well ; 
Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver- 
        wired leaves ; 
Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under con- 
        ical 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 women, the homely as well as the hand- 
        some ; 
Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet 
        and talks melodiously ; 
Pleas'd with the tunes of the choir of the white-washt 
        church ; 
Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Meth- 
        odist preacher, or any preacher—imprest seri- 
        ously 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, 
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 ani- 
        mals' feet, or the moccasin print ; 
By the cot in the hospital, reaching lemonade to a 
        feverish patient ; 


 
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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 fickle 
        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 Judea, 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. 

197    I visit the orchards of spheres, and look at the 
        product ; 
And look at quintillions ripen'd, and look at quintil- 
        lions green. 

198    I fly the flight of the fluid and swallowing soul ; 
My course runs below the soundings of plummets. 

199    I help myself to material and immaterial ; 
No guard can shut me off, nor law prevent me. 


 
66
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
200    I anchor my ship for a little while only ; 
My messengers continually cruise away, or bring their 
        returns to me. 
 
201    I go hunting polar furs and the seal—leaping 
        chasms with a pike-pointed staff—clinging to 
        topples of brittle and blue. 
 
201    I ascend to the foretruck ; 
I take my place late at night in the crow's-nest ; 
We sail the arctic sea—t 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 out-posts 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.) 

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

205    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. 


 
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WALT WHITMAN.
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206    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 steam-ship, and Death chasing it 
        up and down the storm ; 
How he knuckled tight, and gave not back one 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— 
        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. 
 
207    The disdain and calmness of martyrs ; 
The mother, condemned 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. 
 
208    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, 


 
68
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
Taunt my dizzy ears, and beat me violently over the 
        head with whip-stocks. 

209    Agonies are one of my changes of garments ; 
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels—I my- 
        self become the wounded person ; 
My hurt turns livid upon me as I lean on a cane and 
        observe. 
 
210    I am the mash'd fireman with breastbone 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 lift 
        me forth. 
 
211    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. 

212    Distant and dead resuscitate ; 
They show as the dial or move as the hands of me— 
        I am the clock myself. 
 
213    I am an old artillerist—I tell of my fort's bombard- 
        ment ; 
I am there again. 
 
214    Again the long roll of the drummers ; 
Again the attacking cannon, mortars ; 
Again the cannon responsive. 

 
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WALT WHITMAN.
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215    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 indispen- 
        sable 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. 

216    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 

217     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 hun- 
        dred and twelve young men. 

218    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. 

219    They were the glory of the race of rangers ; 
Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship, 

 
70
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
Large, turbulent, generous, brave, handsome, proud, 
        and affectionate, 
Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of 
        hunters, 
Not a single one over thirty years of age. 

220    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. 
 
221    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. 

222    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 

223    Would you hear of an old-fashion'd sea fight? 
Would you learn who won by the light of the moon 
        and stars? 
List to the story as my grandmother's father, the 
        sailor, told it to me. 


 
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224    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. 

225    We closed with him—the yards entangled—the 
        cannon touch'd ; 
My captain lash'd fast with his own hands. 

226    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. 

227    Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark ; 
Ten o'clock at night, and 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 them- 
        selves. 

228    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. 

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

230    Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my 
        little captain, (says my grandmother's father ;) 
We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just 
        begun our part of the fighting


 
72
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
231    Only three guns are in use ; 
One is directed by the captain himself against the 
        enemy's main-mast ; 
Two, well served with grape and canister, silence his 
        musketry and clear his decks. 

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

233    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. 

234    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. 

235    Toward twelve at night, there in the beams of the 
        moon, they surrender to us. 
 

36 

236    O now it is not my grandmother's fath there in 
        the fight ; 
I feel it is I myself. 
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 haveconquer'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 ; 


 
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WALT WHITMAN.
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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, 
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. 
 
37 

238    O Christ! This is mastering me! 
Through the conquer'd doors they crowd. I am 
        possess'd. 

239    I embody all presences outlaw'd or suffering ; 
See myself in prison shaped like another man, 
And feel the dull unintermitted pain. 

240    For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their car- 
        bines and keep watch ; 
It is I let out in the morning, and barr'd at night. 
 
241    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.) 


 
74
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
242    Not a youngster is taken for larceny, but I go up too, 
        and am tried and sentenced. 

243    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. 

244    Askers embody themselves in me, and I am embo- 
        died in them ; 
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg. 
 

38 

245    Enough ! enough ! enough ! 
Somehow I have been stunn'd. Stand back ! 
Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers, 
        dreams, gaping ; 
I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. 

246    That I could forget the mockers and insults ! 
That I could forget the trickling tears, and the blows 
        of the bludgeons and hammers! 
That I could look with a separate look on my own 
        crucifixion and bloody crowning. 

247    I remember now ; 
I resume the overstaid fraction ; 
The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided 
        to it, or to any graves ; 
Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me. 

248    I troop forth replenish't with supreme power, one of 
        an average unending procession ; 
Inland and sea-coast we go, and we pass all boundary 
        lines ; 


 
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WALT WHITMAN. 
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Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole 
        earth ; 
The blossoms we wear in our hats are the growth of  thous- 
        ands of years. 

249    Eleves, I salute you ! come forward ! 
Continue your annotations, continue your question- 
        ings. 
 

39 

250    The friendly and flowing savage, Who is he? 
Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and master- 
        ing it? 
 
251    Is he some south-westerner, rais'd out-doors? Is 
        he Kanadian? 
Is he from the Mississippi country? Iowa, Oregon, 
        California? the mountains? prairie-life, bush- 
        life? or from the sea? 
 
252    Wherever he goes, men and women accept and de- 
        sire him ; 
They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to 
        them, stay with them. 
 
253    Behavior lawless as snow-flakes, words simple as 
        grass, uncomb'd head, laughter, and naiveté, 
Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes 
        and emanations ; 
They descend in new forms from the tips of his 
        fingers ; 
They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath 
        —they fly out of the glance of his eyes. 
 

40 
 
254    Flaunt of the sunshine, I need not your bask,—lie 
        over! 
You light surfaces only—I force surfaces and depths 
        also. 


 
76
LEAVES OF GRASS. 
 
255    Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands ; 
Say, old Top-knot! what do you want? 

256    Man or woman! I might tell how I like you, but 
        cannot ; 
And might tell what it is in me, and what it is in you, 
        but cannot ; 
And might tell that pining I have—that pulse of my 
        nights and days. 
 
257    Behold! I do not give lectures or a little charity ; 
What I give, I give out of myself. 
 
258    You there, impotent, loose in the knees ! 
Open your scarf'd chops till I blow grit within you ; 
Spread your palms, and lift the flaps of your pockets ; 
I am not to be denied—I compel—I have stores 
        plenty and to spare ; 
And anything I have I bestow. 

259    I do not ask who you are—that is not so important 
        to me ; 
You can do nothing, and be nothing, but what I will 
        infold you. 

260    To cotton-field drudge or cleaner of privies I lean ; 
On his right cheek I put the family kiss, 
And deep in my soul I swear, I never will deny him. 

261    On women fit for conception I start bigger and nim- 
        bler babes ; 
This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arrogant 
        republics. 
 
262    To any one dying—thither I speed, and twist the 
        knob of the door ; 
Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed ; 
Let the physician and the priest go home. 
 


 
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WALT WHITMAN. 
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263    I seize the descending man, and raise him with re- 
        sistless will. 

264    O despairer, here is my neck ; 
By God! you shall not go down! Hang your whole 

265    I dilate you with tremendous breath—I buoy you 
        up ; 
Every room of the house do I fill with an arm'd force, 
Lovers of me, bafflers of graves. 

266    Sleep! I and they keep guard all night ; 
Not doubt—not decease shall dare to lay finger upon 
        you ; 
I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to 
        myself ; 
And when you rise in the morning you will find what 
        I tell you is so. 
 

41 

267    I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on 
        their backs ; 
And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed 
        help. 

268    I heard what was said of the universe ; 
Heard it and heard it of several thousand years : 
It is middling well as far as it goes,—But is that all? 
 
269    Magnifying and applying come I, 
Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters, 
Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah, 
Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules 
        his grandson ; 
Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha, 
In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, 
        the crucifix engraved, 
With Odin, and the hideous-faced Mexitli, and every 
        idol and image ; 


 
78
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
Taking them all for what they are worth, and not a 
        cent more ; 
Admitting they were alive and did the work of their 
        days ; 
They bore mites, as for unfledg'd birds, who have now 
        to rise and fly and sing for themselves ; 
Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better 
        in myself—bestowing them freely on each man 
        and woman I see ; 
Discovering as much, or more, in a framer framing a 
        house ; 
Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd-up 
        sleeves, driving the mallet and chisel ; 
Not objecting to special revelations—considering a 
        curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my hand 
        just as curious as any revelation ; 
Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes 
        no less to me than the Gods of the antique wars ; 
Minding their voices peal through the crash of de- 
        struction, 
Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd laths— 
        their white foreheads whole and unhurt out of 
        the flames : 
By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple 
        interceding for every person born ; 
Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three 
        lusty angels with shirts bagg'd out at their waists ; 
The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins 
        past and to come, 
Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee law- 
        yers for his brother, and sit by him while he is 
        tried for forgery; 
What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square 
        rod about me, and not filling the square rod 
        then ; 
The bull and the bug never worship'd half enough ; 
Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd ; 


 
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The supernatural of no account—myself waiting my 
        time to be one of the Supremes ; 
The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much 
        good as the best, and be as prodigious : 
By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator ; 
Putting myself here and now to the ambush't womb 
        of the shadows. 
 
42 
 
270    A call in the midst of the crowd ; 
My own voice, orotund, sweeping, and final. 
271    Come my children ; 
Come my boys and girls, my women, household, and 
        intimates ; 
Now the performer launches his nerve—he has pass'd 
        his prelude on the reeds within. 

272    Easily written, loose-finger'd chords! I feel the 
        thrum of your climax and close. 

273    My head slues round on my neck ; 
Music rolls, but not from the organ ; 
Folks are around me, but they are no household of 
        mine. 
 
274    Ever the hard unsunk ground ; 
Ever the eaters and drinkers—ever the upward and 
        downward sun—ever the air and the ceaseless 
        tides ; 
Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, 
        real ; 
Ever the old inexplicable query—ever that thorn'd 
        thumb—that breath of itches and thirsts ; 
Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly 
        one hides, and bring him forth ; 
Ever love—ever the sobbing liquid of life ; 
Ever the bandage under the chin—ever the tressels of death. 


 
80
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
275    Here and there, with dimes on the eyes walking ; 
To feed the greed of the belly, the brains liberally 
        spooning ; 
Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never 
        once going ; 
Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff 
        for payment receiving ; 
A few idly owning, and they the wheat continually 
        claiming. 

276    This is the city, and I am one of the citizens ; 
Whatever interests the rest interests me—politics, 
        markets, newspapers, schools, 
Benevolent societies, improvements, banks, tariffs, 
        steamships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate, 
        and personal estate. 
 
277    The little plentiful mannikins, skipping around in 
        collars and tail'd coats, 
I am aware who they are—(they are actually not worms 
        or fleas). 

278    I acknowledge the duplicates of myself—the weakest 
        and shallowest is deathless with me ; 
What I do and say, the same waits for them ; 
Every thought that flounders in me, the same flounders 
        in them. 
 
279    I know perfectly well my own egotism ; 
I know my omnivorous lines, and cannot write any less ; 
And would fetch you, whoever you are, flush with my- 
        self. 

280    No words of routine are mine, 
But abruptly to question, to leap beyond, yet nearer 
        bring : 
This printed and bound book—but the printer, and the 
        printing-office boy? 


 
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The well-taken photographs—but your wife or friend 
        close and solid in your arms? 
The black ship mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in 
        her turrets—but the pluck of the captain and 
        engineers ? 
In the houses, the dishes and fare and furniture—but 
        the host and hostess, and the look out of their 
        eyes? 
The sky up there—yet here, or next door, or across the 
        way? 
The saints and sages in history—but you yourself? 
Sermons, creeds, theology—but the fathonless human 
        brain, 
And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?
 
43 

281    I do not despise you, priests ; 
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 fetish of the first rock or stump, powwowing 
        with sticks in the circle of obis, 
Helping the lama or brahmin as he trims the lamps of 
        the idols, 
Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic proces- 
        sion—rapt and austere in the woods, a gymno- 
        sophist, 
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 cruci- 
        fied, knowing assuredly that he is divine, 


 
82
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
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. 

282    One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang, I turn 
        and talk like a man leaving charges before a journey. 
 
283    Down-hearted doubters, dull and excluded, 
Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, disheart 
        en'd, atheistical ; 
I know every one of you—I know the sea of torment, 
        despair and unbelief. 
 
 284    How the flukes splash! 
How they contort, rapid as lightning, with spasms, 
        and spouts of blood! 
 
285    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. 

286    I do not know what is untried and afterward ; 
But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and can- 
        not fail. 
 
287    Each who passes is consider'd—each who stops is 
        consider'd—not a single one can it fail. 


 
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288    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 disorder, 
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 anything in the earth, or down in the oldest 
        graves of the earth, 
Nor anything in the myriads of spheres—nor one of 
        the myriads of myriads that inhabit them, 
Nor the present—nor the least wisp that is known. 
 
44 

289    It is time to explain myself—Let us stand up. 

290    What is known I strip away ; 
I launch all men and women forward with me into 
        THE UNKNOWN. 

291    The clock indicates the moment—but what does 
        eternity indicate? 

292    We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and 
        summers ; 
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them. 
 
293    Births have brought us richness and variety, 
And other births will bring us richness and variety. 
 


 
84 
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
294    I do not call one greater and one smaller ; 
That which fills its period and place is equal to any. 

295    Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my 
        brother, my sister? 
I am sorry for you—they are not murderous or jeal- 
        ous upon me ; 
All has been gentle with me—I keep no account with 
        lamentation ; 
(What have I to do with lamentation?) 
 
296    I am an acme of things accomplish'd, and I an 
        encloser of things to be. 
 
297    My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs ; 
On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches 
        between the steps ; 
All below duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount. 
 
298    Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me ; 
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing—I know I was 
        even there ; 
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the 
        lethargic mist, 
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid 
         carbon. 
 
299    Long I was hugg'd close—long and long. 

300    Immense have been the preparations for me, 
Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me. 

301    Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like 
        cheerful boatmen ; 
For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings ; 
They sent influences to look after what was to hold 
        me. 


 
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WALT WHITMAN. 
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302    Before I was born out of my mother, generations 
        guided me ; 
My embryo has never been torpid—nothing could 
        overlay it. 
 
303    For it the nebula cohered to an orb, 
The long slow strata piled to rest it on, 
Vast vegetables gave it sustenance, 
Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths, 
        and deposited it with care. 

304    All forces have been steadily employ'd to complete 
        and delight me ; 
Now on this spot I stand with my 
        robust Soul. 
 

45 

305    O span of youth! Ever-push't elasticity! 
O manhood, balanced, florid, and full. 

306    My lovers suffocate me! 
Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin, 
Jostling me through streets and public halls—coming 
        naked to me at night, 
Crying by day Ahoy! from the rocks of the river— 
        swinging and chirping over my head, 
Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled 
        under-brush, 
Lighting on every moment of my life, 
Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses, 
Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts, and 
        giving them to be mine. 
 
307    Old age superbly rising! O welcome, ineffable grace 
        of dying days! 
 
308    Every condition promulges not only itself—it pro- 
        mulges what grows after and out of itself, 
And the dark hush promulges as much as any. 


 
86
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
309    I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled 
        systems, 
And all I see, multiplied as high as I can cipher, edge 
        but the rim of the farther systems. 

310    Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always 
        expanding, 
Outward and outward, and forever outward. 

311    My sun has his sun, and round him obediently 
        wheels, 
He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit, 
And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest 
        inside them. 

312    There is no stoppage, and never can be stoppage ; 
If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon 
        their surfaces, were this moment reduced back 
        to a pallid float, it would not avail in the long run ; 
We should surely bring up again where we now 
        stand, 
And as surely go as much farther—and then farther 
        and farther. 

313    A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic 
        leagues, do not hazard the span, or make it 
        impatient ; 
They are but parts—anything is but a part. 
 
314    See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of 
        that ; 
Count ever so much, there is limitless time around 
        that. 
 
315    My rendezvous is appointed—it is certain ; 
The Lord will be there, and wait till I come, on perfect 
        terms ; 
(The great Camerado, the lover true for whom I pine, 
        will be there.) 


 
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46 

316    I know I have the best of time and space, and was 
        never measured, and never will be measured. 

317    I tramp a perpetual journey—(come listen all !) 
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff 
        cut from the woods ; 
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair ; 
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy ; 
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, or exchange ; 
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a 
        knoll, 
My left hand hooking you round the waist, 
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents, 
        and a plain public road. 

318    Not I—not any one else, can travel that road for 
        you, 
You must travel it for yourself. 
 
319    It is not far—it is within reach ; 
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and 
        did not know ; 
Perhaps it is every where on water and on land. 

320    Shoulder your duds, dear son, and I will mine, and 
        let us hasten forth, 
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as 
        we go. 

321    If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff 
        of your hand on my hip, 
And in due time you shall repay the same service to 
        me ; 
For after we start we never lie by again. 
 


 
88
LEAVES OF GRASS. 
 
322    This day before dawn I ascended a hill, and look'd 
        at the crowded heaven, 
And I said to my Spirit, When we become the enfolders 
        of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of 
        everything in them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied 
        then
And my Spirit said No, we level that lift, to pass and 
        continue beyond

323    You are also asking me questions, and I hear you ; 
I answer that I cannot answer—you must find out for 
        yourself. 
 
324    Sit a while, dear son ; 
Here are biscuits to eat, and here is milk to drink ; 
But as soon as you sleep, and renew yourself in sweet 
        clothes, I kiss you with a good-bye kiss, and 
        open the gate for your egress hence. 

325    Long enough have you dream'd contemptible 
        dreams ; 
Now I wash the gum from your eyes ; 
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light, 
        and of every moment of your life. 
 
326    Long have you timidly waded, holding a plank by 
        the shore ; 
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer, 
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod 
        to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your 
        hair. 
 

47 
 
327    I am the teacher of athletes ; 
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own, 
        proves the width of my own ; 
He most honors my style who learns under it to 
        destroy the teacher. 


 
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328    The boy I love, the same becomes a man, not 
        through derived power, but in his own right, 
Wicked, rather than virtuous out of conformity or 
        fear, 
Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak, 
Unrequited love, or a slight, cutting him worse than 
        sharp steel cuts, 
First-rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull's-eye, to sail 
        a skiff, to sing a song, or play on the banjo, 
Preferring scars, and the beard, and faces pitted with 
        small-pox, over all latherers, 
And those well tann'd to those that keep out of the sun. 

329    I teach straying from me—yet who can stray from 
        me? 
I follow you, whoever you are, from the present 
        hour ; 
My words itch at your ears till you understand them. 
 
330    I do not say these things for a dollar, or to fill up 
        the time while I wait for a boat ; 
It is you talking just as much as myself—I act as the 
        tongue of you ; 
Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen'd. 

331    I swear I will never again mention love or death in- 
        side a house, 
And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only 
        to him or her who privately stays with me in 
        the open air. 

332    If you would understand me, go to the heights or 
        water-shore ; 
The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or mo- 
        tion of waves a key ; 
The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words. 
 


 
90
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
333    No shutter'd room or school can commune with me, 
But roughs and little children better than they. 

334    The young mechanic is closest to me—he knows me 
        well ; 
The woodman, that takes his axe and jug with him, 
        shall take me with him all day ; 
The farm-boy, ploughing in the field, feels good at the 
        sound of my voice ; 
In vessels that sail, my words sail—I go with fisher- 
        men and seamen, and love them. 

335    The soldier camp'd, or upon the march, is mine ; 
On the night ere the pending battle, many seek me, 
        and I do not fail them ; 
On the solemn night (it may be their last,) those that 
        know me, seek me. 

336    My face rubs to the hunter's face, when he lies down 
        alone in his blanket ; 
The driver, thinking of me, does not mind the jolt of 
        his wagon ; 
The young mother and old mother comprehend me ; 
The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment, and 
        forget where they are ; 
They and all would resume what I have told them. 
 

48 

337    I have said that the soul is not more than the body, 
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, 
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's 
        self is, 
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy, walks 
        to his own funeral, drest in his shroud, 
And I or you, pocketless of a dime, may purchase the 
        pick of the earth, 


 
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And to glance with an eye, or show a bean in its pod, 
        confounds the learning of all times, 
And there is no trade or employment but the young 
        man following it may become a hero, 
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for 
        the wheel'd universe, 
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand 
        cool and composed before a million universes. 
 
338    And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God, 
For I, who am curious about each, am not curious 
        about God, 
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace 
        about God, and about death.) 
 
339    I hear and behold God in every object, yet under- 
        stand God not in the least, 
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonder- 
        ful than myself. 

340    Why should I wish to see God better than this day? 
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, 
        and each moment then ; 
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my 
        own face in the glass ; 
I find letters from God drop't in the street—and every 
        one is sign'd by God's name, 
And I leave them where they are, for I know that 
        wheresoe'er I go, 
Others will punctually come forever and ever. 
 

49 

341    And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mor- 
        tality, it is idle to try to alarm me. 
 
342    To his work without flinching the accoucheur 
        comes ; 
I see the elder hand, pressing, receiving, supporting ; 
I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors, 
And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape. 


 
92
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
343    And as to you, Corpse, I think you are good man- 
        ure—but that does not offend me ; 
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing, 
I reach to the leafy lips—I reach to the polish't breasts 
        of melons. 

344    And as to you Life, I reckon you are the leavings of 
        many deaths ; 
(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times 
        before.) 

345    I hear you whispering there, O stars of heaven ; 
O suns! O grass of graves! O perpetual transfers and 
        promotions! 
If you do not say anything, how can I say anything? 

346    Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest, 
Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing 
        twilight,  
Toss, sparkles of day and dusk! toss on the black 
        stems that decay in the muck! 
Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs. 
 
347    I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night ; 
I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sun- 
        beams reflected ; 
And debouch to the steady and central from the off- 
        spring great or small. 
 

50 

348    There is that in me—I do not know what it is—but 
        I know it is in me. 
 
349    Wrench't and sweaty—calm and cool then my body 
        becomes ; 
I sleep—I sleep long. 

350    I do not know it—it is without name—it is a word 
        unsaid ; 
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol. 
 


 
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WALT WHITMAN. 
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351    Something it swings on more than the earth I swing 
        on ; 
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes 
        me. 

352    Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for 
        my brothers and sisters. 

353    Do you see, O my brothers and sisters? 
It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan—it is 
        eternal life---it is HAPPINESS

354    The past and present wilt—I have fill'd them, emp- 
        tied them, 
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future. 
 

51 

355    Listener up there! Here you! What have you to 
        confide to me? 
Look in my face, while I snuff the sidle of evening ; 
Talk honestly—no one else hears you, and I stay only 
        a minute longer. 
 
356    Do I contradict myself? 
Very well, then, I contradict myself ; 
I am large—I contain multitudes. 

357    I concentrate toward them that are nigh—I wait on 
        the door-slab. 

358    Who has done his day's work? Who will soonest be 
        through with his supper? 
Who wishes to walk with me? 

359    Will you speak before I am gone? Will you prove 
        already too late? 
 

52 

360    The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he 
        complains of my gab and my loitering. 


 
94
LEAVES OF GRASS.
 
361    I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable ; 
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. 
 
362    The last scud of day holds back for me ; 
It flings my likeness after the rest, and true as any, on 
        the shadow'd wilds ; 
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk. 

363    I depart as air—I shake my white locks at the run- 
        away sun ; 
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags. 

364    I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the 
        grass I love ; 
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles. 

365    You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean ; 
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless, 
And filter and fibre your blood. 
 
366    Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged ; 
Missing me one place, search another ; 
I stop somewhere, waiting for you.