In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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[Leaf 1 recto]

Song of the Universal

June, 1874 Camden




Come, said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the Universal.

In this broad Earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness & the slag,
Enclosed & safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed Perfection.

By every life a share, or more or less,
None born but it is born—conceal'd or
        unconceal'd the seed is waiting.



Lo! keen-eyed, towering science!
As from tall peaks the Modern overlooking,
Successive, absolute fiats issuing.

[Leaf 1 verso]  
Yet again, lo! the Soul—above all science;
For it, the Soul, has entire History gathered
        like husks around the globe;
For it, the Soul, the ^entire star myriads roll through
        the sky.

In spiral roads, by long detours,
(As a much-tacking ship upon the sea,)
For it, the Rea partial to the permanent flowing,
For it, the Real to the Ideal tends.

For it, the mystic evolution;
Nor the right only justified—what we call evil
        also justified.

Forth from their masks, no matter what,
From the huge, festering trunk—from craft and
        guile & tears,
Health to emerge, & joy—joy universal.

[Leaf 1 verso]  
Out of the bulk, the morbid & the shallow,
Out of the bad majority—the varied, countless
        frauds of men and states,
Electric, antiseptic yet—cleaving, suffusing all,
Only the little Good is universal.



Over the mountain growths of sin, disease & sorrow,
An uncaught bird is ever hovering, hovering,
High in the pure and happy air.

From imperfection's murkiest cloud,
Darts always fl forth one ray of perfect light,
One flash of heaven's glory.

To fashion's, custom's discord,
To the mad Babel-din, the deafening oro orgies,
Soothing each lull a strain is heard, just heard,
From some far shore, the final chorus sounding.

[Leaf 1 verso]  


O the blest eyes! the happy hearts!
That see—that know the guiding thread so fine,
Along the mighty labyrinth!



And thou, America!
For the Scheme's culmination—its Thought, &
        its Reality,
For these, (not for thyself,) Thou hast arrived.

Thou too surroundest all;
Embracing, carrying, welcoming all, Thou too, by
        pathways broad & new,
To the Ideal tendest.

The measur'd faiths of other lands—the grandeurs
        of the past,
Are not for Thee, but grandeurs of Thine own,
Deific faiths & amplitudes, absorbing, comprehending
All eligible to all.

[Leaf 1 verso]  
All, all for Immortality!
Love, like the light, silently wrapping all!
Nature's amelioration blessing all!
The blossoms, fruits of many ages ripening—orchards
        divine & certain;
Forms, objects, growths, humanities, to Spiritual Im-
        ages ripening.



Give me, O heaven, God, to sing that thought!
Give me—give him or her I love this quenchless
In Thy ensemble—whatever else withheld, withhold
        not from us,
Belief in ^universal plan eventual of Thee enclosed in Time
        & Space,
Health, peace, salvation universal.

Is it a dream?
Nay, but the lack of it the dream,
And, failing it, life's lore & wealth a dream,
And all the world a dream.


This manuscript is dated June, 1874.
Editorial note
This is a complete "Printer's Copy" of "Song of the Universal."
Because the pages are mounted the contents of the versos are unknown.
"Song of the Universal" Item 6  |  Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Whitman Archive ID


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