Published Works

Books by Whitman



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1 — Poem of Walt Whitman, an American.

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

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of
summer grass.

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.

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste
of the distillation, it is odorless,


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It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood, and become
undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzzed whispers, love-root, silk-
thread, crotch, vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my
heart, the passing of blood and air through
my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of
the shore and dark-colored sea-rocks, and of
hay in the barn,
The sound of the belched words of my voice,
words loosed 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.

Have you reckoned a thousand acres much?
have you reckoned the earth much?
Have you practiced so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of
poems?


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Stop this day and night with me, and you shall
possess 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
yourself.

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.

There was never any more inception than there is
now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there
is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge, and urge, and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.

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.



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To elaborate is no avail—learned and unlearned
feel that it is so.

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.

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet
is all that is not my soul.

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

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.

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.

I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing;


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As the hugging and loving Bed-fellow sleeps at
my side through the night, and withdraws at
the peep of the day,
And leaves for me baskets covered with white
towels, swelling 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 to a cent,
Exactly the contents of one, and exactly the con-
tents of two, and which is ahead?

Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet—the effect upon me of my early
life, of the ward and city I live in, of the
nation,
The latest news, discoveries, inventions, societies,
authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, work, compli-
ments, 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 depress-
ions or exaltations,
They come to me days and nights and go from
me again,
But they are not the Me myself.



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Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I
am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle,
unitary,
Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an
impalpable certain rest,
Looks with its side-curved head, curious what will
come next,
Both in and out of the game, and watching and
wondering at it.

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.

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.

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from
your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not cus-
tom or lecture, not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how we lay in June, such a transparent
summer morning,
You settled your head athwart my hips, and gently
turned over upon me,


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And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and
plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
And reached till you felt my beard, and reached
till you held my feet.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace
and joy and knowledge that pass all the art
and 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 bro-
thers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
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, heaped stones,
elder, mullen, pokeweed.

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.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out
of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,


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A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly
dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners,
that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced
babe of the vegetation.

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.

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

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,
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.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads
of old mothers,


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Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of
mouths.

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

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.

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

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 ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one sup-
posed, and luckier.



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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.

I pass death with the dying, and birth with the
new-washed babe, and am not contained be-
tween my hat and boots,
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and
every one good,
The earth good, and the stars good, and their ad-
juncts all good.

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.

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.



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Who need be afraid of the merge?
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 can never be shaken away.

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

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

The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the
bedroom,
It is so—I witnessed the corpse—there the
pistol had fallen.

The blab of the pave, the tires of carts, sluff of
boot-soles, talk of the promenaders,
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogat-
ing 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
roused mobs,


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The flap of the curtained litter, the sick man in-
side, 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,
The souls moving along—are they invisible,
while the least of the stones is visible?
What groans of over-fed or half-starved 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 restrained by decorum,
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers
made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips,
I mind them or the resonance of them—I come
and I depart.

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
intertinged,
The armfuls are packed to the sagging mow;


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I am there, I help, I came stretched 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.

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-killed game,
Soundly falling asleep on the gathered leaves, my
dog and gun by my side.

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.

The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and
stopped for me,
I tucked 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.

I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air
in the far-west—the bride was a red girl,


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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 dressed
mostly in skins, his luxuriant beard and curls
protected his neck,
One hand rested on his rifle, the other hand held
firmly the wrist of the red girl,
She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her
coarse straight locks descended upon her
voluptuous limbs and reached to her feet.

The runaway slave came to my house and
stopped outside,
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 filled a tub for his sweated
body and bruised feet,
And gave him a room that entered 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;


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He staid with me a week before he was recuper-
ated and passed north,
I had him sit next me at table—my fire-lock
leaned in the corner.

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
lonesome.

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

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

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

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

The beards of the young men glistened with wet,
it ran from their long hair,
Little streams passed all over their bodies.

An unseen hand also passed over their bodies,


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It descended tremblingly from their temples and
ribs.

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
pendant and bending arch,
They do not think whom they souse with spray.

The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or
sharpens his knife at the stall in the mar-
ket,
I loiter, enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and
break-down.

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.

From the cinder-strewed threshold I follow their
movements,
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with
their massive arms,
Overhand the hammers roll, overhand so slow,
overhand so sure,
They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.



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The negro holds firmly the reins of his four
horses, the block swags underneath on its
tied-over chain,
The negro that drives the huge 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.

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

In me the caresser of life wherever moving, back-
ward as well as forward slueing,
To niches aside and junior bending.

Oxen that rattle the yoke or halt in the shade!
what is that you express in your eyes?
It seems to me more than all the print I have read
in my life.

My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck,
on my distant and day-long ramble,
They rise together, they slowly circle around;
I believe in those winged purposes,


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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 mocking-bird in the swamp never studied
the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me,
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out
of me.

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
November sky.

The sharp-hoofed moose of the north, the cat on
the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog,
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.

The press of my foot to the earth springs a hun-
dred affections,


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They scorn the best I can do to relate them.
I am enamoured of growing outdoors,
Of men that live among cattle, or taste of the
ocean or woods,
Of the builders and steerers of ships, of the wield-
ers of axes and mauls, of the drivers of
horses,
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week
out.

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.

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,


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The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious
stretches,
The deacons are ordained with crossed hands at
the altar,
The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the
hum of the big wheel,
The farmer stops by the bars of a Sunday and
looks at the oats and rye,
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a con-
firmed case,
He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot
in his mother's bedroom;
The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws
works at his case,
He turns his quid of tobacco, his eyes get blurred
with the manuscript;
The malformed limbs are tied to the anatomist'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 police-
man 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 com-
pete in the race,


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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,
The woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the over-
seer 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-roofed garret,
and harks to the musical rain,
The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps
fill the Huron,
The reformer ascends the platform, he spouts with
his mouth and nose,
The company returns from its excursion, the
darkey brings up the rear and bears the well-
riddled target,
The squaw, wrapt in her yellow-hemmed cloth,
is offering moccasins and bead-bags for sale,
The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-
gallery with half-shut eyes bent side-ways,
The deck-hands make fast the steamboat, the plank
is thrown for the shore-going passengers,
The young sister holds out the skein, the elder
sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now
and then for the knots,


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The one-year wife is recovering and happy, a
week ago she bore her first child,
The clean-haired Yankee girl works with her sew-
ing-machine, or in the factory or mill,
The nine months' gone is in the parturition cham-
ber, her faintness and pains are advancing,
The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer
—the reporter's lead flies swiftly over the
note-book—the sign-painter is lettering with
red and gold,
The canal-boy trots on the tow-path—the book-
keeper 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 baptised—the convert is making the
first professions,
The regatta is spread on the bay—how the white
sails sparkle!
The drover watches his drove, he sings out to
them that would stray,
The pedlar sweats with his pack on his back, the
purchaser higgles 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-
opened lips,


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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,
(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths, nor
jeer you;)
The President holds a cabinet council, he is sur-
rounded by the Great Secretaries,
On the piazza walk five friendly matrons 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,
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 on-
ward the laborers,
Seasons pursuing each other, the indescribable
crowd is gathered—it is the Fourth of July
—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,


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The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the
squatter strikes deep with his axe,
Flatboatmen make fast toward dusk near the cot-
ton-wood or pekan-trees,
Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red
river, or through those drained by the Ten-
nessee, or through those of the Arkansaw,
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chat-
tahoochee or Altamahaw,
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons
and great-grandsons around them,
In walls of adobe, in canvass tents, rest hunters
and trappers after their day's sport,
The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
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.

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,
Stuffed with the stuff that is coarse, and stuffed
with the stuff that is fine,


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One of the great nation, the nation of many
nations, the smallest the same, the largest
the same,
A southerner soon as a northerner, a planter non-
chalant and hospitable,
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 boatman over lakes or bays, or along coasts —
a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye,
A Louisianian or Georgian, a Poke-easy from
sand-hills and pines,
At home on Canadian 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-
westerners, 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
thoughtfulest,
A novice beginning, experient of myriads of sea-
sons,


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Of every hue, trade, rank, of every caste and re-
ligion,
Not merely of the New World, but of Africa,
Europe, Asia—a wandering savage,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor,
lover, quaker,
A prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician,
priest.

I resist anything better than my own diversity,
And breathe the air, and leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

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.

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 do not enclose everything, they are next
to nothing,
If they are not the riddle and the untying of the
riddle, they are nothing,
If they are not just as close as they are distant,
they are nothing.



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

This is the breath of laws, songs, behaviour,
This is the tasteless water of souls, this is the
true sustenance,
It is for the illiterate, it is for the judges of the
supreme court, it is for the federal capitol
and the state capitols,
It is for the admirable communes of literats,
composers, singers, lecturers, engineers, sa-
vans,
It is for the endless races of work-people, farm-
ers, seamen.

These are trills of thousands of clear cornets,
screams of octave flutes, strike of triangles.

I play not a march for victors only, I play great
marches for conquered and slain persons.

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.

I beat triumphal drums for the dead, I blow through
my embouchures my loudest and gayest music
to them,


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Vivas to those who have failed! 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 un-
known heroes, equal to the greatest heroes
known!

This is the meal pleasantly set, this is the meat
and drink 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 in-
vited—the heavy-lipped slave is invited,
the venerealee is invited,
There shall be no difference between them and
the rest.

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
murmur 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.

Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?


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Well, I have—for the April rain has, and the mica
on the side of a rock has.

Do you take it I would astonish?
Does the daylight astonish? Does the early red-
start, twittering through the woods?
Do I astonish more than they?

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

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

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

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

I do not snivel that snivel the world over,
That months are vacuums, and the ground but
wallow and filth,
That life is a suck and a sell, and nothing remains
at the end but threadbare crape and tears.

Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for
invalids, conformity goes to the fourth-
removed,


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I cock my hat as I please, indoors or out.
Shall I pray? Shall I venerate and be cere-
monious?
I have pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair,
Counselled with doctors, calculated close, found no
sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.

In all people I see myself—none more, not one a
barleycorn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of
them.

And I know I am solid and sound,
To me the converging objects of the universe per-
petually flow,
All are written to me, and I must get what the
writing means.

I know I am deathless,
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a
carpenter's compass,
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut
with a burnt stick at night.

I know I am august,
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be
understood,


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I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I
plant my house by, after all.

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.

One world is aware, and by far the largest to me,
and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own today, or in ten
thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheer-
fulness I can wait.

My foothold is tenoned and mortised in granite,
I laugh at what you call dissolution,
And I know the amplitude of time.

I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul.

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.

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,


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And I say there is nothing greater than the mother
of men.

I chant the chant of dilation or pride,
We have had ducking and deprecating about
enough,
I show that size is only development.

Have you outstript the rest? are you the
President?
It is a trifle—they will more than arrive there
every one, and still pass on.

I am he that walks with the tender and growing
night,
I call to the earth and sea, half-held by the night.

Press close, bare-bosomed night! press close,
magnetic, nourishing night!
Night of south winds! night of the large few
stars!
Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night!

Smile, O voluptuous, cool-breathed earth!
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!
Earth of departed sunset! earth of the moun-
tains, 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 elbowed earth! rich, apple-blos-
somed earth!
Smile, for your lover comes!

Prodigal, you have given me love! therefore I
to you give love!
O unspeakable passionate love!

Thruster holding me tight, and that I hold tight!
We hurt each other as the bridegroom and the
bride hurt each other.

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.

Sea of stretched ground-swells!
Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths!


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Sea of the brine of life! sea of unshovelled 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.

Partaker of influx and efflux, extoller of hate and
conciliation,
Extoller of amies, and those that sleep in each
others' arms.

I am he attesting sympathy,
Shall I make my list of things in the house, and
skip the house that supports them?

I am the poet of commonsense, and of the demon-
strable, and of immortality,
And am not the poet of goodness only—I do not
decline to be the poet of wickedness also.

Washes and razors for foofoos—for me freckles
and a bristling beard.

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.



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Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging
pregnancy?
Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be
worked over and rectified?

I step up to say that what we do is right, and
what we affirm is right, and some is only the
ore of right,
Witnesses of us, one side a balance, and the anti-
podal side a balance,
Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine,
Thoughts and deeds of the present, our rouse and
early start.

This minute that comes to me over the past de-
cillions,
There is no better than it and now.

What behaved well in the past, or behaves well
today, is not such a wonder,
The wonder is always and always how can there
be a mean man or an infidel.

Endless unfolding of words of ages!
And mine a word of the modern—a word en-
masse,
A word of the faith that never balks,
One time as good as another time—here or
henceforward it is all the same to me,


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A word of reality, materialism first and last im-
bueing.

Hurrah for positive science! long live exact
demonstration!
Fetch stonecrop, mix it 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
unknown seas,
This is the geologist, this works with the scalpel,
and this is a mathematician.

Gentlemen, I receive you and attach and clasp
hands with you,
The facts are useful and real—they are not my
dwelling—I enter by them to an area of the
dwelling.

I am less the reminder of property or qualities,
and more the reminder of life,
And go on the square for my own sake and for
others' sakes,
And make short account of neuters and geldings,
and favor men and women fully equipped,
And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugi-
tives and them that plot and conspire.



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Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs,
a kosmos,
Disorderly, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking, breed-
ing,
No sentimentalist, no stander above men and wo-
men, or apart from them—no more modest
than immodest.

Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

Whoever degrades another degrades me, and
whatever is done or said returns at last to
me,
And whatever I do or say, I also return.

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

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.

Through me many long dumb voices,
Voices of the interminable generations of slaves,
Voices of prostitutes, and of deformed persons,
Voices of the diseased and despairing, and of
thieves and dwarfs,
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,


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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.

Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts—voices veiled, and I
remove the veil,
Voices indecent, by me clarified and transfigured.

I do not press my finger 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.

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

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy
whatever I touch or am touched from,
The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than
prayer,
This head is more than churches, bibles, creeds.

If I worship any particular thing, it shall be some
of the spread of my own body,


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Translucent mould of me, it shall be you!
Shaded ledges and rests, firm masculine coulter, it
shall be you!
Whatever goes to the tilth of me, it shall be you!
You my rich blood! your milky stream, pale strip-
pings of my life!
Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall
be you!
My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions!
Root of washed sweet-flag, timorous pond-snipe,
nest of guarded duplicate eggs, it shall be
you!
Mixed tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall
be you!
Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it
shall be you!
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, loving
lounger in my winding paths, it shall be you!
Hands I have taken, face I have kissed, mortal I
have ever touched, it shall be you!

I dote on myself, there is that lot of me, and all so
luscious,


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Each moment, and whatever happens, thrills me
with joy.

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.

To walk up my stoop is unaccountable, I pause to
consider if it really be,
That I eat and drink is spectacle enough for the
great authors and schools,
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more
than the metaphysics of books.

To behold the day-break!
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous
shadows,
The air tastes good to my palate.

Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols,
silently rising, freshly exuding,
Scooting obliquely high and low.

Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous
prongs,
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.

The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close
of their junction,


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The heaved challenge from the east that moment
over my head,
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall
be master!

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

We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the
sun,
We found our own, my soul, in the calm and cool
of the day-break.

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

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?

Come now, I will not be tantalized, you conceive
too much of articulation.



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Do you not know how the buds beneath 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.

My final merit I refuse you—I refuse putting
from me the best I am.

Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass
me,
I crowd your noisiest talk by looking toward you.

Writing and talk do not prove me,
I carry the plenum of proof, and every thing else,
in my face,
With the hush of my lips I confound the topmost
skeptic.

I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen,
To accrue what I hear into myself, to let sounds
contribute toward me.

I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat,
gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my
meals.



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I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human
voice,
I hear all sounds as they are tuned to their uses,
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
recitative of fish-pedlars and fruit-pedlars, 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
shaky 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 colored
lights,
The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of
approaching cars,
The slow-march played at night at the head of the
association,
They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are
draped with black muslin.

I hear the violincello or man's heart's complaint,
I hear the keyed cornet, it glides quickly in
through my ears, it shakes mad-sweet pangs
through my belly and breast.



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I hear the chorus, it is a grand-opera—this in-
deed is music!

A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me,
The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling
me full.

I hear the trained soprano, she convulses me like
the climax of my love-grip,
The orchestra wrenches such ardors from me, I
did not know I possessed them,
It throbs me to gulps of the farthest down horror,
It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are licked
by the indolent waves,
I am exposed, cut by bitter and poisoned hail,
Steeped amid honeyed morphine, my windpipe
squeezed in the fakes of death,
Let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,
And that we call Being.

To be in any form, what is that?
If nothing lay more developed, the quahaug in its
callous shell were enough.

Mine is no callous shell,
I have instant conductors all over me, whether I
pass or stop,
They seize every object and lead it harmlessly
through me.



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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.

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
sun-light 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
awhile,


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Then all uniting to stand on a head-land and
worry me.

The sentries desert every other part of me,
They have left me helpless to a red marauder,
They all come to the head-land, to witness and
assist against me.

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 head-land, my own hands
carried me there.

You villain touch! what are you doing? my
breath is tight in its throat,
Unclench your floodgates! you are too much for
me.

Blind, loving, wrestling touch! sheathed, hooded,
sharp-toothed touch!
Did it make you ache so, leaving me?

Parting, tracked by arriving—perpetual payment
of the perpetual loan,
Rich showering rain, and recompense richer after-
ward.

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



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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?

Logic and sermons never convince,
The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.

Only what proves itself to every man and woman
is so,
Only what nobody denies is so.

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.

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-
work of the stars,


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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'ouvre 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 depressed head sur-
passes any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sex-
tillions 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.

I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded
moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots,
And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over,
And have distanced what is behind me for good
reasons,
And call any thing close again, when I desire it.

In vain the speeding or shyness,
In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat
against my approach,
In vain the mastadon retreats beneath its own
powdered bones,
In vain objects stand leagues off, and assume
manifold shapes,


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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-billed auk sails far north to
Labrador,
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure
of the cliff.

I think I could turn and live with animals, they
are so placid and self-contained,
I stand and look at them sometimes half the day
long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condi-
tion,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for
their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty
to God,
No 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.



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So they show their relations to me, and I accept
them,
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them
plainly in their possession.

I do not know where they got those tokens,
I may have passed that way untold times ago and
negligently dropt 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 re-
membrancers,
Picking out here one that I love, choosing to go
with him on brotherly terms.

A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and respon-
sive 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.

His nostrils dilate, my heels embrace him, his
well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, we
speed around and return.



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I but use you a moment, then I resign you stal-
lion, do not need your paces, out-gallop them,
Myself, as I stand or sit, passing faster than you.

Swift wind! space! my soul! now I know it is
true, what I guessed at,
What I guessed when I loafed on the grass,
What I guessed while I lay alone in my bed, and
again as I walked the beach under the paling
stars of the morning.

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.

By the city's quadrangular houses, in log-huts,
camping with lumber-men,
Along the ruts of the turnpike, along the dry gulch
and rivulet bed,
Weeding my onion-patch, hoeing rows of carrots
and parsnips, crossing savannas, trailing in
forests,
Prospecting, gold-digging, girdling the trees of a
new purchase,
Scorched ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my
boat down the shallow river,
Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb
overhead, where the buck turns furiously at
the hunter,


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Where the rattle-snake 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-tail,
Over the growing sugar, over the cotton-plant,
over the rice in its low moist field,
Over the sharp-peaked farm-house, with its scal-
loped scum and slender shoots from the gut-
ters,
Over the western persimmon, over the long-leaved
corn, over the delicate blue-flowered 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,
Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up,
holding 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 July 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,


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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
whirling its cylinders,
Wherever the human heart beats with terrible
throes out of its ribs,
Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft,
floating 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 calves and
never forsakes them,
Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long
pennant of smoke,
Where the ground-shark's fin cuts like a black
chip out of the water,
Where the half-burned brig is riding on unknown
currents,
Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the
dead are corrupting below,
Where the striped and starred 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 pic-nics or jigs,
or a good game of base-ball,
At he-festivals, with blackguard jibes, ironical li-
cense, bull-dances, drinking, laughter,
At the cider-mill, tasting the sweet of the brown
sqush, 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 gur-
gles, cackles, screams, weeps,
Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard, where
the dry-stalks are scattered, 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,


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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-necked partridges roost in a ring on
the ground with their heads out,
Where burial coaches enter the arched gates of a
cemetery,
Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow
and icicled trees,
Where the yellow-crowned heron comes to the
edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon
small crabs,
Where the splash of swimmers and divers cool
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, under coni-
cal firs,
Through the gymnasium, through the curtained
saloon, through the office or public hall,
Pleased with the native, pleased with the foreign,
pleased with the new and old,


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Pleased with women, the homely as well as the
handsome,
Pleased with the quakeress as she puts off her
bonnet and talks melodiously,
Pleased with the tunes of the choir of the white-
washed church,
Pleased with the earnest words of the sweating
Methodist preacher, or any preacher—look-
ing seriously at the camp-meeting,
Looking in at the shop-windows in Broadway the
whole forenoon, pressing the flesh of my nose
to the thick plate-glass,
Wandering the same afternoon with my face
turned up to the clouds,
My right and left arms round the sides of two
friends, and I in the middle;
Coming home with the bearded and dark-cheeked
bush-boy, riding behind him at the drape of
the day,
Far from the settlements, studying the print of
animals' feet, or the moccasin print,
By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a
feverish patient,
By the coffined corpse when all is still examin-
ing with a candle,
Voyaging to every port to dicker and adven-
ture,
Hurrying with the modern crowd, as eager and
fickle as any,


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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 tailed 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.

I visit the orchards of spheres and look at the
product,
And look at quintillions ripened, and look at quin-
tillions green.

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

I help myself to material and immaterial,
No guard can shut me off, no law can prevent me.



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I anchor my ship for a little while only,
My messengers continually cruise away, or bring
their returns to me.

I go hunting polar furs and the seal, leaping
chasms with a pike-pointed staff, clinging to
topples of brittle and blue.

I ascend to the fore-truck, I take my place late at
night in the crow's-nest, we sail through the
arctic sea, it 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 direc-
tions,
The white-topped mountains show in the dis-
tance, 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 encamp-
ments, we pass with still feet and caution,
Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast
and ruined city, the blocks and fallen archi-
tecture more than all the living cities of the
globe.

I am a free companion, I bivouac by invading
watchfires.



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I turn the bridegroom out of bed and stay with
the bride myself,
I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.

My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the
rail of the stairs,
They fetch my man's body up, dripping and
drowned.

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 chalked in large letters, Be of good cheer,
We will not desert you,
How he saved the drifting company at last,
How the lank loose-gowned women looked when
boated from the side of their prepared graves,
How the silent old-faced infants, and the lifted
sick, and the sharp-lipped unshaved men,
All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it
becomes mine,
I am the man, I suffered, I was there.

The disdain and calmness of martyrs,


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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, covered with sweat,
The twinges that sting like needles his legs and
neck, the murderous buck-shot and the bullets,
All these I feel or am.

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,
thinned with the ooze of my skin,
I fall on the weeds and stones,
The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close,
Taunt my dizzy ears, beat me violently over the
head with whip-stocks.

Agonies are one of my changes of garments,
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I
myself become the wounded person,
My hurt turns livid upon me as I lean on a cane
and observe.

I am the mashed fireman with breastbone broken,
tumbling walls buried me in their debris,
Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling
shouts of my comrades,


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I heard the distant click of their picks and shov-
els,
They have cleared the beams away, they tenderly
life me forth.

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 un-
happy,
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.

Distant and dead resuscitate,
They show as the dial or move as the hands of
me—I am the clock myself.

I am an old artillerist, I tell of my fort's bombard-
ment, I am there again.

Again the reveille of drummers, again the attack-
ing cannon, mortars, howitzers,
Again the attacked send cannon responsive;
I take part, I see and hear the whole,
The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aimed
shots,
The ambulanza slowly passing, trailing its red
drip,


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Workmen searching after damages, making indis-
pensable 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.

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.

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.

Hear now the tale of a jet-black sunrise,
Hear of the murder in cold-blood of four hundred
and twelve young men.

Retreating, they had formed in a hollow square,
with their baggage for breast-works,
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, re-
ceived writing and seal, gave up their arms,
marched back prisoners of war.



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They were the glory of the race of rangers,
Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, court-
ship,
Large, turbulent, brave, handsome, generous,
proud, affectionate,
Bearded, sunburnt, dressed in the free costume of
hunters,
Not a single one over thirty years of age.

The second Sunday morning they were brought
out in squads and massacred—it was beauti-
ful early summer,
The work commenced about five o'clock and was
over by eight.

None obeyed 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 maimed and mangled dug in the dirt, the
new-comers saw them there,
Some, half-killed, attempted to crawl away,
These were dispatched with bayonets, or battered
with the blunts of muskets,
A youth not seventeen years old seized his assas-
sin, till two more came to release him,
The three were all torn, and covered with the
boy's blood.



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At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies;
That is the tale of the murder of the four hun-
dred and twelve young men,
And that was a jet-black sunrise.

Did you read in the sea-books of the old-fashioned
frigate-fight?
Did you learn who won by the light of the moon
and stars?

Our foe was no skulk in his ship, I tell you,
His was the English pluck, and there is no tougher
or truer, and never was, and never will be,
Along the lowered eve he came, horribly raking
us.

We closed with him, the yards entangled, the can-
non touched,
My captain lashed fast with his own hands.

We had received some eighteen-pound shots un-
der the water,
On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst
at the first fire, killing all around and blowing
up overhead.

Ten o'clock at night and the full moon shining,
and the leaks on the gain, and five feet of
water reported,


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The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined
in the after-hold, to give them a chance for
themselves.

The transit to and from the magazine was now
stopped by the sentinels,
They saw so many strange faces that they did not
know whom to trust.

Our frigate was afire, the other asked if we de-
manded quarter? if our colors were struck
and the fighting done?

I laughed content when I heard the voice of my
little captain,
We have not struck, he composedly cried, We
have just begun our part of the fighting.

Only three guns were in use,
One was directed by the captain himself against
the enemy's main-mast,
Two, well served with grape and canister,
silenced his musketry and cleared his
decks.

The tops alone seconded the fire of this little bat-
tery, especially the main-top,
They all held out bravely during the whole of the
action.

Not a moment's cease,


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The leaks gained fast on the pumps, the fire eat
toward the powder-magazine,
One of the pumps was shot away, it was generally
thought we were sinking.

Serene stood the little captain,
He was not hurried, his voice was neither high
nor low,
His eyes gave more light to us than our battle-
lanterns.

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

Stretched and still lay the midnight,
Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the
darkness,
Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, prepara-
tions to pass to the one we had conquered,
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 served in the
cabin,
The dead face of an old salt with long white hair
and carefully curled whiskers,
The flames, spite of all that could be done, flicker-
ing aloft and below,
The husky voices of the two or three officers yet
fit for duty,


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Formless stacks of bodies, bodies by them-
selves, 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 change to survivors,
The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth
of his saw,
Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild
scream, long dull tapering groan,
These so, these irretrievable.

O Christ! My fit is mastering me!
What the rebel said, gaily adjusting his throat to
the rope-noose,
What the savage at the stump, his eye-sockets
empty, his mouth spirting whoops and defi-
ance,
What stills the traveler come to the vault at
Mount Vernon,
What sobers the Brooklyn boy as he looks down
the shores of the Wallabout and remembers
the prison ships,
What burnt the gums of the red-coat at Saratoga
when he surrendered his brigades,


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These become mine and me every one, and they
are but little,
I become as much more as I like.

I become any presence or truth of humanity here,
And see myself in prison shaped like another
man,
And feel the dull unintermitted pain.

For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their
carbines and keep watch,
It is I let out in the morning and barred at night.

Not a mutineer walks hand-cuffed to the jail, but I
am hand-cuffed 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.

Not a youngster is taken for larceny, but I go up
too, and am tried and sentenced.

Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp, but I
also lie at the last gasp,
My face is ash-colored, my sinews gnarl, away
from me people retreat.

Askers embody themselves in me, and I am em-
bodied in them,
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, beg.



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I rise extatic through all, sweep with the true
gravitation,
The whirling and whirling is elemental within
me.

Somehow I have been stunned. Stand back!
Give me a little time beyond my cuffed head,
slumbers, dreams, gaping,
I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.

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!

I remember, I resume the overstaid fraction,
The grave of rock multiplies what has been con-
fided to it, or to any graves,
The corpses rise, the gashes heal, the fastenings
roll away.

I troop forth replenished with supreme power,
one of an average unending procession,
We walk the roads of Ohio, Massachusetts, Vir-
ginia, Wisconsin, Manhattan Island, New
Orleans, Texas, Montreal, San Francisco,
Charleston, Havana, Mexico,
Inland and by the sea-coast and boundary lines,
and we pass all boundary lines.



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Our swift ordinances are on their way over the
whole earth,
The blossoms we wear in our hats are the growth
of two thousand years.

Eleves, I salute you!
I see the approach of your numberless gangs, I
see you understand yourselves and me,
And know that they who have eyes are divine,
and the blind and lame are equally divine,
And that my steps drag behind yours, yet go be-
fore them,
And are aware how I am with you no more than
I am with everybody.

The friendly and flowing savage, Who is he?
Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and mas-
tering it?

Is he some south-westerner, raised out-doors?
Is he Canadian?
Is he from the Mississippi country? from Iowa,
Oregon, California? from the mountains?
prairie-life, bush-life? from the sea?
Wherever he goes men and women accept and
desire him;
They desire he should like them, touch them
speak to them, stay with them.



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Behaviour lawless as snow-flakes, words simple
as grass, uncombed head, laughter, naivete,
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.

Flaunt of the sun-shine, I need not your bask, lie
over!
You light surfaces only, I force surfaces and
depths also.

Earth! you seem to look for something at my
hands,
Say old top-knot! what do you want?

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 the pinings I have, the pulse of my
nights and days.

Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity,
What I give I give out of myself.

You there, impotent, loose in the knees, open your
scarfed chops till I blow grit within you,


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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 any thing I have I bestow;
I do not ask who you are, that is not important to
me,
You can do nothing, and be nothing, but what I
will infold you.

To a drudge of the cotton-fields or cleaner of
privies I lean—on his right cheek I put the
family kiss,
And in my soul I swear, I never will deny him.

On women fit for conception I start bigger and
nimbler babes,
This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arro-
gant republics.

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.

I seize the descending man, I raise him with re-
sistless will.

O despairer, here is my neck,


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By God! you shall not go down! hang your
whole weight upon me.

I dilate you with tremendous breath, I buoy you
up,
Every room of the house do I fill with an armed
force, lovers of me, bafflers of graves,
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.

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.

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?

Magnifying and applying come I,
Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,
The most they offer for mankind and eternity less
than a spirt of my own seminal wet,


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Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah —
lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, 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,
Taking them all for what they are worth, and not
a cent more,
Admitting they were alive and did the work of
their day,
Admitting they bore mites, as for unfledged birds,
who have now to rise and fly and sing for
themselves,
Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out bet-
ter 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
rolled-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,
Those ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder
ropes no less to me than the gods of the
antique wars,


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Minding their voices peal through the crash of
destruction,
Their brawny limbs passing safe over charred
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 bagged out at
their waists,
The snag-toothed hostler with red hair redeeming
sins past and to come,
Selling all he possesses, travelling on foot to fee
lawyers 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 worshipped half
enough,
Dung and dirt more admirable than was dreamed,
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 pro-
digious,
Guessing when I am it will not tickle me much
to receive puffs out of pulpit or print;
By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator!


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Putting myself here and now to the ambushed
womb of the shadows!

A call in the midst of the crowd,
My own voice, orotund, sweeping, final.

Come my children,
Come my boys and girls, my women, household,
intimates,
Now the performer launches his nerve, he has
passed his prelude on the reeds within.

Easily written, loose-fingered chords! I feel the
thrum of their climax and close.

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.

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 thorned
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;


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Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life,
Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the tressels
of death.

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 continu-
ally claiming.

This is the city, and I am one of the citizens,
Whatever interests the rest interests me—poli-
tics, markets, newspapers, schools, benevolent
societies, improvements, banks, tariffs, steam-
ships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate,
personal estate.

They who piddle and patter here in collars and
tailed coats, I am aware who they are—they
are not worms or fleas,
I acknowledge the duplicates of myself—the weak-
est 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.



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I know perfectly well my own egotism,
I know my omnivorous words, and cannot say any
less,
And would fetch you, whoever you are, flush with
myself.

My words are words of a questioning, and to in-
dicate reality;
This printed and bound book—but the printer,
and the printing-office boy?
The marriage estate and settlement—but the
body and mind of the bridegroom? also those
of the bride?
The panorama of the sea—but the sea itself?
The well-taken photographs—but your wife or
friend close and solid in your arms?
The fleet of ships of the line, and all the modern
improvements—but the craft and pluck of
the admiral?
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 your-
self?
Sermons, creeds, theology—but the human brain,
and what is called reason, and what is called
love, and what is called life?



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I do not despise you, priests,
My faith is the greatest of faiths, and the least of
faiths,
Enclosing all 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, powow-
ing 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 pro-
cession—rapt and austere in the woods, a
gymnosophist,
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
crucified, knowing assuredly that he is di-
vine,
To the mass kneeling, to the puritan's prayer ris-
ing, sitting patiently in a pew,
Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, waiting
dead-like till my spirit arouses me,
Looking forth on pavement and land, and outside
of pavement and land,


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Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.
One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang, I
turn and talk like a man leaving charges be-
fore a journey.

Down-hearted doubters, dull and excluded,
Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dis-
heartened, atheistical,
I know every one of you, I know the unspoken
interrogatories,
By experience I know them.

How the flukes splash!
How they contort, rapid as lightning, with spasms
and spouts of blood!

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,
Day and night are for you, me, all,
And what is yet untried and afterward is for you,
me, all, precisely the same.

I do not know what is untried and afterward,
But I know it is sure, alive, sufficient.



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Each who passes is considered, each who stops is
considered, not a single one can it fail.

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 peeped 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 slaughtered and wrecked, nor
the brutish koboo called the ordure of
humanity,
Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths
for food to slip in,
Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest
graves of the earth,
Nor any thing 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.

It is time to explain myself—let us stand up.
What is known I strip away, I launch all men and
women forward with me into the unknown.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 86] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



The clock indicates the moment, but what does
eternity indicate?

Eternity lies in bottomless reservoirs, its buckets
are rising forever and ever,
They pour, they pour, and exhale away.

We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters
and summers,
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of
them.

Births have brought us richness and variety,
And other births will bring us richness and
variety.

I do not call one greater and one smaller,
That which fills its period and place is equal to
any.

Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my
brother, my sister?
I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or
jealous upon me,
All has been gentle with me, I keep no account
with lamentation;
What have I to do with lamentation?

I am an acme of things accomplished, and I an
encloser of things to be.



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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 traveled, and still I mount and
mount.

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 fœtid
carbon.

Long I was hugged close—long and long.

Immense have been the preparations for me,
Faithful and friendly the arms that have helped me.

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.

Before I was born out of my mother generations
guided me,
My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could
overlay it,


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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.

All forces have been steadily employed to com-
plete and delight me,
Now I stand on this spot with my soul.

Span of youth! ever-pushed elasticity! manhood,
balanced, florid, full!

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,
Or while I swim in the bath, or drink from the
pump at the corner, or the curtain is down at
the opera, or I glimpse at a woman's face in
the rail-road car,
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.



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Old age superbly rising! Ineffable grace of dying
days!

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.

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.

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

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.

There is no stoppage, and never can be stoppage,
If I, you, the worlds, all beneath or upon their
surfaces, and all the palpable life, were this
moment reduced back to a pallid float, it
would not avail in the long run,


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We should surely bring up again where we now
stand,
And as surely go as much farther, and then far-
ther and farther.

A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of
cubic leagues, do not hazard the span, or
make it impatient,
They are but parts, any thing is but a part.

See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of
that,
Count ever so much, there is limitless time around
that.

My rendezvous is appointed,
The Lord will be there and wait till I come on
perfect terms.

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

I tramp a perpetual journey,
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, exchange,


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But each man and each woman of you I lead upon
a knoll,
My left hand hooks you round the waist,
My right hand points to landscapes of continents,
and a plain public road.

Not I, not any one else, can travel that road for
you,
You must travel it for yourself.

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.

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

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 ser-
vice to me,
For after we start we never lie by again.

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and
looked at the crowded heaven,


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And I said to my spirit, When we become the
enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and
knowledge of every thing in them, shall we
be filled and satisfied then?
And my spirit said No, we level that lift to pass
and continue beyond.

You are also asking me questions, and I hear you,
I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out
for yourself.

Sit awhile wayfarer,
Here are biscuits to eat, here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in
sweet clothes, I will certainly kiss you with
my good-bye kiss, and open the gate for your
egress hence.

Long enough have you dreamed 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.

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, laughingly dash with your hair.



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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.

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 of
fear,
Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak,
Unrequited love, or a slight, cutting him worse
than a wound 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 faces pitted with small-pox,
over all latherers and those that keep out of
the sun.

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.

I do not say these things for a dollar, or to fill up
the time while I wait for a boat,


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It is you talking just as much as myself, I act as
the tongue of you,
It was tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be
loosened.

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

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

No shuttered room or school can commune with
me,
But roughs and little children better than they.

The young mechanic is closest to me, he knows
me pretty well,
The wood-man 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
fishermen and seamen, and love them,


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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.

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, dressed in his
shroud,
And I or you, pocketless of a dime, may pur-
chase the pick of the earth,
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 wheeled universe,
And any man or woman shall stand cool and
supercilious before a million universes.



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And I call 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.

I hear and behold God in every object, yet I
understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more won-
derful than myself.

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 dropped in the street, and
every one is signed by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know
that others will punctually come forever and
ever.

And as to you death, and you bitter hug of mor-
tality, it is idle to try to alarm me.

To his work without flinching the accoucheur
comes,


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I see the elder-hand, pressing, receiving, support-
ing,
I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible
doors, mark the outlet, mark the relief and
escape.

And as to you corpse, I think you are good
manure, but that does not offend me,
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and grow-
ing,
I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polished
breasts of melons.

And as to you life, I reckon you are the leavings
of many deaths,
No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times
before.

I hear you whispering there, O stars of heaven,
O suns, O grass of graves, O perpetual trans-
fers and promotions, if you do not say any-
thing, how can I say anything?

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!



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I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night,
And perceive of the ghastly glimmer the sun-
beams reflected,
And debouch to the steady and central from the
offspring great or small.

There is that in me—I do not know what it is —
but I know it is in me.

Wrenched and sweaty, calm and cool then my
body becomes,
I sleep—I sleep long.

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

Something it swings on more than the earth I
swing on,
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing
awakes me.

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

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.

The past and present wilt—I have filled them,
emptied them,


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And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
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.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I contradict myself,
I am large, I contain multitudes.

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

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

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

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

I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untrans-
latable,


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I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the
world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness, after the rest, and true as
any, on the shadowed wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

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

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

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.

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged,
Missing me one place, search another,
I stop some where waiting for you.

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