Published Works

Books by Whitman



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25 — Poem of The Child That Went Forth, and Always Goes Forth, Forever and Forever

THERE was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he looked upon and re-
ceived with wonder, pity, love, or dread,
that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day,
or a certain part of the day, or for many
years, or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and
white and red clover, and the song of the
phœbe-bird,
And the March-born lambs, and the sow's pink-
faint litter, and the mare's foal, and the cow's
calf, and the noisy brood of the barn-yard or
by the mire of the pond-side, and the fish
suspending themselves so curiously below
there, and the beautiful curious liquid, and the
water-plants with their graceful flat heads —
all became part of him.



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The field-sprouts of April and May became part
of him—winter-grain sprouts, and those of
the light-yellow corn, and of the esculent
roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees covered with blossoms, and
the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the
commonest weeds by the road,
And the old drunkard staggering home from the
out-house of the tavern whence he had lately
risen,
And the school-mistress that passed on her way to
the school, and the friendly boys that passed,
and the quarrelsome boys, and the tidy and
fresh-cheeked girls, and the bare-foot negro
boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country, wherever
he went.

His own parents—he that had propelled the
father-stuff at night and fathered him, and
she that conceived him in her womb and
birthed him—they gave this child more of
themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day—they and
of them became part of him.

The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on
the supper-table,


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The mother with mild words, clean her cap and
gown, a wholesome odor falling off her per-
son and clothes as she walks by,
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean,
angered, unjust,
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain,
the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the
furniture—the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsayed—the sense
of what is real—the thought if, after all, it
should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-
time, the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all
flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets—if
they are not flashes and specks what are
they?
The streets themselves, and the facades of houses,
the goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the tiered wharves, the huge
crossing at the ferries,
The village on the highland seen from afar at sun-
set, the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, light falling on roofs
and gables of white or brown, three miles off,
The schooner near-by sleepily dropping down the
tide, the little boat slack-towed astern,


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The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests,
slapping,
The strata of colored clouds, the long bar of ma-
roon-tint away solitary by itself, the spread
of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fra-
grance of salt-marsh and shore-mud;
These became part of that child who went forth
every day, who now goes, and will always
go forth every day,
And these become of him or her that peruses
them now.

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