Published Works

Books by Whitman



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9 — Poem of Wonder at The Resurrection of The Wheat.

SOMETHING startles me where I thought I
was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip my clothes from my body to meet
my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth, as to other
flesh, to renew me.

How can the ground not sicken of men?
How can you be alive, you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health, you blood of herbs,
roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distempered
corpses in the earth?
Is not every continent worked over and over with
sour dead?
Where have you disposed of those carcasses of
the drunkards and gluttons of so many gen-
erations?



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Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and
meat?
I do not see any of it upon you today—or per-
haps I am deceived,
I will run a furrow with my plough—I will press
my spade through the sod, and turn it up
underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.

Behold!
This is the compost of billions of premature
corpses,
Perhaps every mite has once formed part of a
sick person,
Yet Behold!
The grass covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in
the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-
branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale
visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the
mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings, while
the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatched
eggs,


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The new-born of animals appear, the calf is
dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's
dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk;
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful
above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious!
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash
of the sea, which is so amorous after me!
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked
body all over with its tongues!
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that
have deposited themselves in it!
That all is clean, forever and forever!
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good!
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy!
That the fruits of the apple-orchard, and of the
orange-orchard—that melons, grapes, peaches,
plums, will none of them poison me!
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch
any disease!
Though probably every spear of grass rises out
of what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the earth! it is that calm
and patient,


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It grows such sweet things out of such corrup-
tions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with
such endless successions of diseased corpses,
It distils such exquisite winds out of such infused
fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks, its prodigal,
annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts
such leavings from them at last.

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