Published Works

Books by Whitman



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PROTO-LEAF.

1FREE, fresh, savage,
Fluent, luxuriant, self-content, fond of persons and
places,
Fond of fish-shape Paumanok, where I was born,
Fond of the sea—lusty-begotten and various,
Boy of the Mannahatta, the city of ships, my city,
Or raised inland, or of the south savannas,
Or full-breath'd on Californian air, or Texan or
Cuban air,
Tallying, vocalizing all—resounding Niagara—
resounding Missouri,
Or rude in my home in Kanuck woods,
Or wandering and hunting, my drink water, my diet
meat,
Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep
recess,
Far from the clank of crowds, an interval passing,
rapt and happy,
Stars, vapor, snow, the hills, rocks, the Fifth Month
flowers, my amaze, my love,


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Aware of the buffalo, the peace-herds, the bull,
strong-breasted and hairy,
Aware of the mocking-bird of the wilds at day-
break,
Solitary, singing in the west, I strike up for a new
world.

2Victory, union, faith, identity, time, the Soul, your-
self, the present and future lands, the indisso-
luble compacts, riches, mystery, eternal progress,
the kosmos, and the modern reports.

3This then is life,
Here is what has come to the surface after so many
throes and convulsions.

4How curious! How real!
Underfoot the divine soil—Overhead the sun.

5See, revolving,
The globe—the ancestor-continents, away, grouped
together,
The present and future continents, north and south,
with the isthmus between.

6See, vast, trackless spaces,
As in a dream, they change, they swiftly fill,
Countless masses debouch upon them,
They are now covered with the foremost people, arts,
institutions known.

7See projected, through time,
For me, an audience interminable.



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8With firm and regular step they wend—they never
stop,
Successions of men, Americanos, a hundred millions,
One generation playing its part and passing on,
And another generation playing its part and passing
on in its turn,
With faces turned sideways or backward toward me
to listen,
With eyes retrospective toward me.

9Americanos! Masters!
Marches humanitarian! Foremost!
Century marches! Libertad! Masses!
For you a programme of chants.

10Chants of the prairies,
Chants of the long-running Mississippi,
Chants of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa,
and Minnesota,
Inland chants—chants of Kanzas,
Chants away down to Mexico, and up north to
Oregon—Kanadian chants,
Chants of teeming and turbulent cities—chants of
mechanics,
Yankee chants—Pennsylvanian chants—chants of
Kentucky and Tennessee,
Chants of dim-lit mines—chants of mountain-tops,
Chants of sailors—chants of the Eastern Sea and the
Western Sea,
Chants of the Mannahatta, the place of my dearest
love, the place surrounded by hurried and
sparkling currents,
Health chants—joy chants—robust chants of young
men,


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Chants inclusive—wide reverberating chants,
Chants of the Many In One.

11In the Year 80 of The States,
My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from
this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here,
From parents the same, and their parents' parents
the same,
I, now thirty-six years old, in perfect health,
begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

12Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while, sufficed at what they are, but
never forgotten,
With accumulations, now coming forward in front,
Arrived again, I harbor, for good or bad—I permit
to speak,
Nature, without check, with original energy.

13Take my leaves, America!
Make welcome for them everywhere, for they are
your own offspring;
Surround them, East and West! for they would
surround you,
And you precedents! connect lovingly with them, for
they connect lovingly with you.

14I conned old times,
I sat studying at the feet of the great masters;
Now, if eligible, O that the great masters might
return and study me!



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15In the name of These States, shall I scorn the
antique?
Why These are the children of the antique, to
justify it.

16Dead poets, philosophs, priests,
Martyrs, artists, inventors, governments long since,
Language-shapers, on other shores,
Nations once powerful, now reduced, withdrawn, or
desolate,
I dare not proceed till I respectfully credit what you
have left, wafted hither,
I have perused it—I own it is admirable,
I think nothing can ever be greater—Nothing can
ever deserve more than it deserves;
I regard it all intently a long while,
Then take my place for good with my own day and
race here.

17Here lands female and male,
Here the heirship and heiress-ship of the world—
Here the flame of materials,
Here Spirituality, the translatress, the openly-avowed,
The ever-tending, the finale of visible forms,
The satisfier, after due long-waiting, now advancing,
Yes, here comes the mistress, the Soul.

18The SOUL!
Forever and forever—Longer than soil is brown and
solid—Longer than water ebbs and flows.

19I will make the poems of materials, for I think they
are to be the most spiritual poems,


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And I will make the poems of my body and of
mortality,
For I think I shall then supply myself with the
poems of my Soul and of immortality.

20I will make a song for These States, that no one
State may under any circumstances be subjected
to another State,
And I will make a song that there shall be comity by
day and by night between all The States, and
between any two of them,
And I will make a song of the organic bargains of
These States—And a shrill song of curses on
him who would dissever the Union;
And I will make a song for the ears of the President,
full of weapons with menacing points,
And behind the weapons countless dissatisfied faces.

21I will acknowledge contemporary lands,
I will trail the whole geography of the globe, and
salute courteously every city large and small;
And employments! I will put in my poems, that
with you is heroism, upon land and sea—And I
will report all heroism from an American point
of view;
And sexual organs and acts! do you concentrate in
me—For I am determined to tell you with
courageous clear voice, to prove you illustrious.

22I will sing the song of companionship,
I will show what alone must compact These,
I believe These are to found their own ideal of manly
love, indicating it in me;


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I will therefore let flame from me the burning fires
that were threatening to consume me,
I will lift what has too long kept down those smoul-
dering fires,
I will give them complete abandonment,
I will write the evangel-poem of comrades and
of love,
(For who but I should understand love, with all its
sorrow and joy?
And who but I should be the poet of comrades?)

23I am the credulous man of qualities, ages, races,
I advance from the people en-masse in their own
spirit,
Here is what sings unrestricted faith.

24Omnes! Omnes!
Let others ignore what they may,
I make the poem of evil also—I commemorate that
part also,
I am myself just as much evil as good—And I say
there is in fact no evil,
Or if there is, I say it is just as important to you, to
the earth, or to me, as anything else.

25I too, following many, and followed by many, inau-
gurate a Religion—I too go to the wars,
It may be I am destined to utter the loudest cries
thereof, the conqueror's shouts,
They may rise from me yet, and soar above every
thing.

26Each is not for its own sake,
I say the whole earth, and all the stars in the sky, are
for Religion's sake.



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27I say no man has ever been half devout enough,
None has ever adored or worship'd half enough,
None has begun to think how divine he himself is,
and how certain the future is.

28I specifically announce that the real and perma-
nent grandeur of These States must be their
Religion,
Otherwise there is no real and permanent grandeur.

29What are you doing, young man?
Are you so earnest—so given up to literature,
science, art, amours?
These ostensible realities, materials, points?
Your ambition or business, whatever it may be?

30It is well—Against such I say not a word—I am
their poet also;
But behold! such swiftly subside—burnt up for
Religion's sake,
For not all matter is fuel to heat, impalpable flame,
the essential life of the earth,
Any more than such are to Religion.

31What do you seek, so pensive and silent?
What do you need, comrade?
Mon cher! do you think it is love?

32Proceed, comrade,
It is a painful thing to love a man or woman to
excess—yet it satisfies—it is great,
But there is something else very great—it makes the
whole coincide,


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It, magnificent, beyond materials, with continuous
hands, sweeps and provides for all.

33O I see the following poems are indeed to drop in the
earth the germs of a greater Religion.

34My comrade!
For you, to share with me, two greatnesses—And a
third one, rising inclusive and more resplendent,
The greatness of Love and Democracy—and the
greatness of Religion.

35Melange mine!
Mysterious ocean where the streams empty,
Prophetic spirit of materials shifting and flickering
around me,
Wondrous interplay between the seen and unseen,
Living beings, identities, now doubtless near us, in
the air, that we know not of,
Extasy everywhere touching and thrilling me,
Contact daily and hourly that will not release me,
These selecting—These, in hints, demanded of me.

36Not he, adhesive, kissing me so long with his daily
kiss,
Has winded and twisted around me that which holds
me to him,
Any more than I am held to the heavens, to the
spiritual world,
And to the identities of the Gods, my unknown
lovers,
After what they have done to me, suggesting
such themes.



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37O such themes! Equalities!
O amazement of things! O divine average!
O warblings under the sun—ushered, as now, or at
noon, or setting!
O strain, musical, flowing through ages—now
reaching hither,
I take to your reckless and composite chords—I
add to them, and cheerfully pass them forward.

38As I have walked in Alabama my morning walk,
I have seen where the she-bird, the mocking-bird, sat
on her nest in the briers, hatching her brood.

39I have seen the he-bird also,
I have paused to hear him, near at hand, inflating his
throat, and joyfully singing.

40And while I paused, it came to me that what he
really sang for was not there only,
Nor for his mate nor himself only, nor all sent back
by the echoes,
But subtle, clandestine, away beyond,
A charge transmitted, and gift occult, for those
being born.

41Democracy!
Near at hand to you a throat is now inflating itself
and joyfully singing.

42Ma femme!
For the brood beyond us and of us,
For those who belong here, and those to come,


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I, exultant, to be ready for them, will now shake out
carols stronger and haughtier than have ever yet
been heard upon the earth.

43I will make the songs of passions, to give them
their way,
And your songs, offenders—for I scan you with
kindred eyes, and carry you with me the same
as any.

44I will make the true poem of riches,
Namely, to earn for the body and the mind, what
adheres, and goes forward, and is not dropt by
death.

45I will effuse egotism, and show it underlying all—
And I will be the bard of Personality;
And I will show of male and female that either is but
the equal of the other,
And I will show that there is no imperfection in male
or female, or in the earth, or in the present—
and can be none in the future,
And I will show that whatever happens to anybody, it
may be turned to beautiful results—And I will
show that nothing can happen more beautiful
than death;
And I will thread a thread through my poems that no
one thing in the universe is inferior to another
thing,
And that all the things of the universe are perfect
miracles, each as profound as any.



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46I will not make poems with reference to parts,
But I will make leaves, poems, poemets, songs, says,
thoughts, with reference to ensemble;
And I will not sing with reference to a day, but with
reference to all days,
And I will not make a poem, nor the least part of
a poem, but has reference to the Soul,
Because, having looked at the objects of the universe,
I find there is no one, nor any particle of one,
but has reference to the Soul.

47Was somebody asking to see the Soul?
See! your own shape and countenance—persons,
substances, beasts, the trees, the running rivers,
the rocks and sands.

48All hold spiritual joys, and afterward loosen them,
How can the real body ever die, and be buried?

49Of your real body, and any man's or woman's real
body, item for item, it will elude the hands of
the corpse-cleaners, and pass to fitting spheres,
carrying what has accrued to it from the moment
of birth to the moment of death.

50Not the types set up by the printer return their im-
pression, the meaning, the main concern, any
more than a man's substance and life, or a
woman's substance and life, return in the body
and the Soul, indifferently before death and
after death.



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51Behold! the body includes and is the meaning, the
main concern—and includes and is the Soul;
Whoever you are! how superb and how divine is your
body, or any part of it.

52Whoever you are! to you endless announcements.

53Daughter of the lands, did you wait for your poet?
Did you wait for one with a flowing mouth and
indicative hand?

54Toward the male of The States, and toward the
female of The States,
Toward the President, the Congress, the diverse Gov-
ernors, the new Judiciary,
Live words—words to the lands.

55O the lands!
Lands scorning invaders! Interlinked, food-yielding
lands!
Land of coal and iron! Land of gold! Lands of
cotton, sugar, rice!
Odorous and sunny land! Floridian land!
Land of the spinal river, the Mississippi! Land of
the Alleghanies! Ohio's land!
Land of wheat, beef, pork! Land of wool and hemp!
Land of the potato, the apple, and the grape!
Land of the pastoral plains, the grass-fields of the
world! Land of those sweet-aired interminable
plateaus! Land there of the herd, the garden,
the healthy house of adobie! Land there of rapt
thought, and of the realization of the stars!
Land of simple, holy, untamed lives!


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Lands where the northwest Columbia winds, and
where the southwest Colorado winds!
Land of the Chesapeake! Land of the Delaware!
Land of Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan!
Land of the Old Thirteen! Massachusetts land!
Land of Vermont and Connecticut!
Land of many oceans! Land of sierras and peaks!
Land of boatmen and sailors! Fishermen's land!
Inextricable lands! the clutched together! the
passionate lovers!
The side by side! the elder and younger brothers!
the bony-limbed!
The great women's land! the feminine! the ex-
perienced sisters and the inexperienced sisters!
Far breath'd land! Arctic braced! Mexican breezed!
the diverse! the compact!
The Pennsylvanian! the Virginian! the double
Carolinian!
O all and each well-loved by me! my intrepid nations!
O I cannot be discharged from you!
O Death! O for all that, I am yet of you, unseen,
this hour, with irrepressible love,
Walking New England, a friend, a traveller,
Splashing my bare feet in the edge of the summer
ripples, on Paumanok's sands,
Crossing the prairies—dwelling again in Chicago—
dwelling in many towns,
Observing shows, births, improvements, structures,
arts,
Listening to the orators and the oratresses in public
halls,
Of and through The States, as during life—each
man and woman my neighbor,


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The Louisianian, the Georgian, as near to me, and I
as near to him and her,
The Mississippian and Arkansian—the woman and
man of Utah, Dakotah, Nebraska, yet with me
—and I yet with any of them,
Yet upon the plains west of the spinal river—yet
in my house of adobie,
Yet returning eastward—yet in the Sea-Side State,
or in Maryland,
Yet a child of the North—yet Kanadian, cheerily
braving the winter—the snow and ice welcome
to me,
Yet a true son either of Maine, or of the Granite
State, or of the Narragansett Bay State, or of
the Empire State,
Yet sailing to other shores to annex the same—yet
welcoming every new brother,
Hereby applying these leaves to the new ones, from
the hour they unite with the old ones,
Coming among the new ones myself, to be their
companion—coming personally to you now,
Enjoining you to acts, characters, spectacles, with
me.

56With me, with firm holding—yet haste, haste on.

57For your life, adhere to me,
Of all the men of the earth, I only can unloose you
and toughen you,
I may have to be persuaded many times before I
consent to give myself to you—but what of
that?
Must not Nature be persuaded many times?



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58No dainty dolce affettuoso I;
Bearded, sunburnt, gray-necked, forbidding, I have
arrived,
To be wrestled with as I pass, for the solid prizes
of the universe,
For such I afford whoever can persevere to win them.

59On my way a moment I pause,
Here for you! And here for America!
Still the Present I raise aloft—Still the Future of
The States I harbinge, glad and sublime,
And for the Past I pronounce what the air holds of
the red aborigines.

60The red aborigines!
Leaving natural breaths, sounds of rain and winds,
calls as of birds and animals in the woods,
syllabled to us for names,
Okonee, Koosa, Ottawa, Monongahela, Sauk, Natchez,
Chattahoochee, Kaqueta, Oronoco.
Wabash, Miami, Saginaw, Chippewa, Oshkosh, Walla-
Walla,
Leaving such to The States, they melt, they depart,
charging the water and the land with names.

61O expanding and swift! O henceforth,
Elements, breeds, adjustments, turbulent, quick, and
audacious,
A world primal again—Vistas of glory, incessant
and branching,
A new race, dominating previous ones, and grander
far,
New politics—New literatures and religions—New
inventions and arts.



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62These! These, my voice announcing—I will sleep
no more, but arise;
You oceans that have been calm within me! how
I feel you, fathomless, stirring, preparing
unprecedented waves and storms.

63See! steamers steaming through my poems!
See, in my poems immigrants continually coming
and landing;
See, in arriere, the wigwam, the trail, the hunter's
hut, the flat-boat, the maize-leaf, the claim, the
rude fence, and the backwoods village;
See, on the one side the Western Sea, and on the
other side the Eastern Sea, how they advance
and retreat upon my poems, as upon their own
shores;
See, pastures and forests in my poems—See, animals,
wild and tame—See, beyond the Kanzas, count-
less herds of buffalo, feeding on short curly
grass;
See, in my poems, old and new cities, solid, vast,
inland, with paved streets, with iron and stone
edifices, and ceaseless vehicles, and commerce;
See the populace, millions upon millions, handsome,
tall, muscular, both sexes, clothed in easy and
dignified clothes—teaching, commanding, mar-
rying, generating, equally electing and elective;
See, the many-cylinder'd steam printing-press—See,
the electric telegraph—See, the strong and
quick locomotive, as it departs, panting, blowing
the steam-whistle;
See, ploughmen, ploughing farms—See, miners,
digging mines—See, the numberless factories;


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See, mechanics, busy at their benches, with tools—
See from among them, superior judges, philo-
sophs, Presidents, emerge, dressed in working
dresses;
See, lounging through the shops and fields of The
States, me, well-beloved, close-held by day and
night,
Hear the loud echo of my songs there! Read the
hints come at last.

64O my comrade!
O you and me at last—and us two only;
O power, liberty, eternity at last!
O to be relieved of distinctions! to make as much
of vices as virtues!
O to level occupations and the sexes! O to bring
all to common ground! O adhesiveness!
O the pensive aching to be together—you know not
why, and I know not why.

65O a word to clear one's path ahead endlessly!
O something extatic and undemonstrable! O music
wild!
O now I triumph—and you shall also;
O hand in hand—O wholesome pleasure—O one
more desirer and lover,
O haste, firm holding—haste, haste on, with me.

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