Published Works

Books by Whitman



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LONGINGS FOR HOME.

O MAGNET-SOUTH! O glistening, perfumed South! My
South!
O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse, and love! Good
and evil! O all dear to me!
O dear to me my birth-things—All moving things,
and the trees where I was born—the grains,
plants, rivers;
Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they
flow, distant, over flats of silvery sands, or
through swamps,
Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altama-
haw, the Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee, the
Coosa, and the Sabine;
O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my Soul
to haunt their banks again,
Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes—I float
on the Okeechobee—I cross the hummock land,
or through pleasant openings, or dense forests,
I see the parrots in the woods—I see the papaw tree
and the blossoming titi;
Again, sailing in my coaster, on deck, I coast off
Georgia—I coast up the Carolinas,
I see where the live-oak is growing—I see where the
yellow-pine, the scented bay-tree, the lemon and
orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto;
I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico Sound
through an inlet, and dart my vision inland,


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O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar,
hemp!
The cactus, guarded with thorns—the laurel-tree,
with large white flowers,
The range afar—the richness and barrenness—the
old woods charged with mistletoe and trailing
moss,
The piney odor and the gloom—the awful natural
stillness, (Here in these dense swamps the free-
booter carries his gun, and the fugitive slave has
his concealed hut;)
O the strange fascination of these half-known, half-
impassable swamps, infested by reptiles, resound-
ing with the bellow of the alligator, the sad noises
of the night-owl and the wild-cat, and the whirr
of the rattlesnake;
The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all
the forenoon—singing through the moon-lit
night,
The humming-bird, the wild-turkey, the raccoon, the
opossum;
A Tennessee corn-field—the tall, graceful, long-leaved
corn—slender, flapping, bright green, with tas-
sels—with beautiful ears, each well-sheathed in
its husk,
An Arkansas prairie—a sleeping lake, or still bayou;
O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs—I can stand
them not—I will depart;
O to be a Virginian, where I grew up! O to be a
Carolinian!
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Ten-
nessee, and never wander more!

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