Published Works

Books by Whitman



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CHANTS DEMOCRATIC.


—————


3.

1COME closer to me,
Push closer, my lovers, and take the best I possess,
Yield closer and closer, and give me the best you
possess.

2This is unfinished business with me—How is it with
you?
I was chilled with the cold types, cylinder, wet paper
between us.

3Male and Female!
I pass so poorly with paper and types, I must pass
with the contact of bodies and souls.

4American masses!
I do not thank you for liking me as I am, and liking
the touch of me—I know that it is good for you
to do so.

5Workmen and Workwomen!
Were all educations, practical and ornamental, well
displayed out of me, what would it amount to?
Were I as the head teacher, charitable proprietor,
wise statesman, what would it amount to?


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Were I to you as the boss employing and paying
you, would that satisfy you?

6The learned, virtuous, benevolent, and the usual
terms,
A man like me, and never the usual terms.

7Neither a servant nor a master am I,
I take no sooner a large price than a small price—
I will have my own, whoever enjoys me,
I will be even with you, and you shall be even
with me.

8If you stand at work in a shop, I stand as nigh as
the nighest in the same shop,
If you bestow gifts on your brother or dearest friend,
I demand as good as your brother or dearest
friend,
If your lover, husband, wife, is welcome by day or
night, I must be personally as welcome,
If you become degraded, criminal, ill, then I become
so for your sake,
If you remember your foolish and outlawed deeds, do
you think I cannot remember my own foolish
and outlawed deeds? plenty of them;
If you carouse at the table, I carouse at the opposite
side of the table,
If you meet some stranger in the streets, and love
him or her, do I not often meet strangers in the
street, and love them?
If you see a good deal remarkable in me, I see just
as much, perhaps more, in you.



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9Why, what have you thought of yourself?
Is it you then that thought yourself less?
Is it you that thought the President greater than
you?
Or the rich better off than you? or the educated
wiser than you?

10Because you are greasy or pimpled, or that you was
once drunk, or a thief, or diseased, or rheumatic,
or a prostitute, or are so now, or from frivolity or
impotence, or that you are no scholar, and never
saw your name in print, do you give in that you
are any less immortal?

11Souls of men and women! it is not you I call unseen,
unheard, untouchable and untouching,
It is not you I go argue pro and con about, and to
settle whether you are alive or no,
I own publicly who you are, if nobody else owns—
I see and hear you, and what you give and take,
What is there you cannot give and take?

12I see not merely that you are polite or white-faced,
married, single, citizens of old States, citizens of
new States,
Eminent in some profession, a lady or gentleman in a
parlor, or dressed in the jail uniform, or pulpit
uniform;
Grown, half-grown, and babe, of this country and
every country, indoors and outdoors, one just as
much as the other, I see,
And all else is behind or through them.



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13The wife—and she is not one jot less than the
husband,
The daughter—and she is just as good as the son,
The mother—and she is every bit as much as the
father.

14Offspring of those not rich, boys apprenticed to
trades,
Young fellows working on farms, and old fellows
working on farms,
The näive, the simple and hardy, he going to the
polls to vote, he who has a good time, and he
has who a bad time,
Mechanics, southerners, new arrivals, laborers, sailors,
man-o'wars-men, merchantmen, coasters,
All these I see—but nigher and farther the same I
see,
None shall escape me, and none shall wish to escape
me.

15I bring what you much need, yet always have,
Not money, amours, dress, eating, but as good;
I send no agent or medium, offer no representative
of value, but offer the value itself.

16There is something that comes home to one now and
perpetually,
It is not what is printed, preached, discussed—it
eludes discussion and print,
It is not to be put in a book—it is not in this
book,
It is for you, whoever you are—it is no farther from
you than your hearing and sight are from you,


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It is hinted by nearest, commonest, readiest—it is
not them, though it is endlessly provoked by
them, (what is there ready and near you now?)

17You may read in many languages, yet read nothing
about it,
You may read the President's Message, and read
nothing about it there,
Nothing in the reports from the State department or
Treasury department, or in the daily papers or
the weekly papers,
Or in the census returns, assessors' returns, prices
current, or any accounts of stock.

18The sun and stars that float in the open air—the
apple-shaped earth, and we upon it—surely the
drift of them is something grand!
I do not know what it is, except that it is grand,
and that it is happiness,
And that the enclosing purport of us here is not a
speculation, or bon-mot, or reconnoissance,
And that it is not something which by luck may
turn out well for us, and without luck must be
a failure for us,
And not something which may yet be retracted in
a certain contingency.

19The light and shade, the curious sense of body
and identity, the greed that with perfect com-
plaisance devours all things, the endless pride
and out-stretching of man, unspeakable joys and
sorrows,
The wonder every one sees in every one else he sees,
and the wonders that fill each minute of time for-
ever, and each acre of surface and space forever,


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Have you reckoned them for a trade, or farm-work?
or for the profits of a store? or to achieve your-
self a position? or to fill a gentleman's leisure,
or a lady's leisure?

20Have you reckoned the landscape took substance and
form that it might be painted in a picture?
Or men and women that they might be written of,
and songs sung?
Or the attraction of gravity, and the great laws and
harmonious combinations, and the fluids of the
air, as subjects for the savans?
Or the brown land and the blue sea for maps and
charts?
Or the stars to be put in constellations and named
fancy names?
Or that the growth of seeds is for agricultural tables,
or agriculture itself?

21Old institutions—these arts, libraries, legends, col-
lections, and the practice handed along in manu-
factures—will we rate them so high?
Will we rate our cash and business high? I have
no objection,
I rate them high as the highest—then a child born
of a woman and man I rate beyond all rate.

22We thought our Union grand, and our Constitution
grand,
I do not say they are not grand and good, for they
are,
I am this day just as much in love with them as
you,


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Then I am in love with you, and with all my fellows
upon the earth.

23We consider bibles and religions divine—I do not
say they are not divine,
I say they have all grown out of you, and may grow
out of you still,
It is not they who give the life—it is you who give
the life,
Leaves are not more shed from the trees, or trees
from the earth, than they are shed out of you.

24The sum of all known reverence I add up in you,
whoever you are,
The President is there in the White House for you—
it is not you who are here for him,
The Secretaries act in their bureaus for you—not
you here for them,
The Congress convenes every Twelfth Month for
you,
Laws, courts, the forming of States, the charters of
cities, the going and coming of commerce and
mails, are all for you.

25All doctrines, all politics and civilization, exurge from
you,
All sculpture and monuments, and anything inscribed
anywhere, are tallied in you,
The gist of histories and statistics as far back as the
records reach, is in you this hour, and myths
and tales the same,
If you were not breathing and walking here, where
would they all be?


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The most renowned poems would be ashes, orations
and plays would be vacuums.

26All architecture is what you do to it when you look
upon it,
Did you think it was in the white or gray stone?
or the lines of the arches and cornices?

27All music is what awakes from you, when you are
reminded by the instruments,
It is not the violins and the cornets—it is not the
oboe nor the beating drums, nor the score of the
baritone singer singing his sweet romanza—nor
that of the men's chorus, nor that of the women's
chorus,
It is nearer and farther than they.

28Will the whole come back then?
Can each see signs of the best by a look in the
looking-glass? is there nothing greater or more?
Does all sit there with you, and here with me?

29The old, forever-new things—you foolish child! the
closest, simplest things, this moment with you,
Your person, and every particle that relates to your
person,
The pulses of your brain, waiting their chance and
encouragement at every deed or sight,
Anything you do in public by day, and anything
you do in secret between-days,
What is called right and what is called wrong—
what you behold or touch, or what causes your
anger or wonder,


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The ankle-chain of the slave, the bed of the bed-
house, the cards of the gambler, the plates of
the forger,
What is seen or learnt in the street, or intuitively
learnt,
What is learnt in the public school, spelling, reading,
writing, ciphering, the black-board, the teacher's
diagrams,
The panes of the windows, all that appears through
them, the going forth in the morning, the aimless
spending of the day,
(What is it that you made money? What is it that you
got what you wanted?)
The usual routine, the work-shop, factory, yard, office,
store, desk,
The jaunt of hunting or fishing, and the life of hunt-
ing or fishing,
Pasture-life, foddering, milking, herding, and all the
personnel and usages,
The plum-orchard, apple-orchard, gardening, seed-
lings, cuttings, flowers, vines,
Grains, manures, marl, clay, loam, the subsoil
plough, the shovel, pick, rake, hoe, irrigation,
draining,
The curry-comb, the horse-cloth, the halter, bridle,
bits, the very wisps of straw,
The barn and barn-yard, the bins, mangers, mows,
racks,
Manufactures, commerce, engineering, the building of
cities, every trade carried on there, and the
implements of every trade,
The anvil, tongs, hammer, the axe and wedge, the
square, mitre, jointer, smoothing-plane,


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The plumbob, trowel, level, the wall-scaffold, the
work of walls and ceilings, or any mason-work,
The steam-engine, lever, crank, axle, piston, shaft,
air-pump, boiler, beam, pulley, hinge, flange,
band, bolt, throttle, governors, up and down
rods,
The ship's compass, the sailor's tarpaulin, the stays
and lanyards, the ground tackle for anchoring or
mooring, the life-boat for wrecks,
The sloop's tiller, the pilot's wheel and bell, the yacht
or fish-smack—the great gay-pennanted three-
hundred-foot steamboat, under full headway, with
her proud fat breasts, and her delicate swift-
flashing paddles,
The trail, line, hooks, sinkers, and the seine, and
hauling the seine,
The arsenal, small-arms, rifles, gunpowder, shot, caps,
wadding, ordnance for war, and carriages;
Every-day objects, house-chairs, carpet, bed, coun-
terpane of the bed, him or her sleeping at night,
wind blowing, indefinite noises,
The snow-storm or rain-storm, the tow-trowsers, the
lodge-hut in the woods, the still-hunt,
City and country, fire-place, candle, gas-light, heater,
aqueduct,
The message of the Governor, Mayor, Chief of Police
—the dishes of breakfast, dinner, supper,
The bunk-room, the fire-engine, the string-team, the
car or truck behind,
The paper I write on or you write on, every word we
write, every cross and twirl of the pen, and the
curious way we write what we think, yet very
faintly,


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The directory, the detector, the ledger, the books in
ranks on the book-shelves, the clock attached to
the wall,
The ring on your finger, the lady's wristlet, the scent-
powder, the druggist's vials and jars, the draught
of lager-beer,
The etui of surgical instruments, the etui of oculist's
or aurist's instruments, or dentist's instruments,
The permutating lock that can be turned and locked
as many different ways as there are minutes in a
year,
Glass-blowing, nail-making, salt-making, tin-roofing,
shingle-dressing, candle-making, lock-making and
hanging,
Ship-carpentering, dock-building, fish-curing, ferrying,
stone-breaking, flagging of side-walks by flaggers,
The pump, the pile-driver, the great derrick, the coal-
kiln and brick-kiln,
Coal-mines, all that is down there, the lamps in the
darkness, echoes, songs, what meditations, what
vast native thoughts looking through smutch'd
faces,
Iron-works, forge-fires in the mountains, or by river-
banks, men around feeling the melt with huge
crowbars—lumps of ore, the due combining of
ore, limestone, coal—the blast-furnace and the
puddling-furnace, the loup-lump at the bottom of
the melt at last—the rolling-mill, the stumpy
bars of pig-iron, the strong clean-shaped T rail
for railroads,
Oil-works, silk-works, white-lead-works, the sugar-
house, steam-saws, the great mills and factories,
Lead-mines, and all that is done in lead-mines, or
with the lead afterward,


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Copper-mines, the sheets of copper, and what is
formed out of the sheets, and all the work in
forming it,
Stone-cutting, shapely trimmings for façades, or win-
dow or door lintels—the mallet, the tooth-chisel,
the jib to protect the thumb,
Oakum, the oakum-chisel, the caulking-iron—the
kettle of boiling vault-cement, and the fire under
the kettle,
The cotton-bale, the stevedore's hook, the saw and
buck of the sawyer, the screen of the coal-
screener, the mould of the moulder, the work-
ing-knife of the butcher, the ice-saw, and all the
work with ice,
The four-double cylinder press, the hand-press, the
frisket and tympan, the compositor's stick and
rule, type-setting, making up the forms, all the
work of newspaper counters, folders, carriers,
news-men,
The implements for daguerreotyping—the tools of
the rigger, grappler, sail-maker, block-maker,
Goods of gutta-percha, papier-mache, colors, brushes,
brush-making, glazier's implements,
The veneer and glue-pot, the confectioner's orna-
ments, the decanter and glasses, the shears and
flat-iron,
The awl and knee-strap, the pint measure and quart
measure, the counter and stool, the writing-pen
of quill or metal—the making of all sorts of
edged tools,
The ladders and hanging-ropes of the gymnasium,
manly exercises, the game of base-ball, running,
leaping, pitching quoits,


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The designs for wall-papers, oil-cloths, carpets, the
fancies for goods for women, the book-binder's
stamps,
The brewery, brewing, the malt, the vats, every
thing that is done by brewers, also by wine-
makers, also vinegar-makers,
Leather-dressing, coach-making, boiler-making, rope-
twisting, distilling, sign-painting, lime-burning,
coopering, cotton-picking—electro-plating, elec-
trotyping, stereotyping,
Stave-machines, planing-machines, reaping-machines,
ploughing-machines, thrashing-machines, steam-
wagons,
The cart of the carman, the omnibus, the ponderous
dray,
The wires of the electric telegraph stretched on land,
or laid at the bottom of the sea, and then the
message in an instant from a thousand miles off,
The snow-plough, and two engines pushing it—the
ride in the express-train of only one car, the
swift go through a howling storm—the locomo-
tive, and all that is done about a locomotive,
The bear-hunt or coon-hunt—the bonfire of shavings
in the open lot in the city, and the crowd of
children watching,
The blows of the fighting-man, the upper-cut, and
one-two-three,
Pyrotechny, letting off colored fire-works at night,
fancy figures and jets,
Shop-windows, coffins in the sexton's ware-room, fruit
on the fruit-stand—beef in the butcher's stall,
the slaughter-house of the butcher, the butcher
in his killing-clothes,


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The area of pens of live pork, the killing-hammer, the
hog-hook, the scalder's tub, gutting, the cutter's
cleaver, the packer's maul, and the plenteous
winter-work of pork-packing,
Flour-works, grinding of wheat, rye, maize, rice—
the barrels and the half and quarter barrels, the
loaded barges, the high piles on wharves and
levees,
Bread and cakes in the bakery, the milliner's rib-
bons, the dress-maker's patterns, the tea-table,
the home-made sweetmeats;
Cheap literature, maps, charts, lithographs, daily and
weekly newspapers,
The column of wants in the one-cent paper, the news
by telegraph, amusements, operas, shows,
The business parts of a city, the trottoirs of a city
when thousands of well-dressed people walk up
and down,
The cotton, woollen, linen you wear, the money you
make and spend,
Your room and bed-room, your piano-forte, the stove
and cook-pans,
The house you live in, the rent, the other tenants, the
deposit in the savings-bank, the trade at the
grocery,
The pay on Seventh Day night, the going home, and
the purchases;
In them the heft of the heaviest—in them far more
than you estimated, and far less also,
In them realities for you and me—in them poems for
you and me,
In them, not yourself—you and your Soul enclose all
things, regardless of estimation,


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In them themes, hints, provokers—if not, the whole
earth has no themes, hints, provokers, and never
had.

30I do not affirm what you see beyond is futile—I do
not advise you to stop,
I do not say leadings you thought great are not great,
But I say that none lead to greater, sadder, happier,
than those lead to.

31Will you seek afar off? You surely come back at last,
In things best known to you, finding the best, or as
good as the best,
In folks nearest to you finding also the sweetest,
strongest, lovingest,
Happiness, knowledge, not in another place, but this
place—not for another hour, but this hour,
Man in the first you see or touch—always in your
friend, brother, nighest neighbor—Woman in
your mother, lover, wife,
The popular tastes and occupations taking precedence
in poems or any where,
You workwomen and workmen of These States having
your own divine and strong life,
Looking the President always sternly in the face,
unbending, nonchalant,
Understanding that he is to be kept by you to short
and sharp account of himself,
And all else thus far giving place to men and women
like you.

32O you robust, sacred!
I cannot tell you how I love you;


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All I love America for, is contained in men and
women like you.

33When the psalm sings instead of the singer,
When the script preaches instead of the preacher,
When the pulpit descends and goes instead of the
carver that carved the supporting-desk,
When I can touch the body of books, by night or by
day, and when they touch my body back again,
When the holy vessels, or the bits of the eucharist,
or the lath and plast, procreate as effectually as
the young silver-smiths or bakers, or the masons
in their over-alls,
When a university course convinces like a slumbering
woman and child convince,
When the minted gold in the vault smiles like the
night-watchman's daughter,
When warrantee deeds loafe in chairs opposite, and
are my friendly companions,
I intend to reach them my hand, and make as much
of them as I do of men and women like you.

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