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Books by Whitman



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POEM OF THE ROAD.

1AFOOT and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I
choose.

2Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I am good-
fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more,
need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.

3The earth—that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

4Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women—I carry them with
me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am filled with them, and I will fill them in return.

5You road I travel and look around! I believe you
are not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.



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6Here is the profound lesson of reception, neither
preference or denial,
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the dis-
eased, the illiterate person, are not denied;
The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beg-
gar's tramp, the drunkard's stagger, the laughing
party of mechanics,
The escaped youth, the rich person's carriage, the fop,
the eloping couple,
The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of
furniture into the town, the return back from
the town,
They pass, I also pass, any thing passes—none can
be interdicted,
None but are accepted, none but are dear to me.

7You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and
give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate
equable showers!
You animals moving serenely over the earth!
You birds that wing yourselves through the air! you
insects!
You sprouting growths from the farmers' fields! you
stalks and weeds by the fences!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the road-
sides!
I think you are latent with curious existences—you
are so dear to me.

8You flagged walks of the cities! you strong curbs at
the edges!


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You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you
timber-lined sides! you distant ships!
You rows of houses! you window-pierced façades!
you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron
guards!
You windows whose transparent shells might expose
so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trod-
den crossings!
From all that has been near you I believe you have
imparted to yourselves, and now would impart
the same secretly to me,
From the living and the dead I think you have peopled
your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof
would be evident and amicable with me.

9The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping
where it was not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay fresh
sentiment of the road.

10O highway I travel! O public road! do you say to
me, Do not leave me?
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you are
lost?
Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well-beaten
and undenied—adhere to me?

11O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave
you—yet I love you,


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You express me better than I can express myself,
You shall be more to me than my poem.

12I think heroic deeds were all conceived in the open
air,
I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles,
I think whatever I meet on the road I shall like, and
whoever beholds me shall like me,
I think whoever I see must be happy.

13From this hour, freedom!
From this hour I ordain myself loosed of limits and
imaginary lines,
Going where I list—my own master, total and abso-
lute,
Listening to others, and considering well what they
say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of
the holds that would hold me.

14I inhale great draughts of air,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and
the south are mine.

15I am larger than I thought,
I did not know I held so much goodness.

16All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women, You have done
such good to me, I would do the same to you.

17I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,


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I will toss the new gladness and roughness among
them;
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me,
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and
shall bless me.

18Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear, it
would not amaze me,
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appeared,
it would not astonish me.

19Now I see the secret of the making of the best
persons,
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep
with the earth.

20Here is space—here a great personal deed has room,
A great deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race
of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law, and
mocks all authority and all argument against it.

21Here is the test of wisdom,
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
Wisdom cannot be passed from one having it, to an-
other not having it,
Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is
its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is
content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of
things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things
that provokes it out of the Soul.



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22Now I reëxamine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove
at all under the spacious clouds, and along the
landscape and flowing currents.

23Here is realization,
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has
in him,
The animals, the past, the future, light, space,
majesty, love, if they are vacant of you, you
are vacant of them.

24Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for
you and me?

25Here is adhesiveness—it is not previously fashioned
—it is apropos;
Do you know what it is, as you pass, to be loved by
strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?

26Here is the efflux of the Soul,
The efflux of the Soul comes through beautiful gates
of laws, provoking questions;
These yearnings, why are they? These thoughts in
the darkness, why are they?
Why are there men and women that while they are
nigh me, the sun-light expands my blood?
Why, when they leave me, do my pennants of joy sink
flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under, but large and
melodious thoughts descend upon me?


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(I think they hang there winter and summer on those
trees, and always drop fruit as I pass;)
What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers?
What with some driver, as I ride on the seat by his
side?
What with some fisherman, drawing his seine by the
shore, as I walk by and pause?
What gives me to be free to a woman's or man's good-
will? What gives them to be free to mine?

27The efflux of the Soul is happiness—here is
happiness,
I think it pervades the air, waiting at all times,
Now it flows into us—we are rightly charged.

28Here rises the fluid and attaching character;
The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and
sweetness of man and woman,
The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and
sweeter every day out of the roots of them-
selves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet contin-
ually out of itself.

29Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the
sweat of the love of young and old,
From it falls distilled the charm that mocks beauty
and attainments,
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of
contact.

30Allons! Whoever you are, come travel with me!
Travelling with me, you find what never tires.



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31The earth never tires,
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first—
Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first;
Be not discouraged—keep on—there are divine
things, well enveloped,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful
than words can tell.

32Allons! We must not stop here!
However sweet these laid-up stores—however con-
venient this dwelling, we cannot remain here,
However sheltered this port, and however calm these
waters, we must not anchor here,
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us,
we are permitted to receive it but a little while.

33Allons! The inducements shall be great to you;
We will sail pathless and wild seas;
We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the
Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.

34Allons! With power, liberty, the earth, the elements!
Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity;
Allons! from all formules!
From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic
priests!

35The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the burial
waits no longer.

36Allons! Yet take warning!
He travelling with me needs the best blood, thews,
endurance,


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None may come to the trial, till he or she bring
courage and health.

37Come not here if you have already spent the best of
yourself;
Only those may come, who come in sweet and deter-
mined bodies,
No diseased person—no rum-drinker or venereal
taint is permitted here.

38I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes,
rhymes,
We convince by our presence.

39Listen! I will be honest with you,
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough
new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you:

40You shall not heap up what is called riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn
or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were des-
tined—you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction,
before you are called by an irresistible call to
depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mock-
ings of those who remain behind you,
What beckonings of love you receive, you shall only
answer with passionate kisses of parting,
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread
their reached hands toward you.

41Allons! After the GREAT COMPANIONS! and to belong
to them!


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They too are on the road! they are the swift and
majestic men! they are the greatest women.

42Over that which hindered them—over that which
retarded—passing impediments large or small,
Committers of crimes, committers of many beautiful
virtues,
Enjoyers of calms of seas, and storms of seas,
Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of
land,
Habitues of many different countries, habitues of far-
distant dwellings,
Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, soli-
tary toilers,
Pausers and contemplaters of tufts, blossoms, shells of
the shore,
Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides, tender
helpers of children, bearers of children,
Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves, lower-
ers down of coffins,
Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the years—
the curious years, each emerging from that which
preceded it,
Journeyers as with companions, namely, their own
diverse phases,
Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days,
Journeyers gayly with their own youth—journeyers
with their bearded and well-grained manhood,
Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsur-
passed, content,
Journeyers with their sublime old age of manhood or
womanhood,
Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty
breadth of the universe,


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Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by free-
dom of death.

43Allons! To that which is endless, as it was beginning-
less,
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days
and nights they tend to,
Again to merge them in the start of superior jour-
neys;
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it
and pass it,
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you
may reach it and pass it,
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits
for you—however long, but it stretches and waits
for you;
To see no being, not God's or any, but you also go
thither,
To see no possession but you may possess it—enjoy-
ing all without labor or purchase—abstracting
the feast, yet not abstracting one particle of it;
To take the best of the farmer's farm and the rich
man's elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of
the well-married couple, and the fruits of or-
chards and flowers of gardens,
To take to your use out of the compact cities as you
pass through,
To carry buildings and streets with you afterward
wherever you go,
To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you
encounter them—to gather the love out of their
hearts,


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To take your own lovers on the road with you, for all
that you leave them behind you,
To know the universe itself as a road—as many
roads—as roads for travelling Souls.

44The Soul travels,
The body does not travel as much as the Soul,
The body has just as great a work as the Soul, and
parts away at last for the journeys of the Soul.

45All parts away for the progress of Souls,
All religion, all solid things, arts, governments—all
that was or is apparent upon this globe or any
globe, falls into niches and corners before the
procession of Souls along the grand roads of the
universe.

46Of the progress of the Souls of men and women along
the grand roads of the universe, all other prog-
ress is the needed emblem and sustenance.

47Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbu-
lent, feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, re-
jected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know
not where they go,
But I know that they go toward the best—toward
something great.

48Allons! Whoever you are! come forth!
You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the
house, though you built it, or though it has been
built for you.



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49Allons! out of the dark confinement!
It is useless to protest—I know all, and expose it.

50Behold, through you as bad as the rest,
Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of
people,
Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those
washed and trimmed faces,
Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.

51No husband, no wife, no friend, no lover, so trusted
as to hear the confession,
Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking
and hiding it goes, open and above board it
goes,
Formless and wordless through the streets of the
cities, polite and bland in the parlors,
In the cars of rail-roads, in steam-boats, in the public
assembly,
Home to the houses of men and women, among their
families, at the table, in the bed-room, every-
where,
Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright,
death under the breast-bones, hell under the
skull-bones,
Under the broadcloth and gloves, under the ribbons
and artificial flowers,
Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a syllable
of itself,
Speaking of anything else, but never of itself.

52Allons! Through struggles and wars!
The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.



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53Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? Yourself? Your nation?
Nature?
Now understand me well—It is provided in the
essence of things, that from any fruition of suc-
cess, no matter what, shall come forth something
to make a greater struggle necessary.

54My call is the call of battle—I nourish active re-
bellion,
He going with me must go well armed,
He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty,
angry enemies, desertions.

55Allons! The road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried
it well.

56Allons! Be not detained!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the
book on the shelf unopened!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money
remain unearned!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer
plead in the court, and the judge expound the
law.

57Mon enfant! I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel
with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

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