Published Works

Books by Whitman



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TO WORKINGMEN.

1

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

2This is unfinish'd business with me—How is it with
you?
(I was chill'd 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.


2

5This is the poem of occupations;
In the labor of engines and trades, and the labor of
fields, I find the developments,
And find the eternal meanings.

6Workmen and Workwomen!
Were all educations, practical and ornamental, well
display'd out of me, what would it amount to?


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Were I as the head teacher, charitable proprietor,
wise statesman, what would it amount to?
Were I to you as the boss employing and paying you,
would that satisfy you?

7The learn'd, virtuous, benevolent, and the usual
terms;
A man like me, and never the usual terms.

8Neither 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.

9If 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 outlaw'd deeds, do
you think I cannot remember my own foolish
and outlaw'd deeds?
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—why I often meet strangers in the
street, and love them.

10Why, 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?



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11Because you are greasy or pimpled, or that you was
once drunk, or a thief,
Or diseas'd, 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?


3

12Souls of men and women! it is not you I call un-
seen, 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.

13Grown, 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 behind or through them.

14The 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.

15Offspring of ignorant and poor, boys apprenticed to
trades,
Young fellows working on farms, and old fellows
working on farms,
Sailor-men, merchant-men, coasters, immigrants,
All these I see—but nigher and farther the same I
see;
None shall escape me, and none shall wish to escape
me.

16I 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.



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17There is something that comes home to one now
and perpetually;
It is not what is printed, preach'd, discuss'd—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;
It is hinted by nearest, commonest; readiest—it is
ever provoked by them.

18You 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 or revenue returns, prices current,
or any accounts of stock.


4

19The 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.

20The light and shade, the curious sense of body and
identity, the greed that with perfect complais-
ance devours all things, the endless pride and
out-stretching of man, unspeakable joys and
sorrows,


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The wonder every one sees in every one else he sees,
and the wonders that fill each minute of time
forever,
What have you reckon'd them for, camerado?
Have you reckon'd them for a trade, or farm-work?
or for the profits of a store?
Or to achieve yourself a position? or to fill a gentle-
man leisure, or a lady's leisure?

21Have you reckon'd 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?

22Old institutions—these arts, libraries, legends, col-
lections, and the practice handed along in man-
ufactures—will we rate them so high?
Will we rate our cash and business high ?—I have no
objection;
I rate them as high as the highest—then a child born
of a woman and man I rate beyond all rate.

23We 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;
Then I am in love with you, and with all my fellows
upon the earth.



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24We 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.


5

25When 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 a university course convinces, like a slumber-
ing 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.

26The 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.

27List close, my scholars dear!
All doctrines, all politics and civilization, exurge from
you;


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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?
The most renown'd poems would be ashes, orations
and plays would be vacuums.

28All 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?)

29All 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 wo-
men chorus,
It is nearer and farther than they.


6

30Will the whole come back then?
Can each see signs of the best by a look in the look-
ing-glass? is there nothing greater or more?
Does all sit there with you, with the mystic, unseen
Soul?

31Strange and hard that paradox true I give;
Objects gross and the unseen Soul are one.

32House-building, measuring, sawing the boards;
Blacksmithing, glass-blowing, nail-making, coopering,
tin-rooting, shingle-dressing,


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Ship-joining, dock-building, fish-curing, ferrying, flag-
ging of side-walks by flaggers,
The pump, the pile-driver, the great derrick, the coal-
kiln and brick-kiln,
Coal-mines, and 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 the
river-banks—men around feeling the melt with
huge crowbars—lumps of ore, the due com-
bining of ore, limestone, coal—the blast-fur-
nace 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;
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 un-
der the kettle,
The cotton-bale, the stevedore's hook, the saw and
buck of the sawyer, the mould of the moulder,
the working-knife of the butcher, the ice-saw,
and all the work with ice,
The implemements 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 ornaments,
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,


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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,
cotton-picking—electro-plating, electrotyping,
stereotyping,
Stave-machines, planing-machines, reaping-machines,
ploughing-machines, thrashing-machines, steam
wagons,
The cart of the carman, the omnibus, the ponderous
dray;
Pyrotechny, letting off color'd fire-works at night,
fancy figures and jets,
Beef on the butcher's stall, the slaughter-house of
the butcher, the butcher in his killing-clothes,
The 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,
The men, and the work of the men, on railroads,
coasters, fish-boats, canals;
The daily routine of your own or any man's life—the
shop, yard, store, or factory;
These shows all near you by day and night—work-
men! whoever you are, your daily life!
In that and 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;
In them the development good—in them, all themes
and hints.



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33I 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, than those lead to.


7

34Will 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 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 friend,
brother, nighest neighbor—Woman in mother,
lover, wife;
The popular tastes and employments taking precedence
in poems or any where,
You workwomen and workmen of these States having
your own divine and strong life,
And all else giving place to men and women like you.


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