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LEAVES OF GRASS.


FACES

1

1SAUNTERING the pavement, or riding the country by-
road—lo! such faces!
Faces of friendship, precision, caution, suavity, ideal-
ity;
The spiritual, prescient face—the always welcome, com-
mon, benevolent face,
The face of the singing of music—the grand faces of
natural lawyers and judges, broad at the back-
top;
The faces of hunters and fishers, bulged at the brows
—the shaved blanch'd faces of orthodox citi-
zens;
The pure, extravagant, yearning, questioning artist's
face;
The ugly face of some beautiful Soul, the handsome de-
tested or despised face;
The sacred faces of infants, the illuminated face of the
mother of many children;
The face of an amour, the face of veneration;
The face as of a dream, the face of an immobile rock;
The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a castrated
face;
A wild hawk, his wings clipp'd by the clipper;
A stallion that yielded at last to the thongs and knife
of the gelder.



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2Sauntering the pavement, thus, or crossing the cease-
less ferry, faces, and faces, and faces:
I see them, and complain not, and am content with all.


2

3Do you suppose I could be content with all, if I
thought them their own finale?

4This now is too lamentable a face for a man;
Some abject louse, asking leave to be—cringing for it;
Some milk-nosed maggot, blessing what lets it wrig to
its hole.

5This face is a dog's snout, sniffing for garbage;
Snakes nest in that mouth—I hear the sibilant threat.

6This face is a haze more chill than the arctic sea;
Its sleepy and wobbling icebergs crunch as they go.

7This is a face of bitter herbs—this an emetic—they
need no label;
And more of the drug-shelf, laudanum, caoutchouc, or
hog's-lard.

8This face is an epilepsy, its wordless tongue gives out
the unearthly cry,
Its veins down the neck distend, its eyes roll till they
show nothing but their whites,
Its teeth grit, the palms of the hands are cut by the
turn'd-in nails,
The man falls struggling and foaming to the ground
while he speculates well.

9This face is bitten by vermin and worms,
And this is some murderer's knife, with a half-pull'd
scabbard.

10This face owes to the sexton his dismalest fee;
An unceasing death-bell tolls there.




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3

11Those then are really men—the bosses and tufts of
the great round globe!

12Features of my equals, would you trick me with your
creas'd and cadaverous march?
Well, you cannot trick me.

13I see your rounded, never-erased flow;
I see neath the rims of your haggard and mean dis-
guises.

14Splay and twist as you like—poke with the tangling
fores of fishes or rats;
You'll be unmuzzled, you certainly will.

15I saw the face of the most smear'd and slobbering
idiot they had at the asylum;
And I knew for my consolation what they knew not;
I knew of the agents that emptied and broke my
brother,
The same wait to clear the rubbish from the fallen ten-
ement;
And I shall look again in a score or two of ages,
And I shall meet the real landlord, perfect and un-
harm'd, every inch as good as myself.


4

16The Lord advances, and yet advances;
Always the shadow in front—always the reach'd hand,
bringing up the laggards.

17Out of this face emerge banners and horses—O su-
perb! I see what is coming;
I see the high pioneer-caps—I see the staves of runners
clearing the way,
I hear victorious drums.



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18This face is a life-boat;
This is the face commanding and bearded, it asks no
odds of the rest;
This face is flavor'd fruit, ready for eating;
This face of a healthy honest boy is the programme of
all good.

19These faces bear testimony, slumbering or awake;
They show their descent from the Master himself.

20Off the word I have spoken I except not one—red,
white, black, are all deific;
In each house is the ovum—it comes forth after a thou-
sand years.

21Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb me;
Tall and sufficient stand behind, and make signs to me;
I read the promise, and patiently wait.

22This is a full-grown lily's face,
She speaks to the limber-hipp'd man near the garden
pickets,
Come here, she blushingly cries—Come nigh to me, lim-
ber-hipp'd man,
Stand at my side till I lean as high as I can upon you,
Fill me with albescent honey, bend down to me,
Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my breast and
shoulders.


5

23The old face of the mother of many children!
Whist! I am fully content.

24Lull'd and late is the smoke of the First-day morning,
It hangs low over the rows of trees by the fences,
It hangs thin by the sassafras, the wild-cherry, and the
cat-brier under them.

25I saw the rich ladies in full dress at the soiree,
I heard what the singers were singing so long.


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Heard who sprang in crimson youth from the white
froth and the water-blue.

26Behold a woman!
She looks out from her quaker cap—her face is clearer
and more beautiful than the sky.

27She sits in an arm-chair, under the shaded porch of
the farm-house,
The sun just shines on her old white head.

28Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen,
Her grandsons raised the flax, and her granddaugh-
ters spun it with the distaff and the wheel.

29The melodious character of the earth,
The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go, and
does not wish to go,
The justified mother of men.



MANHATTAN'S STREETS I SAUNTER'D,
PONDERING.

1

1MANHATTAN'S streets I saunter'd, pondering,
On time, space, reality—on such as these, and abreast
with them, prudence.


2

2After all, the last explanation remains to be made
about prudence;
Little and large alike drop quietly aside from the pru-
dence that suits immortality.

3The Soul is of itself;
All verges to it—all has reference to what ensues;
All that a person does, says, thinks, is of consequence;


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Not a move can a man or woman make, that affects
him or her in a day, month, any part of the
direct life-time, or the hour of death, but the
same affects him or her onward afterward
through the indirect life-time.


3

4The indirect is just as much as the direct,
The spirit receives from the body just as much as it
gives to the body, if not more.

5Not one word or deed—not venereal sore, discolor-
ation, privacy of the onanist, putridity of glut-
tons or rum-drinkers, peculation, cunning,
betrayal, murder, seduction, prostitution, but
has results beyond death, as really as before
death.


4

6Charity and personal force are the only investments
worth anything.

7No specification is necessary—all that a male or fe-
male does, that is vigorous, benevolent, clean, is
so much profit to him or her, in the unshake-
able order of the universe, and through the whole
scope of it, forever.


5

8Who has been wise, receives interest,
Savage, felon, President, judge, farmer, sailor, me-
chanic, literat, young, old, it is the same,
The interest will come round—all will come round.

9Singly, wholly, to affect now, affected their time, will
forever affect, all of the past, and all of the
present, and all of the future,
All the brave actions of war and peace,


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All help given to relatives, strangers, the poor, old,
sorrowful, young children, widows, the sick, and
to shunn'd persons,
All furtherance of fugitives, and of the escape of slaves,
All self-denial that stood steady and aloof on wrecks,
and saw others fill the seats of the boats,
All offering of substance or life for the good old cause,
or for a friend's sake, or opinion's sake,
All pains of enthusiasts, scoff'd at by their neighbors,
All the limitless sweet love and precious suffering of
mothers,
All honest men baffled in strifes recorded or unre-
corded,
All the grandeur and good of ancient nations whose
fragments we inherit,
All the good of the dozens of ancient nations un-
known to us by name, date, location,
All that was ever manfully begun, whether it suc-
ceeded or no,
All suggestions of the divine mind of man, or the
divinity of his mouth, or the shaping of his great
hands;
All that is well thought or said this day on any part
of the globe—or on any of the wandering stars,
or on any of the fix'd stars, by those there as
we are here;
All that is henceforth to be thought or done by you,
whoever you are, or by any one;
These inure, have inured, shall inure, to the identities
from which they sprang, or shall spring.


6

10Did you guess anything lived only its moment?
The world does not so exist—no parts palpable or im-
palpable so exist;
No consummation exists without being from some
long previous consummation—and that from some
other,
Without the farthest conceivable one coming a bit
nearer the beginning than any.




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7

11Whatever satisfies Souls is true;
Prudence entirely satisfies the craving and glut of
Souls;
Itself only finally satisfies the Soul;
The Soul has that measureless pride which revolts from
every lesson but its own.


8

12Now I give you an inkling;
Now I breathe the word of the prudence that walks
abreast with time, space, reality,
That answers the pride which refuses every lesson but
its own.

13What is prudence, is indivisible,
Declines to separate one part of life from every part,
Divides not the righteous from the unrighteous, or the
living from the dead,
Matches every thought or act by its correlative,
Knows no possible forgiveness, or deputed atonement,
Knows that the young man who composedly peril'd
his life and lost it, has done exceedingly well
for himself, without doubt,
That he who never peril'd his life, but retains it to old
age in riches and ease, has probably achiev'd
nothing for himself worth mentioning;
Knows that only that person has really learn'd, who
has learn'd to prefer results,
Who favors Body and Soul the same,
Who perceives the indirect assuredly following the
direct,
Who in his spirit in any emergency whatever neither
hurries or avoids death.



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All is Truth.

1O ME, man of slack faith so long!
Standing aloof—denying portions so long;
Only aware to-day of compact, all-diffused truth;
Discovering to-day there is no lie, or form of lie, and
can be none, but grows as inevitably upon itself
as the truth does upon itself,
Or as any law of the earth, or any natural production
of the earth does.

2(This is curious, and may not be realized immediately
—But it must be realized;
I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with
the rest,
And that the universe does.)

3Where has fail'd a perfect return, indifferent of lies or
the truth?
Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the
spirit of man? or in the meat and blood?

4Meditating among liars, and retreating sternly into
myself, I see that there are really no liars or lies
after all,
And that nothing fails its perfect return—And that
what are called lies are perfect returns,
And that each thing exactly represents itself, and what
has preceded it,
And that the truth includes all, and is compact, just as
much as space is compact,
And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of
the truth—but that all is truth without excep-
tion;
And henceforth I will go celebrate anything I see or
am,
And sing and laugh, and deny nothing.



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Voices.

1NOW I make a leaf of Voices—for I have found nothing
mightier than they are,
And I have found that no word spoken, but is beautiful,
in its place.

2O what is it in me that makes me tremble so at voices?
Surely, whoever speaks to me in the right voice, him or
her I shall follow,
As the water follows the moon, silently, with fluid steps,
anywhere around the globe.

3All waits for the right voices;
Where is the practis'd and perfect organ? Where is
the develop'd Soul?
For I see every word utter'd thence, has deeper, sweeter,
new sounds, impossible on less terms.

4I see brains and lips closed—tympans and temples
unstruck,
Until that comes which has the quality to strike and to
unclose,
Until that comes which has the quality to bring forth
what lies slumbering, forever ready, in all words.

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