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SONGS OF INSURRECTION.


STILL THOUGH THE ONE I SING.

STILL, though the one I sing,
(One, yet of contradictions made,) I dedicate to Nation-
ality,
I leave in him Revolt, (O latent right of insurrection! O
quenchless, indispensable fire!)


TO A FOIL'D EUROPEAN REVOLUTIONAIRE.

1

1COURAGE yet! my brother or my sister!
Keep on! Liberty is to be subserv'd, whatever occurs;
That is nothing, that is quell'd by one or two failures,
or any number of failures,
Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the people, or
by any unfaithfulness,
Or the show of the tushes of power, soldiers, cannon,
penal statutes.



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2Revolt! and still revolt! revolt!
What we believe in waits latent forever through all
the continents, and all the islands and archi-
pelagos of the sea;
What we believe in invites no one, promises nothing,
sits in calmness and light, is positive and com-
posed, knows no discouragement,
Waiting patiently, waiting its time.

3(Not songs of loyalty alone are these,
But songs of insurrection also;
For I am the sworn poet of every dauntless rebel, the
world over,
And he going with me leaves peace and routine behind
him,
And stakes his life, to be lost at any moment.)


2

4Revolt! and the downfall of tyrants!
The battle rages with many a loud alarm, and frequent
advance and retreat,
The infidel triumphs—or supposes he triumphs,
Then the prison, scaffold, garrote, hand-cuffs, iron neck-
lace and anklet, lead-balls, do their work,
The named and unnamed heroes pass to other spheres,
The great speakers and writers are exiled—they lie sick
in distant lands,
The cause is asleep—the strongest throats are still,
choked with their own blood,
The young men droop their eyelashes toward the ground
when they meet;
—But for all this, liberty has not gone out of the place,
nor the infidel enter'd into full possession,

5When liberty goes out of a place, it is not the first to
go, nor the second or third to go,
It waits for all the rest to go—it is the last.

6When there are no more memories of heroes and
martyrs,


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And when all life, and all the souls of men and women
are discharged from any part of the earth,
Then only shall liberty, or the idea of liberty, be dis-
charged from that part of the earth,
And the infidel come into full possession.


3

7Then courage! European revolter! revoltress!
For, till all ceases, neither must you cease.

8I do not know what you are for, (I do not know what
I am for myself, nor what anything is for,)
But I will search carefully for it even in being foil'd,
In defeat, poverty, misconception, imprisonment—for
they too are great.

9Revolt! and the bullet for tyrants!
Did we think victory great?
So it is—But now it seems to me, when it cannot be
help'd, that defeat is great,
And that death and dismay are great.



FRANCE,
The 18th Year of These States.

1

1A GREAT year and place;
A harsh, discordant, natal scream out-sounding, to
touch the mother's heart closer than any yet.

2I walk'd the shores of my Eastern Sea,
Heard over the waves the little voice,
Saw the divine infant, where she woke, mournfully wail-
ing, amid the roar of cannon, curses, shouts,
crash of falling buildings;


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Was not so sick from the blood in the gutters running
—nor from the single corpses, nor those in heaps,
nor those borne away in the tumbrils;
Was not so desperate at the battues of death—was not
so shock'd at the repeated fusillades of the guns.


2

3Pale, silent, stern, what could I say to that long-
accrued retribution?
Could I wish humanity different?
Could I wish the people made of wood and stone?
Or that there be no justice in destiny or time?


3

4O Liberty! O mate for me!
Here too the blaze, the grape-shot and the axe, in re-
serve, to fetch them out in case of need;
Here too, though long represt, can never be destroy'd;
Here too could rise at last, murdering and extatic;
Here too demanding full arrears of vengeance.


4

5Hence I sign this salute over the sea,
And I do not deny that terrible red birth and baptism,
But remember the little voice that I heard wailing—and
wait with perfect trust, no matter how long;
And from to-day, sad and cogent, I maintain the be-
queath'd cause, as for all lands,
And I send these words to Paris with my love,
And I guess some chansonniers there will understand
them,
For I guess there is latent music yet in France—floods
of it;
O I hear already the bustle of instruments—they will
soon be drowning all that would interrupt them;
O I think the east wind brings a triumphal and free
march,
It reaches hither—it swells me to joyful madness,
I will run transpose it in words, to justify it,
I will yet sing a song for you, MAFEMME.




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EUROPE,
The 72d and 73d Years of These States.

1

1SUDDENLY, out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair of
slaves,
Like lightning it le'pt forth, half startled at itself,
Its feet upon the ashes and the rags—its hands tight to
the throats of kings.

2O hope and faith!
O aching close of exiled patriots' lives!
O many a sicken'd heart!
Turn back unto this day, and make yourselves afresh.

3And you, paid to defile the People! you liars, mark!
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts,
For court thieving in its manifold mean forms, worming
from his simplicity the poor man's wages,
For many a promise sworn by royal lips, and broken,
and laugh'd at in the breaking,
Then in their power, not for all these, did the blows
strike revenge, or the heads of the nobles fall;
The People scorn'd the ferocity of kings;


2

4But the sweetness of mercy brew'd bitter destruction,
and the frighten'd monarchs come back;
Each comes in state, with his train—hangman, priest,
tax-gatherer,
Soldier, lawyer, lord, jailer, and sycophant.

5Yet behind all, lowering, stealing—lo, a Shape,
Vague as the night, draped interminably, head, front
and form, in scarlet folds,
Whose face and eyes none may see,


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Out of its robes only this—the red robes, lifted by the
arm,
One finger, crook'd, pointed high over the top, like the
head of a snake appears.


3

6Meanwhile, corpses lie in new-made graves—bloody
corpses of young men,
The rope of the gibbet hangs heavily, the bullets of
princes are flying, the creatures of power laugh
aloud,
And all these things bear fruits—and they are good.

7Those corpses of young men,
Those martrys that hang from the gibbets—those hearts
pierc'd by the gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere with
unslaughter'd vitality.

8They live in other young men, O kings!
They live in brothers, again ready to defy you!
They were purified by death—they were taught and
exalted.

9Not a grave of the murder'd for freedom, but grows
seed for freedom, in its turn to bear seed,
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the rains
and the snows nourish.

10Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of tyrants
let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering, coun-
seling, cautioning.


4

11Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair
of you.

12Is the house shut? Is the master away?
Nevertheless, be ready—be not weary of watching;
He will soon return—his messengers come anon.




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Walt Whitman's Caution.

TO The States, or any one of them, or any city of The
States, Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth,
ever afterward resumes its liberty.


To a Certain Cantatrice.

HERE, take this gift!
I was reserving it for some hero, speaker, or General,
One who should serve the good old cause, the great
Idea, the progress and freedom of the race;
Some brave confronter of despots—some daring rebel;
—But I see that what I was reserving, belongs to you
just as much as to any.

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