Published Works

Books by Whitman



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page ] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -




WALT WHITMAN.

1

1I CELEBRATE myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to
you.

2I loafe and invite my Soul;
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of sum-
mer grass.

3Houses and rooms are full of perfumes—the shelves
are crowded with perfumes;
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it;
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall
not let it.

4The atmosphere is not a perfume—it has no taste of
the distillation—it is odorless;
It is for my mouth forever—I am in love with it;
I will go to the bank by the wood, and become undis-
guised and naked;
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.


2

5The smoke of my own breath;
Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread,
crotch and vine;
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart,
the passing of blood and air through my lungs;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 30] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the
shore, and dark-color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in
the barn;
The sound of the belch'd words of my voice, words
loos'd to the eddies of the wind;
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around
of arms;
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple
boughs wag;
The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or along
the fields and hill-sides;
The feeling of health, the full noon-trill, the song of me
rising from bed and meeting the sun.

6Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you
reckon'd the earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of
poems?

7Stop this day and night with me, and you shall pos-
sess the origin of all poems;
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun—(there
are millions of suns left;)
You shall no longer take things at second or third
hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead,
nor feed on the spectres in books;
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take
things from me:
You shall listen to all sides, and filter them from your-
self.


3

8I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk
of the beginning and the end;
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

9There was never any more inception than there is
now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 31] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



And will never be any more perfection than there is
now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

10Urge, and urge, and urge;
Always the procreant urge of the world.

11Out of the dimness opposite equals advance—always
substance and increase, always sex;
Always a knit of identity—always distinction—always a
breed of life.

12To elaborate is no avail—learn'd and unlearn'd feel
that it is so.

13Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights,
well entretied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery, here we stand.

14Clear and sweet is my Soul, and clear and sweet is all
that is not my Soul.

15Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by
the seen,
Till that becomes unseen, and receives proof in its
turn.

16Showing the best, and dividing it from the worst
age vexes age;
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things,
while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and
admire myself.

17Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of
any man hearty and clean;
Not an inch, nor a particle of an inch, is vile, and none
shall be less familiar than the rest.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 32] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



18I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing;
As the hugging and loving Bed-fellow sleeps at my side
through the night, and withdraws at the peep of
the day, with stealthy tread,
Leaving me baskets cover'd with white towels, swelling
the house with their plenty,
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization, and
scream at my eyes,
That they turn from gazing after and down the road,
And forthwith cipher and show me a cent,
Exactly the contents of one, and exactly the contents of
two, and which is ahead?


4

19Trippers and askers surround me;
People I meet—the effect upon me of my early life, or
the ward and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies,
authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman
I love,
The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or ill-
doing, or loss or lack of money, or depressions
or exaltations;
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of
doubtful news, the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights, and go from me
again,
But they are not the Me myself.

20Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I
am;
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, uni-
tary;
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable
certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head, curious what will come
next;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 33] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Both in and out of the game, and watching and won-
dering at it.

21Backward I see in my own days where I sweated
through fog with linguists and contenders;
I have no mockings or arguments—I witness and wait.


5

22I believe in you, my Soul—the other I am must not
abase itself to you;
And you must not be abased to the other.

23Loafe with me on the grass—loose the stop from
your throat;
Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or
lecture, not even the best;
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

24I mind how once we lay, such a transparent summer
morning;
How you settled your head athwart my hips, and gently
turn'd over upon me,
And parted my shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged
your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
And reach'd till you felt my beard, and reach'd till you
held my feet.

25Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and
knowledge that pass all the argument of the
earth;
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my
own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my
own;
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers,
and the women my sisters and lovers;
And that a kelson of the creation is love;
And limitless are leaves, stiff or drooping in the fields;
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them;
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, and heap'd stones,
elder, mullen, and poke-weed.




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 34] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



6

26A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with
full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it
is, any more than he.

27I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of
hopeful green stuff woven.

28Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that
we may see and remark, and say, Whose?

29Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced
babe of the vegetation.

30Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic;
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and nar-
row zones,
Growing among black folks as among white;
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

31And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of
graves.

32Tenderly will I use you, curling grass;
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young
men;
It may be if I had known them I would have loved
them;
It may be you are from old people and from women,
and from offspring taken soon out of their
mothers' laps;
And here you are the mothers' laps;

33This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of
old mothers;
Darker than the colourless beards of old men;
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 35] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



34O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of
mouths for nothing.

35I wish I could translate the hints about the dead
young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the
offspring taken soon out of their laps.

36What do you think has become of the young and
old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and
children?

37They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death;
And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does not
wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

38All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses;
And to die is different from what any one supposed,
and luckier.


7

39Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her, it is just as lucky to die,
and I know it.

40I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new-
wash'd babe, and am not contain'd between my
hat and boots;
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every
one good;
The earth good, and the stars good, and their adjuncts
all good.

41I am not on earth, nor an adjunct of an earth;
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as
immortal and fathomless as myself;
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 36] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



42Every kind for itself and its own—for me mine, male
and female;
For me those that have been boys, and that love
women;
For me the man that is proud, and feels how it stings
to be slighted;
For me the sweet-heart and the old maid—for me
mothers, and the mothers of mothers;
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears;
For me children, and the begetters of children.

43Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale, nor
discarded;
I see through the broadcloth and gingham, whether
or no;
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and
cannot be shaken away.


8

44The little one sleeps in its cradle;
I lift the gauze, and look a long time, and silently
brush away flies with my hand.

45The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up
the bushy hill;
I peeringly view them from the top.

46The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bed-
room;
I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair—I note
where the pistol has fallen.

47The blab of the pave, the tires of carts, sluff of boot-
soles, talk of the promenaders;
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating
thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the
granite floor;
The snow-sleighs, the clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of
snow-balls;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 37] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd
mobs;
The flap of the curtain'd litter, a sick man inside, borne
to the hospital;
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows
and fall;
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star, quickly
working his passage to the centre of the crowd;
The impassive stones that receive and return so many
echoes;
What groans of over-fed or half-starv'd who fall sun-
struck, or in fits;
What exclamations of women taken suddenly, who
hurry home and give birth to babes;
What living and buried speech is always vibrating
here—what howls restrain'd by decorum;
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made,
acceptances, rejections with convex lips;
I mind them or the show or resonance of them—I
come, and I depart.


9

48The big doors of the country barn stand open and
ready;
The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-
drawn wagon;
The clear light plays on the brown gray and green
intertinged;
The armfuls are pack'd to the sagging mow.

49I am there—I help—I came stretch'd atop of the
load;
I felt its soft jolts—one leg reclined on the other;
I jump from the cross-beams, and seize the clover and
timothy,
And roll head over heels, and tangle my hair full of
wisps.


10

50Alone, far in the wilds and mountains, I hunt,



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 38] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Wandering, amazed at my own lightness and glee;
In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the
night,
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill'd game;
Falling asleep on the gather'd leaves, with my dog and
gun by my side.

51The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails—she cuts
the sparkle and scud;
My eyes settle the land—I bend at her prow, or shout
joyously from the deck.

52The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt
for me;
I tuck'd my trowser-ends in my boots, and went and
had a good time:
(You should have been with us that day round the
chowder-kettle.)

53I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in
the far west—the bride was a red girl;
Her father and his friends sat near, cross-legged and
dumbly smoking—they had moccasins to their
feet, and large thick blankets hanging from their
shoulders;
On a bank lounged the trapper—he was drest mostly in
skins—his luxuriant beard and curls protected
his neck—he held his bride by the hand;
She had long eyelashes—her head was bare—her coarse
straight locks descended upon her voluptuous
limbs and reach'd to her feet.

54The runaway slave came to my house and stopt out-
side;
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the wood-
pile;
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him
limpsy and weak,
And went where he sat on a log, and led him in and
assured him,


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 39] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



And brought water, and fill'd a tub for his sweated
body and bruis'd feet,
And gave him a room that enter'd from my own, and
gave him some coarse clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his
awkwardness,
And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck
and ankles;
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and
pass'd north;
(I had him sit next me at table—my fire-lock lean'd in
the corner.)


11

55Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore;
Twenty-eight young men, and all so friendly:
Twenty-eight years of womanly life, and all so lone-
some.

56She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank;
She hides, handsome and richly drest, aft the blinds of
the window.

57Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah, the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

58Where are you off to, lady? for I see you;
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in
your room.

59Dancing and laughing along the beach came the
twenty-ninth bather;
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved
them.

60The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it
ran from their long hair:
Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.

61An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies;
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 40] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



62The young men float on their backs—their white bel-
lies bulge to the sun—they do not ask who seizes
fast to them;
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant
and bending arch;
They do not think whom they souse with spray.


12

63The butcher-boy puts off his killing clothes, or
sharpens his knife at the stall in the market;
I loiter, enjoying his repartee, and his shuffle and
break-down.

64Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ
the anvil;
Each has his main-sledge—they are all out—(there is
a great heat in the fire.)

65From the cinder-strew'd threshold I follow their
movements;
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their
massive arms;
Over-hand the hammers swing—over-hand so slow—
over-hand so sure:
They do not hasten—each man hits in his place.


13

66The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses
—the block swags underneath on its tied-over
chain;
The negro that drives the dray of the stone-yard—
steady and tall he stands, pois'd on one leg on
the string-piece;
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast, and
loosens over his hip-band;
His glance is calm and commanding—he tosses the
slouch of his hat away from his forehead;
The sun falls on his crispy hair and moustache—falls
on the black of his polish'd and perfect limbs.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 41] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



67I behold the picturesque giant, and love him—and I
do not stop there;
I go with the team also.

68In me the caresser of life wherever moving—back-
ward as well as forward slueing;
To niches aside and junior bending.

69Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain, or halt in the
leafy shade! what is that you express in your
eyes?
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in
my life.

70My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck, on
my distant and day-long ramble;
They rise together—they slowly circle around.

71I believe in those wing'd purposes,
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,
And consider green and violet, and the tufted crown,
intentional;
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is
not something else;
And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet
trills pretty well to me;
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of
me.


14

72The wild gander leads his flock through the cool
night;
Ya-honk! he says, and sounds it down to me like an
invitation;
(The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen
close;
I find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry
sky.)



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 42] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



73The sharp-hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the
house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog,
The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats,
The brood of the turkey-hen, and she with her half-
spread wings;
I see in them and myself the same old law.

74The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred
affections;
They scorn the best I can do to relate them.

75I am enamour'd of growing out-doors,
Of men that live among cattle, or taste of the ocean or
woods,
Of the builders and steerers of ships, and the wielders
of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses;
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.

76What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me;
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns;
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will
take me;
Not asking the sky to come down to my good will;
Scattering it freely forever.


15

77The pure contralto sings in the organ loft;
The carpenter dresses his plank—the tongue of his
foreplane whistles its wild ascending lisp;
The married and unmarried children ride home to their
Thanksgiving dinner;
The pilot seizes the king-pin—he heaves down with a
strong arm;
The mate stands braced in the whale-boat—lance and
harpoon are ready;
The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches;
The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the
altar;
The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of
the big wheel;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 43] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



The farmer stops by the bars, as he walks on a First-
day loafe, and looks at the oats and rye;
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a confirm'd
case,
(He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in
his mother's bedroom;)
The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works
at his case,
He turns his quid of tobacco, while his eyes blurr with
the manuscript;
The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table,
What is removed drops horribly in a pail;
The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand—the
drunkard nods by the bar-room stove;
The machinist rolls up his sleeves—the policeman trav-
els his beat—the gate-keeper marks who pass;
The young fellow drives the express-wagon—(I love
him, though I do not know him;)
The half-breed straps on his light boots to compete in
the race;
The western turkey-shooting draws old and young—
some lean on their rifles, some sit on logs,
Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his
position, levels his piece;
The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf
or levee;
As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer
views them from his saddle;
The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run
for their partners, the dancers bow to each
other;
The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof'd garret, and
harks to the musical rain;
The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the
Huron;
The squaw, wrapt in her yellow-hemm'd cloth, is offer-
ing moccasins and bead-bags for sale;
The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with
half-shut eyes bent sideways;
As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat, the plank
is thrown for the shore-going passengers;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 44] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



The young sister holds out the skein, while the elder
sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now and
then for the knots;
The one-year wife is recovering and happy, having a
week ago borne her first child;
The clean-hair'd Yankee girl works with her sewing-
machine, or in the factory or mill;
The nine months' gone is in the parturition chamber,
her faintness and pains are advancing;
The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer—the
reporter's lead flies swiftly over the note-book—
the sign-painter is lettering with red and gold;
The canal-boy trots on the tow-path—the book-keeper
counts at his desk—the shoemaker waxes his
thread;
The conductor beats time for the band, and all the per-
formers follow him;
The child is baptized—the convert is making his first
professions;
The regatta is spread on the bay—the race is begun—
how the white sails sparkle!
The drover, watching his drove, sings out to them that
would stray;
The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the pur-
chaser higgling about the odd cent;)
The camera and plate are prepared, the lady must sit
for her daguerreotype;
The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand
of the clock moves slowly;
The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-
open'd lips;
The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on
her tipsy and pimpled neck;
The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer
and wink to each other;
(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths, nor jeer
you;)
The President, holding a cabinet council, is surrounded
by the Great Secretaries;
On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly
with twined arms;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 45] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of hal-
ibut in the hold;
The Missourian crosses the plains, toting his wares and
his cattle;
As the fare-collector goes through the train, he gives
notice by the jingling of loose change;
The floor-men are laying the floor—the tinners are
tinning the roof—the masons are calling for
mortar;
In single file, each shouldering his hod, pass onward
the laborers;
Seasons pursuing each other, the indescribable crowd is
gather'd—it is the Fourth of Seventh-month—
(What salutes of cannon and small arms!)
Seasons pursuing each other, the plougher ploughs, the
mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the
ground;
Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by
the hole in the frozen surface;
The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter
strikes deep with his axe;
Flatboatmen make fast, towards dusk, near the cotton-
wood or pekan-trees;
Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river,
or through those drain'd by the Tennessee, or
through those of the Arkansaw;
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chatta-
hooche or Altamahaw;
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and
great-grandsons around them;
In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and
trappers after their day's sport;
The city sleeps, and the country sleeps;
The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their
time;
The old husband sleeps by his wife, and the young hus-
band sleeps by his wife;
And these one and all tend inward to me, and I tend
outward to them;
And such as it is to be of these, more or less, I am.




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 46] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



16

78I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the
wise;
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse, and stuff'd with the
stuff that is fine;
One of the Great Nation, the nation of many nations,
the smallest the same, and the largest the same;
A southerner soon as a northerner—a planter non-
chalant and hospitable, down by the Oconee I
live;
A Yankee, bound my own way, ready for trade, my
joints the limberest joints on earth, and the stern-
est joints on earth;
A Kentuckian, walking the vale of the Elkhorn, in my
deer-skin leggings—a Louisianian or Georgian;
A boatman over lakes or bays, or along coasts—a
Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;
At home on Kanadian snow-shoes, or up in the bush, or
with fishermen off Newfoundland;
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest
and tacking;
At home on the hills of Vermont; or in the woods of
Maine, or the Texan ranch;
Comrade of Californians—comrade of free north-west-
erners, (loving their big proportions;)
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen—comrade of all who
shake hands and welcome to drink and meat;
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thought-
fullest;
A novice beginning, yet experient of myriads of sea-
sons;
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and reli-
gion;
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker;
A prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.

79I resist anything better than my own diversity;



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 47] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



I breathe the air, but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

80(The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place;
The suns I see, and the suns I cannot see, are in their
place;
The, palpable is in its place, and the impalpable is in its
place.)


17

81These are the thoughts of all men in all ages and
lands—they are not original with me;
If they are not yours as much as mine, they are nothing,
or next to nothing;
If they are not the riddle, and the untying of the riddle,
they are nothing;
If they are not just as close as they are distant, they are
nothing.

82This is the grass that grows wherever the land is, and
the water is;
This is the common air that bathes the globe.


18

83With music strong I come—with my cornets and my
drums,
I play not marches for accepted victors only—I play
great marches for conquered and slain persons.

84Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?
I also say it is good to fall—battles are lost in the same
spirit in which they are won.

85I beat and pound for the dead;
I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest
for them.

86Vivas to those who have fail'd!
And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea!
And to those themselves who sank in the sea!


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 48] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



And to all generals that lost engagements! and all over-
come heroes!
And the numberless unknown heroes, equal to the
greatest heroes known.


19

87This is the meal equally set—this is the meat for
natural hunger;
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous—I
make appointments with all;
I will not have a single person slighted or left away;
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited;
The heavy-lipp'd slave is invited—the venerealee is in-
vited:
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.

88This is the press of a bashful hand—this is the float
and odor of hair;
This is the touch of my lips to yours—this is the mur-
mur of yearning:
This is the far-off depth and height reflecting my own
face;
This is the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet
again.

89Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?
Well, I have—for the Fourth-month showers have, and
the mica on the side of a rock has.

90Do you take it I would astonish?
Does the daylight astonish? Does the early redstart,
twittering through the woods?
Do I astonish more than they?

91This hour I tell things in confidence;
I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.


20

92Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude;
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 49] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



93What is a man, anyhow? What am I? What are you?

94All I mark as my own, you shall offset it with your own;
Else it were time lost listening to me.

95I do not snivel that snivel the world over,
That months are vacuums, and the ground but wallow
and filth;
That life is a suck and a sell, and nothing remains at
the end but threadbare crape, and tears.

96Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for
invalids—conformity goes to the fourth-remov'd;
I wear my hat as I please, indoors or out.

97Why should I pray? Why should I venerate and be
ceremonious?

98Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair,
counsell'd with doctors, and calculated close,
I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.

99In all people I see myself—none more, and not one a
barley-corn less;
And the good or bad I say of myself, I say of them.

100And I know I am solid and sound;
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetu-
ally flow;
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing
means.

101I know I am deathless;
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by the car-
penter's compass;
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with
a burnt stick at night.

102I know I am august;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 50] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be
understood;
I see that the elementary laws never apologize;
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant
my house by, after all.)

103I exist as I am—that is enough;
If no other in the world be aware, I sit content;
And if each and all be aware, I sit content;

104One world is aware, and by far the largest to me,
and that is myself;
And whether I come to my own to-day, or in ten
thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness
I can wait.

105My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite;
I laugh at what you call dissolution;
And I know the amplitude of time.


21

106I am the poet of the Body;
And I am the poet of the Soul.

107The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains
of hell are with me;
The first I graft and increase upon myself—the latter I
translate into a new tongue.

108I am the poet of the woman the same as the man;
And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man;
And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of
men.

100I chant the chant of dilation or pride;
We have had ducking and deprecating about enough;
I show that size is only development.

110Have you outstript the rest? Are you the Presi-
dent?


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 51] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



It is a trifle—they will more than arrive there, every
one, and still pass on.

111I am he that walks with the tender and growing
night;
I call to the earth and sea, half-held by the night.

112Press close, bare-bosom'd night! Press close, mag-
netic, nourishing night!
Night of south winds! night of the large few stars!
Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night.

113Smile, O voluptuous, cool-breath'd earth!
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees;
Earth of departed sunset! earth of the mountains,
misty-topt!
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon, just tinged
with blue!
Earth of shine and dark, mottling the tide of the river!
Earth of the limpid gray of clouds, brighter and clearer
for my sake!
Far-swooping elbow'd earth! rich, apple-blossom'd
earth!
Smile, for your lover comes!

114Prodigal, you have given me love! Therefore I to
you give love!
O unspeakable, passionate love!


22

115You sea! I resign myself to you also—I guess what
you mean;
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers;
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me;
We must have a turn together—I undress—hurry me
out of sight of the land;
Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse;
Dash me with amorous wet—I can repay you.

116Sea of stretch'd ground-swells!



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 52] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths!
Sea of the brine of life! sea of unshovell'd yet always-
ready graves!
Howler and scooper of storms! capricious and dainty
sea!
I am integral with you—I too am of one phase, and of
all phases.

117Partaker of influx and efflux I—extoller of hate and
conciliation;
Extoller of amies, and those that sleep in each others'
arms.

118I am he attesting sympathy;
(Shall I make my list of things in the house, and skip
the house that supports them?)

119I am not the poet of goodness only—I do not decline
to be the poet of wickedness also.

120Washes and razors for foofoos—for me freckles and a
bristling beard.

121What blurt is this about virtue and about vice?
Evil propels me, and reform of evil propels me—I stand
indifferent;
My gait is no fault-finder's or rejecter's gait;
I moisten the roots of all that has grown.

122Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging
pregnancy?
Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work'd
over and rectified?

123I find one side a balance, and the antipodal side a
balance;
Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine;
Thoughts and deeds of the present, our rouse and early
start.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 53] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



124This minute that comes to me over the past decil-
lions,
There is no better than it and now.

125What behaved well in the past, or behaves well to-
day, is not such a wonder;
The wonder is, always and always, how there can be a
mean man or an infidel.


23

126Endless unfolding of words of ages!
And mine a word of the modern—the word En-Masse.

127A word of the faith that never balks;
Here or henceforward, it is all the same to me—I
accept Time, absolutely.

128It alone is without flaw—it rounds and completes
all;
That mystic, baffling wonder I love, alone completes
all.

120I accept reality, and dare not question it;
Materialism first and last imbuing.

130Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demon-
stration!
Fetch stonecrop, mixt with cedar and branches of
lilac;
This is the lexicographer—this the chemist—this made
a grammar of the old cartouches;
These mariners put the ship through dangerous un-
known seas;
This is the geologist—this works with the scalpel—and
this is a mathematician.

131Gentlemen! to you the first honors always:
Your facts are useful and real—and yet they are not
my dwelling;
(I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.)

132



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 54] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Less the reminders of properties told, my words;
And more the reminders, they, of life untold, and of
freedom and extrication,
And make short account of neuters and geldings, and
favor men and women fully equipt,
And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives,
and them that plot and conspire.


24

133Walt Whitman am I, a Kosmos, of mighty Manhat-
tan the son,
Turbulent, fleshy and sensual, eating, drinking and
breeding;
No sentimentalist—no stander above men and women,
or apart from them;
No more modest than immodest.

134Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

135Whoever degrades another degrades me;
And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.

136Through me the afflatus surging and surging—
through me the current and index.

137I speak the pass-word primeval—I give the sign of
democracy;
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have
their counterpart of on the same terms.

138Through me many long dumb voices;
Voices of the interminable generations of slaves;
Voices of prostitutes, and of deform'd persons;
Voices of the diseas'd and despairing, and of thieves
and dwarfs;
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,
And of the threads that connect the stars—and of
wombs and of the father-stuff,
And of the rights of them the others are down upon;



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 55] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Of the trivial, flat, foolish, despised,
Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.

139Through me forbidden voices;
Voices of sexes and lusts—voices veil'd, and I remove
the veil;
Voices indecent, by me clarified and transfigur'd.

140I do not press my fingers across my mouth;
I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the
head and heart;
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

141I believe in the flesh and the appetites;
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part
and tag of me is a miracle.

142Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy what-
ever I touch or am touch'd from;
The scent of these arm-pits, aroma finer than prayer;
This head more than churches, bibles, and all the
creeds.

143If I worship one thing more than another, it shall
be the spread of my own body, or any part of it.

144Translucent mould of me, it shall be you!
Shaded ledges and rests, it shall be you!
Firm masculine colter, it shall be you.

145Whatever goes to the tilth of me, it shall be you!
You my rich blood! Your milky stream, pale strippings
of my life.

146Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall be
you!
My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions.

147Root of wash'd sweet flag! timorous pond-snipe!
nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you!


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 56] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Mix'd tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be
you!
Trickling sap of maple! fibre of manly wheat! it shall
be you!

148Sun so generous, it shall be you!
Vapors lighting and shading my face, it shall be you!
You sweaty brooks and dews, it shall be you!
Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me, it
shall be you!
Broad, muscular fields! branches of live oak! loving
lounger in my winding paths! it shall be you!
Hands I have taken—face I have kiss'd—mortal I have
ever touch'd! it shall be you.

149I dote on myself—there is that lot of me, and all so
luscious;
Each moment, and whatever happens, thrills me with
joy.

150O I am wonderful!
I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the
cause of my faintest wish;
Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause
of the friendship I take again.

151That I walk up my stoop! I pause to consider if it
really be;
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than
the metaphysics of books.

152To behold the day-break!
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous
shadows;
The air tastes good to my palate.

153Hefts of the moving world, at innocent gambols,
silently rising, freshly exuding,
Scooting obliquely high and low.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 57] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



154Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous
prongs;
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.

155The earth by the sky staid with—the daily close of
their junction;
The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over
my head;
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be
master!


25

156Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sun-rise
would kill me,
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of
me.

157We also ascend, dazzling and tremendous as the
sun;
We found our own, O my Soul, in the calm and cool
of the daybreak.

158My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach;
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds, and
volumes of worlds.

159Speech is the twin of my vision—it is unequal to
measure itself;
It provokes me forever;
It says sarcastically, Walt, you contain enough—why
don't you let it out, then?

160Come now, I will not be tantalized—you conceive
too much of articulation.

161Do you not know, O speech, how the buds beneath
you are folded?
Waiting in gloom, protected by frost;
The dirt receding before my prophetical screams;
I underlying causes, to balance them at last;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 58] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



My knowledge my live parts—it keeping tally with the
meaning of things,
HAPPINESS—which, whoever hears me, let him or her set
out in search of this day.

162My final merit I refuse you—I refuse putting from
me what I really am;
Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me;
I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking to-
ward you.

163Writing and talk do not prove me;
I carry the plenum of proof, and everything else, in my
face;
With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skep-
tic.


26

164I think I will do nothing now but listen,
To accrue what I hear into myself—to let sounds con-
tribute toward me.

165I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat,
gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my
meals;
I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human
voice;
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or
following;
Sounds of the city, and sounds out of the city—sounds
of the day and night;
Talkative young ones to those that like them—the loud
laugh of work-people at their meals;
The angry base of disjointed friendship—the faint tones
of the sick;
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips
pronouncing a death-sentence;
The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the
wharves—the refrain of the anchor-lifters;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 59] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



The ring of alarm-bells—the cry of fire—the whirr of
swift-streaking engines and hose-carts, with pre-
monitory tinkles, and color'd lights;
The steam-whistle—the solid roll of the train of ap-
proaching cars;
The slow-march play'd at the head of the association,
marching two and two;
(They go to guard some corpse—the flag tops are
draped with black muslin.)

166I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man's heart's
complaint;)
I hear the key'd cornet—it glides quickly in through
my ears;
It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and
breast.

167I hear the chorus—it is a grand opera;
Ah, this indeed is music! This suits me.

168A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me;
The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me
full.

169I hear the train'd soprano—(what work, with hers,
is this?)
The orchestra whirls me wider than Uranus flies;
It wrenches such ardors from me, I did not know I
possess'd them;
It sails me—I dab with bare feet—they are lick'd by
the indolent waves;
I am exposed, cut by bitter and angry hail—I lose my
breath,
Steep'd amid honey'd morphine, my windpipe throt-
tled in fakes of death;
At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,
And that we call BEING.




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 60] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



27

170To be, in any form—what is that?
(Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back
thither;)
If nothing lay more develop'd, the quahaug in its cal-
lous shell were enough.

171Mine is no callous shell;
I have instant conductors all over me, whether I pass
or stop;
They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through
me.

172I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am
happy;
To touch my person to some one else's is about as much
as I can stand.


28

173Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new iden-
tity,
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,
Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help
them,
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what
is hardly different from myself;
On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs,
Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip,
Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial,
Depriving me of my best, as for a purpose,
Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist,
Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight
and pasture-fields,
Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away,
They bribed to swap off with touch, and go and graze
at the edges of me;
No consideration, no regard for my draining strength
or my anger;
Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a
while,


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 61] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry
me.

174The sentries desert every other part of me;
They have left me helpless to a red marauder;
They all come to the headland, to witness and assist
against me.

175I am given up by traitors;
I talk wildly—I have lost my wits—I and nobody else
am the greatest traitor;
I went myself first to the headland—my own hands car-
ried me there.

176You villain touch! what are you doing? My breath
is tight in its throat;
Unclench your floodgates! you are too much for me.


29

177Blind, loving, wrestling touch! sheath'd, hooded,
sharp tooth'd touch!
Did it make you ache so, leaving me?

178Parting, track'd by arriving—perpetual payment of
perpetual loan;
Rich, showering rain, and recompense richer after-
ward.

179Sprouts take and accumulate—stand by the curb
prolific and vital:
Landscapes, projected, masculine, full-sized and golden.


30

180All truths wait in all things;
They neither hasten their own delivery, nor resist it;
They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon;
The insignificant is as big to me as any;
(What is less or more than a touch?)

181



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 62] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Logic and sermons never convince;
The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.

182Only what proves itself to every man and woman is
so;
Only what nobody denies is so.

183A minute and a drop of me settle my brain;
I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and
lamps,
And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or
woman,
And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have
for each other,
And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson
until it becomes omnific,
And until every one shall delight us, and we them.


31

184I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-
work of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand,
and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'uvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of
heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all
machinery,
And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses
any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of
infidels,
And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at
the farmer's girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and
baking short-cake.

185I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss,
fruits, grains, esculent roots,
And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over,


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 63] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



And have distanced what is behind me for good rea-
sons,
And call anything close again, when I desire it.

186In vain the speeding or shyness;
In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against
my approach;
In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder'd
bones;
In vain objects stand leagues off, and assume manifold
shapes;
In vain the ocean settling in hollows, and the great
monsters lying low;
In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky;
In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs;
In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods;
In vain the razor-bill'd auk sails far north to Labrador;
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of
the cliff.


32

187I think I could turn and live with animals, they are
so placid and self-contain'd;
I stand and look at them long and long.

188They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their
sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the
mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived
thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole
earth.

189So they show their relations to me, and I accept
them;
They bring me tokens of myself—they evince them
plainly in their possession.

190



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 64] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



I wonder where they get those tokens:
Did I pass that way huge times ago, and negligently
drop them?
Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among
them;
Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remem-
brancers;
Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him
on brotherly terms.

191A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive
to my caresses,
Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears,
Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
Eyes full of sparkling wickedness—ears finely cut, flex-
ibly moving.

192His nostrils dilate, as my heels embrace him;
His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, as we race
around and return.

193I but use you a moment, then I resign you, stallion;
Why do I need your paces, when I myself out-gallop
them?
Even, as I stand or sit, passing faster than you.


33

194O swift wind! O space and time! now I see it is
true, what I guessed at;
What I guess'd when I loaf'd on the grass;
What I guess'd while I lay alone in my bed,
And again as I walk'd the beach under the paling stars
of the morning.

195My ties and ballasts leave me—I travel—I sail—my
elbows rest in the sea-gaps;
I skirt the sierras—my palms cover continents;
I am afoot with my vision.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 65] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



196By the city's quadrangular houses—in log huts—
camping with lumbermen;
Along the ruts of the turnpike—along the dry gulch
and rivulet bed;
Weeding my onion-patch, or hoeing rows of carrots and
parsnips—crossing savannas—trailing in forests;
Prospecting—gold-digging—girdling the trees of a new
purchase;
Scorch'd ankle-deep by the hot sand—hauling my boat
down the shallow river;
Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead
—where the buck turns furiously at the hunter;
Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock
—where the otter is feeding on fish;
Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the
bayou;
Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey—
where the beaver pats the mud with his paddle-
shaped tail;
Over the growing sugar—over the yellow-flower'd cotton
plant—over the rice in its low moist field;
Over the shar-peak'd farm house, with its scallop'd
scum and slender shoots from the gutters;
Over the western persimmon—over the long-leav'd corn
—over the delicate blue-flower flax;
Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and
buzzer there with the rest;
Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades
in the breeze;
Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, hold-
ing on by low scragged limbs;
Walking the path worn in the grass, and beat through
the leaves of the brush;
Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods and the
wheat-lot;
Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve—where
the great gold-bug drops through the dark;
Where flails keep time on the barn-floor;
Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree
and flows to the meadow;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 66] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremu-
lous shuddering of their hides;
Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen—where
andirons straddle the hearth-slab—where cob-
webs fall in festoons from the rafters;
Where trip-hammers crash—where the press is whirling
its cylinders;
Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes
under its ribs;
Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, (float-
ing in it myself, and looking composedly down;)
Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose—where
the heat hatches pale-green eggs in the dented
sand;
Where the she-whale swims with her calf, and never
forsakes it;
Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long pennant
of smoke;
Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of
the water;
Where the half-burn'd brig is riding on unknown cur-
rents,
Where shells grow to her slimy deck—where the dead
are corrupting below;
Where the dense-starr'd flag is borne at the head of
the regiments;
Approaching Manhattan, up by the long-stretching
island;
Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my
countenance;
Upon a door-step—upon the horse-block of hard wood
outside;
Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs, or a
good game of base-ball;
At he-festivals, with blackguard jibes, ironical license,
bull-dances, drinking, laughter;
At the cider-mill, tasting the sweets of the brown
mash, sucking the juice through a straw;
At apple-peelings, wanting kisses for all the red fruit I
find;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 67] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings,
house-raisings:
Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles,
cackles, screams, weeps;
Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard—where the
dry-stalks are scattered—where the brood-cow
waits in the hovel;
Where the bull advances to do his masculine work—
where the stud to the mare—where the cock is
treading the hen;
Where the heifers browse—where geese nip their food
with short jerks;
Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless
and lonesome prairie;
Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the
square miles far and near;
Where the humming-bird shimmers—where the neck of
the long-lived swan is curving and winding;
Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where
she laughs her near-human laugh;
Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden,
half hid by the high weeds;
Where band-neck'd partridges roost in a ring on the
ground with their heads out;
Where burial coaches enter the arch'd gates of a
cemetery;
Where winter wolves bark amidst wastes of snow and
icicled trees;
Where the yellow-crowned heron comes to the edge of
the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs;
Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools the
warm noon;
Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on the
walnut-tree over the well:
Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver-
wired leaves;
Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under conical
firs;
Through the gymnasium—through the curtain'd saloon
—through the office or public hall;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 68] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Pleas'd with the native, and pleas'd with the foreign—
pleas'd with the new and old;
Pleas'd with women, the homely as well as the hand-
some;
Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet
and talks melodiously;
Pleas'd with the tune of the choir of the white-wash'd
church;
Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Metho-
dist preacher, or any preacher—impress'd seri-
ously at the camp-meeting:
Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the
whole forenoon—flatting the flesh of my nose
on the thick plate-glass;
Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn'd up
to the clouds,
My right and left arms round the sides of two friends,
and I in the middle:
Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek'd bush-
boy—(behind me he rides at the drape of the
day:)
Far from the settlements, studying the print of animals'
feet, or the moccasin print;
By the cot in the hospital, reaching lemonade to a
feverish patient;
Nigh the coffin'd corpse when all is still, examining with
a candle:
Voyaging to every port, to dicker and adventure;
Hurrying with the modern crowd, as eager and fickle
as any;
Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife
him;
Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone
from me a long while;
Walking the old hills of Judea, with the beautiful gentle
God by my side;
Speeding through space—speeding through heaven and
the stars;
Speeding amid the seven satellites, and the broad ring,
and the diameter of eighty thousand miles;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 69] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Speeding with tail'd meteors—throwing fire balls like
the rest;
Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full
mother in its belly;
Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning,
Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing;
I tread day and night such roads.

197I visit the orchard of spheres, and look at the
product;
And look at quintillions ripened, and look at quintillions
green.

198I fly the flight of the fluid and swallowing soul;
My course runs below the soundings of plummets.

199I help myself to material and immaterial;
No guard can shut me off, nor law prevent me.

200I anchor my ship for a little while only;
My messengers continually cruise away, or bring their
returns to me.

201I go hunting polar furs and the seal—leaping chasms
with a pike-pointed staff—clinging to topples of
brittle and blue.

202I ascend to the foretruck;
I take my place late at night in the crow's-nest;
We sail the arctic sea—it is plenty light enough;
Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the
wonderful beauty;
The enormous masses of ice pass me, and I pass them—
the scenery is plain in all directions;
The white-topt mountains show in the distance—I fling
out my fancies towards them;
(We are approaching some great battle-field in which
we are soon to be engaged;
We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment—we
pass with still feet and caution;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 70] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin'd
city;
The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the
living cities of the globe.)

203I am a free companion—I bivouac by invading
watchfires.

204I turn the bridegroom out of bed, and stay with the
bride myself;
I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.

205My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the rail
of the stairs;
They fetch my man's body up, dripping and drown'd.

206I understand the large hearts of heroes,
The courage of present times and all times;
How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck
of the steam-ship, and Death chasing it up and
down the storm;
How he knuckled tight, and gave not back one inch,
and was faithful of days and faithful of nights,
And chalk'd in large letters, on a board, Be of good
cheer, we will not desert you:
How he follow'd with them, and tack'd with them—and
would not give it up;
How he saved the drifting company at last:
How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when boated
from the side of their prepared graves;
How the silent old-faced infants, and the lifted sick, and
the sharp-lipp'd unshaved men:
All this I swallow—it tastes good—I like it well—it
becomes mine;
I am the man—I suffer'd—I was there.

207The disdain and calmness of olden martyrs;
The mother, condemn'd for a witch, burnt with dry
wood, her children gazing on;
The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the
fence, blowing, cover'd with sweat;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 71] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck—
the murderous buckshot and the bullets;
All these I feel, or am.

208I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the
dogs,
Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack
the marksmen;
I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd
with the ooze of my skin;
I fall on the weeds and stones;
The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close,
Taunt my dizzy ears, and beat me violently over the
head with whip-stocks.

209Agonies are one of my changes of garments;
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels—I my-
self become the wounded person;
My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and
observe.

210I am the mash'd fireman with breast-bone broken;
Tumbling walls buried me in their debris;
Heat and smoke I inspired—I heard the yelling shouts
of my comrades;
I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels;
They have clear'd the beams away—they tenderly lift
me forth.

211I lie in the night air in my red shirt—the pervading
hush is for my sake;
Painless after all I lie, exhausted but not so unhappy;
White and beautiful are the faces around me—the
heads are bared of their fire-caps;
The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the
torches.

212Distant and dead resuscitate;
They show as the dial or move as the hands of me—
I am the clock myself.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 72] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



213I am an old artillerist—I tell of my fort's bombard-
ment;
I am there again.

214Again the long roll of the drummers;
Again the attacking cannon, mortars;
Again, to my listening ears, the cannon responsive.

215I take part—I see and hear the whole;
The cries, curses, roar—the plaudits for well-aimed
shots;
The ambulanza slowly passing, trailing its red drip;
Workmen searching after damages, making indispen-
sable repairs;
The fall of grenades through the rent roof—the fan-
shaped explosion;
The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in
the air.

216Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general—he
furiously waves with his hand;
He gasps through the clot, Mind not me—mind—the
entrenchments.


34

217Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth;
(I tell not the fall of Alamo,
Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo,
The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo;)
'Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hun-
dred and twelve young men.

218Retreating, they had form'd in a hollow square, with
their baggage for breastworks;
Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's,
nine times their number, was the price they took
in advance;
Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition
gone;
They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv'd
writing and seal, gave up their arms, and march'd
back prisoners of war.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 73] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



219They were the glory of the race of rangers;
Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship,
Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affec-
tionate,
Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hun-
ters,
Not a single one over thirty years of age.

220The second First-day morning they were brought
out in squads, and massacred—it was beautiful
early summer;
The work commenced about five o'clock, and was over
by eight.

221None obey'd the command to kneel;
Some made a mad and helpless rush—some stood stark
and straight;
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart—the liv-
ing and dead lay together;
The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt—the new-
comers saw them there;
Some, half-kill'd, attempted to crawl away;
These were despatch'd with bayonets, or batter'd with
the blunts of muskets;
A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till
two more came to release him;
The three were all torn, and cover'd with the boy's
blood.

222At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies:
That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and
twelve young men.


35

223Would you hear of an old-fashion'd sea-fight?
Would you learn who won by the light of the moon and
stars?
List to the story as my grandmother's father, the sailor,
told it to me.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 74] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



224Our foe was no skulk in his ship, I tell you, (said he;)
His was the surly English pluck—and there is no
tougher or truer, and never was, and never will
be;
Along the lower'd eve he came, horribly raking us.

225We closed with him—the yards entangled—the can-
non touch'd;
My captain lash'd fast with his own hands.

226We had receiv'd some eighteen pound shots under
the water;
On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at
the first fire, killing all around, and blowing up
overhead.

227Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark;
Ten o'clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks
on the gain, and five feet of water reported;
The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in
the after-hold, to give them a chance for them-
selves.

228The transit to and from the magazine is now stopt
by the sentinels,
They see so many strange faces, they do not know whom
to trust.

229Our frigate takes fire;
The other asks if we demand quarter?
If our colors are struck, and the fighting is done?

230Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my little
captain,
We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just
begun our part of the fighting.

231Only three guns are in use;
One is directed by the captain himself against the ene-
my's main-mast;
Two, well served with grape and canister, silence his
musketry and clear his decks.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 75] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



232The tops alone second the fire of this little battery,
especially the main-top;
They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.

233Not a moment's cease;
The leaks again fast on the pumps—the fire eats toward
the powder-magazine.

234One of the pumps has been shot away—it is gene-
rally thought we are sinking.

235Serene stands the little captain;
He is not hurried—his voice is neither high nor low;
His eyes give more light to us than our battle-lan-
terns.

236Toward twelve at night, there in the beams of the
moon, they surrender to us.


36

237Stretch'd and still lies the midnight;
Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the dark-
ness;
Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking—preparations to
pass to the one we have conquer'd;
The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders
through a countenance white as a sheet;
Near by, the corpse of the child that serv'd in the
cabin;
The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and
carefully curl'd whiskers;
The flames, spite of all that can be done, flickering
aloft and below;
The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for
duty;
Formless stacks of bodies, and bodies by themselves—
dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars,
Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the
soothe of waves,


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 76] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels,
strong scent,
Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and
fields by the shore, death-messages given in
charge to survivors,
The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth of
his saw,
Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild
scream, and long, dull, tapering groan;
These so—these irretrievable.


37

238O Christ! This is mastering me!
In at the conquer'd doors they crowd. I am possess'd.

239I embody all presences outlaw'd or suffering;
See myself in prison shaped like another man,
And feel the dull unintermitted pain.

240For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their car-
bines and keep watch;
It is I let out in the morning, and barr'd at night.

241Not a mutineer walks handcuff'd to jail, but I am
handcuff'd to him and walk by his side;
(I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one,
with sweat on my twitching lips.)

242Not a youngster is taken for larceny, but I go up
too, and am tried and sentenced.

243Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp, but I also
lie at the last gasp;
My face is ash-color'd—my sinews gnarl—away from me
people retreat.

244Askers embody themselves in me, and I am embo-
died in them;
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 77] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



245Enough! enough! enough!
Somehow I have been stunn'd, Stand back!
Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers,
dreams, gaping;
I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.

246That I could forget the mockers and insults!
That I could forget the trickling tears, and the blows
of the bludgeons and hammers!
That I could look with a separate look on my own cru-
cifixion and bloody crowning.

247I remember now;
I resume the overstaid fraction;
The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to
it, or to any graves;
Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me.

248I troop forth replenish'd with supreme power, one
of an average unending procession;
Inland and sea-coast we go, and we pass all boundary
lines;
Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole
earth;
The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thou-
sands of years.

249Eleves, I salute you! come forward!
Continue your annotations, continue your questionings.


39

250The friendly and flowing savage, Who is he?
Is he waiting for civilization, or past it, and master-
ing it?

251Is he some south-westerner, raised out-doors? Is he
Kanadian?


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 78] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Is he from the Mississippi country? Iowa, Oregon,
California? the mountains? prairie-life, bush-
life? or from the sea?

252Wherever he goes, men and women accept and de-
sire him;
They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to
them, stay with them.

253Behavior lawless as snow-flakes, words simple as
grass, uncomb'd head, laughter, and naivete,
Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes
emanations;
They descend in new forms from the tips of his fingers;
They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath—
they fly out of the glance of his eyes.


40

254Flaunt of the sunshine, I need not your bask,—lie
over!
You light surfaces only—I force surfaces and depths
also.

255Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands;
Say, old Top-knot! what do you want?

256Man or woman! I might tell how I like you, but
cannot;
And might tell what it is in me, and what it is in you,
but cannot;
And might tell that pining I have—that pulse of my
nights and days.

257Behold! I do not give lectures, or a little charity;
When I give, I give myself.

258You there, impotent, loose in the knees!
Open your scarf'd chops till I blow grit within you;
Spread your palms, and lift the flaps of your pockets;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 79] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



I am not to be denied—I compel—I have stores? plenty
and to spare;
And anything I have I bestow.

259I do not ask who you are—that is not so important
to me;
You can do nothing, and be nothing, but what I will
infold you.

260To cotton-field drudge or cleaner of privies I lean;
On his right cheek I put the family kiss,
And in my soul I swear, I never will deny him.

261On women fit for conception I start bigger and
nimbler babes;
(This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arrogant
republics.)

262To any one dying—thither I speed, and twist the
knob of the door;
Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed;
Let the physician and the priest go home.

263I seize the descending man, and raise him with re-
sistless will.

264O despairer, here is my neck;
By God! you shall not go down! Hang your whole
weight upon me.

265I dilate you with tremendous breath—I buoy you
up;
Every room of the house do I fill with an arm'd force,
Lovers of me, bafflers of graves.

266Sleep! I and they keep guard all night;
Not doubt—not decease shall dare to lay finger upon
you;
I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to
myself;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 80] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



And when you rise in the mornng you will find what I
tell you is so.


41

267I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on
their backs;
And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed
help.

268I heard what was said of the universe;
Heard it and heard it of several thousand years:
It is middling well as far as it goes,—But is that all?

269Magnifying and applying come I,
Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,
Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah,
Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules his
grandson;
Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha,
In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf,
the crucifix engraved,
With Odin, and the hideous-faced Mexitli, and every
idol and image;
Taking them all for what they are worth, and not a cent
more;
Admitting they were alive and did the work of their
days;
(They bore mites, as for unfledg'd birds, who have now
to rise and fly and sing for themselves;)
Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in
myself—bestowing them freely on each man and
woman I see;
Discovering as much, or more, in a framer framing a
house;
Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd-up
sleeves, driving the mallet and chisel;
Not objecting to special revelations—considering a curl
of smoke, or a hair on the back of my hand, just
as curious as any revelation;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 81] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes
no less to me than the Gods of the antique wars;
Minding their voices peal through the crash of destruc-
tion,
Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd laths—
their white foreheads whole and unhurt out of
the flames:
By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple in-
terceding for every person born;
Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three
lusty angels with shirts bagg'd out at their waists;
The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins
past and to come,
Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee lawyers
for his brother, and sit by him while he is tried
for forgery;
What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square
rod about me, and not filling the square rod
then;
The bull and the bug never worship'd half enough;
Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd;
The supernatural of no account—myself waiting my
time to be one of the Supremes;
The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much
good as the best, and be as prodigious:
By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator;
Putting myself here and now to the ambush'd womb of
the shadows.


42

270A call in the midst of the crowd;
My own voice, orotund, sweeping, and final.

271Come my children;
Come my boys and girls, my women, household, and
intimates;
Now the performer launches his nerve—he has pass'd
his prelude on the reeds within.

272Easily written, loose-finger'd chords! I feel the thrum
of your climax and close.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 82] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



273My head slues round on my neck;
Music rolls, but not from the organ;
Folks are around me, but they are no household of
mine.

274Ever the hard, unsunk ground;
Ever the eaters and drinkers—ever the upward and
downward sun—ever the air and the ceaseless
tides;
Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, real;
Ever the old inexplicable query—ever that thorn'd
thumb—that breath of itches and thirsts;
Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly
one hides, and bring him forth;
Ever love—ever the sobbing liquid of life;
Ever the bandage under the chin—ever the tressels of
death.

275Here and there, with dimes on the eyes, walking;
To feed the greed of the belly, the brains liberally
spooning;
Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never
once going;
Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff
for payment receiving;
A few idly owning, and they the wheat continually
claiming.

276This is the city, and I am one of the citizens;
Whatever interests the rest interests me—politics, wars,
markets, newspapers, schools,
Benevolent societies, improvements, banks, tariffs,
steamships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate,
and personal estate.

277The little plentiful mannikins, skipping around in
collars and tail'd coats,
I am aware who they are—(they are positively not
worms or fleas.)



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 83] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



278I acknowledge the duplicates of myself—the weakest
and shallowest is deathless with me;
What I do and say, the same waits for them;
Every thought that flounders in me, the same flounders
in them.

279I know perfectly well my own egotism;
I know my omnivorous lines, and will not write any
less;
And would fetch you, whoever you are, flush with
myself;

280No words of routine are mine,
But abruptly to question, to leap beyond, yet nearer
bring:
This printed and bound book—but the printer, and the
printing-office boy?
The well-taken photographs—but your wife or friend
close and solid in your arms?
The black ship, mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in
her turrets—but the pluck of the captain and
engineers?
In the houses, the dishes and fare and furniture—but
the host and hostess, and the look-out of their
eyes?
The sky up there—yet here, or next door, or across the
way?
The saints and sages in history—but you yourself?
Sermons, creeds, theology—but the fathomless human
brain,
And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?


43

281I do not despise you, priests;
My faith is the greatest of faiths, and the least of faiths,
Enclosing worship ancient and modern, and all between
ancient and modern,
Believing I shall come again upon the earth after five
thousand years,
Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the Gods,
saluting the sun,


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 84] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



Making a fetish of the first rock or stump, powwowing
with sticks in the circle of obis,
Helping the lama or brahmin as he trims the lamps of
the idols,
Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic proces-
sion—rapt and austere in the woods, a gymno-
sophist,
Drinking mead from the skull-cup—to Shastas and
Vedas admirant—minding the Koran,
Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the stone
and knife, beating the serpent-skin drum,
Accepting the Gospels—accepting him that was cruci-
fied, knowing assuredly that he is divine,
To the mass kneeling, or the puritan's prayer rising, or
sitting patiently in a pew,
Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting
dead-like till my spirit arouses me,
Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of
pavement and land,
Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.

282One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang, I turn
and talk, like a man leaving charges before a
journey.

283Down-hearted doubters, dull and excluded,
Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten'd,
atheistical;
I know every one of you—I know the sea of torment,
doubt, despair and unbelief.

284How the flukes splash!
How they contort, rapid as lightning, with spasms, and
spouts of blood!

285Be at peace, bloody flukes of doubters and sullen
mopers;
I take my place among you as much as among any;
The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the same,
And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me,
all, precisely the same.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 85] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



286I do not know what is untried and afterward;
But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and can-
not fail.

287Each who passes is consider'd—each who stops is
consider'd—not a single one can it fail.

288It cannot fail the young man who died and was
buried,
Nor the young woman who died and was put by his
side,
Nor the little child that peep'd in at the door, and then
drew back, and was never seen again,
Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and
feels it with bitterness worse than gall,
Nor him in the poor house, tubercled by rum and the
bad disorder,
Nor the numberless slaughter'd and wreck'd—nor the
brutish koboo call'd the ordure of humanity,
Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths for food
to slip in,
Nor anything in the earth, or down in the oldest graves
of the earth,
Nor anything in the myriads of spheres—nor one of
the myriads of myriads that inhabit them,
Nor the present—nor the least wisp that is known.


44

289It is time to explain myself—Let us stand up.

290What is known I strip away;
I launch all men and women forward with me into THE
UNKNOWN.

291The clock indicates the moment—but what does eter-
nity indicate?

292We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and
summers;
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 86] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



293Births have brought us richness and variety,
And other births will bring us richness and variety.

294I do not call one greater and one smaller;
That which fills its period and place is equal to any.

295Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my
brother, my sister?
I am sorry for you—they are not murderous or jealous
upon me;
All has been gentle with me—I keep no account with
lamentation;
(What have I to do with lamentation?)

296I am an acme of things accomplish'd, and I an en-
closer of things to be.

297My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs;
On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches be-
tween the steps;
All below duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount.

298Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me;
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing—I know I was
even there;
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the leth-
argic mist,
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid
carbon.

299Long I was hugg'd close—long and long.

300Immense have been the preparations for me,
Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me.

301Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like
cheerful boatmen;
For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings;
They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 87] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



302Before I was born out of my mother, generations
guided me;
My embryo has never been torpid—nothing could over-
lay it.

303For it the nebula cohered to an orb,
The long slow strata piled to rest it on,
Vast vegetables gave it sustenance,
Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths, and
deposited it with care.

304All forces have been steadily employ'd to complete
and delight me;
Now on this spot I stand with my robust Soul.


45

305O span of youth! Ever-push'd elasticity!
O manhood, balanced, florid, and full.

306My lovers suffocate me!
Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin,
Jostling me through streets and public halls—coming
naked to me at night,
Crying by day Ahoy! from the rocks of the river—
swinging and chirping over my head,
Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled under-
brush,
Lighting on every moment of my life,
Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses,
Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts, and
giving them to be mine.

307Old age superbly rising! O welcome, ineffable grace
of dying days!

308Every condition promulges not only itself—it pro-
mulges what grows after and out of itself,
And the dark hush promulges as much as any.

309I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled
systems,


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 88] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



And all I see, multiplied as high as I can cipher, edge
but the rim of the farther systems.

310Winder and wider they spread, expanding, always ex-
panding,
Outward and outward, and forever outward.

311My sun has his sun, and round him obediently
wheels,
He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit,
And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest
inside them.

312There is no stoppage, and never can be stoppage;
If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon their
surfaces, were this moment reduced back to a
pallid float, it would not avail in the long run;
We should surely bring up again where we now stand,
And as surely go as much farther—and then farther and
farther.

313A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic
leagues, do not hazard the span, or make it im-
patient;
They are but parts—anything is but a part.

314See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of that;
Count ever so much, there is limitless time around that.

315My rendezvous is appointed—it is certain;
The Lord will be there, and wait till I come, on perfect
terms;
(The great Camerado, the lover true for whom I pine,
will be there.)


46

316I know I have, the best of time and space, and was
never measured, and never will be measured.

317I tramp a perpetual journey—(come listen all!)
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff
cut from the woods;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 89] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair;
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy;
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, or exchange;
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a
knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents,
and a plain public road.

318Not I—not any one else, can travel that road for
you,
You must travel it for yourself.

319It is not far—it is within reach;
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and
did not know;
Perhaps it is every where on water and on land.

320Shoulder your duds, dear son, and I will mine, and
let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as
we go.

321If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff
of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to
me;
For after we start, we never lie by again.

322This day before dawn I ascended a hill, and look'd at
the crowded heaven,
And I said to my Spirit, When we become the enfolders
of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of
everything in them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied
then?
And my Spirit said, No, we but level that lift, to pass and
continue beyond.

323You are also asking me questions, and I hear you;
I answer that I cannot answer—you must find out for
yourself.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 90] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



324Sit a while, dear son;
Here are biscuits to eat, and here is milk to drink;
But as soon as you sleep, and renew yourself in sweet
clothes, I kiss you with a good-bye kiss, and open
the gate for your egress hence.

325Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams;
Now I wash the gum from your eyes;
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light, and
of every moment of your life.

326Long have you timidly waded, holding a plank by
the shore;
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to
me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.


47

327I am the teacher of athletes;
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own,
proves the width of my own;
He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy
the teacher.

328The boy I love, the same becomes a man, not
through derived power, but in his own right,
Wicked, rather than virtuous out of conformity or fear,
Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak,
Unrequited love, or a slight, cutting him worse than
sharp steel cuts,
First-rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull's eye, to sail a
skiff, to sing a song, or play on the banjo,
Preferring scars, and the beard, and faces pitted with
small-pox, over all latherers,
And those well tann'd to those that keep out of the sun.

329I teach straying from me—yet who can stray from
me?
I follow you, whoever you are, from the present hour;
My words itch at your ears till you understand them.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 91] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



330I do not say these things for a dollar, or to fill up the
time while I wait for a boat;
It is you talking just as much as myself—I act as the
tongue of you;
Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen'd.

331I swear I will never again mention love or death in-
side a house,
And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only to
him or her who privately stays with me in the
open air.

332If you would understand me, go to the heights or
water-shore;
The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or mo-
tion of waves a key;
The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words.

333No shutter'd room or school can commune with me,
But roughs and little children better than they.

334The young mechanic is closest to me—he knows me
well;
The woodman, that takes his axe and jug with him,
shall take me with him all day;
The farm-boy, ploughing in the field, feels good at the
sound of my voice;
In vessels that sail, my words sail—I go with fishermen
and seamen, and love them.

335The soldier camp'd, or upon the march, is mine;
On the night ere the pending battle, many seek me, and
I do not fail them;
On the solemn night (it may be their last,) those that
know me, seek me.

336My face rubs to the hunter's face, when he lies down
alone in his blanket;
The driver, thinking of me, does not mind the jolt of
his wagon;


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 92] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



The young mother and old mother comprehend me;
The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment, and
forget where they are;
They and all would resume what I have told them.


48

337I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul;
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's-
self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy, walks
to his own funeral, drest in his shroud,
And I or you, pocketless of a dime, may purchase the
pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye, or show a bean in its pod,
confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young
man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the
wheel'd universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand
cool and composed before a million universes.

338And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I, who am curious about each, am not curious about
God;
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about
God, and about death.)

339I hear and behold God in every object, yet under-
stand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful
than myself.

340Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four,
and each moment then;
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my
own face in the glass;
I find letters from God dropt in the street—and every
one is sign'd by God's name,


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 93] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



And I leave them where they are, for I know that
wheresoe'er I go,
Others will punctually come forever and ever.


49

341And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortal-
ity, it is idle to try to alarm me.

342To his work without flinching the accoucheur comes;
I see the elder-hand, pressing, receiving, supporting;
I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors,
And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape.

343And as to you, Corpse, I think you are good manure
—but that does not offend me;
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing,
I reach to the leafy lips—I reach to the polish'd breasts
of melons.

344And as to you Life, I reckon you are the leavings of
many deaths;
(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times
before.)

345I hear you whispering there, O stars of heaven;
O suns! O grass of graves! O perpetual transfers and
promotions!
If you do not say anything, how can I say anything?

346Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest,
Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing
twilight,
Toss, sparkles of day and dusk! toss on the black stems
that decay in the muck!
Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs.

347I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night;
I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sunbeams
reflected;
And debouch to the steady and central from the offspring
great or small,




- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 94] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



50

348There is that in me—I do not know what it is—but
I know it is in me.

349Wrench'd and sweaty—calm and cool then my body
becomes;
I sleep—I sleep long.

350I do not know it—it is without name—it is a word
unsaid;
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.

351Something it swings on more than the earth I swing
on;
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes
me.

352Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for
my brothers and sisters.

353Do you see, O my brothers and sisters?
It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan—it is
eternal life—it is HAPPINESS.


51

354The past and present wilt—I have fill'd them, emp-
tied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

355Listener up there! Here, you! What have you to
confide to me?
Look in my face, while I snuff the sidle of evening;
Talk honestly—no one else hears you, and I stay only a
minute longer.

356Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself;
(I am large—I contain multitudes.)

357I concentrate toward them that are nigh—I wait on
the door-slab.



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 95] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



358Who has done his day's work? Who will soonest be
through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?

359Will you speak before I am gone? Will you prove
already too late?


52

360The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he
complains of my gab and my loitering.

361I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable;
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

362The last scud of day holds back for me;
It flings my likeness after the rest, and true as any, on
the shadow'd wilds;
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

363I depart as air—I shake my white locks at the run-
away sun;
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

364I bequeath myself to the dirt, to grow from the
grass I love;
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-
soles.

365You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean;
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

366Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged;
Missing me one place, search another;
I stop somewhere waiting for you.


Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.