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FACES

1

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The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a castrated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



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


2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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3

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

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

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

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

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


4

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

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



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

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

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

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

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


5

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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