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Books by Whitman



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SONGS OF PARTING.


AS THE TIME DRAWS NIGH.

1

1As the time draws nigh, glooming, a cloud,
A dread beyond, of I know not what, darkens me.

2I shall go forth,
I shall traverse The States awhile—but I cannot tell
whither or how long;
Perhaps soon, some day or night while I am singing,
my voice will suddenly cease.


2

3O book, O chants! must all then amount to but this?
Must we barely arrive at this beginning of us?…
And yet it is enough, O soul!
O soul! we have positively appear'd—that is enough.



YEARS OF THE MODERN.

YEARS of the modern! years of the unperform'd!
Your horizon rises—I see it parting away for more
august dramas;
I see not America only—I see not only Liberty's nation,
but other nations preparing;


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I see tremendous entrances and exits—I see new com-
binations—I see the solidarity of races;
I see that force advancing with irresistible power on the
world's stage;
(Have the old forces, the old wars, played their parts?
are the acts suitable to them closed?)
I see Freedom, completely arm'd, and victorious, and
very haughty, with Law on one side, and Peace
on the other,
A stupendous Trio, all issuing forth against the idea of
caste;
—What historic denouements are these we so rapidly
approach?
I see men marching and countermarching by swift mil-
lions;
I see the frontiers and boundaries of the old aristocracies
broken;
I see the landmarks of European kings removed;
I see this day the People beginning their landmarks,
(all others give way;)
—Never were such sharp questions ask'd as this day;
Never was average man, his soul, more energetic, more
like a God;
Lo! how he urges and urges, leaving the masses no
rest;
His daring foot is on land and sea everywhere—he col-
onizes the Pacific, the archipelagoes;
With the steam-ship, the electric telegraph, the news-
paper, the wholesale engines of war,
With these, and the world-spreading factories, he inter-
links all geography, all lands;
—What whispers are these, O lands, running ahead of
you, passing under the seas?
Are all nations communing? is there going to be but
one heart to the globe?
Is humanity forming, en-masse?—for lo! tyrants trem-
ble, crowns grow dim;
The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a gen-
eral divine war;
No one knows what will happen next—such portents
fill the days and nights;


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Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vain-
ly try to pierce it, is full of phantoms;
Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes
around me;
This incredible rush and heat—this strange extatic
fever of dreams, O years!
Your dreams, O years, how they penetrate through me!
(I know not whether I sleep or wake!)
The perform'd America and Europe grow dim, retiring
in shadow behind me,
The unperform'd, more gigantic than ever, advance, ad-
vance upon me.


THOUGHTS.

1

OF these years I sing,
How they pass and have pass'd, through convuls'd
pains, as through parturitions;
How America illustrates birth, muscular youth, the
promise, the sure fulfillment, the Absolute Suc-
cess, despite of people—Illustrates evil as well as
good;
How many hold despairingly yet to the models de-
parted, caste, myths, obedience, compulsion, and
to infidelity;
How few see the arrived models, the Athletes, the
Western States—or see freedom or spirituality—
or hold any faith in results,
(But I see the Athletes—and I see the results of the war
glorious and inevitable—and they again leading
to other results;)
How the great cities appear—How the Democratic
masses, turbulent, wilful, as I love them;
How the whirl, the contest, the wrestle of evil with
good, the sounding and resounding, keep on
and on;


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How society waits unform'd, and is for a while between
things ended and things begun;
How America is the continent of glories, and of the
triumph of freedom, and of the Democracies,
and of the fruits of society, and of all that is
begun;
And how The States are complete in themselves—And
how all triumphs and glories are complete in
themselves, to lead onward,
And how these of mine, and of The States, will in their
turn be convuls'd, and serve other parturitions
and transitions,
And how all people, sights, combinations, the Demo-
cratic masses, too, serve—and how every fact,
and war itself, with all its horrors, serves,
And how now, or at any time, each serves the exquisite
transition of death.


2

OF seeds dropping into the ground—of birth,
Of the steady concentration of America, inland, upward,
to impregnable and swarming places,
Of what Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and the rest, are to be,
Of what a few years will show there in Nebraska, Col-
orado, Nevada, and the rest;
(Of afar, mounting the Northern Pacific to Sitka or
Aliaska;)
Of what the feuillage of America is the preparation for
—and of what all sights, North, South, East and
West, are;
Of This Union, soak'd, welded in blood—of the solemn
price paid—of the unnamed lost, ever present in
my mind;
—Of the temporary use of materials, for identity's sake,
Of the present, passing, departing—of the growth of
completer men than any yet,
Of myself, soon, perhaps, closing up my songs by these
shores,
Of California, of Oregon—and of me journeying to live
and sing there;


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Of the Western Sea—of the spread inland between it
and the spinal river,
Of the great pastoral area, athletic and feminine,
Of all sloping down there where the fresh free giver,
the mother, the Mississippi flows,
Of future women there—of happiness in those high
plateaus, ranging three thousand miles, warm
and cold;
Of mighty inland cities yet unsurvey'd, and unsus-
pected, (as I am also, and as it must be;)
Of the new and good names—of the modern develop-
ments—of inalienable homesteads;
Of a free and original life there—of simple diet and
clean and sweet blood;
Of litheness, majestic faces, clear eyes, and perfect
physique there;
Of immense spiritual results, future years, far west,
each side of the Anahuacs;
Of these leaves, well understood there, (being made for
that area;)
Of the native scorn of grossness and gain there;
(O it lurks in me night and day—What is gain, after
all, to savageness and freedom?)



Song at Sunset.

1SPLENDOR of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic—hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat—you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.

2Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness,
Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection,
Natural life of me, faithfully praising things;
Corroborating forever the triumph of things.



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3Illustrious every one!
Illustrious what we name space—sphere of unnum-
ber'd spirits;
Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all beings, even
the tiniest insect;
Illustrious the attribute of speech—the senses—the
body;
Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale
reflection on the new moon in the western sky!
Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch, to the last.

4Good in all,
In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals,
In the annual return of the seasons,
In the hilarity of youth,
In the strength and flush of manhood,
In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age,
In the superb vistas of Death.

5Wonderful to depart;
Wonderful to be here!
The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood!
To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand!
To prepare for sleep, for bed—to look on my rose-
color'd flesh;
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large;
To be this incredible God I am;
To have gone forth among other Gods—these men and
women I love.

6Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself!
How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles around!
How the clouds pass silently overhead!
How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun,
moon, stars, dart on and on!
How the water sports and sings! (Surely it is alive!)
How the trees rise and stand up—with strong trunks—
with branches and leaves!
(Surely there is something more in each of the trees—
some living Soul,)



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7O amazement of things! even the least particle!
O spirituality of things!
O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents
—now reaching me and America!
I take your strong chords—I intersperse them, and
cheerfully pass them forward.

8I too carol the sun, usher'd, or at noon, or, as now,
setting,
I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth, and
of all the growths of the earth,
I too have felt the resistless call of myself.

9As I sail'd down the Mississippi,
As I wander'd over the prairies,
As I have lived—As I have look'd through my windows,
my eyes,
As I went forth in the morning—As I beheld the light
breaking in the east;
As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and again
on the beach of the Western Sea;
As I roam'd the streets of inland Chicago—whatever
streets I have roam'd;
Or cities, or silent woods, or peace, or even amid the
sights of war;
Wherever I have been, I have charged myself with con-
tentment and triumph.

10I sing the Equalities, modern or old,
I sing the endless finales of things;
I say Nature continues—Glory continues;
I praise with electric voice;
For I do not see one imperfection in the universe;
And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last
in the universe.

11O setting sun! though the time has come,
I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated
adoration.



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WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN'D ASTRONOMER.

WHEN I heard the learn'd astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns
before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add,
divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lec-
tured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.


TO RICH GIVERS.

WHAT you give me, I cheerfully accept,
A little sustenance, a hut and garden, a little money—
these, as I rendezvous with my poems;
A traveler's lodging and breakfast as I journey through
The States—Why should I be ashamed to own
such gifts? Why to advertise for them?
For I myself am not one who bestows nothing upon
man and woman;
For I bestow upon any man or woman the entrance to
all the gifts of the universe.


THOUGHT.

OF what I write from myself—As if that were not the
resumé;
Of Histories—As if such, however complete, were not
less complete than the preceding poems;
As if those shreds, the records of nations, could possibly
be as lasting as the preceding poems;
As if here were not the amount of all nations, and of all
the lives of heroes.



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SO LONG!

1

1TO conclude—I announce what comes after me;
I announce mightier offspring, orators, days, and then,
for the present, depart.

2I remember I said, before my leaves sprang at all,
I would raise my voice jocund and strong, with reference
to consummations.

3When America does what was promis'd,
When there are plentiful athletic bards, inland and
seaboard,
When through These States walk a hundred millions of
superb persons,
When the rest part away for superb persons, and con-
tribute to them,
When breeds of the most perfect mothers denote
America,
Then to me and mine our due fruition.

4I have press'd through in my own right,
I have sung the Body and the Soul—War and Peace
have I sung,
And the songs of Life and of Birth—and shown that
there are many births:
I have offer'd my style to every one—I have journey'd
with confident step;
While my pleasure is yet at the full, I whisper, So long!
And take the young woman's hand, and the young
man's hand, for the last time.


2

5I announce natural persons to arise;
I announce justice triumphant;


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I announce uncompromising liberty and equality;
I announce the justification of candor, and the justifica-
tion of pride.

6I announce that the identity of These States is a
single identity only;
I announce the Union more and more compact, indis-
soluble;
I announce splendors and majesties to make all the
previous politics of the earth insignificant.

7I announce adhesiveness—I say it shall be limitless,
unloosen'd;
I say you shall yet find the friend you were looking for.

8I announce a man or woman coming—perhaps you
are the one, (So long!)
I announce the great individual, fluid as Nature, chaste,
affectionate, compassionate, fully armed.

9I announce a life that shall be copious, vehement,
spiritual, bold;
I announce an end that shall lightly and joyfully meet
its translation;
I announce myriads of youths, beautiful, gigantic, sweet-
blooded;
I announce a race of splendid and savage old men.


3

10O thicker and faster! (So long!)
O crowding too close upon me;
I foresee too much—it means more than I thought;
It appears to me I am dying.

11Hasten throat, and sound your last!
Salute me—salute the days once more. Peal the old
cry once more.

12Screaming electric, the atmosphere using,
At random glancing, each as I notice absorbing,


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Swiftly on, but a little while alighting,
Curious envelop'd messages delivering,
Sparkles hot, seed ethereal, down in the dirt dropping,
Myself unknowing, my commission obeying, to question
it never daring,
To ages, and ages yet, the growth of the seed leaving,
To troops out of me, out of the army, the war arising—
they the tasks I have set promulging,
To women certain whispers of myself bequeathing—
their affection me more clearly explaining,
To young men my problems offering—no dallier I—I
the muscle of their brains trying,
So I pass—a little time vocal, visible, contrary;
Afterward, a melodious echo, passionately bent for—
(death making me really undying;)
The best of me then when no longer visible—for toward
that I have been incessantly preparing.

13What is there more, that I lag and pause, and crouch
extended with unshut mouth?
Is there a single final farewell?


4

14My songs cease—I abandon them;
From behind the screen where I hid, I advance person-
ally, solely to you.

15Camerado! This is no book;
Who touches this, touches a man;
(Is it night? Are we here alone?)
It is I you hold, and who holds you;
I spring from the pages into your arms—decease calls
me forth.

16O how your fingers drowse me!
Your breath falls around me like dew—your pulse lulls
the tympans of my ears;
I feel immerged from head to foot;
Delicious—enough.



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17Enough, O deed impromptu and secret!
Enough, O gliding present! Enough, O summ'd-up
past!


5

18Dear friend, whoever you are, take this kiss,
I give it especially to you—Do not forget me;
I feel like one who has done work for the day, to retire
awhile;
I receive now again of my many translations—from my
avataras ascending—while others doubtless await
me;
An unknown sphere, more real than I dream'd, more
direct, darts awakening rays about me—So long!
Remember my words—I may again return,
I love you—I depart from materials;
I am as one disembodied, triumphant, dead.


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