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THESE I SINGING IN SPRING.

THESE I singing in spring collect for lovers,
(For who but I should understand lovers and all their sorrow and
joy?
And who but I should be the poet of comrades?)
Collecting I traverse the garden the world, but soon I pass the
gates,
Now along the pond-side, now wading in a little, fearing not the
wet,
Now by the post-and-rail fences where the old stones thrown there,
pick'd from the fields, have accumulated,
(Wild-flowers and vines and weeds come up through the stones
and partly cover them, beyond these I pass,)
Far, far in the forest, or sauntering later in summer, before I think
where I go,
Solitary, smelling the earthy smell, stopping now and then in the
silence,
Alone I had thought, yet soon a troop gathers around me,
Some walk by my side and some behind, and some embrace my
arms or neck,
They the spirits of dear friends dead or alive, thicker they come,
a great crowd, and I in the middle,
Collecting, dispensing, singing, there I wander with them,
Plucking something for tokens, tossing toward whoever is near me,
Here, lilac, with a branch of pine,


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Here, out of my pocket, some moss which I pull'd off a live-oak
in Florida as it hung trailing down,
Here, some pinks and laurel leaves, and a handful of sage,
And here what I now draw from the water, wading in the pond-
side,
(O here I last saw him that tenderly loves me, and returns again
never to separate from me,
And this, O this shall henceforth be the token of comrades, this
calamus-root shall,
Interchange it youths with each other! let none render it back!)
And twigs of maple and a bunch of wild orange and chestnut,
And stems of currants and plum-blows, and the aromatic cedar,
These I compass'd around by a thick cloud of spirits,
Wandering, point to or touch as I pass, or throw them loosely
from me,
Indicating to each one what he shall have, giving something to
each;
But what I drew from the water by the pond-side, that I reserve,
I will give of it, but only to them that love as I myself am capable
of loving.

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