Published Works

Periodicals

About this Item

Title: Old Chants

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: March 19, 1891

Publication information: Truth 10 (19 March 1891): 11.

Source: Transcribed from a digital image of a micfrofilm copy of an original issue.

Whitman Archive ID: per.00048

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang and Susan Belasco




image 1

OLD CHANTS.1

BY WALT WHITMAN.
AN ancient song, reciting, ending,
Once gazing toward thee, Mother of All,
Musing, seeking themes fitted for thee,
Accept for me, thou saidst, the elder ballads,
And name for me before thou goest each ancient poet.
(Of many debts incalculable,
Haply our New World's chiefest debt is to old poems.)
Ever so far back, preluding thee, America,
Old chants, Egyptian priests, and those of Ethiopia,
The Hindu epics, the Grecian, Chinese, Persian,
The Biblic books and prophets, and deep idyls of the Nazarene,
The Iliad, Odyssey, plots, doings, wanderings of Eneas,
Hesiod, Eschylus, Sophocles, Merlin, Arthur,
The Cid, Roland at Roncesvalles, the Nibelungen,
The troubadours, minstrels, minnesingers, skalds,
Chaucer, Dante, flocks of singing birds,
The Border of Minstrelsy, the by-gone ballads, feudal tales, essays,
plays,
Shakespeare, Schiller, Walter Scott, Tennyson,
As some vast wondrous weird dream-presences,
The great shadowy groups gathering around,
Darting their mighty masterful eyes forward at thee,
Thou! with as now thy bending neck and head, with courteous
hand and word, ascending,
Thou! pausing a moment, drooping thine eyes upon them, blent
with their music,
Well pleased, accepting all, curiously prepared for by them,
Thou enterest at thy entrance porch.

Notes:

1. Reprinted in Good-Bye My Fancy (1891). [back]


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.