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Title: You and Me and To-Day

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: January 14, 1860

Publication information: New-York Saturday Press 14 January 1860: 2.

Source: Our transcription is based on a digital image of a microfilm copy of an original issue.

Whitman Archive ID: per.00072

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, April Lambert, and Susan Belasco




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[ORIGINAL.]

You and Me and To-Day.1

1.

With antecedents,
With my fathers and mothers, and the accumula-
tions of past ages,
With all which, had it not been, I would not now
be here, as I am.
With Egypt, India, Phenicia, Greece, and Rome,
With the Celt, the Scandinavian, the Alb, and the
Saxon,
With antique maritime ventures,—With laws, arti-
sanship, wars, journeys,
With the poet, the skald, the saga, the myth, and
the oracle,
With the sale of slaves,—with enthusiasts,—with
the troubadour, the crusader, and the monk,
With those old continents whence we have come to
this new continent,
With the fading kingdoms and kings over there,
With the fading religions and priests,
With the small shores we look back to, from our
own large and present shores,
With countless years drawing themselves onward,
and arrived at these years,
You and Me arrived,—America arrived, and mak-
ing this year,
This year! sending itself ahead countless years to
come.

2.

O but it is not the years,—it is I,—it is You,
We touch all laws, and tally all antecedents,
We are skald, the oracle, the monk, and the
knight,—we easily include them, and more,
We stand amid time, beginningless and endless—
we stand amid evil and good,
All swings around us—There is as much darkness
as light,
The very sun swings itself and its system of planets
around us,
Its sun, and its again, all swing around us.

3.

As for me,
I have the idea of all, and am all, and believe in
all,
I believe materialism is true, and spiritualism is
true—I reject no part.

4.

Have I forgotten any part?
Come to me, whoever and whatever, till I give you
recognition.

5.

I respect Assyria, China, Teutonia, and the He-
brews,
I adopt each theory, myth, god, and demi-god,
I see that old accounts, bibles, genealogies, are
true, without exception,
I assert that all past days were what they should
have been,
And that they could no-how have been better than
they were,
And that to-day is what it should be—and that
America is,
And that to-day and America could no-how be bet-
ter than they are.

6.

In the name of These States, and in your and my
name—the Past!
And in the name of These States, and in your and
my name—the Present!

7.

I know that the past was great, and the future
will be great,
And I know that both curiously conjoint in the
present time, in myself and yourself,
And that where I am, or you are, this present day,
there is the centre of all days, all races,
And there is the meaning, to us, of all that has ever
come of races and days, or ever will come.
WALT WHITMAN.

Notes:

1. This poem later appeared as "Chants Democratic 7," Leaves of Grass (1860) and as "With Antecedents," Leaves of Grass (1867). [back]


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