Leaves of Grass (1881-82)
MYSELF AND MINE.
|MYSELF and mine gymnastic ever,
|To stand the cold or heat, to take good aim with a gun, to sail a
boat, to manage horses, to beget superb children,
|To speak readily and clearly, to feel at home among common
|And to hold our own in terrible positions on land and sea.
|(There will always be plenty of embroiderers, I welcome them also,)
|But for the fibre of things and for inherent men and women.
|But to chisel with free stroke the heads and limbs of plenteous
supreme Gods, that the States may realize them walking
|Let others promulge the laws, I will make no account of the laws,
|Let others praise eminent men and hold up peace, I hold up
agitation and conflict,
|I praise no eminent man, I rebuke to his face the one that was
thought most worthy.
|(Who are you? and what are you secretly guilty of all your life?
|Will you turn aside all your life? will you grub and chatter all
|And who are you, blabbing by rote, years, pages, languages,
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|Unwitting to-day that you do not know how to speak properly a
|Let others finish specimens, I never finish specimens,
|I start them by exhaustless laws as Nature does, fresh and modern
|I give nothing as duties,
|What others give as duties I give as living impulses,
|(Shall I give the heart's action as a duty?)
|Let others dispose of questions, I dispose of nothing, I arouse
|Who are they I see and touch, and what about them?
|What about these likes of myself that draw me so close by tender
directions and indirections?
|I call to the world to distrust the accounts of my friends, but
listen to my enemies, as I myself do,
|I charge you forever reject those who would expound me, for I
cannot expound myself,
|I charge that there be no theory or school founded out of me,
|I charge you to leave all free, as I have left all free.
|O I see life is not short, but immeasurably long,
|I henceforth tread the world chaste, temperate, an early riser, a
|Every hour the semen of centuries, and still of centuries.
|I must follow up these continual lessons of the air, water, earth,
|I perceive I have no time to lose.