Leaves of Grass (1881-82)

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WITH antecedents,
With my fathers and mothers and the accumulations of past
With all which, had it not been, I would not now be here, as I
With Egypt, India, Phenicia, Greece and Rome,
With the Kelt, the Scandinavian, the Alb and the Saxon,

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With antique maritime ventures, laws, artisanship, wars and jour-
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
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 making this year,
This year! sending itself ahead countless years to come.

O but it is not the years—it is I, it is You,
We touch all laws and tally all antecedents,
We are the 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.

As for me, (torn, stormy, amid these vehement days,)
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

(Have I forgotten any part? any thing in the past?
Come to me whoever and whatever, till I give you recogni-

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

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In the name of these States and in your and my name, the
And in the name of these States and in your and my name, the
         Present time.

I know that the past was great and the future will be great,
And I know that both curiously conjoint in the present time,
(For the sake of him I typify, for the common average man's sake, your
         sake if you are he,)
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.
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