Leaves of Grass (1881-82)

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RISE O days from your fathomless deeps, till you loftier, fiercer
Long for my soul hungering gymnastic I devour'd what the earth
         gave me,
Long I roam'd the woods of the north, long I watch'd Niagara
I travel'd the prairies over and slept on their breast, I cross'd the
         Nevadas, I cross'd the plateaus,
I ascended the towering rocks along the Pacific, I sail'd out to
I sail'd through the storm, I was refresh'd by the storm,
I watch'd with joy the threatening maws of the waves,
I mark'd the white combs where they career'd so high, curling
I heard the wind piping, I saw the black clouds,

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Saw from below what arose and mounted, (O superb! O wild as
         my heart, and powerful!)
Heard the continuous thunder as it bellow'd after the lightning,
Noted the slender and jagged threads of lightning as sudden and
         fast amid the din they chased each other across the sky;
These, and such as these, I, elate, saw—saw with wonder, yet
         pensive and masterful,
All the menacing might of the globe uprisen around me,
Yet there with my soul I fed, I fed content, supercilious.

'Twas well, O soul—'twas a good preparation you gave me,
Now we advance our latent and ampler hunger to fill,
Now we go forth to receive what the earth and the sea never
         gave us,
Not through the mighty woods we go, but through the mightier
Something for us is pouring now more than Niagara pouring,
Torrents of men, (sources and rills of the Northwest are you
         indeed inexhaustible?)
What, to pavements and homesteads here, what were those storms
         of the mountains and sea?
What, to passions I witness around me to-day? was the sea risen?
Was the wind piping the pipe of death under the black clouds?
Lo! from deeps more unfathomable, something more deadly and
Manhattan rising, advancing with menacing front—Cincinnati,
         Chicago, unchain'd;
What was that swell I saw on the ocean? behold what comes here,
How it climbs with daring feet and hands—how it dashes!
How the true thunder bellows after the lightning—how bright
         the flashes of lightning!
How Democracy with desperate vengeful port strides on, shown
         through the dark by those flashes of lightning!
(Yet a mournful wail and low sob I fancied I heard through the
In a lull of the deafening confusion.)

Thunder on! stride on, Democracy! strike with vengeful stroke!
And do you rise higher than ever yet O days, O cities!
Crash heavier, heavier yet O storms! you have done me good,
My soul prepared in the mountains absorbs your immortal strong

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Long had I walk'd my cities, my country roads through farms,
         only half satisfied,
One doubt nauseous undulating like a snake, crawl'd on the
         ground before me,
Continually preceding my steps, turning upon me oft, ironically
         hissing low;
The cities I loved so well I abandon'd and left, I sped to the
         certainties suitable to me,
Hungering, hungering, hungering, for primal energies and Nature's
I refresh'd myself with it only, I could relish it only,
I waited the bursting forth of the pent fire—on the water and air
         I waited long;
But now I no longer wait, I am fully satisfied, I am glutted,
I have witness'd the true lightning, I have witness'd my cities
I have lived to behold man burst forth and warlike America rise,
Hence I will seek no more the food of the northern solitary wilds,
No more the mountains roam or sail the stormy sea.
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