Leaves of Grass (1881-82)

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GIVE me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling,
Give me juicy autumnal fruit ripe and red from the orchard,
Give me a field where the unmow'd grass grows,
Give me an arbor, give me the trellis'd grape,
Give me fresh corn and wheat, give me serene-moving animals
         teaching content,
Give me nights perfectly quiet as on high plateaus west of the
         Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars,
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I
         can walk undisturb'd,
Give me for marriage a sweet-breath'd woman of whom I should
         never tire,
Give me a perfect child, give me away aside from the noise of the
         world a rural domestic life,
Give me to warble spontaneous songs recluse by myself, for my
         own ears only,
Give me solitude, give me Nature, give me again O Nature your
         primal sanities!

These demanding to have them, (tired with ceaseless excitement,
         and rack'd by the war-strife,)
These to procure incessantly asking, rising in cries from my heart,
While yet incessantly asking still I adhere to my city,

View Page 245
View Page 245

Day upon day and year upon year O city, walking your streets,
Where you hold me enchain'd a certain time refusing to give me
Yet giving to make me glutted, enrich'd of soul, you give me
         forever faces;
(O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing my cries,
I see my own soul trampling down what it ask'd for.)

Keep your splendid silent sun,
Keep your woods O Nature, and the quiet places by the
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-fields and
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields where the Ninth-month
         bees hum;
Give me faces and streets—give me these phantoms incessant
         and endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes—give me women—give me comrades
         and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day—let me hold new ones by the
         hand every day!
Give me such shows—give me the streets of Manhattan!
Give me Broadway, with the soldiers marching—give me the
         sound of the trumpets and drums!
(The soldiers in companies or regiments—some starting away,
         flush'd and reckless,
Some, their time up, returning with thinn'd ranks, young, yet very
         old, worn, marching, noticing nothing;)
Give me the shores and wharves heavy-fringed with black
O such for me! O an intense life, full to repletion and varied!
The life of the theatre, bar-room, huge hotel, for me!
The saloon of the steamer! the crowded excursion for me! the
         torchlight procession!
The dense brigade bound for the war, with high piled military
         wagons following;
People, endless, streaming, with strong voices, passions, pageants,
Manhattan streets with their powerful throbs, with beating drums
         as now,
The endless and noisy chorus, the rustle and clank of muskets,
         (even the sight of the wounded,)
Manhattan crowds, with their turbulent musical chorus!
Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me.
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