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If I Should Need to Name, O Western World


If I Should Need to Name, O Western World1

If I should need to name, O Western World! 
  your powerfulest scene to-day,
'Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye 
  limitless prairies—nor your huge 
  rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemitie, with all your spasmic 
  geyser-loops ascending to the skies, ap- 
 pearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon's white cones—nor Huron's belt 
  of mighty lakes—nor Mississippie's stream:
This seeting hemisphere's humanity, as now, 
  I'd name—the still small voice preparing— 
  America's choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act 
  itself the main, the quadriennial 
The stretch of North and South arous'd— 
  seaboard and inland—Texas to Maine,
The Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia, Cali- 
 fornia ,
The final ballot-shower from East to West— 
  the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a sword- 
  less conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, 
  or modern Napoleon's:)
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the 
  darker odds, the dross, the scene's debris:
—Foams and ferments the wine? It serves to 
  purify—while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft previous 
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's 


1. Reprinted as "Election Day, November, 1884" in the "Sands at Seventy" annex to Leaves of Grass (1888). [back]

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