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Leaves of Grass (1856)

  ppp.00237.001.jpg   ppp.00237.004.jpg   ppp.00237.005.jpg   ppp.00237.006.jpg   ppp.00237.007.jpg   ppp.00237.008.jpg   ppp.00237.009.jpg Leaves 
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, 1856.   ppp.00237.010.jpg Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by WALT WHITMAN, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

Leaves of Grass

1. Poem of Walt Whitman, an American . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
2. Poem of Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
3. Poem of Salutation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
4. Poem of The Daily Work of The Workmen and  
  Workwomen of These States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5. Broad-Axe Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140
6. Poem of A Few Greatnesses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
7. Poem of The Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167
8. Poem of Many In One . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
9. Poem of Wonder at The Resurrection of The Wheat . . . . . . . . 202
10. Poem of You, Whoever You Are . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
11. Sun-Down Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
12. Poem of The Road . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
13. Poem of Procreation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
14. Poem of The Poet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244
15. Clef Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
16. Poem of The Dead Young Men of Europe, the 72d and 73d  
  Years of These States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
17. Poem of The Heart of The Son of Manhattan Island . . . . . . . . 255
18. Poem of The Last Explanation of Prudence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257
19. Poem of The Singers, and of The Words of Poems . . . . . . . . . 262
20. Faith Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265
21. Liberty Poem for Asia, Africa, Europe, America, Australia,  
 Cuba, and the Archipelagoes of The Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
22. Poem of Apparitions in Boston, the 78th Year of These States . 271
  [ begin page iv ]ppp.00237.012.jpg
23. Poem of Remembrances for A Girl or A Boy of These States . 275
24. Poem of Perfect Miracles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279
25. Poem of The Child That Went Forth, and Always Goes  
  Forth, Forever and Forever . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
26. Night Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 286
27. Poem of Faces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 302
28. Bunch Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309
29. Lesson Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 313
30. Poem of The Propositions of Nakedness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 316
31. Poem of The Sayers of The Words of The Earth . . . . . . . . . . . . 322
32. Burial Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 332
Correspondence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 345
Opinions. 1855-6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 359


1 — Poem of Walt Whitman, an American.

I CELEBRATE myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs  
 to you.
I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of  
 summer grass.
Houses and rooms are full of perfumes—the  
 shelves are crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and  
 like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I  
 shall not let it.
The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste  
 of the distillation, it is odorless,
  [ begin page 6 ]ppp.00237.014.jpg It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it, I will go to the bank by the wood, and become  
 undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
The smoke of my own breath, Echoes, ripples, buzzed whispers, love-root, silk- 
 thread, crotch, vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my  
 heart, the passing of blood and air through  
 my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of  
 the shore and dark-colored sea-rocks, and of  
 hay in the barn,
The sound of the belched words of my voice,  
 words loosed to the eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching  
 around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the  
 supple boughs wag,
The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or  
 along the fields and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song  
 of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.
Have you reckoned a thousand acres much?  
 have you reckoned the earth much?
Have you practiced so long to learn to read? Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of  
  [ begin page 7 ]ppp.00237.015.jpg Stop this day and night with me, and you shall  
 possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun —  
 there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third  
 hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead,  
 nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor  
 take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides, and filter them from  
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the  
 talk of the beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is  
Nor any more youth or age than there is now, And will never be any more perfection than there  
 is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
Urge, and urge, and urge, Always the procreant urge of the world. Out of the dimness opposite equals advance —  
 always substance and increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction,  
 always a breed of life.
  [ begin page 8 ]ppp.00237.016.jpg To elaborate is no avail—learned and unlearned  
 feel that it is so.
Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the  
 uprights, well entretied, braced in the  
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical, I and this mystery here we stand.
Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet  
 is all that is not my soul.
Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved  
 by the seen,
Till that becomes unseen, and receives proof in its  
Showing the best and dividing it from the worst,  
 age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of  
 things, while they discuss I am silent, and go  
 bathe and admire myself.
Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and  
 of any man hearty and clean,
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and  
 none shall be less familiar than the rest.
I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing;   [ begin page 9 ]ppp.00237.017.jpg As the hugging and loving Bed-fellow sleeps at  
 my side through the night, and withdraws at  
 the peep of the day,
And leaves for me baskets covered with white  
 towels, swelling the house with their plenty,
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization,  
 and scream at my eyes,
That they turn from gazing after and down the  
And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent, Exactly the contents of one, and exactly the con- 
 tents of two, and which is ahead?
Trippers and askers surround me, People I meet—the effect upon me of my early  
 life, of the ward and city I live in, of the  
The latest news, discoveries, inventions, societies,  
 authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, work, compli- 
 ments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or  
 woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or  
 ill-doing, or loss or lack of money, or depress- 
 ions or exaltations,
They come to me days and nights and go from  
 me again,
But they are not the Me myself.
1*   [ begin page 10 ]ppp.00237.018.jpg Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I  
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle,  
Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an  
 impalpable certain rest,
Looks with its side-curved head, curious what will  
 come next,
Both in and out of the game, and watching and  
 wondering at it.
Backward I see in my own days where I sweated  
 through fog with linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments—I witness and  
I believe in you, my soul—the other I am must  
 not abase itself to you,
And you must not be abased to the other.
Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from  
 your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not cus- 
 tom or lecture, not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.
I mind how we lay in June, such a transparent  
 summer morning,
You settled your head athwart my hips, and gently  
 turned over upon me,
  [ begin page 11 ]ppp.00237.019.jpg And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and  
 plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
And reached till you felt my beard, and reached  
 till you held my feet.
Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace  
 and joy and knowledge that pass all the art  
 and argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise  
 of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother  
 of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my bro- 
 thers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love, And limitless are leaves, stiff or drooping in the  
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them, And mossy scabs of the worm-fence, heaped stones,  
 elder, mullen, pokeweed.
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me  
 with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know  
 what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out  
 of hopeful green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,   [ begin page 12 ]ppp.00237.020.jpg A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly  
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners,  
 that we may see and remark, and say Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced  
 babe of the vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and  
 narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give  
 them the same, I receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair  
 of graves.
Tenderly will I use you, curling grass, It may be you transpire from the breasts of young  
It may be if I had known them I would have loved  
It may be you are from old people, and from  
 women, and from offspring taken soon out of  
 their mothers' laps,
And here you are the mothers' laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads  
 of old mothers,
  [ begin page 13 ]ppp.00237.021.jpg Darker than the colorless beards of old men, Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of  
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues! And I perceive they do not come from the roofs  
 of mouths for nothing.
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead  
 young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the  
 offspring taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and  
 old men?
And what do you think has become of the women  
 and children?
They are alive and well somewhere, The smallest sprout shows there is really no  
And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does  
 not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one sup- 
 posed, and luckier.
  [ begin page 14 ]ppp.00237.022.jpg Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her, it is just as lucky to  
 die, and I know it.
I pass death with the dying, and birth with the  
 new-washed babe, and am not contained be- 
 tween my hat and boots,
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and  
 every one good,
The earth good, and the stars good, and their ad- 
 juncts all good.
I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth, I am the mate and companion of people, all just  
 as immortal and fathomless as myself;
They do not know how immortal, but I know.
Every kind for itself and its own—for me mine,  
 male and female,
For me those that have been boys and that love  
For me the man that is proud, and feels how it  
 stings to be slighted,
For me the sweetheart and the old maid—for me  
 mothers and the mothers of mothers,
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed  
For me children and the begetters of children.
  [ begin page 15 ]ppp.00237.023.jpg Who need be afraid of the merge? Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale, nor  
I see through the broadcloth and gingham, whether  
 or no,
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless,  
 and can never be shaken away.
The little one sleeps in its cradle, I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently  
 brush away flies with my hand.
The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside  
 up the bushy hill,
I peeringly view them from the top.
The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the  
It is so—I witnessed the corpse—there the  
 pistol had fallen.
The blab of the pave, the tires of carts, sluff of  
 boot-soles, talk of the promenaders,
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogat- 
 ing thumb, the clank of the shod horses on  
 the granite floor,
The snow-sleighs, the clinking, shouted jokes,  
 pelts of snow-balls,
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of  
 roused mobs,
  [ begin page 16 ]ppp.00237.024.jpg The flap of the curtained litter, the sick man in- 
 side, borne to the hospital,
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the  
 blows and fall,
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star,  
 quickly working his passage to the centre of  
 the crowd,
The impassive stones that receive and return so  
 many echoes,
The souls moving along—are they invisible,  
 while the least of the stones is visible?
What groans of over-fed or half-starved who fall  
 sun-struck, or in fits,
What exclamations of women taken suddenly, who  
 hurry home and give birth to babes,
What living and buried speech is always vibrating  
 here, what howls restrained by decorum,
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers  
 made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips,
I mind them or the resonance of them—I come  
 and I depart.
The big doors of the country-barn stand open and  
The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the  
 slow-drawn wagon,
The clear light plays on the brown gray and green  
The armfuls are packed to the sagging mow;   [ begin page 17 ]ppp.00237.025.jpg I am there, I help, I came stretched atop of the  
I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other; I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover  
 and timothy,
And roll head over heels, and tangle my hair full  
 of wisps.
Alone, far in the wilds and mountains, I hunt, Wandering, amazed at my own lightness and glee, In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass  
 the night,
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-killed game, Soundly falling asleep on the gathered leaves, my  
 dog and gun by my side.
The Yankee clipper is under her three sky-sails,  
 she cuts the sparkle and scud,
My eyes settle the land—I bend at her prow or  
 shout joyously from the deck.
The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and  
 stopped for me,
I tucked my trowser-ends in my boots and went  
 and had a good time,
You should have been with us that day round the  
I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air  
 in the far-west—the bride was a red girl,
  [ begin page 18 ]ppp.00237.026.jpg Her father and his friends sat near, cross-legged  
 and dumbly smoking—they had moccasins to  
 their feet and large thick blankets hanging  
 from their shoulders,
On a bank lounged the trapper, he was dressed  
 mostly in skins, his luxuriant beard and curls  
 protected his neck,
One hand rested on his rifle, the other hand held  
 firmly the wrist of the red girl,
She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her  
 coarse straight locks descended upon her  
 voluptuous limbs and reached to her feet.
The runaway slave came to my house and  
 stopped outside,
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the  
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw  
 him limpsy and weak,
And went where he sat on a log, and led him in  
 and assured him,
And brought water and filled a tub for his sweated  
 body and bruised feet,
And gave him a room that entered from my own,  
 and gave him some coarse clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes  
 and his awkwardness,
And remember putting plasters on the galls of his  
 neck and ankles;
  [ begin page 19 ]ppp.00237.027.jpg He staid with me a week before he was recuper- 
 ated and passed north,
I had him sit next me at table—my fire-lock  
 leaned in the corner.
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore, Twenty-eight young men, and all so friendly, Twenty-eight years of womanly life, and all so  
She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank, She hides, handsome and richly drest, aft the  
 blinds of the window.
Which of the young men does she like the best? Ah, the homeliest of them is beautiful to her. Where are you off to, lady? for I see you, You splash in the water there, yet stay stock  
 still in your room.
Dancing and laughing along the beach came the  
 twenty-ninth bather,
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and  
 loved them.
The beards of the young men glistened with wet,  
 it ran from their long hair,
Little streams passed all over their bodies.
An unseen hand also passed over their bodies,   [ begin page 20 ]ppp.00237.028.jpg It descended tremblingly from their temples and  
The young men float on their backs, their white  
 bellies bulge to the sun, they do not ask who  
 seizes fast to them,
They do not know who puffs and declines with  
 pendant and bending arch,
They do not think whom they souse with spray.
The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or  
 sharpens his knife at the stall in the mar- 
I loiter, enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and  
Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ  
 the anvil,
Each has his main-sledge—they are all out —  
 there is a great heat in the fire.
From the cinder-strewed threshold I follow their  
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with  
 their massive arms,
Overhand the hammers roll, overhand so slow,  
 overhand so sure,
They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.
  [ begin page 21 ]ppp.00237.029.jpg The negro holds firmly the reins of his four  
 horses, the block swags underneath on its  
 tied-over chain,
The negro that drives the huge dray of the stone- 
 yard, steady and tall he stands poised on one  
 leg on the string-piece,
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast,  
 and loosens over his hip-band,
His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the  
 slouch of his hat away from his forehead,
The sun falls on his crispy hair and moustache,  
 falls on the black of his polish'd and perfect  
I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and  
 I do not stop there,
I go with the team also.
In me the caresser of life wherever moving, back- 
 ward as well as forward slueing,
To niches aside and junior bending.
Oxen that rattle the yoke or halt in the shade!  
 what is that you express in your eyes?
It seems to me more than all the print I have read  
 in my life.
My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck,  
 on my distant and day-long ramble,
They rise together, they slowly circle around; I believe in those winged purposes,   [ begin page 22 ]ppp.00237.030.jpg And acknowledge, red, yellow, white, playing  
 within me,
And consider green and violet, and the tufted  
 crown, intentional,
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because  
 she is not something else,
And the mocking-bird in the swamp never studied  
 the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me,
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out  
 of me.
The wild gander leads his flock through the cool  
Ya-honk! he says, and sounds it down to me like  
 an invitation;
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen  
I find its purpose and place up there toward the  
 November sky.
The sharp-hoofed moose of the north, the cat on  
 the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog,
The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her  
The brood of the turkey-hen, and she with her  
 half-spread wings,
I see in them and myself the same old law.
The press of my foot to the earth springs a hun- 
 dred affections,
  [ begin page 23 ]ppp.00237.031.jpg They scorn the best I can do to relate them. I am enamoured of growing outdoors, Of men that live among cattle, or taste of the  
 ocean or woods,
Of the builders and steerers of ships, of the wield- 
 ers of axes and mauls, of the drivers of  
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week  
What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is  
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast  
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that  
 will take me,
Not asking the sky to come down to my good-will, Scattering it freely forever.
The pure contralto sings in the organ-loft, The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of  
 his foreplane whistles its wild ascending lisp,
The married and unmarried children ride home to  
 their thanksgiving dinner,
The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down  
 with a strong arm,
The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance  
 and harpoon are ready,
  [ begin page 24 ]ppp.00237.032.jpg The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious  
The deacons are ordained with crossed hands at  
 the altar,
The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the  
 hum of the big wheel,
The farmer stops by the bars of a Sunday and  
 looks at the oats and rye,
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a con- 
 firmed case,
He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot  
 in his mother's bedroom;
The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws  
 works at his case,
He turns his quid of tobacco, his eyes get blurred  
 with the manuscript;
The malformed limbs are tied to the anatomist's  
What is removed drops horribly in a pail; The quadroon girl is sold at the stand—the  
 drunkard nods by the bar-room stove,
The machinist rolls up his sleeves—the police- 
 man travels his beat—the gate-keeper marks  
 who pass,
The young fellow drives the express-wagon —  
 I love him though I do not know him,
The half-breed straps on his light boots to com- 
 pete in the race,
  [ begin page 25 ]ppp.00237.033.jpg The western turkey-shooting draws old and young  
 —some lean on their rifles, some sit on logs,
Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes  
 his position, levels his piece;
The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the  
 wharf or levee,
The woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the over- 
 seer views them from his saddle,
The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen  
 run for their partners, the dancers bow to  
 each other,
The youth lies awake in the cedar-roofed garret,  
 and harks to the musical rain,
The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps  
 fill the Huron,
The reformer ascends the platform, he spouts with  
 his mouth and nose,
The company returns from its excursion, the  
 darkey brings up the rear and bears the well- 
 riddled target,
The squaw, wrapt in her yellow-hemmed cloth,  
 is offering moccasins and bead-bags for sale,
The connoisseur peers along the exhibition- 
 gallery with half-shut eyes bent side-ways,
The deck-hands make fast the steamboat, the plank  
 is thrown for the shore-going passengers,
The young sister holds out the skein, the elder  
 sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now  
 and then for the knots,
2   [ begin page 26 ]ppp.00237.034.jpg The one-year wife is recovering and happy, a  
 week ago she bore her first child,
The clean-haired Yankee girl works with her sew- 
 ing-machine, or in the factory or mill,
The nine months' gone is in the parturition cham- 
 ber, her faintness and pains are advancing,
The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer  
 —the reporter's lead flies swiftly over the  
 note-book—the sign-painter is lettering with  
 red and gold,
The canal-boy trots on the tow-path—the book- 
 keeper counts at his desk—the shoemaker  
 waxes his thread,
The conductor beats time for the band, and all the  
 performers follow him,
The child is baptised—the convert is making the  
 first professions,
The regatta is spread on the bay—how the white  
 sails sparkle!
The drover watches his drove, he sings out to  
 them that would stray,
The pedlar sweats with his pack on his back, the  
 purchaser higgles about the odd cent,
The camera and plate are prepared, the lady must  
 sit for her daguerreotype,
The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute- 
 hand of the clock moves slowly,
The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just- 
 opened lips,
  [ begin page 27 ]ppp.00237.035.jpg The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet  
 bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck,
The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the  
 men jeer and wink to each other,
(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths, nor  
 jeer you;)
The President holds a cabinet council, he is sur- 
 rounded by the Great Secretaries,
On the piazza walk five friendly matrons with  
 twined arms,
The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers  
 of halibut in the hold,
The Missourian crosses the plains, toting his  
 wares and his cattle,
The fare-collector goes through the train, he gives  
 notice by the jingling of loose change,
The floor-men are laying the floor—the tinners  
 are tinning the roof—the masons are calling  
 for mortar,
In single file, each shouldering his hod, pass on- 
 ward the laborers,
Seasons pursuing each other, the indescribable  
 crowd is gathered—it is the Fourth of July  
 —what salutes of cannon and small arms!
Seasons pursuing each other, the plougher ploughs,  
 the mower mows, and the winter-grain falls  
 in the ground,
Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits  
 by the hole in the frozen surface,
  [ begin page 28 ]ppp.00237.036.jpg The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the  
 squatter strikes deep with his axe,
Flatboatmen make fast toward dusk near the cot- 
 ton-wood or pekan-trees,
Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red  
 river, or through those drained by the Ten- 
 nessee, or through those of the Arkansaw,
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chat- 
 tahoochee or Altamahaw,
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons  
 and great-grandsons around them,
In walls of adobe, in canvass tents, rest hunters  
 and trappers after their day's sport,
The city sleeps and the country sleeps, The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep  
 for their time.
The old husband sleeps by his wife, and the young  
 husband sleeps by his wife;
And these one and all tend inward to me, and I  
 tend outward to them,
And such as it is to be of these, more or less, I am.
I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as  
 the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others, Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a  
Stuffed with the stuff that is coarse, and stuffed  
 with the stuff that is fine,
  [ begin page 29 ]ppp.00237.037.jpg One of the great nation, the nation of many  
 nations, the smallest the same, the largest  
 the same,
A southerner soon as a northerner, a planter non- 
 chalant and hospitable,
A Yankee bound my own way, ready for trade,  
 my joints the limberest joints on earth and  
 the sternest joints on earth,
A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in  
 my deer-skin leggings,
A boatman over lakes or bays, or along coasts —  
 a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye,
A Louisianian or Georgian, a Poke-easy from  
 sand-hills and pines,
At home on Canadian snow-shoes, or up in the  
 bush, or with fishermen off Newfoundland,
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the  
 rest, and tacking,
At home on the hills of Vermont, or in the woods  
 of Maine, or the Texan ranch,
Comrade of Californians, comrade of free north- 
 westerners, loving their big proportions.
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all  
 who shake hands and welcome to drink and  
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the  
A novice beginning, experient of myriads of sea- 
  [ begin page 30 ]ppp.00237.038.jpg Of every hue, trade, rank, of every caste and re- 
Not merely of the New World, but of Africa,  
 Europe, Asia—a wandering savage,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor,  
 lover, quaker,
A prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician,  
I resist anything better than my own diversity, And breathe the air, and leave plenty after me, And am not stuck up, and am in my place. The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place, The suns I see, and the suns I cannot see, are  
 in their place,
The palpable is in its place, and the impalpable  
 is in its place.
These are the thoughts of all men in all ages  
 and lands, they are not original with me,
If they are not yours as much as mine, they are  
 nothing, or next to nothing,
If they do not enclose everything, they are next  
 to nothing,
If they are not the riddle and the untying of the  
 riddle, they are nothing,
If they are not just as close as they are distant,  
 they are nothing.
  [ begin page 31 ]ppp.00237.039.jpg This is the grass that grows wherever the land  
 is and the water is,
This is the common air that bathes the globe.
This is the breath of laws, songs, behaviour, This is the tasteless water of souls, this is the  
 true sustenance,
It is for the illiterate, it is for the judges of the  
 supreme court, it is for the federal capitol  
 and the state capitols,
It is for the admirable communes of literats,  
 composers, singers, lecturers, engineers, sa- 
It is for the endless races of work-people, farm- 
 ers, seamen.
These are trills of thousands of clear cornets,  
 screams of octave flutes, strike of triangles.
I play not a march for victors only, I play great  
 marches for conquered and slain persons.
Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall—battles are lost in  
 the same spirit in which they are won.
I beat triumphal drums for the dead, I blow through  
 my embouchures my loudest and gayest music  
 to them,
  [ begin page 32 ]ppp.00237.040.jpg Vivas to those who have failed! and to those  
 whose war-vessels sank in the sea! and  
 those themselves who sank in the sea!
And to all generals that lost engagements! and all  
 overcome heroes! and the numberless un- 
 known heroes, equal to the greatest heroes  
This is the meal pleasantly set, this is the meat  
 and drink for natural hunger,
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous  
 —I make appointments with all,
I will not have a single person slighted or left  
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby in- 
 vited—the heavy-lipped slave is invited,  
 the venerealee is invited,
There shall be no difference between them and  
 the rest.
This is the press of a bashful hand, this is the  
 float and odor of hair,
This is the touch of my lips to yours, this is the  
 murmur of yearning,
This is the far-off depth and height reflecting my  
 own face,
This is the thoughtful merge of myself, and the  
 outlet again.
Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?   [ begin page 33 ]ppp.00237.041.jpg Well, I have—for the April rain has, and the mica  
 on the side of a rock has.
Do you take it I would astonish? Does the daylight astonish? Does the early red- 
 start, twittering through the woods?
Do I astonish more than they?
This hour I tell things in confidence, I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you. Who goes there! hankering, gross, mystical, nude? How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat? What is a man anyhow? What am I? What  
 are you?
All I mark as my own, you shall offset it with  
 your own,
Else it were time lost listening to me.
I do not snivel that snivel the world over, That months are vacuums, and the ground but  
 wallow and filth,
That life is a suck and a sell, and nothing remains  
 at the end but threadbare crape and tears.
Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for  
 invalids, conformity goes to the fourth- 
2*   [ begin page 34 ]ppp.00237.042.jpg I cock my hat as I please, indoors or out. Shall I pray? Shall I venerate and be cere- 
I have pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, Counselled with doctors, calculated close, found no  
 sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.
In all people I see myself—none more, not one a  
 barleycorn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of  
And I know I am solid and sound, To me the converging objects of the universe per- 
 petually flow,
All are written to me, and I must get what the  
 writing means.
I know I am deathless, I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a  
 carpenter's compass,
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut  
 with a burnt stick at night.
I know I am august, I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be  
  [ begin page 35 ]ppp.00237.043.jpg I see that the elementary laws never apologize, I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I  
 plant my house by, after all.
I exist as I am, that is enough, If no other in the world be aware, I sit content, And if each and all be aware, I sit content. One world is aware, and by far the largest to me,  
 and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own today, or in ten  
 thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheer- 
 fulness I can wait.
My foothold is tenoned and mortised in granite, I laugh at what you call dissolution, And I know the amplitude of time. I am the poet of the body, And I am the poet of the soul. The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the  
 pains of hell are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the  
 latter I translate into a new tongue.
I am the poet of the woman the same as the man, And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a  
  [ begin page 36 ]ppp.00237.044.jpg And I say there is nothing greater than the mother  
 of men.
I chant the chant of dilation or pride, We have had ducking and deprecating about  
I show that size is only development.
Have you outstript the rest? are you the  
It is a trifle—they will more than arrive there  
 every one, and still pass on.
I am he that walks with the tender and growing  
I call to the earth and sea, half-held by the night.
Press close, bare-bosomed night! press close,  
 magnetic, nourishing night!
Night of south winds! night of the large few  
Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night!
Smile, O voluptuous, cool-breathed earth! Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees! Earth of departed sunset! earth of the moun- 
 tains, misty-topt!
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon, just  
 tinged with blue!
  [ begin page 37 ]ppp.00237.045.jpg Earth of shine and dark, mottling the tide of the  
Earth of the limpid gray of clouds, brighter and  
 clearer for my sake!
Far-swooping elbowed earth! rich, apple-blos- 
 somed earth!
Smile, for your lover comes!
Prodigal, you have given me love! therefore I  
 to you give love!
O unspeakable passionate love!
Thruster holding me tight, and that I hold tight! We hurt each other as the bridegroom and the  
 bride hurt each other.
You sea! I resign myself to you also, I guess  
 what you mean,
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting  
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of  
We must have a turn together—I undress —  
 hurry me out of sight of the land,
Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse, Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you.
Sea of stretched ground-swells! Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths!   [ begin page 38 ]ppp.00237.046.jpg Sea of the brine of life! sea of unshovelled and  
 always-ready graves!
Howler and scooper of storms! capricious and  
 dainty sea!
I am integral with you—I too am of one phase,  
 and of all phases.
Partaker of influx and efflux, extoller of hate and  
Extoller of amies, and those that sleep in each  
 others' arms.
I am he attesting sympathy, Shall I make my list of things in the house, and  
 skip the house that supports them?
I am the poet of commonsense, and of the demon- 
 strable, and of immortality,
And am not the poet of goodness only—I do not  
 decline to be the poet of wickedness also.
Washes and razors for foofoos—for me freckles  
 and a bristling beard.
What blurt is this about virtue and about vice? Evil propels me, and reform of evil propels me —  
 I stand indifferent,
My gait is no fault-finder's or rejecter's gait, I moisten the roots of all that has grown.
  [ begin page 39 ]ppp.00237.047.jpg Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging  
Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be  
 worked over and rectified?
I step up to say that what we do is right, and  
 what we affirm is right, and some is only the  
 ore of right,
Witnesses of us, one side a balance, and the anti- 
 podal side a balance,
Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine, Thoughts and deeds of the present, our rouse and  
 early start.
This minute that comes to me over the past de- 
There is no better than it and now.
What behaved well in the past, or behaves well  
 today, is not such a wonder,
The wonder is always and always how can there  
 be a mean man or an infidel.
Endless unfolding of words of ages! And mine a word of the modern—a word en- 
A word of the faith that never balks, One time as good as another time—here or  
 henceforward it is all the same to me,
  [ begin page 40 ]ppp.00237.048.jpg A word of reality, materialism first and last im- 
Hurrah for positive science! long live exact  
Fetch stonecrop, mix it with cedar and branches  
 of lilac,
This is the lexicographer, this the chemist, this  
 made a grammar of the old cartouches,
These mariners put the ship through dangerous  
 unknown seas,
This is the geologist, this works with the scalpel,  
 and this is a mathematician.
Gentlemen, I receive you and attach and clasp  
 hands with you,
The facts are useful and real—they are not my  
 dwelling—I enter by them to an area of the  
I am less the reminder of property or qualities,  
 and more the reminder of life,
And go on the square for my own sake and for  
 others' sakes,
And make short account of neuters and geldings,  
 and favor men and women fully equipped,
And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugi- 
 tives and them that plot and conspire.
  [ begin page 41 ]ppp.00237.049.jpg Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs,  
 a kosmos,
Disorderly, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking, breed- 
No sentimentalist, no stander above men and wo- 
 men, or apart from them—no more modest  
 than immodest.
Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! Whoever degrades another degrades me, and  
 whatever is done or said returns at last to  
And whatever I do or say, I also return.
Through me the afflatus surging and surging —  
 through me the current and index.
I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign  
 of democracy,
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot  
 have their counterpart of on the same terms.
Through me many long dumb voices, Voices of the interminable generations of slaves, Voices of prostitutes, and of deformed persons, Voices of the diseased and despairing, and of  
 thieves and dwarfs,
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,   [ begin page 42 ]ppp.00237.050.jpg And of the threads that connect the stars, and of  
 wombs, and of the fatherstuff,
And of the rights of them the others are down  
Of the trivial, flat, foolish, despised, Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.
Through me forbidden voices, Voices of sexes and lusts—voices veiled, and I  
 remove the veil,
Voices indecent, by me clarified and transfigured.
I do not press my finger across my mouth, I keep as delicate around the bowels as around  
 the head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
I believe in the flesh and the appetites, Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each  
 part and tag of me is a miracle.
Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy  
 whatever I touch or am touched from,
The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than  
This head is more than churches, bibles, creeds.
If I worship any particular thing, it shall be some  
 of the spread of my own body,
  [ begin page 43 ]ppp.00237.051.jpg Translucent mould of me, it shall be you! Shaded ledges and rests, firm masculine coulter, it  
 shall be you!
Whatever goes to the tilth of me, it shall be you! You my rich blood! your milky stream, pale strip- 
 pings of my life!
Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall  
 be you!
My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions! Root of washed sweet-flag, timorous pond-snipe,  
 nest of guarded duplicate eggs, it shall be  
Mixed tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall  
 be you!
Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it  
 shall be you!
Sun so generous, it shall be you! Vapors lighting and shading my face, it shall be  
You sweaty brooks and dews, it shall be you! Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against  
 me, it shall be you!
Broad muscular fields, branches of live-oak, loving  
 lounger in my winding paths, it shall be you!
Hands I have taken, face I have kissed, mortal I  
 have ever touched, it shall be you!
I dote on myself, there is that lot of me, and all so  
  [ begin page 44 ]ppp.00237.052.jpg Each moment, and whatever happens, thrills me  
 with joy.
I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the  
 cause of my faintest wish,
Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the  
 cause of the friendship I take again.
To walk up my stoop is unaccountable, I pause to  
 consider if it really be,
That I eat and drink is spectacle enough for the  
 great authors and schools,
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more  
 than the metaphysics of books.
To behold the day-break! The little light fades the immense and diaphanous  
The air tastes good to my palate.
Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols,  
 silently rising, freshly exuding,
Scooting obliquely high and low.
Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous  
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.
The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close  
 of their junction,
  [ begin page 45 ]ppp.00237.053.jpg The heaved challenge from the east that moment  
 over my head,
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall  
 be master!
Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sun-rise  
 would kill me,
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out  
 of me.
We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the  
We found our own, my soul, in the calm and cool  
 of the day-break.
My voice goes after what my eyes cannot  
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds,  
 and volumes of worlds.
Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to  
 measure itself.
It provokes me forever, It says sarcastically, Walt, you understand  
 enough, why don't you let it out then?
Come now, I will not be tantalized, you conceive  
 too much of articulation.
  [ begin page 46 ]ppp.00237.054.jpg Do you not know how the buds beneath are  
Waiting in gloom, protected by frost, The dirt receding before my prophetical screams, I underlying causes, to balance them at last, My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with  
 the meaning of things,
Happiness, which, whoever hears me, let him or  
 her set out in search of this day.
My final merit I refuse you—I refuse putting  
 from me the best I am.
Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass  
I crowd your noisiest talk by looking toward you.
Writing and talk do not prove me, I carry the plenum of proof, and every thing else,  
 in my face,
With the hush of my lips I confound the topmost  
I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen, To accrue what I hear into myself, to let sounds  
 contribute toward me.
I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat,  
 gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my  
  [ begin page 47 ]ppp.00237.055.jpg I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human  
I hear all sounds as they are tuned to their uses,  
 sounds of the city and sounds out of the city,  
 sounds of the day and night,
Talkative young ones to those that like them, the  
 recitative of fish-pedlars and fruit-pedlars, the  
 loud laugh of work-people at their meals,
The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint  
 tones of the sick,
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his  
 shaky lips pronouncing a death-sentence,
The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the  
 wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters,
The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the  
 whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose- 
 carts, with premonitory tinkles and colored  
The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of  
 approaching cars,
The slow-march played at night at the head of the  
They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are  
 draped with black muslin.
I hear the violincello or man's heart's complaint, I hear the keyed cornet, it glides quickly in  
 through my ears, it shakes mad-sweet pangs  
 through my belly and breast.
  [ begin page 48 ]ppp.00237.056.jpg I hear the chorus, it is a grand-opera—this in- 
 deed is music!
A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me, The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling  
 me full.
I hear the trained soprano, she convulses me like  
 the climax of my love-grip,
The orchestra wrenches such ardors from me, I  
 did not know I possessed them,
It throbs me to gulps of the farthest down horror, It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are licked  
 by the indolent waves,
I am exposed, cut by bitter and poisoned hail, Steeped amid honeyed morphine, my windpipe  
 squeezed in the fakes of death,
Let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles, And that we call Being.
To be in any form, what is that? If nothing lay more developed, the quahaug in its  
 callous shell were enough.
Mine is no callous shell, I have instant conductors all over me, whether I  
 pass or stop,
They seize every object and lead it harmlessly  
 through me.
  [ begin page 49 ]ppp.00237.057.jpg I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am  
To touch my person to some one else's is about  
 as much as I can stand.
Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new  
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins, Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to  
 help them,
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike  
 what is hardly different from myself,
On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my  
Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld  
Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial, Depriving me of my best, as for a purpose, Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare  
Deluding my confusion with the calm of the  
 sun-light and pasture-fields,
Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away, They bribed to swap off with touch, and go and  
 graze at the edges of me,
No consideration, no regard for my draining  
 strength or my anger,
Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them  
3   [ begin page 50 ]ppp.00237.058.jpg Then all uniting to stand on a head-land and  
 worry me.
The sentries desert every other part of me, They have left me helpless to a red marauder, They all come to the head-land, to witness and  
 assist against me.
I am given up by traitors! I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody  
 else am the greatest traitor,
I went myself first to the head-land, my own hands  
 carried me there.
You villain touch! what are you doing? my  
 breath is tight in its throat,
Unclench your floodgates! you are too much for  
Blind, loving, wrestling touch! sheathed, hooded,  
 sharp-toothed touch!
Did it make you ache so, leaving me?
Parting, tracked by arriving—perpetual payment  
 of the perpetual loan,
Rich showering rain, and recompense richer after- 
Sprouts take and accumulate—stand by the curb  
 prolific and vital,
Landscapes, projected, masculine, full-sized, golden.
  [ begin page 51 ]ppp.00237.059.jpg All truths wait in all things, They neither hasten their own delivery, nor resist  
They do not need the obstetric forceps of the  
The insignificant is as big to me as any, What is less or more than a touch?
Logic and sermons never convince, The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul. Only what proves itself to every man and woman  
 is so,
Only what nobody denies is so.
A minute and a drop of me settle my brain, I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and  
And a compend of compends is the meat of a man  
 or woman,
And a summit and flower there is the feeling they  
 have for each other,
And they are to branch boundlessly out of that  
 lesson until it becomes omnific,
And until every one shall delight us, and we  
I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey- 
 work of the stars,
  [ begin page 52 ]ppp.00237.060.jpg And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of  
 sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'ouvre for the highest, And the running blackberry would adorn the  
 parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn  
 all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depressed head sur- 
 passes any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sex- 
 tillions of infidels,
And I could come every afternoon of my life to  
 look at the farmer's girl boiling her iron tea- 
 kettle and baking short-cake.
I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded  
 moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots,
And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over, And have distanced what is behind me for good  
And call any thing close again, when I desire it.
In vain the speeding or shyness, In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat  
 against my approach,
In vain the mastadon retreats beneath its own  
 powdered bones,
In vain objects stand leagues off, and assume  
 manifold shapes,
  [ begin page 53 ]ppp.00237.061.jpg In vain the ocean settling in hollows, and the great  
 monsters lying low,
In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky, In vain the snake slides through the creepers and  
In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the  
In vain the razor-billed auk sails far north to  
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure  
 of the cliff.
I think I could turn and live with animals, they  
 are so placid and self-contained,
I stand and look at them sometimes half the day  
They do not sweat and whine about their condi- 
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for  
 their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty  
 to God,
No one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with  
 the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that  
 lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or industrious over the  
 whole earth.
  [ begin page 54 ]ppp.00237.062.jpg So they show their relations to me, and I accept  
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them  
 plainly in their possession.
I do not know where they got those tokens, I may have passed that way untold times ago and  
 negligently dropt them,
Myself moving forward then and now and forever, Gathering and showing more always and with  
Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these  
 among them,
Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my re- 
Picking out here one that I love, choosing to go  
 with him on brotherly terms.
A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and respon- 
 sive to my caresses,
Head high in the forehead, wide between the  
Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground, Eyes well apart, full of sparkling wickedness, ears  
 finely cut, flexibly moving.
His nostrils dilate, my heels embrace him, his  
 well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, we  
 speed around and return.
  [ begin page 55 ]ppp.00237.063.jpg I but use you a moment, then I resign you stal- 
 lion, do not need your paces, out-gallop them,
Myself, as I stand or sit, passing faster than you.
Swift wind! space! my soul! now I know it is  
 true, what I guessed at,
What I guessed when I loafed on the grass, What I guessed while I lay alone in my bed, and  
 again as I walked the beach under the paling  
 stars of the morning.
My ties and ballasts leave me—I travel, I sail,  
 my elbows rest in the sea-gaps,
I skirt the sierras, my palms cover continents, I am afoot with my vision.
By the city's quadrangular houses, in log-huts,  
 camping with lumber-men,
Along the ruts of the turnpike, along the dry gulch  
 and rivulet bed,
Weeding my onion-patch, hoeing rows of carrots  
 and parsnips, crossing savannas, trailing in  
Prospecting, gold-digging, girdling the trees of a  
 new purchase,
Scorched ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my  
 boat down the shallow river,
Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb  
 overhead, where the buck turns furiously at  
 the hunter,
  [ begin page 56 ]ppp.00237.064.jpg Where the rattle-snake suns his flabby length on  
 a rock, where the otter is feeding on fish,
Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps  
 by the bayou,
Where the black bear is searching for roots or  
 honey, where the beaver pats the mud with  
 his paddle-tail,
Over the growing sugar, over the cotton-plant,  
 over the rice in its low moist field,
Over the sharp-peaked farm-house, with its scal- 
 loped scum and slender shoots from the gut- 
Over the western persimmon, over the long-leaved  
 corn, over the delicate blue-flowered flax,
Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer  
 and buzzer there with the rest,
Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and  
 shades in the breeze,
Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up,  
 holding on by low scragged limbs,
Walking the path worn in the grass and beat  
 through the leaves of the brush,
Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods  
 and the wheat-lot,
Where the bat flies in the July eve, where the  
 great gold-bug drops through the dark,
Where the flails keep time on the barn floor, Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old  
 tree and flows to the meadow,
  [ begin page 57 ]ppp.00237.065.jpg Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the  
 tremulous shuddering of their hides,
Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where  
 andirons straddle the hearth-slab, where cob- 
 webs fall in festoons from the rafters,
Where trip-hammers crash, where the press is  
 whirling its cylinders,
Wherever the human heart beats with terrible  
 throes out of its ribs,
Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft,  
 floating in it myself and looking composedly  
Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose,  
 where the heat hatches pale-green eggs in  
 the dented sand,
Where the she-whale swims with her calves and  
 never forsakes them,
Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long  
 pennant of smoke,
Where the ground-shark's fin cuts like a black  
 chip out of the water,
Where the half-burned brig is riding on unknown  
Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the  
 dead are corrupting below,
Where the striped and starred flag is borne at the  
 head of the regiments,
Approaching Manhattan, up by the long-stretching  
3*   [ begin page 58 ]ppp.00237.066.jpg Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil  
 over my countenance,
Upon a door-step, upon the horse-block of hard  
 wood outside,
Upon the race-course, or enjoying pic-nics or jigs,  
 or a good game of base-ball,
At he-festivals, with blackguard jibes, ironical li- 
 cense, bull-dances, drinking, laughter,
At the cider-mill, tasting the sweet of the brown  
 sqush, sucking the juice through a straw,
At apple-peelings, wanting kisses for all the red  
 fruit I find,
At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings,  
Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gur- 
 gles, cackles, screams, weeps,
Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard, where  
 the dry-stalks are scattered, where the brood  
 cow waits in the hovel,
Where the bull advances to do his masculine  
 work, where the stud to the mare, where the  
 cock is treading the hen,
Where heifers browse, where geese nip their food  
 with short jerks,
Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limit- 
 less and lonesome prairie,
Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread  
 of the square miles far and near,
  [ begin page 59 ]ppp.00237.067.jpg Where the humming-bird shimmers, where the  
 neck of the long-lived swan is curving and  
Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore,  
 where she laughs her near-human laugh,
Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the  
 garden, half-hid by the high weeds,
Where band-necked partridges roost in a ring on  
 the ground with their heads out,
Where burial coaches enter the arched gates of a  
Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow  
 and icicled trees,
Where the yellow-crowned heron comes to the  
 edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon  
 small crabs,
Where the splash of swimmers and divers cool  
 the warm noon,
Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on  
 the walnut-tree over the well,
Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with  
 silver-wired leaves,
Through the salt-lick or orange glade, under coni- 
 cal firs,
Through the gymnasium, through the curtained  
 saloon, through the office or public hall,
Pleased with the native, pleased with the foreign,  
 pleased with the new and old,
  [ begin page 60 ]ppp.00237.068.jpg Pleased with women, the homely as well as the  
Pleased with the quakeress as she puts off her  
 bonnet and talks melodiously,
Pleased with the tunes of the choir of the white- 
 washed church,
Pleased with the earnest words of the sweating  
 Methodist preacher, or any preacher—look- 
 ing seriously at the camp-meeting,
Looking in at the shop-windows in Broadway the  
 whole forenoon, pressing the flesh of my nose  
 to the thick plate-glass,
Wandering the same afternoon with my face  
 turned up to the clouds,
My right and left arms round the sides of two  
 friends, and I in the middle;
Coming home with the bearded and dark-cheeked  
 bush-boy, riding behind him at the drape of  
 the day,
Far from the settlements, studying the print of  
 animals' feet, or the moccasin print,
By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a  
 feverish patient,
By the coffined corpse when all is still examin- 
 ing with a candle,
Voyaging to every port to dicker and adven- 
Hurrying with the modern crowd, as eager and  
 fickle as any,
  [ begin page 61 ]ppp.00237.069.jpg Hot toward one I hate ready in my madness to  
 knife him,
Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts  
 gone from me a long while,
Walking the old hills of Judea, with the beautiful  
 gentle god by my side,
Speeding through space, speeding through heaven  
 and the stars,
Speeding amid the seven satellites, and the broad  
 ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand  
Speeding with tailed meteors, throwing fire-balls  
 like the rest,
Carrying the crescent child that carries its own  
 full mother in its belly,
Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning, Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing, I tread day and night such roads.
I visit the orchards of spheres and look at the  
And look at quintillions ripened, and look at quin- 
 tillions green.
I fly the flight of the fluid and swallowing soul, My course runs below the soundings of plummets. I help myself to material and immaterial, No guard can shut me off, no law can prevent me.   [ begin page 62 ]ppp.00237.070.jpg I anchor my ship for a little while only, My messengers continually cruise away, or bring  
 their returns to me.
I go hunting polar furs and the seal, leaping  
 chasms with a pike-pointed staff, clinging to  
 topples of brittle and blue.
I ascend to the fore-truck, I take my place late at  
 night in the crow's-nest, we sail through the  
 arctic sea, it is plenty light enough,
Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on  
 the wonderful beauty,
The enormous masses of ice pass me and I  
 pass them, the scenery is plain in all direc- 
The white-topped mountains show in the dis- 
 tance, I fling out my fancies toward them,
We are approaching some great battle-field in  
 which we are soon to be engaged,
We pass the colossal out-posts of the encamp- 
 ments, we pass with still feet and caution,
Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast  
 and ruined city, the blocks and fallen archi- 
 tecture more than all the living cities of the  
I am a free companion, I bivouac by invading  
  [ begin page 63 ]ppp.00237.071.jpg I turn the bridegroom out of bed and stay with  
 the bride myself,
I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.
My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the  
 rail of the stairs,
They fetch my man's body up, dripping and  
I understand the large hearts of heroes, The courage of present times and all times, How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless  
 wreck of the steam-ship, and death chasing it  
 up and down the storm,
How he knuckled tight, and gave not back one  
 inch, and was faithful of days and faithful of  
And chalked in large letters, Be of good cheer,  
 We will not desert you,
How he saved the drifting company at last, How the lank loose-gowned women looked when  
 boated from the side of their prepared graves,
How the silent old-faced infants, and the lifted  
 sick, and the sharp-lipped unshaved men,
All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it  
 becomes mine,
I am the man, I suffered, I was there.
The disdain and calmness of martyrs,   [ begin page 64 ]ppp.00237.072.jpg The mother, condemned for a witch, burnt with  
 dry wood, her children gazing on,
The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by  
 the fence, blowing, covered with sweat,
The twinges that sting like needles his legs and  
 neck, the murderous buck-shot and the bullets,
All these I feel or am.
I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the  
Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again  
 crack the marksmen,
I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs,  
 thinned with the ooze of my skin,
I fall on the weeds and stones, The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close, Taunt my dizzy ears, beat me violently over the  
 head with whip-stocks.
Agonies are one of my changes of garments, I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I  
 myself become the wounded person,
My hurt turns livid upon me as I lean on a cane  
 and observe.
I am the mashed fireman with breastbone broken,  
 tumbling walls buried me in their debris,
Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling  
 shouts of my comrades,
  [ begin page 65 ]ppp.00237.073.jpg I heard the distant click of their picks and shov- 
They have cleared the beams away, they tenderly  
 life me forth.
I lie in the night air in my red shirt, the pervading  
 hush is for my sake.
Painless after all I lie, exhausted but not so un- 
White and beautiful are the faces around me, the  
 heads are bared of their fire-caps,
The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the  
Distant and dead resuscitate, They show as the dial or move as the hands of  
 me—I am the clock myself.
I am an old artillerist, I tell of my fort's bombard- 
 ment, I am there again.
Again the reveille of drummers, again the attack- 
 ing cannon, mortars, howitzers,
Again the attacked send cannon responsive; I take part, I see and hear the whole, The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aimed  
The ambulanza slowly passing, trailing its red  
  [ begin page 66 ]ppp.00237.074.jpg Workmen searching after damages, making indis- 
 pensable repairs,
The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the  
 fan-shaped explosion,
The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron,  
 high in the air.
Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general, he  
 furiously waves with his hand,
He gasps through the clot, Mind not me—mind —  
 the entrenchments.
I tell not the fall of Alamo, not one escaped to tell  
 the fall of Alamo,
The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo.
Hear now the tale of a jet-black sunrise, Hear of the murder in cold-blood of four hundred  
 and twelve young men.
Retreating, they had formed in a hollow square,  
 with their baggage for breast-works,
Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's,  
 nine times their number, was the price they  
 took in advance,
Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition  
They treated for an honorable capitulation, re- 
 ceived writing and seal, gave up their arms,  
 marched back prisoners of war.
  [ begin page 67 ]ppp.00237.075.jpg They were the glory of the race of rangers, Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, court- 
Large, turbulent, brave, handsome, generous,  
 proud, affectionate,
Bearded, sunburnt, dressed in the free costume of  
Not a single one over thirty years of age.
The second Sunday morning they were brought  
 out in squads and massacred—it was beauti- 
 ful early summer,
The work commenced about five o'clock and was  
 over by eight.
None obeyed the command to kneel, Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood  
 stark and straight,
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the  
 living and dead lay together,
The maimed and mangled dug in the dirt, the  
 new-comers saw them there,
Some, half-killed, attempted to crawl away, These were dispatched with bayonets, or battered  
 with the blunts of muskets,
A youth not seventeen years old seized his assas- 
 sin, till two more came to release him,
The three were all torn, and covered with the  
 boy's blood.
  [ begin page 68 ]ppp.00237.076.jpg At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies; That is the tale of the murder of the four hun- 
 dred and twelve young men,
And that was a jet-black sunrise.
Did you read in the sea-books of the old-fashioned  
Did you learn who won by the light of the moon  
 and stars?
Our foe was no skulk in his ship, I tell you, His was the English pluck, and there is no tougher  
 or truer, and never was, and never will be,
Along the lowered eve he came, horribly raking  
We closed with him, the yards entangled, the can- 
 non touched,
My captain lashed fast with his own hands.
We had received some eighteen-pound shots un- 
 der the water,
On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst  
 at the first fire, killing all around and blowing  
 up overhead.
Ten o'clock at night and the full moon shining,  
 and the leaks on the gain, and five feet of  
 water reported,
  [ begin page 69 ]ppp.00237.077.jpg The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined  
 in the after-hold, to give them a chance for  
The transit to and from the magazine was now  
 stopped by the sentinels,
They saw so many strange faces that they did not  
 know whom to trust.
Our frigate was afire, the other asked if we de- 
 manded quarter? if our colors were struck  
 and the fighting done?
I laughed content when I heard the voice of my  
 little captain,
We have not struck, he composedly cried, We  
 have just begun our part of the fighting.
Only three guns were in use, One was directed by the captain himself against  
 the enemy's main-mast,
Two, well served with grape and canister,  
 silenced his musketry and cleared his  
The tops alone seconded the fire of this little bat- 
 tery, especially the main-top,
They all held out bravely during the whole of the  
Not a moment's cease,   [ begin page 70 ]ppp.00237.078.jpg The leaks gained fast on the pumps, the fire eat  
 toward the powder-magazine,
One of the pumps was shot away, it was generally  
 thought we were sinking.
Serene stood the little captain, He was not hurried, his voice was neither high  
 nor low,
His eyes gave more light to us than our battle- 
Toward twelve at night, there in the beams of the  
 moon they surrendered to us.
Stretched and still lay the midnight, Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the  
Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, prepara- 
 tions to pass to the one we had conquered,
The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his  
 orders through a countenance white as a  
Near by, the corpse of the child that served in the  
The dead face of an old salt with long white hair  
 and carefully curled whiskers,
The flames, spite of all that could be done, flicker- 
 ing aloft and below,
The husky voices of the two or three officers yet  
 fit for duty,
  [ begin page 71 ]ppp.00237.079.jpg Formless stacks of bodies, bodies by them- 
 selves, dabs of flesh upon the masts and  
Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of  
 the soothe of waves,
Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels,  
 strong scent,
Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass  
 and fields by the shore, death-messages  
 given in change to survivors,
The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth  
 of his saw,
Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild  
 scream, long dull tapering groan,
These so, these irretrievable.
O Christ! My fit is mastering me! What the rebel said, gaily adjusting his throat to  
 the rope-noose,
What the savage at the stump, his eye-sockets  
 empty, his mouth spirting whoops and defi- 
What stills the traveler come to the vault at  
 Mount Vernon,
What sobers the Brooklyn boy as he looks down  
 the shores of the Wallabout and remembers  
 the prison ships,
What burnt the gums of the red-coat at Saratoga  
 when he surrendered his brigades,
  [ begin page 72 ]ppp.00237.080.jpg These become mine and me every one, and they  
 are but little,
I become as much more as I like.
I become any presence or truth of humanity here, And see myself in prison shaped like another  
And feel the dull unintermitted pain.
For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their  
 carbines and keep watch,
It is I let out in the morning and barred at night.
Not a mutineer walks hand-cuffed to the jail, but I  
 am hand-cuffed to him and walk by his side,
I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent  
 one, with sweat on my twitching lips.
Not a youngster is taken for larceny, but I go up  
 too, and am tried and sentenced.
Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp, but I  
 also lie at the last gasp,
My face is ash-colored, my sinews gnarl, away  
 from me people retreat.
Askers embody themselves in me, and I am em- 
 bodied in them,
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, beg.
  [ begin page 73 ]ppp.00237.081.jpg I rise extatic through all, sweep with the true  
The whirling and whirling is elemental within  
Somehow I have been stunned. Stand back! Give me a little time beyond my cuffed head,  
 slumbers, dreams, gaping,
I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.
That I could forget the mockers and insults! That I could forget the trickling tears, and the  
 blows of the bludgeons and hammers!
That I could look with a separate look on my own  
 crucifixion and bloody crowning!
I remember, I resume the overstaid fraction, The grave of rock multiplies what has been con- 
 fided to it, or to any graves,
The corpses rise, the gashes heal, the fastenings  
 roll away.
I troop forth replenished with supreme power,  
 one of an average unending procession,
We walk the roads of Ohio, Massachusetts, Vir- 
 ginia, Wisconsin, Manhattan Island, New  
 Orleans, Texas, Montreal, San Francisco,  
 Charleston, Havana, Mexico,
Inland and by the sea-coast and boundary lines,  
 and we pass all boundary lines.
4   [ begin page 74 ]ppp.00237.082.jpg Our swift ordinances are on their way over the  
 whole earth,
The blossoms we wear in our hats are the growth  
 of two thousand years.
Eleves, I salute you! I see the approach of your numberless gangs, I  
 see you understand yourselves and me,
And know that they who have eyes are divine,  
 and the blind and lame are equally divine,
And that my steps drag behind yours, yet go be- 
 fore them,
And are aware how I am with you no more than  
 I am with everybody.
The friendly and flowing savage, Who is he? Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and mas- 
 tering it?
Is he some south-westerner, raised out-doors?  
 Is he Canadian?
Is he from the Mississippi country? from Iowa,  
 Oregon, California? from the mountains?  
 prairie-life, bush-life? from the sea?
Wherever he goes men and women accept and  
 desire him;
They desire he should like them, touch them  
 speak to them, stay with them.
  [ begin page 75 ]ppp.00237.083.jpg Behaviour lawless as snow-flakes, words simple  
 as grass, uncombed head, laughter, naivete,
Slow-stepping feet, common features, common  
 modes and emanations,
They descend in new forms from the tips of his  
They are wafted with the odor of his body or  
 breath, they fly out of the glance of his eyes.
Flaunt of the sun-shine, I need not your bask, lie  
You light surfaces only, I force surfaces and  
 depths also.
Earth! you seem to look for something at my  
Say old top-knot! what do you want?
Man or woman! I might tell how I like you, but  
And might tell what it is in me, and what it is in  
 you, but cannot,
And might tell the pinings I have, the pulse of my  
 nights and days.
Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity, What I give I give out of myself. You there, impotent, loose in the knees, open your  
 scarfed chops till I blow grit within you,
  [ begin page 76 ]ppp.00237.084.jpg Spread your palms, and lift the flaps of your  
I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores  
 plenty and to spare,
And any thing I have I bestow; I do not ask who you are, that is not important to  
You can do nothing, and be nothing, but what I  
 will infold you.
To a drudge of the cotton-fields or cleaner of  
 privies I lean—on his right cheek I put the  
 family kiss,
And in my soul I swear, I never will deny him.
On women fit for conception I start bigger and  
 nimbler babes,
This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arro- 
 gant republics.
To any one dying, thither I speed and twist the  
 knob of the door,
Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed, Let the physician and the priest go home.
I seize the descending man, I raise him with re- 
 sistless will.
O despairer, here is my neck,   [ begin page 77 ]ppp.00237.085.jpg By God! you shall not go down! hang your  
 whole weight upon me.
I dilate you with tremendous breath, I buoy you  
Every room of the house do I fill with an armed  
 force, lovers of me, bafflers of graves,
Sleep! I and they keep guard all night, Not doubt, not decease shall dare to lay finger  
 upon you,
I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you  
 to myself,
And when you rise in the morning you will find  
 what I tell you is so.
I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant  
 on their backs,
And for strong upright men I bring yet more  
 needed help.
I heard what was said of the universe, Heard it and heard it of several thousand years; It is middling well as far as it goes, but is that  
Magnifying and applying come I, Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters, The most they offer for mankind and eternity less  
 than a spirt of my own seminal wet,
  [ begin page 78 ]ppp.00237.086.jpg Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah —  
 lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, Hercules  
 his grandson—buying drafts of Osiris, Isis,  
 Belus, Brahma, Buddha—in my portfolio  
 placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the  
 crucifix engraved—with Odin, and the  
 hideous-faced Mexitli, and every idol and  
Taking them all for what they are worth, and not  
 a cent more,
Admitting they were alive and did the work of  
 their day,
Admitting they bore mites, as for unfledged birds,  
 who have now to rise and fly and sing for  
Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out bet- 
 ter in myself—bestowing them freely on  
 each man and woman I see,
Discovering as much, or more, in a framer framing  
 a house,
Putting higher claims for him there with his  
 rolled-up sleeves, driving the mallet and  
Not objecting to special revelations, considering a  
 curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my  
 hand just as curious as any revelation,
Those ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder  
 ropes no less to me than the gods of the  
 antique wars,
  [ begin page 79 ]ppp.00237.087.jpg Minding their voices peal through the crash of  
Their brawny limbs passing safe over charred  
 laths, their white foreheads whole and unhurt  
 out of the flames,
By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her  
 nipple interceding for every person born,
Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from  
 three lusty angels with shirts bagged out at  
 their waists,
The snag-toothed hostler with red hair redeeming  
 sins past and to come,
Selling all he possesses, travelling on foot to fee  
 lawyers for his brother, and sit by him while  
 he is tried for forgery;
What was strewn in the amplest strewing the  
 square rod about me, and not filling the square  
 rod then,
The bull and the bug never worshipped half  
Dung and dirt more admirable than was dreamed, The supernatural of no account—myself waiting  
 my time to be one of the supremes,
The day getting ready for me when I shall do  
 as much good as the best, and be as pro- 
Guessing when I am it will not tickle me much  
 to receive puffs out of pulpit or print;
By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator!   [ begin page 80 ]ppp.00237.088.jpg Putting myself here and now to the ambushed  
 womb of the shadows!
A call in the midst of the crowd, My own voice, orotund, sweeping, final. Come my children, Come my boys and girls, my women, household,  
Now the performer launches his nerve, he has  
 passed his prelude on the reeds within.
Easily written, loose-fingered chords! I feel the  
 thrum of their climax and close.
My head slues round on my neck, Music rolls, but not from the organ—folks are  
 around me, but they are no household of mine.
Ever the hard unsunk ground, Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and  
 downward sun, ever the air and the ceaseless  
Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing,  
 wicked, real,
Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorned  
 thumb, that breath of itches and thirsts,
Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where  
 the sly one hides, and bring him forth;
  [ begin page 81 ]ppp.00237.089.jpg Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life, Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the tressels  
 of death.
Here and there with dimes on the eyes walking, To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally  
Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast  
 never once going,
Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then  
 the chaff for payment receiving,
A few idly owning, and they the wheat continu- 
 ally claiming.
This is the city, and I am one of the citizens, Whatever interests the rest interests me—poli- 
 tics, markets, newspapers, schools, benevolent  
 societies, improvements, banks, tariffs, steam- 
 ships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate,  
 personal estate.
They who piddle and patter here in collars and  
 tailed coats, I am aware who they are—they  
 are not worms or fleas,
I acknowledge the duplicates of myself—the weak- 
 est and shallowest is deathless with me,
What I do and say, the same waits for them; Every thought that flounders in me, the same  
 flounders in them.
4*   [ begin page 82 ]ppp.00237.090.jpg I know perfectly well my own egotism, I know my omnivorous words, and cannot say any  
And would fetch you, whoever you are, flush with  
My words are words of a questioning, and to in- 
 dicate reality;
This printed and bound book—but the printer,  
 and the printing-office boy?
The marriage estate and settlement—but the  
 body and mind of the bridegroom? also those  
 of the bride?
The panorama of the sea—but the sea itself? The well-taken photographs—but your wife or  
 friend close and solid in your arms?
The fleet of ships of the line, and all the modern  
 improvements—but the craft and pluck of  
 the admiral?
The dishes and fare and furniture—but the host  
 and hostess, and the look out of their  
The sky up there—yet here, or next door, or  
 across the way?
The saints and sages in history—but you your- 
Sermons, creeds, theology—but the human brain,  
 and what is called reason, and what is called  
 love, and what is called life?
  [ begin page 83 ]ppp.00237.091.jpg I do not despise you, priests, My faith is the greatest of faiths, and the least of  
Enclosing all worship ancient and modern, and all  
 between ancient and modern,
Believing I shall come again upon the earth after  
 five thousand years,
Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the  
 gods, saluting the sun,
Making a fetish of the first rock or stump, powow- 
 ing with sticks in the circle of obis,
Helping the lama or brahmin as he trims the  
 lamps of the idols,
Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic pro- 
 cession—rapt and austere in the woods, a  
Drinking mead from the skull-cup, to shastas and  
 vedas admirant, minding the koran,
Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the  
 stone and knife, beating the serpent-skin drum,
Accepting the gospels, accepting him that was  
 crucified, knowing assuredly that he is di- 
To the mass kneeling, to the puritan's prayer ris- 
 ing, sitting patiently in a pew,
Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, waiting  
 dead-like till my spirit arouses me,
Looking forth on pavement and land, and outside  
 of pavement and land,
  [ begin page 84 ]ppp.00237.092.jpg Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits. One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang, I  
 turn and talk like a man leaving charges be- 
 fore a journey.
Down-hearted doubters, dull and excluded, Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dis- 
 heartened, atheistical,
I know every one of you, I know the unspoken  
By experience I know them.
How the flukes splash! How they contort, rapid as lightning, with spasms  
 and spouts of blood!
Be at peace, bloody flukes of doubters and sullen  
I take my place among you as much as among  
The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the  
Day and night are for you, me, all, And what is yet untried and afterward is for you,  
 me, all, precisely the same.
I do not know what is untried and afterward, But I know it is sure, alive, sufficient.   [ begin page 85 ]ppp.00237.093.jpg Each who passes is considered, each who stops is  
 considered, not a single one can it fail.
It cannot fail the young man who died and was  
Nor the young woman who died and was put by  
 his side,
Nor the little child that peeped in at the door,  
 and then drew back and was never seen  
Nor the old man who has lived without purpose,  
 and feels it with bitterness worse than gall,
Nor him in the poor-house tubercled by rum and  
 the bad disorder,
Nor the numberless slaughtered and wrecked, nor  
 the brutish koboo called the ordure of  
Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths  
 for food to slip in,
Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest  
 graves of the earth,
Nor any thing in the myriads of spheres, nor  
 one of the myriads of myriads that inhabit  
Nor the present, nor the least wisp that is known.
It is time to explain myself—let us stand up. What is known I strip away, I launch all men and  
 women forward with me into the unknown.
  [ begin page 86 ]ppp.00237.094.jpg The clock indicates the moment, but what does  
 eternity indicate?
Eternity lies in bottomless reservoirs, its buckets  
 are rising forever and ever,
They pour, they pour, and exhale away.
We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters  
 and summers,
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of  
Births have brought us richness and variety, And other births will bring us richness and  
I do not call one greater and one smaller, That which fills its period and place is equal to  
Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my  
 brother, my sister?
I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or  
 jealous upon me,
All has been gentle with me, I keep no account  
 with lamentation;
What have I to do with lamentation?
I am an acme of things accomplished, and I an  
 encloser of things to be.
  [ begin page 87 ]ppp.00237.095.jpg My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs, On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches  
 between the steps,
All below duly traveled, and still I mount and  
Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me, Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I  
 was even there,
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the  
 lethargic mist,
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fœtid  
Long I was hugged close—long and long. Immense have been the preparations for me, Faithful and friendly the arms that have helped me. Cycles ferried my cradle rowing and rowing like  
 cheerful boatmen,
For room to me stars kept aside in their own  
They sent influences to look after what was to  
 hold me.
Before I was born out of my mother generations  
 guided me,
My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could  
 overlay it,
  [ begin page 88 ]ppp.00237.096.jpg For it the nebula cohered to an orb, the long slow  
 strata piled to rest it on, vast vegetables gave  
 it sustenance,
Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths,  
 and deposited it with care.
All forces have been steadily employed to com- 
 plete and delight me,
Now I stand on this spot with my soul.
Span of youth! ever-pushed elasticity! manhood,  
 balanced, florid, full!
My lovers suffocate me! Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin, Jostling me through streets and public halls,  
 coming naked to me at night,
Crying by day Ahoy! from the rocks of the river,  
 swinging and chirping over my head,
Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled  
Or while I swim in the bath, or drink from the  
 pump at the corner, or the curtain is down at  
 the opera, or I glimpse at a woman's face in  
 the rail-road car,
Lighting on every moment of my life, Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses, Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts  
 and giving them to be mine.
  [ begin page 89 ]ppp.00237.097.jpg Old age superbly rising! Ineffable grace of dying  
Every condition promulges not only itself, it pro- 
 mulges what grows after and out of itself,
And the dark hush promulges as much as  
I open my scuttle at night and see the far- 
 sprinkled systems,
And all I see, multiplied as high as I can cipher,  
 edge but the rim of the farther systems.
Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always  
Outward, outward, forever outward.
My sun has his sun, and round him obediently  
He joins with his partners a group of superior  
And greater sets follow, making specks of the  
 greatest inside them.
There is no stoppage, and never can be stoppage, If I, you, the worlds, all beneath or upon their  
 surfaces, and all the palpable life, were this  
 moment reduced back to a pallid float, it  
 would not avail in the long run,
  [ begin page 90 ]ppp.00237.098.jpg We should surely bring up again where we now  
And as surely go as much farther, and then far- 
 ther and farther.
A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of  
 cubic leagues, do not hazard the span, or  
 make it impatient,
They are but parts, any thing is but a part.
See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of  
Count ever so much, there is limitless time around  
My rendezvous is appointed, The Lord will be there and wait till I come on  
 perfect terms.
I know I have the best of time and space, and  
 was never measured, and never will be  
I tramp a perpetual journey, My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a  
 staff cut from the woods,
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair, I have no chair, no church, no philosophy, I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,   [ begin page 91 ]ppp.00237.099.jpg But each man and each woman of you I lead upon  
 a knoll,
My left hand hooks you round the waist, My right hand points to landscapes of continents,  
 and a plain public road.
Not I, not any one else, can travel that road for  
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far, it is within reach, Perhaps you have been on it since you were born,  
 and did not know,
Perhaps it is every where on water and on  
Shoulder your duds, I will mine, let us hasten  
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch  
 as we go.
If you tire, give me both burdens and rest the  
 chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same ser- 
 vice to me,
For after we start we never lie by again.
This day before dawn I ascended a hill and  
 looked at the crowded heaven,
  [ begin page 92 ]ppp.00237.100.jpg And I said to my spirit, When we become the  
 enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and  
 knowledge of every thing in them, shall we  
 be filled and satisfied then?
And my spirit said No, we level that lift to pass  
 and continue beyond.
You are also asking me questions, and I hear you, I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out  
 for yourself.
Sit awhile wayfarer, Here are biscuits to eat, here is milk to drink, But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in  
 sweet clothes, I will certainly kiss you with  
 my good-bye kiss, and open the gate for your  
 egress hence.
Long enough have you dreamed contemptible  
Now I wash the gum from your eyes, You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light,  
 and of every moment of your life.
Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by  
 the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer, To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod  
 to me, shout, laughingly dash with your hair.
  [ begin page 93 ]ppp.00237.101.jpg I am the teacher of athletes, He that by me spreads a wider breast than my  
 own proves the width of my own,
He most honors my style who learns under it to  
 destroy the teacher.
The boy I love, the same becomes a man, not  
 through derived power, but in his own right,
Wicked, rather than virtuous out of conformity of  
Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak, Unrequited love, or a slight, cutting him worse  
 than a wound cuts,
First rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull's eye,  
 to sail a skiff, to sing a song, or play on the  
Preferring scars, and faces pitted with small-pox,  
 over all latherers and those that keep out of  
 the sun.
I teach straying from me, yet who can stray from  
I follow you, whoever you are, from the present  
My words itch at your ears till you understand  
I do not say these things for a dollar, or to fill up  
 the time while I wait for a boat,
  [ begin page 94 ]ppp.00237.102.jpg It is you talking just as much as myself, I act as  
 the tongue of you,
It was tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be  
I swear I will never mention love or death inside  
 a house,
And I swear I never will translate myself at all,  
 only to him or her who privately stays with  
 me in the open air.
If you would understand me, go to the heights or  
The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or  
 motion of waves a key,
The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words.
No shuttered room or school can commune with  
But roughs and little children better than they.
The young mechanic is closest to me, he knows  
 me pretty well,
The wood-man that takes his axe and jug with  
 him, shall take me with him all day,
The farm-boy ploughing in the field feels good at  
 the sound of my voice,
In vessels that sail my words sail—I go with  
 fishermen and seamen, and love them,
  [ begin page 95 ]ppp.00237.103.jpg My face rubs to the hunter's face when he lies  
 down alone in his blanket,
The driver thinking of me does not mind the  
 jolt of his wagon,
The young mother and old mother comprehend  
The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment,  
 and forget where they are,
They and all would resume what I have told them.
I have said that the soul is not more than the  
And I have said that the body is not more than  
 the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's- 
 self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy,  
 walks to his own funeral, dressed in his  
And I or you, pocketless of a dime, may pur- 
 chase the pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye, or show a bean in its  
 pod, confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the  
 young man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub  
 for the wheeled universe,
And any man or woman shall stand cool and  
 supercilious before a million universes.
  [ begin page 96 ]ppp.00237.104.jpg And I call to mankind, Be not curious about God, For I, who am curious about each, am not curious  
 about God,
No array of terms can say how much I am at  
 peace about God, and about death.
I hear and behold God in every object, yet I  
 understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more won- 
 derful than myself.
Why should I wish to see God better than this  
I see something of God each hour of the twenty- 
 four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and  
 in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropped in the street, and  
 every one is signed by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know  
 that others will punctually come forever and  
And as to you death, and you bitter hug of mor- 
 tality, it is idle to try to alarm me.
To his work without flinching the accoucheur  
  [ begin page 97 ]ppp.00237.105.jpg I see the elder-hand, pressing, receiving, support- 
I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible  
 doors, mark the outlet, mark the relief and  
And as to you corpse, I think you are good  
 manure, but that does not offend me,
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and grow- 
I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polished  
 breasts of melons.
And as to you life, I reckon you are the leavings  
 of many deaths,
No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times  
I hear you whispering there, O stars of heaven, O suns, O grass of graves, O perpetual trans- 
 fers and promotions, if you do not say any- 
 thing, how can I say anything?
Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest, Of the moon that descends the steeps of the  
 soughing twilight,
Toss, sparkles of day and dusk! Toss on the  
 black stems that decay in the muck!
Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs!
5   [ begin page 98 ]ppp.00237.106.jpg I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night, And perceive of the ghastly glimmer the sun- 
 beams reflected,
And debouch to the steady and central from the  
 offspring great or small.
There is that in me—I do not know what it is —  
 but I know it is in me.
Wrenched and sweaty, calm and cool then my  
 body becomes,
I sleep—I sleep long.
I do not know it—it is without name—it is a  
 word unsaid,
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.
Something it swings on more than the earth I  
 swing on,
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing  
 awakes me.
Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for  
 my brothers and sisters.
Do you see, O my brothers and sisters? It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan  
 —it is eternal life—it is happiness.
The past and present wilt—I have filled them,  
 emptied them,
  [ begin page 99 ]ppp.00237.107.jpg And proceed to fill my next fold of the future. Listener up there! here you! what have you to  
 confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of  
Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay  
 only a minute longer.
Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on  
 the door-slab.
Who has done his day's work? who will soonest  
 be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?
Will you speak before I am gone? will you  
 prove already too late?
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me —  
 he complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untrans- 
  [ begin page 100 ]ppp.00237.108.jpg I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the  
The last scud of day holds back for me, It flings my likeness, after the rest, and true as  
 any, on the shadowed wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the  
 run-away sun,
I effuse my flash in eddies, and drift it in lacy  
I bequeath myself to the dirt, to grow from the  
 grass I love,
If you want me again, look for me under your  
You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean, But I shall be good health to you nevertheless, And filter and fibre your blood. Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged, Missing me one place, search another, I stop some where waiting for you.
  [ begin page 101 ]ppp.00237.109.jpg

2 — Poem of Women.

UNFOLDED only out of the folds of the  
 woman, man comes unfolded, and is always  
 to come unfolded,
Unfolded only out of the superbest woman of the  
 earth is to come the superbest man of the  
Unfolded out of the friendliest woman is to come  
 the friendliest man,
Unfolded only out of the perfect body of a  
 woman, can a man be formed of perfect body,
Unfolded only out of the inimitable poem of  
 the woman can come the poems of man —  
 only thence have my poems come,
Unfolded out of the strong and arrogant woman  
 I love, only thence can appear the strong  
 and arrogant man I love,
Unfolded by brawny embraces from the well- 
 muscled woman I love, only thence come the  
 brawny embraces of the man,
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman's brain,  
 come all the folds of the man's brain, duly  
  [ begin page 102 ]ppp.00237.110.jpg Unfolded out of the justice of the woman, all jus- 
 tice is unfolded,
Unfolded out of the sympathy of the woman is all  
A man is a great thing upon the earth, and  
 through eternity—but every jot of the great- 
 ness of man is unfolded out of woman,
First the man is shaped in the woman, he can  
 then be shaped in himself.
  [ begin page 103 ]ppp.00237.111.jpg

3 — Poem of Salutation.

O TAKE my hand, Walt Whitman! Such gliding wonders! Such sights and  
Such joined unended links, each hooked to the  
Each answering all, each sharing the earth  
 with all.
What widens within you, Walt Whitman? What waves and soils exuding? What climes? what persons and lands are  
Who are the infants? some playing, some slum- 
Who are the girls? Who are the married  
Who are the three old men going slowly with  
 their arms about each others' necks?
What rivers are these? What forests and fruits  
 are these?
What are the mountains called that rise so high  
 in the mists?
  [ begin page 104 ]ppp.00237.112.jpg What myriads of dwellings are they, filled with  
Within me latitude widens, longitude lengthens, Asia, Africa, Europe, are to the east—America is  
 provided for in the west,
Banding the bulge of the earth winds the hot  
Curiously north and south turn the axis-ends; Within me is the longest day, the sun wheels in  
 slanting rings, it does not set for months,
Stretched in due time within me the midnight sun  
 just rises above the horizon, and sinks again;
Within me zones, seas, cataracts, plains, volca- 
 noes, groups,
Oceanica, Australasia, Polynesia, and the great  
 West Indian islands.
What do you hear, Walt Whitman? I hear the workman singing, and the farmer's wife  
I hear in the distance the sounds of children, and  
 of animals early in the day,
I hear the inimitable music of the voices of  
I hear the persuasions of lovers, I hear quick rifle-cracks from the riflemen of East  
 Tennessee and Kentucky, hunting on hills,
  [ begin page 105 ]ppp.00237.113.jpg I hear emulous shouts of Australians, pursuing the  
 wild horse,
I hear the Spanish dance with castanets, in  
 the chestnut shade, to the rebeck and  
I hear continual echoes from the Thames, I hear fierce French liberty songs, I hear of the Italian boat-sculler the musical reci- 
 tative of old poems,
I hear the Virginia plantation chorus of negroes,  
 of a harvest night, in the glare of pine  
I hear the strong baritone of the 'long-shore-men  
 of Manahatta—I hear the stevedores unlad- 
 ing the cargoes, and singing,
I hear the screams of the water-fowl of solitary  
 northwest lakes,
I hear the rustling pattering of locusts, as they  
 strike the grain and grass with the showers  
 of their terrible clouds,
I hear the Coptic refrain toward sun-down pen- 
 sively falling on the breast of the black ven- 
 erable vast mother, the Nile,
I hear the bugles of raft-tenders on the streams  
 of Canada,
I hear the chirp of the Mexican muleteer, and  
 the bells of the mule,
I hear the Arab muezzin, calling from the top of  
 the mosque,
5*   [ begin page 106 ]ppp.00237.114.jpg I hear Christian priests at the altars of their  
 churches—I hear the responsive base and  
I hear the wail of utter despair of the white- 
 haired Irish grand-parents, when they learn  
 the death of their grand-son,
I hear the cry of the Cossack, and the sailor's  
 voice, putting to sea at Okotsk,
I hear the wheeze of the slave-coffle, as the  
 slaves march on, as the husky gangs pass on  
 by twos and threes, fastened together with  
 wrist-chains and ankle-chains,
I hear the entreaties of women tied up for punish- 
 ment, I hear the sibilant whisk of thongs  
 through the air,
I hear the appeal of the greatest orator, he that  
 turns states by the tip of his tongue,
I hear the Hebrew reading his records and  
I hear the rhythmic myths of the Greeks, and  
 the strong legends of the Romans,
I hear the tale of the divine life and bloody death  
 of the beautiful god, the Christ,
I hear the Hindoo teaching his favorite pupil the  
 loves, wars, adages, transmitted safely to this  
 day from poets who wrote three thousand  
 years ago.
What do you see, Walt Whitman?   [ begin page 107 ]ppp.00237.115.jpg Who are they you salute, and that one after  
 another salute you?
I see a great round wonder rolling through the  
I see diminute farms, hamlets, ruins, grave-yards,  
 jails, factories, palaces, hovels, huts of barba- 
 rians, tents of nomads, upon the surface,
I see the shaded part on one side where the  
 sleepers are sleeping, and the sun-lit part on  
 the other side,
I see the curious silent change of the light and  
I see distant lands, as real and near to the  
 inhabitants of them as my land is to me.
I see plenteous waters, I see mountain peaks—I see the sierras of  
 Andes and Alleghanies, I see where they  
I see plainly the Himmalehs, Chian Shahs, Al- 
 tays, Gauts,
I see the Rocky Mountains, and the Peak of  
I see the Styrian Alps and the Karnac Alps, I see the Pyrenees, Balks, Carpathians, and to  
 the north the Dofrafields, and off at sea  
 Mount Hecla,
I see Vesuvius and Etna—I see the Anahuacs,   [ begin page 108 ]ppp.00237.116.jpg I see the Mountains of the Moon, and the Snow  
 Mountains, and the Red Mountains of Mada- 
I see the Vermont hills, and the long string of  
I see the vast deserts of Western America, I see the Libyan, Arabian, and Asiatic deserts; I see huge dreadful Arctic and Antarctic icebergs, I see the superior oceans and the inferior ones —  
 the Atlantic and Pacific, the sea of Mexico,  
 the Brazilian sea, and the sea of Peru,
The Japan waters, those of Hindostan, the China  
 Sea, and the Gulf of Guinea,
The spread of the Baltic, Caspian, Bothnia, the  
 British shores, and the Bay of Biscay,
The clear-sunned Mediterranean, and from one to  
 another of its islands,
The inland fresh-tasted seas of North America, The White Sea, and the sea around Greenland.
I behold the mariners of the world, Some are in storms, some in the night, with  
 the watch on the look-out, some drifting  
 helplessly, some with contagious diseases.
I behold the steam-ships of the world, Some double the Cape of Storms, some Cape  
 Verde, others Cape Guardafui, Bon, or Baja- 
  [ begin page 109 ]ppp.00237.117.jpg Others Dondra Head, others pass the Straits of  
 Sunda, others Cape Lopatka, others Beh- 
 ring's Straits,
Others Cape Horn, others the Gulf of Mexico, or  
 along Cuba or Hayti, others Hudson's Bay or  
 Baffin's Bay,
Others pass the Straits of Dover, others enter the  
 Wash, others the Firth of Solway, others  
 round Cape Clear, others the Land's End,
Others traverse the Zuyder Zee or the Scheld, Others add to the exits and entrances at Sandy  
Others to the comers and goers at Gibraltar or the  
Others sternly push their way through the north- 
 ern winter-packs,
Others descend or ascend the Obi or the Lena, Others the Niger or the Congo, others the Hoang- 
 ho and Amoor, others the Indus, the Buram- 
 pooter and Cambodia,
Others wait at the wharves of Manahatta,  
 steamed up, ready to start,
Wait swift and swarthy in the ports of Australia, Wait at Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, Marseilles,  
 Lisbon, Naples, Hamburgh, Bremen, Bor- 
 deaux, the Hague, Copenhagen,
Wait at Valparaiso, Rio Janeiro, Panama, Wait at their moorings at Boston, Philadelphia,  
 Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, Galves- 
 ton, San Francisco.
  [ begin page 110 ]ppp.00237.118.jpg I see the tracks of the rail-roads of the earth, I see them welding state to state, county to  
 county, city to city, through North America,
I see them in Great Britain, I see them in Eu- 
I see them in Asia and in Africa.
I see the electric telegraphs of the earth, I see the filaments of the news of the wars,  
 deaths, losses, gains, passions, of my race.
I see the long thick river-stripes of the earth, I see where the Mississippi flows, I see where  
 the Columbia flows,
I see the St. Lawrence and the falls of Niagara, I see the Amazon and the Paraguay, I see where the Seine flows, and where the  
 Loire, the Rhone, and the Guadalquivir  
I see the windings of the Volga, the Dnieper,  
 the Oder,
I see the Tuscan going down the Arno, and the  
 Venetian along the Po,
I see the Greek seaman sailing out of Egina bay.
I see the site of the great old empire of Assyria,  
 and that of Persia, and that of India,
I see the falling of the Ganges over the high rim  
 of Saukara.
  [ begin page 111 ]ppp.00237.119.jpg I see the place of the idea of the Deity incarnated  
 by avatars in human forms,
I see the spots of the successions of priests on the  
 earth, oracles, sacrificers, brahmins, sabians  
 lamas, monks, muftis, exhorters,
I see where druids walked the groves of Mona, I  
 see the misletoe and vervain,
I see the temples of the deaths of the bodies of  
 gods, I see the old signifiers,
I see Christ once more eating the bread of his last  
 supper in the midst of youths and old persons,
I see where the strong divine young man, the Her- 
 cules, toiled faithfully and long, and then died,
I see the place of the innocent rich life and hap- 
 less fate of the beautiful nocturnal son, the  
 full-limbed Bacchus,
I see Kneph, blooming, dressed in blue, with the  
 crown of feathers on his head,
I see Hermes, unsuspected, dying, well-beloved,  
 saying to the people, Do not weep for me,  
 this is not my true country, I have lived  
 banished from my true country, I now go  
 back there, I return to the celestial sphere  
 where every one goes in his turn.
I see the battle-fields of the earth—grass grows  
 upon them, and blossoms and corn,
I see the tracks of ancient and modern expedi- 
  [ begin page 112 ]ppp.00237.120.jpg I see the nameless masonries, venerable messages  
 of the unknown events, heroes, records of the  
I see the places of the sagas, I see pine-trees and fir-trees torn by northern  
I see granite boulders and cliffs, I see green mea- 
 dows and lakes,
I see the burial-cairns of Scandinavian warriors, I see them raised high with stones, by the marge  
 of restless oceans, that the dead men's spirits,  
 when they wearied of their quiet graves,  
 might rise up through the mounds, and gaze  
 on the tossing billows, and be refreshed by  
 storms, immensity, liberty, action.
I see the steppes of Asia, I see the tumuli of Mongolia, I see the tents of  
 Kalmucks and Baskirs,
I see the nomadic tribes with herds of oxen and  
I see the table-lands notched with ravines, I see  
 the jungles and deserts,
I see the camel, the wild steed, the bustard, the  
 fat-tailed sheep, the antelope, and the bur- 
 rowing wolf.
I see the high-lands of Abyssinia,   [ begin page 113 ]ppp.00237.121.jpg I see flocks of goats feeding, I see the fig-tree,  
 tamarind, date,
I see fields of teff-wheat, I see the places of  
 verdure and gold.
I see the Brazilian vaquero, I see the Bolivian ascending Mount Sorata, I see the Guacho crossing the plains, I see the  
 incomparable rider of horses with his lasso  
 on his arm,
I see over the pampas the pursuit of wild cattle  
 for their hides.
I see the little and large sea-dots, some inhabited,  
 some uninhabited;
I see two boats with nets, lying off the shore of  
 Paumanok, quite still,
I see ten fishermen waiting—they discover now  
 a thick school of mossbonkers, they drop  
 the joined seine-ends in the water,
The boats separate, they diverge and row off,  
 each on its rounding course to the beach,  
 enclosing the mossbonkers,
The net is drawn in by a windlass by those  
 who stop ashore,
Some of the fishermen lounge in the boats,  
 others stand negligently ankle-deep in the  
 water, poised on strong legs,
The boats are partly drawn up, the water slaps  
 against them,
  [ begin page 114 ]ppp.00237.122.jpg On the sand, in heaps and winrows, well out from  
 the water, lie the green-backed spotted moss- 
I see the despondent red man in the west,  
 lingering about the banks of Moingo, and  
 about Lake Pepin,
He has beheld the quail and honey-bee, and  
 sadly prepared to depart.
I see the regions of snow and ice, I see the sharp-eyed Samoiede and the Finn, I see the seal-seeker in his boat, poising his  
I see the Siberian on his slight-built sledge, drawn  
 by dogs,
I see the porpoise-hunters, I see the whale-crews  
 of the South Pacific and the North Atlantic,
I see the cliffs, glaciers, torrents, valleys, of Switz- 
 erland—I mark the long winters and the  
I see the cities of the earth, and make myself a  
 part of them,
I am a real Londoner, Parisian, Viennese, I am a habitan of St. Petersburgh, Berlin, Con- 
I am of Adelaide, Sidney, Melbourne, I am of Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Limerick,   [ begin page 115 ]ppp.00237.123.jpg I am of Madrid, Cadiz, Barcelona, Oporto, Lyons,  
 Brussels, Berne, Frankfort, Stuttgart, Turin,  
I belong in Moscow, Cracow, Warsaw—or north- 
 ward in Christiana or Stockholm—or in  
 some street in Iceland,
I descend upon all those cities, and rise from them  
I see vapors exhaling from unexplored coun- 
I see the savage types, the bow and arrow, the  
 poisoned splint, the fetish and the obi.
I see African and Asiatic towns, I see Algiers, Tripoli, Derne, Mogadore, Timbuc- 
 too, Monrovia,
I see the swarms of Pekin, Canton, Benares,  
 Delhi, Calcutta,
I see the Kruman in his hut, and the Dahoman  
 and Ashantee-man in their huts,
I see the Turk smoking opium in Aleppo, I see the picturesque crowds at the fairs of Khiva,  
 and those of Herat,
I see Teheran, I see Muscat and Medina, and the  
 intervening sands—I see the caravans toil- 
 ing onward;
I see Egypt and the Egyptians, I see the pyramids  
 and obelisks,
  [ begin page 116 ]ppp.00237.124.jpg I look on chiselled histories, songs, philosophies,  
 cut in slabs of sand-stone or granite blocks,
I see at Memphis mummy-pits, containing mum- 
 mies, embalmed, swathed in linen cloth, lying  
 there many centuries,
I look on the fall'n Theban, the large-ball'd eyes,  
 the side-drooping neck, the hands folded  
 across the breast.
I see the menials of the earth, laboring, I see the prisoners in the prisons, I see the defective human bodies of the earth, I see the blind, the deaf and dumb, idiots, hunch- 
 backs, lunatics,
I see the pirates, thieves, betrayers, murderers,  
 slave-makers of the earth,
I see the helpless infants, and the helpless old  
 men and women.
I see male and female everywhere, I see the serene brotherhood of philosophs, I see the constructiveness of my race, I see the results of the perseverance and industry  
 of my race,
I see ranks, colors, barbarisms, civilizations—I  
 go among them, I mix indiscriminately,
And I salute all the inhabitants of the earth.
You, inevitable where you are! You daughter or son of England!   [ begin page 117 ]ppp.00237.125.jpg You free man of Australia! you of Tasmania! you  
 of Papua! you free woman of the same!
You of the mighty Slavic tribes and empires! you  
 Russ in Russia!
You dim-descended, black, divine-souled African,  
 large, fine-headed, nobly-formed, superbly  
 destined, on equal terms with me!
You Norwegian! Swede! Dane! Icelander! you  
You Spaniard of Spain! you Portuguese! You Frenchwoman and Frenchman of France! You Belge! you liberty-lover of the Netherlands! You sturdy Austrian! you Lombard! Hun! Bohe- 
 mian! farmer of Styria!
You neighbor of the Danube! You working-man of the Rhine, the Elbe, or the  
 Weser! you working-woman too!
You Sardinian! you Bavarian! you Swabian!  
 Saxon! Wallachian! Bulgarian!
You citizen of Prague! you Roman! Napolitan!  
You lithe matador in the arena at Seville! You mountaineer living lawlessly on the Taurus  
 or Caucasus!
You Bokh horse-herd watching your mares and  
 stallions feeding!
You beautiful-bodied Persian, at full speed in the  
 saddle, shooting arrows to the mark!
  [ begin page 118 ]ppp.00237.126.jpg You Chinaman and Chinawoman of China! you  
 Tartar of Tartary!
You women of the earth, subordinated at your  
You Jew journeying in your old age through every  
 risk to stand once on Syrian ground!
You other Jews waiting in all lands for your  
You thoughtful Armenian pondering by some  
 stream of the Euphrates! you peering amid  
 the ruins of Nineveh! you ascending Mount  
You foot-worn pilgrim welcoming the far-away  
 sparkle of the minarets of Mecca!
You sheiks along the stretch from Suez to Babel- 
 mandel, ruling your families and tribes!
You olive-grower tending your fruit on fields off  
 Nazareth, Damascus, or Lake Tiberias!
You Thibet trader on the wide inland, or bargain- 
 ing in the shops of Lassa!
You Japanese man or woman! you liver in  
 Madagascar, Ceylon, Sumatra, Borneo!
All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe,  
 Australia, indifferent of place!
All you on the numberless islands of the archi- 
 pelagoes of the sea!
And you of centuries hence, when you listen to me! And you everywhere whom I specify not, but in- 
 clude just the same!
  [ begin page 119 ]ppp.00237.127.jpg I salute you for myself and for America. Each of us inevitable, Each of us limitless—each of us with his or her  
 right upon the earth,
Each of us allowed the eternal purport of the earth, Each of us here as divinely as any is here.
You Hottentot with clicking palate! You woolly-haired hordes! you white or black  
 owners of slaves!
You owned persons dropping sweat-drops or  
You felons, deformed persons, idiots! You human forms with the fathomless ever- 
 impressive countenances of brutes!
You poor koboo whom the meanest of the rest  
 look down upon, for all your glimmering  
 language and spirituality!
You low expiring aborigines of the hills of Utah,  
 Oregon, California!
You dwarfed Kamskatkan, Greenlander, Lapp! You Austral negro, naked, red, sooty, with pro- 
 trusive lip, grovelling, seeking your food!
You Caffre, Berber, Soudanese! You haggard, uncouth, untutored Bedowee! You plague-swarms in Madras, Nankin, Kaubul,  
You bather bathing in the Ganges!   [ begin page 120 ]ppp.00237.128.jpg You benighted roamer of Amazonia! you Pat- 
 agonian! you Fegee-man!
You peon of Mexico! you Russian serf! you  
 quadroon of Carolina, Texas, Tennessee!
I do not refuse you my hand, or prefer others  
 before you,
I do not say one word against you.
My spirit has passed in compassion and deter- 
 mination around the whole earth,
I have looked for brothers, sisters, lovers, and  
 found them ready for me in all lands.
I think I have risen with you, you vapors, and  
 moved away to distant continents, and fallen  
 down there, for reasons,
I think I have blown with you, you winds, I think, you waters, I have fingered every shore  
 with you,
I think I have run through what any river or strait  
 of the globe has run through,
I think I have taken my stand on the bases of  
 peninsulas, and on imbedded rocks.
What cities the light or warmth penetrates, I  
 penetrate those cities myself,
All islands to which birds wing their way, I  
 wing my way myself,
I find my home wherever there are any homes of  
  [ begin page 121 ]ppp.00237.129.jpg

4 — Poem of The Daily Work of The Workmen and Workwomen of These States.

COME closer to me, Push close, my lovers, and take the best I  
Yield closer and closer, and give me the best you  
This is unfinished business with me—How is it  
 with you?
I was chilled with the cold types, cylinder, wet  
 paper between us.
I pass so poorly with paper and types, I must pass  
 with the contact of bodies and souls.
I do not thank you for liking me as I am, and  
 liking the touch of me—I know that it is  
 good for you to do so.
Were all educations practical and ornamental well  
 displayed out of me, what would it amount to?
6   [ begin page 122 ]ppp.00237.130.jpg Were I as the head teacher, charitable proprietor,  
 wise statesman, what would it amount to?
Were I to you as the boss employing and paying  
 you, would that satisfy you?
The learned, virtuous, benevolent, and the usual  
A man like me, and never the usual terms.
Neither a servant nor a master am I, I take no sooner a large price than a small price  
 —I will have my own, whoever enjoys me,
I will be even with you, and you shall be even  
 with me.
If you are a workman or workwoman, I stand as  
 nigh as the nighest that works in the same  
If you bestow gifts on your brother or dearest  
 friend, I demand as good as your brother or  
 dearest friend,
If your lover, husband, wife, is welcome by day  
 or night, I must be personally as welcome,
If you become degraded, criminal, ill, then I  
 become so for your sake,
If you remember your foolish and outlawed deeds,  
 do you think I cannot remember my own  
 foolish and outlawed deeds? plenty of them?
If you carouse at the table, I carouse at the  
 opposite side of the table,
  [ begin page 123 ]ppp.00237.131.jpg If you meet some stranger in the street, and love  
 him or her, do I not often meet strangers in  
 the street and love them?
If you see a good deal remarkable in me, I see  
 just as much, perhaps more, in you.
Why what have you thought of yourself? Is it you, then, that thought yourself less? Is it you that thought the President greater than  
 you? or the rich better off than you? or the  
 educated wiser than you?
Because you are greasy or pimpled, or that you  
 was once drunk, or a thief, or diseased, or  
 rheumatic, or a prostitute, or are so now, or  
 from frivolity or impotence, or that you are no  
 scholar, and never saw your name in print,  
 do you give in that you are any less  
Souls of men and women! it is not you I call  
 unseen, unheard, untouchable and untouch- 
It is not you I go argue pro and con about, and to  
 settle whether you are alive or no,
I own publicly who you are, if nobody else owns  
 —I see and hear you, and what you give and  
What is there you cannot give and take?   [ begin page 124 ]ppp.00237.132.jpg I see not merely that you are polite or white-faced,  
 married, single, citizens of old states, citizens  
 of new states, eminent in some profession, a  
 lady or gentleman in a parlor, or dressed in  
 the jail uniform, or pulpit uniform,
Not only the free Utahan, Kansian, Arkansian —  
 not only the free Cuban, not merely the slave,  
 not Mexican native, Flatfoot, negro from  
Iroquois eating the war-flesh, fish-tearer in his lair  
 of rocks and sand, Esquimaux in the dark  
 cold snow-house, Chinese with his transverse  
 eyes, Bedowee, wandering nomad, taboun- 
 schik at the head of his droves,
Grown, half-grown, and babe, of this country and  
 every country, indoors and outdoors, I see —  
 and all else is behind or through them.
The wife, and she is not one jot less than the  
The daughter, and she is just as good as the  
The mother, and she is every bit as much as the  
Offspring of those not rich, boys apprenticed to  
Young fellows working on farms, and old fellows  
 working on farms,
  [ begin page 125 ]ppp.00237.133.jpg The naive, the simple and hardy, he going to the  
 polls to vote, he who has a good time, and he  
 who has a bad time,
Mechanics, southerners, new arrivals, laborers  
 sailors, mano'warsmen, merchantmen, coast- 
All these I see, but nigher and farther the same I  
None shall escape me, and none shall wish to  
 escape me.
I bring what you much need, yet always have, Not money, amours, dress, eating, but as good, I send no agent or medium, offer no representative  
 of value, but offer the value itself.
There is something that comes home to one now  
 and perpetually,
It is not what is printed, preached, discussed—it  
 eludes discussion and print,
It is not to be put in a book, it is not in this  
It is for you, whoever you are—it is no farther  
 from you than your hearing and sight are  
 from you,
It is hinted by nearest, commonest, readiest—it  
 is not them, though it is endlessly provoked  
 by them—what is there ready and near you  
  [ begin page 126 ]ppp.00237.134.jpg You may read in many languages, yet read nothing  
 about it,
You may read the President's message, and read  
 nothing about it there,
Nothing in the reports from the State department  
 or Treasury department, or in the daily  
 papers or the weekly papers,
Or in the census returns, assessors' returns, prices  
 current, or any accounts of stock.
The sun and stars that float in the open air—the  
 apple-shaped earth, and we upon it, surely  
 the drift of them is something grand!
I do not know what it is, except that it is grand,  
 and that it is happiness,
And that the enclosing purport of us here  
 is not a speculation, or bon-mot, or recon- 
And that it is not something which by luck may  
 turn out well for us, and without luck must be  
 a failure for us,
And not something which may yet be retracted in  
 a certain contingency.
The light and shade, the curious sense of body  
 and identity, the greed that with perfect  
 complaisance devours all things, the endless  
 pride and out-stretching of man, unspeakable  
 joys and sorrows,
  [ begin page 127 ]ppp.00237.135.jpg The wonder every one sees in every one else he  
 sees, and the wonders that fill each minute  
 of time forever, and each acre of surface and  
 space forever,
Have you reckoned them for a trade or farm-work?  
 or for the profits of a store? or to achieve  
 yourself a position? or to fill a gentleman's  
 leisure, or a lady's leisure?
Have you reckoned the landscape took substance  
 and form that it might be painted in a  
Or men and women that they might be written of,  
 and songs sung?
Or the attraction of gravity, and the great laws  
 and harmonious combinations, and the fluids  
 of the air, as subjects for the savans?
Or the brown land and the blue sea for maps and  
Or the stars to be put in constellations and  
 named fancy names?
Or that the growth of seeds is for agricultural ta- 
 bles, or agriculture itself?
Old institutions, these arts, libraries, legends,  
 collections, and the practice handed along  
 in manufactures, will we rate them so high?
Will we rate our cash and business high? I have  
 no objection,
  [ begin page 128 ]ppp.00237.136.jpg I rate them high as the highest, then a child born  
 of a woman and man I rate beyond all rate.
We thought our Union grand, and our Constitution  
I do not say they are not grand and good, for they  
I am this day just as much in love with them as  
Then I am eternally in love with you, and with  
 all my fellows upon the earth.
We consider bibles and religions divine—I do not  
 say they are not divine,
I say they have all grown out of you, and may  
 grow out of you still,
It is not they who give the life, it is you who give  
 the life,
Leaves are not more shed from the trees, or trees  
 from the earth, than they are shed out of  
The sum of all known reverence I add up in you,  
 whoever you are,
The President is there in the White House for  
 you, it is not you who are here for him,
The Secretaries act in their bureaus for you, not  
 you here for them,
The Congress convenes every December for you,   [ begin page 129 ]ppp.00237.137.jpg Laws, courts, the forming of States, the charters  
 of cities, the going and coming of commerce  
 and mails, are all for you.
All doctrines, all politics and civilization, exurge  
 from you,
All sculpture and monuments, and anything in- 
 scribed anywhere, are tallied in you,
The gist of histories and statistics as far back as  
 the records reach, is in you this hour, and  
 myths and tales the same,
If you were not breathing and walking here,  
 where would they all be?
The most renowned poems would be ashes, ora- 
 tions and plays would be vacuums.
All architecture is what you do to it when you  
 look upon it,
Did you think it was in the white or gray stone?  
 or the lines of the arches and cornices?
All music is what awakes from you, when you  
 are reminded by the instruments,
It is not the violins and the cornets—it is not the  
 oboe nor the beating drums, nor the score of  
 the baritone singer singing his sweet ro- 
 manza, nor that of the men's chorus, nor that  
 of the women's chorus,
It is nearer and farther than they.
6*   [ begin page 130 ]ppp.00237.138.jpg Will the whole come back then? Can each see signs of the best by a look in the  
 looking-glass? is there nothing greater or  
Does all sit there with you, and here with me?
The old, forever-new things—you foolish child!  
 the closest, simplest things, this moment with  
Your person, and every particle that relates to  
 your person,
The pulses of your brain, waiting their chance  
 and encouragement at every deed or sight,
Anything you do in public by day, and anything  
 you do in secret between-days,
What is called right and what is called wrong,  
 what you behold or touch, what causes your  
 anger or wonder,
The ankle-chain of the slave, the bed of the bed- 
 house, the cards of the gambler, the plates  
 of the forger,
What is seen or learnt in the street, or intui- 
 tively learnt,
What is learnt in the public school, spelling,  
 reading, writing, ciphering, the black-board,  
 the teacher's diagrams,
The panes of the windows, all that appears  
 through them, the going forth in the morning,  
 the aimless spending of the day,
  [ begin page 131 ]ppp.00237.139.jpg (What is it that you made money? what is it that  
 you got what you wanted?)
The usual routine, the work-shop, factory, yard,  
 office, store, desk,
The jaunt of hunting or fishing, the life of hunt- 
 ing or fishing,
Pasture-life, foddering, milking, herding, all the  
 personnel and usages,
The plum-orchard, apple-orchard, gardening,  
 seedlings, cuttings, flowers, vines,
Grains, manures, marl, clay, loam, the subsoil  
 plough, the shovel, pick, rake, hoe, irrigation,  
The curry-comb, the horse-cloth, the halter, bridle,  
 bits, the very wisps of straw,
The barn and barn-yard, the bins, mangers, mows,  
Manufactures, commerce, engineering, the build- 
 ing of cities, every trade carried on there,  
 the implements of every trade,
The anvil, tongs, hammer, the axe and wedge,  
 the square, mitre, jointer, smoothing-plane,
The plumbob, trowel, level, the wall-scaffold, the  
 work of walls and ceilings, any mason- 
The steam-engine, lever, crank, axle, piston, shaft,  
 air-pump, boiler, beam, pulley, hinge, flange,  
 band, bolt, throttle, governors, up and down  
  [ begin page 132 ]ppp.00237.140.jpg The ship's compass, the sailor's tarpaulin, the  
 stays and lanyards, the ground tackle for  
 anchoring or mooring, the life-boat for  
The sloop's tiller, the pilot's wheel and bell, the  
 yacht or fish-smack, the great gay-pennanted  
 three-hundred-foot steamboat under full head- 
 way, with her proud fat breasts and her deli- 
 cate swift-flashing paddles,
The trail, line, hooks, sinkers, the seine, hauling  
 the seine,
The arsenal, small-arms, rifles, gunpowder, shot,  
 caps, wadding, ordnance for war, carriages;
Every-day objects, house-chairs, carpet, bed,  
 counterpane of the bed, him or her sleeping  
 at night, wind blowing, indefinite noises,
The snow-storm or rain-storm, the tow-trowsers,  
 the lodge-hut in the woods, the still-hunt,
City and country, fire-place, candle, gas-light,  
 heater, aqueduct,
The message of the governor, mayor, chief of  
 police—the dishes of breakfast, dinner, sup- 
The bunk-room, the fire-engine, the string-team,  
 the car or truck behind,
The paper I write on or you write on, every word  
 we write, every cross and twirl of the pen,  
 and the curious way we write what we think,  
 yet very faintly,
  [ begin page 133 ]ppp.00237.141.jpg The directory, the detector, the ledger, the books  
 in ranks on the book-shelves, the clock at- 
 tached to the wall,
The ring on your finger, the lady's wristlet, the  
 scent-powder, the druggist's vials and jars,  
 the draught of lager-beer,
The etui of surgical instruments, the etui of ocu- 
 list's or aurist's instruments, or dentist's in- 
The permutating lock that can be turned and  
 locked as many different ways as there are  
 minutes in a year,
Glass-blowing, nail-making, salt-making, tin-roof- 
 ing, shingle-dressing, candle-making, lock- 
 making and hanging,
Ship-carpentering, dock-building, fish-curing, ferry- 
 ing, stone-breaking, flagging of side-walks  
 by flaggers,
The pump, the pile-driver, the great derrick, the  
 coal-kiln and brick-kiln,
Coal-mines, all that is down there, the lamps in  
 the darkness, echoes, songs, what medita- 
 tions, what vast native thoughts looking  
 through smutch'd faces,
Iron-works, forge-fires in the mountains or by  
 river-banks, men around feeling the melt  
 with huge crowbars—lumps of ore, the due  
 combining of ore, limestone, coal—the blast- 
 furnace and the puddling-furnace, the loup- 
    [ begin page 134 ]ppp.00237.142.jpg lump at the bottom of the melt at last —  
 the rolling-mill, the stumpy bars of pig-iron,  
 the strong clean-shaped T rail for rail- 
Oil-works, silk-works, white-lead-works, the  
 sugar-house, steam-saws, the great mills and  
Lead-mines, and all that is done in lead-mines, or  
 with the lead afterward,
Copper-mines, the sheets of copper, and what is  
 formed out of the sheets, and all the work in  
 forming it,
Stone-cutting, shapely trimmings for facades,  
 or window or door lintels—the mallet,  
 the tooth-chisel, the jib to protect the  
Oakum, the oakum-chisel, the caulking-iron—the  
 kettle of boiling vault-cement, and the fire  
 under the kettle,
The cotton-bale, the stevedore's hook, the saw and  
 buck of the sawyer, the screen of the coal- 
 screener, the mould of the moulder, the  
 working-knife of the butcher, the ice-saw,  
 and all the work with ice,
The four-double cylinder press, the hand-press,  
 the frisket and tympan, the compositor's stick  
 and rule, type-setting, making up the forms,  
 all the work of newspaper counters, folders,  
 carriers, news-men,
  [ begin page 135 ]ppp.00237.143.jpg The implements for daguerreotyping—the tools  
 of the rigger, grappler, sail-maker, block- 
Goods of gutta-percha, papier-mache, colors,  
 brushes, brush-making, glazier's implements,
The veneer and glue-pot, the confectioner's orna- 
 ments, the decanter and glasses, the shears  
 and flat-iron,
The awl and knee-strap, the pint measure and  
 quart measure, the counter and stool, the  
 writing-pen of quill or metal—the making of  
 all sorts of edged tools,
The ladders and hanging ropes of the gymnasium,  
 manly exercises, the game of base-ball, run- 
 ning, leaping, pitching quoits,
The designs for wall-papers, oil-cloths, carpets,  
 the fancies for goods for women, the book- 
 binder's stamps,
The brewery, brewing, the malt, the vats, every- 
 thing that is done by brewers, also by wine- 
 makers, also vinegar-makers,
Leather-dressing, coach-making, boiler-making,  
 rope-twisting, distilling, sign-painting, lime- 
 burning, coopering, cotton-picking, electro- 
 plating, stereotyping,
Stave-machines, planing-machines, reaping-ma- 
 chines, ploughing-machines, thrashing-ma- 
 chines, steam-wagons,
  [ begin page 136 ]ppp.00237.144.jpg The cart of the carman, the omnibus, the ponder- 
 ous dray,
The wires of the electric telegraph stretched on  
 land, or laid at the bottom of the sea, and  
 then the message in an instant from ten  
 thousand miles off,
The snow-plough and two engines pushing it, the  
 ride in the express-train of only one car, the  
 swift go through a howling storm—the locomo- 
 tive, and all that is done about a locomotive,
The bear-hunt or coon-hunt, the bonfire of shav- 
 ings in the open lot in the city, the crowd of  
 children watching,
The blows of the fighting-man, the upper-cut and  
Pyrotechny, letting off colored fire-works at  
 night, fancy figures and jets,
Shop-windows, coffins in the sexton's ware-room,  
 fruit on the fruit-stand—beef in the butcher's  
 stall, the slaughter-house of the butcher,  
 the butcher in his killing-clothes,
The area of pens of live pork, the killing-hammer,  
 the hog-hook, the scalder's tub, gutting, the  
 cutter's cleaver, the packer's maul, and the  
 plenteous winter-work of pork-packing,
Flour-works, grinding of wheat, rye, maize, rice  
 —the barrels and the half and quarter barrels,  
 the loaded barges, the high piles on wharves  
 and levees,
  [ begin page 137 ]ppp.00237.145.jpg Bread and cakes in the bakery, the milliner's rib- 
 bons, the dress-maker's patterns, the tea-table,  
 the home-made sweetmeats;
Coins and medals, the ancient bronze coin, bust,  
 inscription, date, ring-money, the copper  
 cent, the silver dime, the five-dime piece, the  
 gold dollar, the fifty-dollar piece—Modern  
 coins, and all the study and reminiscence of  
 old coins,
Cheap literature, maps, charts, lithographs, daily  
 and weekly newspapers,
The column of wants in the one-cent paper,  
 the news by telegraph, amusements, operas,  
The business parts of a city, the trottoirs of a  
 city when thousands of well-dressed people  
 walk up and down,
The cotton, woolen, linen you wear, the money  
 you make and spend,
Your room and bed-room, your piano-forte, the  
 stove and cook-pans,
The house you live in, the rent, the other tenants,  
 the deposite in the savings-bank, the trade at  
 the grocery,
The pay on Saturday night, the going home, and  
 the purchases;
In them the heft of the heaviest—in them far  
 more than you estimated, and far less also,
  [ begin page 138 ]ppp.00237.146.jpg In them, not yourself—you and your soul enclose  
 all things, regardless of estimation,
In them your themes, hints, provokers—if not,  
 the whole earth has no themes, hints, pro- 
 vokers, and never had.
I do not affirm what you see beyond is futile—I  
 do not advise you to stop,
I do not say leadings you thought great are not  
But I say that none lead to greater, sadder, hap- 
 pier, than those lead to.
Will you seek afar off? you surely come back at  
In things best known to you, finding the best, or  
 as good as the best,
In folks nearest to you finding also the sweetest,  
 strongest, lovingest,
Happiness not in another place, but this place —  
 not for another hour, but this hour,
Man in the first you see or touch, always in your  
 friend, brother, nighest neighbor—Woman in  
 your mother, lover, wife,
The popular tastes and occupations taking prece- 
 dence in poems or anywhere,
You workwomen and workmen of These States  
 having your own divine and strong life —  
 looking the President always sternly in the   [ begin page 139 ]ppp.00237.147.jpg  
 face, unbending, nonchalant, understanding  
 that he is to be kept by you to short and  
 sharp account of himself,
And all else thus far giving place to men and  
When the psalm sings instead of the singer, When the script preaches instead of the preacher, When the pulpit descends and goes instead of the  
 carver that carved the supporting-desk,
When I can touch the body of books, by night or  
 by day, and when they touch my body back  
When the sacred vessels, or the bits of the eucha- 
 rist, or the lath and plast, procreate as effec- 
 tually as the young silver-smiths or bakers, or  
 the masons in their over-alls,
When a university course convinces like a slum- 
 bering woman and child convince,
When the minted gold in the vault smiles like the  
 night-watchman's daughter,
When warrantee deeds loafe in chairs opposite,  
 and are my friendly companions,
I intend to reach them my hand, and make as  
 much of them as I do of men and women.
  [ begin page 140 ]ppp.00237.148.jpg

5 — Broad-Axe Poem.

BROAD-AXE, shapely, naked, wan! Head from the mother's bowels drawn! Wooded flesh and metal bone! limb only one and  
 lip only one!
Gray-blue leaf by red-heat grown! helve produced  
 from a little seed sown!
Resting, the grass amid and upon, To be leaned, and to lean on.
Strong shapes, and attributes of strong shapes,  
 masculine trades, sights and sounds,
Long varied train of an emblem, dabs of music, Fingers of the organist skipping staccato over the  
 keys of the great organ.
Welcome are all earth's lands, each for its kind, Welcome are lands of pine and oak, Welcome are lands of the lemon and fig, Welcome are lands of gold, Welcome are lands of wheat and maize—welcome  
 those of the grape,
Welcome are lands of sugar and rice,   [ begin page 141 ]ppp.00237.149.jpg Welcome the cotton-lands—welcome those of the  
 white potato and sweet potato,
Welcome are mountains, flats, sands, forests, prai- 
Welcome the rich borders of rivers, table-lands,  
Welcome the measureless grazing lands—wel- 
 come the teeming soil of orchards, flax,  
 honey, hemp,
Welcome just as much the other more hard-faced  
Lands rich as lands of gold, or wheat and fruit  
Lands of mines, lands of the manly and rugged ores, Lands of coal, copper, lead, tin, zinc, Lands of iron! lands of the make of the axe!
The log at the wood-pile, the axe supported by it, The sylvan hut, the vine over the doorway, the  
 space cleared for a garden,
The irregular tapping of rain down on the leaves,  
 after the storm is lulled,
The wailing and moaning at intervals, the thought  
 of the sea,
The thought of ships struck in the storm, and put  
 on their beam-ends, and the cutting away of  
The sentiment of the huge timbers of old-fashioned  
 houses and barns;
  [ begin page 142 ]ppp.00237.150.jpg The remembered print or narrative, the voyage at  
 a venture of men, families, goods,
The disembarcation, the founding of a new city, The voyage of those who sought a New England  
 and found it,
The Year 1 of These States, the weapons that year  
 began with, scythe, pitch-fork, club, horse- 
The settlements of the Arkansas, Colorado, Ottawa,  
The slow progress, the scant fare, the axe, rifle,  
The beauty of all adventurous and daring per- 
The beauty of wood-boys and wood-men, with  
 their clear untrimmed faces,
The beauty of independence, departure, actions  
 that rely on themselves,
The American contempt for statutes and cere- 
 monies, the boundless impatience of restraint,
The loose drift of character, the inkling through  
 random types, the solidification;
The butcher in the slaughter-house, the hands  
 aboard schooners and sloops, the rafts-man,  
 the pioneer,
Lumber-men in their winter camp, day-break in the  
 woods, stripes of snow on the limbs of trees,  
 the occasional snapping,
  [ begin page 143 ]ppp.00237.151.jpg The glad clear sound of one's own voice, the  
 merry song, the natural life of the woods, the  
 strong day's work,
The blazing fire at night, the sweet taste of supper,  
 the talk, the bed of hemlock boughs, and the  
The house-builder at work in cities or anywhere, The preparatory jointing, squaring, sawing, mor- 
The hoist-up of beams, the push of them in their  
 places, laying them regular,
Setting the studs by their tenons in the mortises,  
 according as they were prepared,
The blows of mallets and hammers, the attitudes  
 of the men, their curved limbs,
Bending, standing, astride the beams, driving in  
 pins, holding on by posts and braces,
The hooked arm over the plate, the other arm  
 wielding the axe,
The floor-men forcing the planks close, to be  
Their postures bringing their weapons downward  
 on the bearers,
The echoes resounding through the vacant building; The huge store-house carried up in the city, well  
 under way,
The six framing-men, two in the middle and two  
 at each end, carefully bearing on their  
 shoulders a heavy stick for a cross-beam,
  [ begin page 144 ]ppp.00237.152.jpg The crowded line of masons with trowels in their  
 right hands rapidly laying the long side-wall,  
 two hundred feet from front to rear,
The flexible rise and fall of backs, the continual  
 click of the trowels and bricks,
The bricks, one after another, each laid so work- 
 man-like in its place, and set with a knock of  
 the trowel-handle,
The piles of materials, the mortar on the mortar- 
 boards, and the steady replenishing by the  
Spar-makers in the spar-yard, the swarming row  
 of well-grown apprentices,
The swing of their axes on the square-hewed  
 log, shaping it toward the shape of a  
The brisk short crackle of the steel driven slant- 
 ingly into the pine,
The butter-colored chips flying off in great flakes  
 and slivers,
The limber motion of brawny young arms and hips  
 in easy costumes;
The constructor of wharves, bridges, piers, bulk- 
 heads, floats, stays against the sea;
The city fire-man—the fire that suddenly bursts  
 forth in the close-packed square,
The arriving engines, the hoarse shouts, the  
 nimble stepping and daring,
  [ begin page 145 ]ppp.00237.153.jpg The strong command through the fire-trumpets,  
 the forming in line, the echoed rise and fall  
 of the arms forcing the water,
The slender, spasmic blue-white jets—the bring- 
 ing to bear of the hooks and ladders, and  
 their execution,
The crash and cut away of connecting wood-work,  
 or through floors, if the fire smoulders under  
The crowd with their lit faces, watching—the  
 glare and dense shadows;
The forger at his forge-furnace, and the user of  
 iron after him,
The maker of the axe large and small, and the  
 welder and temperer,
The chooser breathing his breath on the cold  
 steel and trying the edge with his thumb,
The one who clean-shapes the handle and sets it  
 firmly in the socket,
The shadowy processions of the portraits of the  
 past users also,
The primal patient mechanics, the architects and  
The far-off Assyrian edifice and Mizra edifice, The Roman lictors preceding the consuls, The antique European warrior with his axe in  
The uplifted arm, the clatter of blows on the  
 helmeted head,
7   [ begin page 146 ]ppp.00237.154.jpg The death-howl, the limpsey tumbling, the  
 rush of friend and foe thither,
The siege of revolted lieges determined for lib- 
The summons to surrender, the battering at castle  
 gates, the truce and parley,
The sack of an old city in its time, The bursting in of mercenaries and bigots tumult- 
 uously and disorderly,
Roar, flames, blood, drunkenness, madness, Goods freely rifled from houses and temples,  
 screams of women in the gripe of brigands,
Craft and thievery of camp-followers, men running,  
 old persons despairing,
The hell of war, the cruelties of creeds, The list of all executive deeds and words, just or  
The power of personality, just or unjust.
Muscle and pluck forever! What invigorates life, invigorates death, And the dead advance as much as the living  
And the future is no more uncertain than the  
And the roughness of the earth and of man en- 
 closes as much as the delicatesse of the earth  
 and of man,
And nothing endures but personal qualities.
  [ begin page 147 ]ppp.00237.155.jpg What do you think endures? Do you think the greatest city endures? Or a teeming manufacturing state? or a prepared  
 constitution? or the best built steam-ships?
Or hotels of granite and iron? or any chef- 
 d'oeuvres of engineering, forts, armaments?
Away! These are not to be cherished for them- 
They fill their hour, the dancers dance, the musi- 
 cians play for them,
The show passes, all does well enough of course, All does very well till one flash of defiance.
The greatest city is that which has the greatest  
 man or woman,
If it be a few ragged huts, it is still the greatest  
 city in the whole world.
The place where the greatest city stands is not  
 the place of stretched wharves, docks, manu- 
 factures, deposites of produce,
Nor the place of ceaseless salutes of new-comers,  
 or the anchor-lifters of the departing,
Nor the place of the tallest and costliest build- 
 ings, or shops selling goods from the rest of  
 the earth,
Nor the place of the best libraries and schools,  
 nor the place where money is plentiest,
  [ begin page 148 ]ppp.00237.156.jpg Nor the place of the most numerous population. Where the city stands with the brawniest breed  
 of orators and bards,
Where the city stands that is beloved by these,  
 and loves them in return, and understands  
Where these may be seen going every day in the  
 streets, with their arms familiar to the shoul- 
 ders of their friends,
Where no monuments exist to heroes but in the  
 common words and deeds,
Where thrift is in its place, and prudence is in its  
Where behavior is the finest of the fine arts, Where the men and women think lightly of the  
Where the slave ceases and the master of slaves  
Where the populace rise at once against the auda- 
 city of elected persons,
Where fierce men and women pour forth as the  
 sea to the whistle of death pours its sweeping  
 and unript waves,
Where outside authority enters always after the  
 precedence of inside authority,
Where the citizen is always the head and ideal,  
 and President, Mayor, Governor, and what  
 not, are agents for pay,
  [ begin page 149 ]ppp.00237.157.jpg Where children are taught from the jump that  
 they are to be laws to themselves, and to  
 depend on themselves,
Where equanimity is illustrated in affairs, Where speculations on the soul are encouraged, Where women walk in public processions in the  
 streets the same as the men,
Where they enter the public assembly and take  
 places the same as the men, and are appealed  
 to by the orators the same as the men,
Where the city of the faithfulest friends stands, Where the city of the cleanliness of the sexes  
Where the city of the healthiest fathers stands, Where the city of the best-bodied mothers stands, There the greatest city stands.
How beggarly appear poems, arguments, orations,  
 before an electric deed!
How the floridness of the materials of cities  
 shrivels before a man's or woman's look!
All waits, or goes by default, till a strong being  
A strong being is the proof of the race, and of the  
 ability of the universe,
When he or she appears, materials are over- 
The dispute on the soul stops,   [ begin page 150 ]ppp.00237.158.jpg The old customs and phrases are confronted,  
 turned back, or laid away.
What is your money-making now? What can it  
 do now?
What is your respectability now? What are your theology, tuition, society, traditions,  
 statute-books now?
Where are your jibes of being now? Where are your cavils about the soul now?
Was that your best? Were those your vast and  
Riches, opinions, politics, institutions, to part obe- 
 diently from the path of one man or woman!
The centuries, and all authority, to be trod under  
 the foot-soles of one man or woman!
—A sterile landscape covers the ore—there is as good as the best, for all the forbidding  
There is the mine, there are the miners, The forge-furnace is there, the melt is accom- 
 plished, the hammers-men are at hand with  
 their tongs and hammers,
What always served and always serves, is at hand. Than this nothing has better served—it has served  
  [ begin page 151 ]ppp.00237.159.jpg Served the fluent-tongued and subtle-sensed  
 Greek, and long ere the Greek,
Served in building the buildings that last longer  
 than any,
Served the Hebrew, the Persian, the most ancient  
Served the mound-raiser on the Mississippi,  
 served those whose relics remain in Central  
Served Albic temples in woods or on plains, with  
 unhewn pillars, and the druids, and the  
 bloody body laid in the hollow of the great  
Served the artificial clefts, vast, high, silent, on  
 the snow-covered hills of Scandinavia,
Served those who, time out of mind, made on the  
 granite walls rough sketches of the sun,  
 moon, stars, ships, ocean-waves,
Served the paths of the irruptions of the Goths,  
 served the pastoral tribes and nomads,
Served the incalculably distant Celt, served the  
 hardy pirates of the Baltic,
Served before any of those, the venerable and  
 harmless men of Ethiopia,
Served the making of helms for the galleys  
 of pleasure, and the making of those for  
Served all great works on land, and all great  
 works on the sea,
  [ begin page 152 ]ppp.00237.160.jpg For the medieval ages, and before the medieval  
Served not the living only, then as now, but  
 served the dead.
I see the European headsman, He stands masked, clothed in red, with huge legs,  
 and strong naked arms,
And leans on a ponderous axe.
Whom have you slaughtered lately, European  
Whose is that blood upon you, so wet and  
I see the clear sun-sets of the martyrs, I see from the scaffolds the descending  
Ghosts of dead princes, uncrowned ladies, im- 
 peached ministers, rejected kings,
Rivals, traitors, poisoners, disgraced chieftains,  
 and the rest.
I see those who in any land have died for the  
 good cause,
The seed is spare, nevertheless the crop shall  
 never run out,
Mind you, O foreign kings, O priests, the crop  
 shall never run out.
  [ begin page 153 ]ppp.00237.161.jpg I see the blood washed entirely away from the  
Both blade and helve are clean, They spirt no more the blood of European nobles,  
 —they clasp no more the necks of queens.
I see the headsman withdraw and become use- 
I see the scaffold untrodden and mouldy, I see no  
 longer any axe upon it,
I see the mighty and friendly emblem of the power  
 of my own race, the newest largest race.
America! I do not vaunt my love for you, I have what I have. The axe leaps! The solid forest gives fluid utterances, They tumble forth, they rise and form, Hut, tent, landing, survey, Flail, plough, pick, crowbar, spade, Shingle, rail, prop, wainscot, jamb, lath, panel,  
Citadel, ceiling, saloon, academy, organ, exhibi- 
 tion-house, library,
Cornice, trellis, pilaster, balcony, window, shutter,  
 turret, porch,
Hoe, rake, pitch-fork, pencil, wagon, staff, saw,  
 jackplane, mallet, wedge, rounce,
7*   [ begin page 154 ]ppp.00237.162.jpg Chair, tub, hoop, table, wicket, vane, sash, floor, Work-box, chest, stringed instrument, boat, frame,  
 and what not,
Capitols of States, and capitol of the nation of  
Long stately rows in avenues, hospitals for or- 
 phans or for the poor or sick,
Manhattan steamboats and clippers, taking the  
 measure of all seas.
The shapes arise! Shapes of the using of axes anyhow, and the  
 users, and all that neighbors them,
Cutters down of wood, and haulers of it to the  
 Penobscot, or St. John's, or Kennebec,
Dwellers in cabins among the Californian moun- 
 tains, or by the little lakes,
Dwellers south on the banks of the Gila or Rio  
 Grande—friendly gatherings, the characters  
 and fun,
Dwellers up north in Minnesota and by the  
 Yellowstone river, dwellers on coasts and  
 off coasts,
Seal-fishers, whalers, arctic seamen breaking pas- 
 sages through the ice.
The shapes arise! Shapes of factories, arsenals, foundries, markets, Shapes of the two-threaded tracks of railroads,   [ begin page 155 ]ppp.00237.163.jpg Shapes of the sleepers of bridges, vast frame- 
 works, girders, arches,
Shapes of the fleets of barges, tows, lake craft,  
 river craft.
The shapes arise! Ship-yards and dry-docks along the Atlantic and  
 Pacific, and in many a bay and by-place,
The live-oak kelsons, the pine planks, the spars,  
 the hackmatuck-roots for knees,
The ships themselves on their ways, the tiers of  
 scaffolds, the workmen busy outside and in- 
The tools lying around, the great augur and little  
 augur, the adze, bolt, line, square, gouge,  
The shapes arise! The shape measured, sawed, jacked, joined,  
The coffin-shape for the dead to lie within in his  
The shape got out in posts, in the bedstead posts,  
 in the posts of the bride's-bed,
The shape of the little trough, the shape of the  
 rockers beneath, the shape of the babe's  
The shape of the floor-planks, the floor-planks for  
 dancers' feet,
  [ begin page 156 ]ppp.00237.164.jpg The shape of the planks of the family home, the  
 home of the friendly parents and children,
The shape of the roof of the home of the happy  
 young man and woman, the roof over the well- 
 married young man and woman,
The roof over the supper joyously cooked by the  
 chaste wife, and joyously eaten by the chaste  
 husband, content after his day's work.
The shapes arise! The shape of the prisoner's place in the court- 
 room, and of him or her seated in the place,
The shape of the pill-box, the disgraceful oint- 
 ment-box, the nauseous application, and him  
 or her applying it,
The shape of the liquor-bar leaned against by the  
 young rum-drinker and the old rum-drinker,
The shape of the shamed and angry stairs, trod  
 by sneaking footsteps,
The shape of the sly settee, and the adulterous  
 unwholesome couple,
The shape of the gambling board with its devilish  
 winnings and losings,
The shape of the slats of the bed of a corrupted  
 body, the bed of the corruption of gluttony or  
 alcoholic drinks,
The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted  
 and sentenced murderer, the murderer with  
 haggard face and pinioned arms,
  [ begin page 157 ]ppp.00237.165.jpg The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent  
 and white-lipped crowd, the sickening dan- 
 gling of the rope.
The shapes arise! Shapes of doors giving so many exits and  
The door passing the dissevered friend, flushed,  
 and in haste,
The door that admits good news and bad news, The door whence the son left home, confident and  
 puffed up,
The door he entered from a long and scandalous  
 absence, diseased, broken down, without in- 
 nocence, without means.
Their shapes arise, the shapes of full-sized men! Men taciturn yet loving, used to the open air, and  
 the manners of the open air,
Saying their ardor in native forms, saying the old  
Take what I have then, (saying fain,) take the pay  
 you approached for,
Take the white tears of my blood, if that is what  
 you are after.
Her shape arises! She, less guarded than ever, yet more guarded  
 than ever,
  [ begin page 158 ]ppp.00237.166.jpg The gross and soiled she moves among do not  
 make her gross and soiled,
She knows the thoughts as she passes, nothing is  
 concealed from her,
She is none the less considerate or friendly there- 
She is the best-beloved, it is without exception,  
 she has no reason to fear, and she does not  
Oaths, quarrels, hiccuped songs, smutty expres- 
 sions, are idle to her as she passes,
She is silent, she is possessed of herself, they do  
 not offend her,
She receives them as the laws of nature receive  
 them, she is strong,
She too is a law of nature, there is no law greater  
 than she is.
His shape arises! Arrogant, masculine, naive, rowdyish, Laugher, weeper, worker, idler, citizen, country- 
Saunterer of woods, stander upon hills, summer  
 swimmer in rivers or by the sea,
Of pure American breed, of reckless health, his  
 body perfect, free from taint from top to toe,  
 free forever from headache and dyspepsia,  
  [ begin page 159 ]ppp.00237.167.jpg Ample-limbed, a good feeder, weight a hundred  
 and eighty pounds, full-blooded, six feet high,  
 forty inches round the breast and back,
Countenance sun-burnt, bearded, calm, unrefined, Reminder of animals, meeter of savage and gen- 
 tleman on equal terms,
Attitudes lithe and erect, costume free, neck open,  
 of slow movement on foot,
Passer of his right arm round the shoulders of his  
 friends, companion of the street,
Persuader always of people to give him their  
 sweetest touches, and never their meanest,
A Manhattanese bred, fond of Brooklyn, fond of  
 Broadway, fond of the life of the wharves  
 and the great ferries,
Enterer everywhere, welcomed everywhere, eas- 
 ily understood after all,
Never offering others, always offering himself,  
 corroborating his phrenology,
Voluptuous, inhabitive, combative, conscientious,  
 alimentive, intuitive, of copious friendship,  
 sublimity, firmness, self-esteem, comparison,  
 individuality, form, locality, eventuality,
Avowing by life, manners, works, to contribute  
 illustrations of results of The States,
Teacher of the unquenchable creed, namely,  
Inviter of others continually henceforth to try  
 their strength against his.
  [ begin page 160 ]ppp.00237.168.jpg The shapes arise! Shapes of America, shapes of centuries, Shapes of those that do not joke with life, but are  
 in earnest with life,
Shapes ever projecting other shapes, Shapes of a hundred Free States, begetting  
 another hundred north and south,
Shapes of the turbulent manly cities, Shapes of the untamed breed of young men and  
 natural persons,
Shapes of women fit for These States, Shapes of the composition of all the varieties of  
 the earth,
Shapes of the friends and home-givers of the  
 whole earth,
Shapes bracing the whole earth, and braced with  
 the whole earth.
  [ begin page 161 ]ppp.00237.169.jpg

6 — Poem of a Few Greatnesses.

GREAT are the myths, I too delight in them, Great are Adam and Eve, I too look back and  
 accept them,
Great the risen and fallen nations, and their poets,  
 women, sages, inventors, rulers, warriors,  
Great is liberty! Great is equality! I am their  
Helmsmen of nations, choose your craft! where  
 you sail, I sail!
Yours is the muscle of life or death, yours is the  
 perfect science, in you I have absolute faith.
Great is today, and beautiful, It is good to live in this age, there never was any  
Great are the plunges, throes, triumphs, falls of  
Great the reformers, with their lapses and screams, Great the daring and venture of sailors on new  
  [ begin page 162 ]ppp.00237.170.jpg Great are yourself and myself, We are just as good and bad as the oldest and  
 youngest or any,
What the best and worst did, we could do, What they felt, do not we feel it in ourselves? What they wished, do we not wish the same?
Great is youth, equally great is old age—great are  
 the day and night,
Great is wealth, great is poverty, great is expres- 
 sion, great is silence,
Youth, large, lusty, loving—youth, full of grace,  
 force, fascination,
Do you know that old age may come after you,  
 with equal grace, force, fascination?
Day, full-blown and splendid—day of the im- 
 mense sun, action, ambition, laughter,
The night follows close, with millions of suns,  
 and sleep, and restoring darkness.
Wealth with the flush hand, fine clothes, hospi- 
But then the soul's wealth, which is candor,  
 knowledge, pride, enfolding love;
(Who goes for men and women showing poverty  
 richer than wealth?)
  [ begin page 163 ]ppp.00237.171.jpg Expression of speech! in what is written or said,  
 forget not that silence is also expressive,
That anguish as hot as the hottest, and contempt  
 as cold as the coldest, may be without words,
That the true adoration is likewise without words,  
 and without kneeling.
Great is the greatest nation! the nation of clus- 
 ters of equal nations!
Great is the earth, and the way it became what it  
Do you imagine it is stopped at this? the increase  
Understand then that it goes as far onward from  
 this, as this is from the times when it lay in  
 covering waters and gases.
Great is the quality of truth in man, The quality of truth in man supports itself  
 through all changes,
It is inevitably in the man—he and it are in love,  
 and never leave each other.
The truth in man is no dictum, it is vital as eye- 
If there be any soul, there is truth—if there be  
 man or woman, there is truth—if there be  
 physical or moral, there is truth,
  [ begin page 164 ]ppp.00237.172.jpg If there be equilibrium or volition, there is truth  
 —if there be things at all upon the earth,  
 there is truth.
O truth of the earth! O truth of things! I am  
 determined to press the whole way toward  
Sound your voice! I scale mountains, or dive in  
 the sea after you.
Great is language—it is the mightiest of the  
It is the fulness, color, form, diversity of the  
 earth, and of men and women, and of all  
 qualities and processes,
It is greater than wealth—it is greater than  
 buildings, ships, religions, paintings, music.
Great is the English speech—what speech is so  
 great as the English?
Great is the English brood—what brood has so  
 vast a destiny as the English?
It is the mother of the brood that must rule the  
 earth with the new rule,
The new rule shall rule as the soul rules, and as  
 the love, justice, equality in the soul, rule.
Great in the law—great are the old few land- 
 marks of the law,
  [ begin page 165 ]ppp.00237.173.jpg They are the same in all times, and shall not be  
Great are marriage, commerce, newspapers,  
 books, free-trade, rail-roads, steamers, interna- 
 tional mails, telegraphs, exchanges.
Great is justice! Justice is not settled by legislators and laws—it  
 is in the soul,
It cannot be varied by statutes, any more than  
 love, pride, the attraction of gravity, can,
It is immutable—it does not depend on major- 
 ities—majorities or what not come at last  
 before the same passionless and exact tri- 
For justice are the grand natural lawyers and per- 
 fect judges, it is in their souls,
It is well assorted, they have not studied for noth- 
 ing, the great includes the less,
They rule on the highest grounds, they oversee  
 all eras, states, administrations.
The perfect judge fears nothing, he could go front  
 to front before God,
Before the perfect judge all shall stand back —  
 life and death shall stand back—heaven and  
 hell shall stand back.
  [ begin page 166 ]ppp.00237.174.jpg Great is goodness! I do not know what it is any more than I know  
 what health is, but I know it is great.
Great is wickedness—I find I often admire it just  
 as much as I admire goodness,
Do you call that a paradox? It certainly is a par- 
The eternal equilibrium of things is great, and the  
 eternal overthrow of things is great,
And there is another paradox.
Great is life, real and mystical, wherever and  
Great is death—sure as life holds all parts to- 
 gether, death holds all parts together,
Death has just as much purport as life has, Do you enjoy what life confers? you shall enjoy  
 what death confers,
I do not understand the realities of death, but I  
 know they are great,
I do not understand the least reality of life —  
 how then can I understand the realities of  
  [ begin page 167 ]ppp.00237.175.jpg

7 — Poem of The Body.

THE bodies of men and women engirth me, and  
 I engirth them,
They will not let me off, nor I them, till I go with  
 them, respond to them, love them.
Was it doubted if those who corrupt their own live  
 bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as  
 they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do as much as the soul? And if the body were not the soul, what is the  
The expression of the body of man or woman  
 balks account,
The male is perfect, and that of the female is per- 
The expression of a well-made man appears not  
 only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in  
 the joints of his hips and wrists,
  [ begin page 168 ]ppp.00237.176.jpg It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex  
 of his waist and knees—dress does not  
 hide him,
The strong, sweet, supple quality he has, strikes  
 through the cotton and flannel,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best  
 poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his  
 neck and shoulder-side.
The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and  
 heads of women, the folds of their dress,  
 their style as we pass in the street, the con- 
 tour of their shape downwards,
The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen  
 as he swims through the transparent green- 
 shine, or lies with his face up, and rolls  
 silently in the heave of the water,
The bending forward and backward of rowers in  
 row-boats, the horseman in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their per- 
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with  
 their open dinner-kettles, and their wives  
The female soothing a child, the farmer's daughter  
 in the garden or cow-yard,
The young fellow hoeing corn, the sleigh-driver  
 guiding his six horses through the crowd,
  [ begin page 169 ]ppp.00237.177.jpg The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys,  
 quite grown, lusty, good-natured, native-born,  
 out on the vacant lot at sun-down, after work,
The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of  
 love and resistance,
The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled  
 over and blinding the eyes;
The march of firemen in their own costumes, the  
 play of masculine muscle through clean-set- 
 ting trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the  
 bell strikes suddenly again, the listening on  
 the alert,
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent  
 head, the curved neck, the counting,
Such-like I love, I loosen myself, pass freely,  
 am at the mother's breast with the little  
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers,  
 march in line with the firemen, pause, listen,  
I knew a man, he was a common farmer, he was  
 the father of five sons, and in them were the  
 fathers of sons, and in them were the fathers  
 of sons.
This man was of wonderful vigor, calmness,  
 beauty of person,
8   [ begin page 170 ]ppp.00237.178.jpg The shape of his head, the richness and breadth  
 of his manners, the pale yellow and white  
 of his hair and beard, the immeasurable  
 meaning of his black eyes,
These I used to go and visit him to see—he was  
 wise also,
He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years  
 old—his sons were massive, clean, bearded,  
 tan-faced, handsome,
They and his daughters loved him, all who saw  
 him loved him, they did not love him by  
 allowance, they loved him with personal  
He drank water only, the blood showed like scar- 
 let through the clear brown skin of his face,
He was a frequent gunner and fisher, he sailed his  
 boat himself, he had a fine one presented to  
 him by a ship-joiner—he had fowling-pieces,  
 presented to him by men that loved him,
When he went with his five sons and many grand- 
 sons to hunt or fish, you would pick him out  
 as the most beautiful and vigorous of the  
You would wish long and long to be with him —  
 you would wish to sit by him in the boat,  
 that you and he might touch each other.
I have perceived that to be with those I like is  
  [ begin page 171 ]ppp.00237.179.jpg To stop in company with the rest at evening is  
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breath- 
 ing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them, to touch any one, to rest  
 my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck  
 for a moment—what is this, then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it, as in  
 a sea.
There is something in staying close to men and  
 women, and looking on them, and in the con- 
 tact and odor of them, that pleases the soul  
All things please the soul, but these please the  
 soul well.
This is the female form! A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot, It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction, I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more  
 than a helpless vapor—all falls aside but  
 myself and it,
Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth,  
 the atmosphere and the clouds, what was  
 expected of heaven or feared of hell, are now  
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it,  
 the response likewise ungovernable,
  [ begin page 172 ]ppp.00237.180.jpg Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling  
 hands, all diffused—mine too diffused,
Ebb stung by the flow, and flow stung by the ebb,  
 love-flesh swelling and deliciously aching,
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous,  
 quivering jelly of love, white-blow and deliri- 
 ous juice,
Bridegroom-night of love, working surely and  
 softly into the prostrate dawn,
Undulating into the willing and yielding day, Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet- 
 fleshed day.
This is the nucleus—after the child is born of  
 woman, the man is born of woman,
This is the bath of birth—this is the merge of  
 small and large, and the outlet again.
Be not ashamed, women! your privilege encloses  
 the rest, it is the exit of the rest,
You are the gates of the body, and you are the  
 gates of the soul!
The female contains all qualities, and tempers  
 them—she is in her place, she moves with  
 perfect balance,
She is all things duly veiled, she is both passive  
 and active—she is to conceive daughters as  
 well as sons, and sons as well as daughters.
  [ begin page 173 ]ppp.00237.181.jpg As I see my soul reflected in nature, as I see  
 through a mist, one with inexpressible com- 
 pleteness and beauty—see the bent head and  
 arms folded over the breast, the female I  
I see the bearer of the great fruit which is im- 
 mortality—the good thereof is not tasted  
 by roues, and never can be.
The male is not less the soul, nor more—he too  
 is in his place,
He too is all qualities, he is action and power, the  
 flush of the known universe is in him,
Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defi- 
 ance become him well,
The fiercest largest passions, bliss that is utmost,  
 sorrow that is utmost, become him well —  
 pride is for him,
The full-spread pride of man is calming and ex- 
 cellent to the soul,
Knowledge becomes him, he likes it always, he  
 brings everything to the test of himself,
Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the  
 sail, he strikes soundings at last only here,
Where else does he strike soundings, except  
The man's body is sacred, and the woman's body  
 is sacred—it is no matter who,
  [ begin page 174 ]ppp.00237.182.jpg Is it a slave? Is it one of the dull-faced immi- 
 grants just landed on the wharf?
Each belongs here or anywhere, just as much as  
 the well-off, just as much as you,
Each has his or her place in the procession.
All is a procession! The universe is a procession, with measured and  
 beautiful motion!
Do you know so much, that you call the slave or  
 the dull-face ignorant?
Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight,  
 and he or she has no right to a sight?
Do you think matter has cohered together from its  
 diffused float, and the soil is on the surface,  
 and water runs, and vegetation sprouts, for  
 you, and not for him and her?
A man's body at auction! I help the auctioneer—the sloven does not half  
 know his business.
Gentlemen, look on this wonder! Whatever the bids of the bidders, they cannot be  
 high enough for it,
For it the globe lay preparing quintillions of years,  
 without one animal or plant,
For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily  
  [ begin page 175 ]ppp.00237.183.jpg In this head the all-baffling brain, In it and below it the making of the attributes of  
Examine these limbs, red, black, or white—they  
 are so cunning in tendon and nerve,
They shall be stript that you may see them.
Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition, Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant back-bone and  
 neck, flesh not flabby, good-sized arms and  
And wonders within there yet.
Within there runs blood—the same old blood!  
 the same red running blood!
There swells and jets a heart—there all passions,  
 desires, reachings, aspirations,
Do you think they are not there because they are  
 not expressed in parlors and lecture-rooms?
This is not only one man—this is the father of  
 those who shall be fathers in their turns,
In him the start of populous states and rich re- 
Of him countless immortal lives, with countless  
 embodiments and enjoyments.
How do you know who shall come from the off- 
 spring of his offspring through the centuries?
  [ begin page 176 ]ppp.00237.184.jpg Who might you find you have come from yourself,  
 if you could trace back through the cen- 
A woman's body at auction! She too is not only herself, she is the teeming  
 mother of mothers,
She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be  
 mates to the mothers.
Her daughters, or their daughters' daughters —  
 who knows who shall mate with them?
Who knows through the centuries what heroes  
 may come from them?
In them, and of them, natal love—in them  
 the divine mystery, the same old beautiful  
Have you ever loved the body of a woman? Have you ever loved the body of a man? Your father, where is your father? Your mother, is she living? Have you been  
 much with her? and has she been much  
 with you?
Do you not see that these are exactly the same  
 to all, in all nations and times, all over the  
  [ begin page 177 ]ppp.00237.185.jpg If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred, And the glory and sweet of a man is the token of  
 manhood untainted,
And in man or woman a clean, strong, firm-fibred  
 body, is beautiful as the most beautiful face.
Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live  
 body? or the fool that corrupted her own live  
For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot  
 conceal themselves.
O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in  
 other men and women, nor the likes of the  
 parts of you!
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with  
 the likes of the soul,
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with  
 my poems—for they are poems,
Man's, woman's, child's, youth's, wife's, husband's,  
 mother's, father's, young man's, young woman's  
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the  
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eye-brows, and  
 the waking or sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth,  
 jaws, and the jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition, 8*   [ begin page 178 ]ppp.00237.186.jpg Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of  
 the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind- 
 shoulders, and the ample side-round of the  
Upper-arm, arm-pit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm- 
 sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles,  
 thumb, forefinger, finger-balls, finger-joints,  
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast,  
 breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, back-bone, joints of the back-bone, Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and out- 
 ward round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk  
Leg-fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg, Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel, All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings  
 of my or your body, or of any one's body,  
 male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels  
 sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame, Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality  
Womanhood, and all that is a woman—and the  
 man that comes from woman,
  [ begin page 179 ]ppp.00237.187.jpg The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears,  
 laughter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturba- 
 tions and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering,  
 shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walk- 
 ing, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing,  
 arm-curving, and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth,  
 and around the eyes,
The skin, the sun-burnt shade, freckles, hair, The curious sympathy one feels, when feeling  
 with the hand the naked meat of his own  
 body or another person's body,
The circling rivers, the breath, and breathing it in  
 and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips,  
 and thence downward toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you, or within me —  
 the bones, and the marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health, O I think these are not the parts and poems of  
 the body only, but of the soul,
O I think these are the soul! If these are not the soul, what is the soul?
  [ begin page 180 ]ppp.00237.188.jpg

8 — Poem of Many In One.

A NATION announcing itself, I myself make the only growth by which I  
 can be appreciated,
I reject none, accept all, reproduce all in my own  
A breed whose testimony is behaviour, What we are, we are—nativity is answer enough  
 to objections;
We wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded, We are powerful and tremendous in ourselves, We are executive in ourselves—we are sufficient  
 in the variety of ourselves,
We are the most beautiful to ourselves and in our- 
Nothing is sinful to us outside of ourselves, Whatever appears, whatever does not appear, we  
 are beautiful or sinful in ourselves.
Have you thought there could be but a single  
  [ begin page 181 ]ppp.00237.189.jpg There can be any number of Supremes—one  
 does not countervail another any more than  
 one eye-sight countervails another, or one life  
 countervails another.
All is eligible to all, All is for individuals—all is for you, No condition is prohibited, not God's or any, If one is lost, you are inevitably lost. All comes by the body—only health puts you  
 rapport with the universe.
Produce great persons, the rest follows. How dare a sick man, or an obedient man, write  
Which is the theory or book that is not diseased?
Piety and conformity to them that like! Peace, obesity, allegiance, to them that like! I am he who tauntingly compels men, women,  
 nations, to leap from their seats and contend  
 for their lives!
I am he who goes through the streets with a  
 barbed tongue, questioning every one I meet  
 —questioning you up there now,
Who are you, that wanted only to be told what  
 you knew before?
  [ begin page 182 ]ppp.00237.190.jpg Who are you, that wanted only a book to join you  
 in your nonsense?
Are you, or would you be, better than all that has  
 ever been before?
If you would be better than all that has ever been  
 before, come listen to me, and I will to you.
Fear grace! Fear delicatesse! Fear the mellow sweet, the sucking of honey- 
Beware the advancing mortal ripening of nature! Beware what precedes the decay of the rugged- 
 ness of states and men!
Ages, precedents, poems, have long been accumu- 
 lating undirected materials,
America brings builders, and brings its own styles.
Mighty bards have done their work, and passed to  
 other spheres,
One work forever remains, the work of surpassing  
 all they have done.
America, curious toward foreign characters,  
 stands sternly by its own,
Stands removed, spacious, composite, sound, Sees itself promulger of men and women, initiates  
 the true use of precedents,
  [ begin page 183 ]ppp.00237.191.jpg Does not repel them or the past, or what they  
 have produced under their forms, or amid  
 other politics, or amid the idea of castes, or  
 the old religions,
Takes the lesson with calmness, perceives the  
 corpse slowly borne from the eating and  
 sleeping rooms of the house,
Perceives that it waits a little while in the door,  
 that it was fittest for its days, that its life has  
 descended to the stalwart and well-shaped  
 heir who approaches, and that he shall be fit- 
 test for his days.
Any period, one nation must lead, One land must be the promise and reliance of the  
These States are the amplest poem, Here is not merely a nation, but a teeming nation  
 of nations,
Here the doings of men correspond with the  
 broadcast doings of the day and night,
Here is what moves in magnificent masses, care- 
 lessly faithful of particulars,
Here are the roughs, beards, friendliness, com- 
 bativeness, the soul loves,
Here the flowing trains, here the crowds, equality,  
 diversity, the soul loves.
Race of races, and bards to corroborate!   [ begin page 184 ]ppp.00237.192.jpg Of them, standing among them, one lifts to the  
 light his west-bred face,
To him the hereditary countenance bequeathed,  
 both mother's and father's,
His first parts substances, earth, water, animals, trees, Built of the common stock, having room for far  
 and near,
Used to dispense with other lands, incarnating this  
Attracting it body and soul to himself, hanging on  
 its neck with incomparable love,
Plunging his semitic muscle into its merits and  
Making its geography, cities, beginnings, events,  
 glories, defections, diversities, vocal in him,
Making its rivers, lakes, bays, embouchure in him, Mississippi with yearly freshets and changing  
 chutes, Missouri, Columbia, Ohio, St. Law- 
 rence, Hudson, spending themselves lovingly  
 in him,
The blue breadth over the sea off Massachusetts  
 and Maine, or over the Virginia and Maryland  
 sea, or over inland Champlain, Ontario, Erie,  
 Huron, Michigan, Superior, or over the  
 Texan, Mexican, Cuban, Floridian seas, or  
 over the seas off California and Oregon, not  
 tallying the breadth of the waters below,  
 more than the breadth of above and below is  
 tallied in him,
  [ begin page 185 ]ppp.00237.193.jpg If the Atlantic coast stretch, or the Pacific coast  
 stretch, he stretching with them north or south,
Spanning between them east and west, and touch- 
 ing whatever is between them,
Growths growing from him to offset the growth of  
 pine, cedar, hemlock, live-oak, locust, chest- 
 nut, cypress, hickory, lime-tree, cotton-wood,  
 tulip-tree, cactus, tamarind, orange, magnolia,  
Tangles as tangled in him as any cane-brake or  
He likening sides and peaks of mountains, forests  
 coated with transparent ice, and icicles hang- 
 ing from the boughs,
Off him pasturage sweet and natural as savannah,  
 upland, prairie,
Through him flights, songs, screams, answering  
 those of the wild-pigeon, high-hold, orchard- 
 oriole, coot, surf-duck, red-shouldered-hawk,  
 fish-hawk, white-ibis, indian-hen, cat-owl,  
 water-pheasant, qua-bird, pied-sheldrake,  
 mocking-bird, buzzard, condor, night-heron,  
His spirit surrounding his country's spirit, unclosed  
 to good and evil,
Surrounding the essences of real things, old times  
 and present times,
Surrounding just found shores, islands, tribes of  
 red aborigines,
  [ begin page 186 ]ppp.00237.194.jpg Weather-beaten vessels, landings, settlements, the  
 rapid stature and muscle,
The haughty defiance of the Year 1—war, peace,  
 the formation of the Constitution,
The separate States, the simple, elastic scheme,  
 the immigrants,
The Union, always swarming with blatherers, and  
 always calm and impregnable,
The unsurveyed interior, log-houses, clearings,  
 wild animals, hunters, trappers;
Surrounding the multiform agriculture, mines,  
 temperature, the gestation of new States,
Congress convening every December, the mem- 
 bers duly coming up from the uttermost  
Surrounding the noble character of mechanics and  
 farmers, especially the young men,
Responding their manners, speech, dress, friend- 
 ships—the gait they have of persons who  
 never knew how it felt to stand in the  
 presence of superiors,
The freshness and candor of their physiognomy, the  
 copiousness and decision of their phrenology,
The picturesque looseness of their carriage, their  
 deathless attachment to freedom, their fierce- 
 ness when wronged,
The fluency of their speech, their delight in  
 music, their curiosity, good-temper, open- 
  [ begin page 187 ]ppp.00237.195.jpg The prevailing ardor and enterprise, the large  
The perfect equality of the female with the male,  
 the fluid movement of the population,
The superior marine, free commerce, fisheries,  
 whaling, gold-digging,
Wharf-hemm'd cities, railroad and steamboat lines,  
 intersecting all points,
Factories, mercantile life, labor-saving machinery,  
 the north-east, north-west, south-west,
Manhattan firemen, the Yankee swap, southern  
 plantation life,
Slavery, the tremulous spreading of hands to  
 shelter it—the stern opposition to it, which  
 ceases only when it ceases.
For these, and the like, their own voices! For  
 these, space ahead!
Others take finish, but the republic is ever con- 
 structive, and ever keeps vista;
Others adorn the past—but you, O, days of the  
 present, I adorn you!
O days of the future, I believe in you! O America, because you build for mankind, I build  
 for you!
O well-beloved stone-cutters! I lead them who  
 plan with decision and science,
I lead the present with friendly hand toward the  
  [ begin page 188 ]ppp.00237.196.jpg Bravas to states whose semitic impulses send  
 wholesome children to the next age!
But damn that which spends itself on flaunters and  
 dallyers, with no thought of the stains, pains,  
 dismay, feebleness, it is bequeathing!
By great bards only can series of peoples and  
 States be fused into the compact organism of  
 one nation.
To hold men together by paper and seal, or by  
 compulsion, is no account,
That only holds men together which is living  
 principles, as the hold of the limbs of the  
 body, or the fibres of plants.
Of all races and eras, These States, with veins full  
 of poetical stuff, most need poets, and are to  
 have the greatest, and use them the greatest,
Their Presidents shall not be their common ref- 
 eree so much as their poets shall.
Of mankind, the poet is the equable man, Not in him, but off from him, things are grotesque,  
 eccentric, fail of their full returns,
Nothing out of its place is good, nothing in its  
 place is bad,
He bestows on every object or quality its fit pro- 
 portions, neither more nor less,
He is the arbiter of the diverse, he is the key,   [ begin page 189 ]ppp.00237.197.jpg He is the equalizer of his age and land He supplies what wants supplying—he checks  
 what wants checking,
In peace, out of him speaks the spirit of peace,  
 large, rich, thrifty, building populous towns,  
 encouraging agriculture, arts, commerce,  
 lighting the study of man, the soul, health,  
 immortality, government,
In war he is the best backer of the war—he  
 fetches artillery as good as the engineer's, he  
 can make every word he speaks draw blood;
The years straying toward infidelity he withholds  
 by his steady faith,
He is no arguer, he is judgment, He judges not as the judge judges, but as the sun  
 falling round a helpless thing,
As he sees the farthest he has the most faith, His thoughts are the hymns of the praise of things, In the dispute on God and eternity he is silent, He sees eternity less like a play with a prologue  
 and denouement,
He sees eternity in men and women—he does  
 not see men and women as dreams or dots.
An American literat fills his own place, He justifies science—did you think the demon- 
 strable less divine than the mythical?
He stands by liberty according to the compact of  
 the first day of the first year of These States,
  [ begin page 190 ]ppp.00237.198.jpg He concentres in the real body and soul, and in  
 the pleasure of things,
He possesses the superiority of genuineness over  
 fiction and romance;
As he emits himself, facts are showered over with  
The day-light is lit with more volatile light—the  
 deep between the setting and rising sun goes  
 deeper many fold,
Each precise object, condition, combination, pro- 
 cess, exhibits a beauty—the multiplication- 
 table its, old age its, the carpenter's trade  
 its, the grand-opera its,
The huge-hulled clean-shaped Manhattan clipper  
 at sea, under steam or full sail, gleams with  
 unmatched beauty,
The national circles and large harmonies of gov- 
 ernment gleam with theirs,
The commonest definite intentions and actions  
 with theirs.
Of the idea of perfect individuals, the idea of  
 These States, their bards walk in advance,  
 leaders of leaders,
The attitudes of them cheer up slaves and horrify  
Without extinction is liberty! Without retrograde  
 is equality!
  [ begin page 191 ]ppp.00237.199.jpg They live in the feelings of young men, and the  
 best women,
Not for nothing have the indomitable heads of the  
 earth been always ready to fall for liberty!
Language-using controls the rest; Wonderful is language! Wondrous the English language, language of live  
Language of ensemble, powerful language of re- 
Language of a proud and melancholy stock, and  
 of all who aspire,
Language of growth, faith, self-esteem, rudeness,  
 justice, friendliness, amplitude, prudence, de- 
 cision, exactitude, courage,
Language to well-nigh express the inexpressible, Language for the modern, language for America.
Who would use language to America may well  
 prepare himself, body and mind,
He may well survey, ponder, arm, fortify, harden,  
 make lithe, himself,
He shall surely be questioned beforehand by me  
 with many and stern questions.
Who are you that would talk to America? Have you studied out my land, its idioms and  
  [ begin page 192 ]ppp.00237.200.jpg Have you learned the physiology, phrenology,  
 politics, geography, pride, freedom, friendship,  
 of my land? its substratums and objects?
Have you considered the organic compact of the  
 first day of the first year of the independence  
 of The States?
Have you possessed yourself of the Federal Con- 
Do you acknowledge liberty with audible and  
 absolute acknowledgment, and set slavery at  
 naught for life and death?
Do you see who have left described processes and  
 poems behind them, and assumed new ones?
Are you faithful to things? Do you teach what- 
 ever the land and sea, the bodies of men,  
 womanhood, amativeness, angers, excesses,  
 crimes, teach?
Have you sped through customs, laws, popu- 
Can you hold your hand against all seductions,  
 follies, whirls, fierce contentions?
Are you not of some coterie? some school or  
Are you done with reviews and criticisms of life?  
 animating to life itself?
Have you possessed yourself with the spirit of the  
 maternity of These States?
Have you sucked the nipples of the breasts of the  
 mother of many children?
  [ begin page 193 ]ppp.00237.201.jpg Have you too the old, ever-fresh, forbearance and  
Do you hold the like love for those hardening to  
 maturity? for the last-born? little and big?  
 and for the errant?
What is this you bring my America? Is it uniform with my country? Is it not something that has been better told or  
 done before?
Have you imported this, or the spirit of it, in some  
Is it a mere tale? a rhyme? a prettiness? Has it never dangled at the heels of the poets,  
 politicians, literats, of enemies' lands?
Does it not assume that what is notoriously gone  
 is still here?
Does it answer universal needs? Will it improve  
Can your performance face the open fields and the  
Will it absorb into me as I absorb food, air,  
 nobility, meanness—to appear again in my  
 strength, gait, face?
Have real employments contributed to it? original  
 makers, not amanuenses?
Does it meet modern discoveries, calibers, facts,  
 face to face?
Does it respect me? America? the soul? to- 
9   [ begin page 194 ]ppp.00237.202.jpg What does it mean to me? to American persons, pro- 
 gresses, cities? Chicago, Canada, Arkansas?  
 the planter, Yankee, Georgian, native, immi- 
 grant, sailors, squatters, old States, new States?
Does it encompass all The States, and the  
 unexceptional rights of all men and women,  
 the genital impulse of The States?
Does it see behind the apparent custodians, the  
 real custodians, standing, menacing, silent,  
 the mechanics, Manhattanese, western men,  
 southerners, significant alike in their apathy  
 and in the promptness of their love?
Does it see what befals and has always befallen  
 each temporiser, patcher, outsider, partialist,  
 alarmist, infidel, who has ever asked any- 
 thing of America?
What mocking and scornful negligence? The track strewed with the dust of skeletons? By the road-side others disdainfully tossed?
Rhymes and rhymers pass away—poems dis- 
 tilled from other poems pass away,
The swarms of reflectors and the polite pass, and  
 leave ashes,
Admirers, importers, obedient persons, make the  
 soil of literature;
America justifies itself, give it time—no disguise  
 can deceive it or conceal from it—it is im- 
 passive enough,
  [ begin page 195 ]ppp.00237.203.jpg Only toward the likes of itself will it advance to  
 meet them,
If its poets appear, it will advance to meet them,  
 there is no fear of mistake,
The proof of a poet shall be sternly deferred till  
 his country absorbs him as affectionately as  
 he has absorbed it.
He masters whose spirit masters—he tastes  
 sweetest who results sweetest,
The blood of the brawn beloved of time is uncon- 
In the need of poems, philosophy, politics,  
 manners, engineering, an appropriate native  
 grand-opera, ship-craft, any craft, he or she  
 is greatest who contributes the greatest  
 original practical example.
Already a nonchalant breed silently fills the  
 houses and streets,
People's lips salute only doers, lovers, satisfiers,  
 positive knowers;
There will shortly be no more priests—their  
 work is done,
Death is without emergencies here, but life is per- 
 petual emergencies here,
Are your body, days, manners, superb? after death  
 you shall be superb,
  [ begin page 196 ]ppp.00237.204.jpg Friendship, self-esteem, justice, health, clear the  
 way with irresistible power.
Give me the pay I have served for! Give me to speak beautiful words! take all the  
I have loved the earth, sun, animals—I have de- 
 spised riches,
I have given alms to every one that asked, stood  
 up for the stupid and crazy, devoted my in- 
 come and labor to others,
I have hated tyrants, argued not concerning God,  
 had patience and indulgence toward the peo- 
 ple, taken off my hat to nothing known or  
I have gone freely with powerful uneducated per- 
 sons, and with the young, and with the  
 mothers of families,
I have read these leaves to myself in the open air,  
 I have tried them by trees, stars, rivers,
I have dismissed whatever insulted my own soul  
 or defiled my body,
I have claimed nothing to myself which I have  
 not carefully claimed for others on the same  
I have studied my land, its idioms and men, I am willing to wait to be understood by the  
 growth of the taste of myself,
I reject none, I permit all,   [ begin page 197 ]ppp.00237.205.jpg Whom I have staid with once I have found long- 
 ing for me ever afterwards.
I swear I begin to see the meaning of these  
It is not the earth, it is not America who is so  
It is I who am great, or to be great—it is you, or  
 any one,
It is to walk rapidly through civilizations, govern- 
 ments, theories, nature, poems, shows, to in- 
Underneath all are individuals, I swear nothing is good that ignores individuals! The American compact is with individuals, The only government is that which makes minute  
 of individuals.
Underneath all is nativity, I swear I will stand by my own nativity—pious  
 or impious, so be it!
I swear I am charmed with nothing except  
Men, women, cities, nations, are only beautiful  
 from nativity.
Underneath all is the need of the expression of  
 love for men and women,
  [ begin page 198 ]ppp.00237.206.jpg I swear I have had enough of mean and impotent  
 modes of expressing love for men and  
After this day I take my own modes of express- 
 ing love for men and women.
I swear I will have each quality of my race in  
Talk as you like, he only suits These States  
 whose manners favor the audacity and sub- 
 lime turbulence of These States.
Underneath the lessons of things, spirits, nature,  
 governments, ownerships, I swear I perceive  
 other lessons,
Underneath all to me is myself—to you, your- 
If all had not kernels for you and me, what were  
 it to you and me?
O I see now that this America is only you and  
Its power, weapons, testimony, are you and me, Its roughs, beards, haughtiness, ruggedness, are  
 you and me,
Its ample geography, the sierras, the prairies,  
 Mississippi, Huron, Colorado, Boston, To- 
 ronto, Releigh, Nashville, Havana, are you  
 and me,
  [ begin page 199 ]ppp.00237.207.jpg Its settlements, wars, the organic compact, peace,  
 Washington, the Federal Constitution, are  
 you and me,
Its young men's manners, speech, dress, friend- 
 ships, are you and me,
Its crimes, lies, thefts, defections, slavery, are you  
 and me,
Its Congress is you and me, the officers, capitols,  
 armies, ships, are you and me,
Its endless gestations of new States are you and  
Its inventions, science, schools, are you and me, Its deserts, forests, clearings, log-houses, hunters,  
 are you and me,
The perpetual arrivals of immigrants are you and  
Natural and artificial are you and me, Freedom, language, poems, employments, are you  
 and me,
Failures, successes, births, deaths, are you and me, Past, present, future, are only you and me.
I swear I dare not shirk any part of myself, Not America, nor any part of America, Not my body, not friendship, hospitality, pro- 
Not my soul, not the last explanation of prudence, Not the similitude that interlocks me with all  
 identities that exist, or ever have existed,
  [ begin page 200 ]ppp.00237.208.jpg Not faith, sin, defiance, nor any disposition or duty  
 of myself,
Not the promulgation of liberty, not to cheer up  
 slaves and horrify despots,
Not to build for that which builds for mankind, Not to balance ranks, complexions, creeds, and  
 the sexes,
Not to justify science, not the march of equality, Not to feed the arrogant blood of the brawn  
 beloved of time.
I swear I am for those that have never been  
For men and women whose tempers have never  
 been mastered,
For those whom laws, theories, conventions, can  
 never master.
I swear I am for those who walk abreast with  
 America and with the earth!
Who inaugurate one to inaugurate all.
I swear I will not be outfaced by irrational things! I will penetrate what it is in them that is sarcastic  
 upon me!
I will make cities and civilizations defer to me! I will confront these shows of the day and night! I will know if I am to be less than they! I will see if I am not as majestic as they!   [ begin page 201 ]ppp.00237.209.jpg I will see if I am not as subtle and real as they! I will see if I am to be less generous than they! I will see if I have no meaning, and the houses  
 and ships have meaning!
I will see if the fishes and birds are to be enough  
 for themselves, and I am not to be enough for  
I match my spirit against yours, you orbs, growths,  
 mountains, brutes,
I will learn why the earth is gross, tantalizing,  
I take you to be mine, you beautiful, terrible, rude  
9*   [ begin page 202 ]ppp.00237.210.jpg

9 — Poem of Wonder at The Resurrection of The Wheat.

SOMETHING startles me where I thought I  
 was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved, I will not go now on the pastures to walk, I will not strip my clothes from my body to meet  
 my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth, as to other  
 flesh, to renew me.
How can the ground not sicken of men? How can you be alive, you growths of spring? How can you furnish health, you blood of herbs,  
 roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distempered  
 corpses in the earth?
Is not every continent worked over and over with  
 sour dead?
Where have you disposed of those carcasses of  
 the drunkards and gluttons of so many gen- 
  [ begin page 203 ]ppp.00237.211.jpg Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and  
I do not see any of it upon you today—or per- 
 haps I am deceived,
I will run a furrow with my plough—I will press  
 my spade through the sod, and turn it up  
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.
Behold! This is the compost of billions of premature  
Perhaps every mite has once formed part of a  
 sick person,
Yet Behold! The grass covers the prairies, The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in  
 the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward, The apple-buds cluster together on the apple- 
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale  
 visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the  
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings, while  
 the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatched  
  [ begin page 204 ]ppp.00237.212.jpg The new-born of animals appear, the calf is  
 dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's  
 dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk; The summer growth is innocent and disdainful  
 above all those strata of sour dead.
What chemistry! That the winds are really not infectious! That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash  
 of the sea, which is so amorous after me!
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked  
 body all over with its tongues!
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that  
 have deposited themselves in it!
That all is clean, forever and forever! That the cool drink from the well tastes so good! That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy! That the fruits of the apple-orchard, and of the  
 orange-orchard—that melons, grapes, peaches,  
 plums, will none of them poison me!
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch  
 any disease!
Though probably every spear of grass rises out  
 of what was once a catching disease.
Now I am terrified at the earth! it is that calm  
 and patient,
  [ begin page 205 ]ppp.00237.213.jpg It grows such sweet things out of such corrup- 
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with  
 such endless successions of diseased corpses,
It distils such exquisite winds out of such infused  
It renews with such unwitting looks, its prodigal,  
 annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts  
 such leavings from them at last.
  [ begin page 206 ]ppp.00237.214.jpg

10 — Poem of You, Whoever You Are.

WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking  
 the walks of dreams,
I fear those realities are to melt from under your  
 feet and hands;
Even now, your features, joys, speech, house,  
 trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume,  
 crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me, They stand forth out of affairs—out of commerce,  
 shops, law, science, work, farms, clothes, the  
 house, medicine, print, buying, selling, eating,  
 drinking, suffering, begetting, dying,
They receive these in their places, they find these  
 or the like of these, eternal, for reasons,
They find themselves eternal, they do not find that  
 the water and soil tend to endure forever —  
 and they not endure.
Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you,  
 that you be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,   [ begin page 207 ]ppp.00237.215.jpg I have loved many women and men, but I love  
 none better than you.
O I have been dilatory and dumb, I should have made my way straight to you long  
I should have blabbed nothing but you, I should  
 have chanted nothing but you.
I will leave all, and come and make the hymns  
 of you;
None have understood you, but I understand you, None have done justice to you, you have not done  
 justice to yourself,
None but have found you imperfect, I only find no  
 imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you, I only am he  
 who will never consent to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master,  
 owner, better, god, beyond what waits intrin- 
 sically in yourself.
Painters have painted their swarming groups, and  
 the centre figure of all,
From the head of the centre figure spreading a  
 nimbus of gold-colored light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head  
 without its nimbus of gold-colored light,
From my hand, from the brain of every man and  
 woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.
  [ begin page 208 ]ppp.00237.216.jpg O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about  
You have not known what you are—you have  
 slumbered upon yourself all your life,
Your eye-lids have been as much as closed most  
 of the time,
What you have done returns already in mock- 
Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not  
 return in mockeries, what is their return?
The mockeries are not you, Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk, I pursue you where none else has pursued you, Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the  
 night, the accustomed routine, if these con- 
 ceal you from others, or from yourself, they  
 do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure  
 complexion, if these balk others, they do  
 not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deformed attitude, drunken- 
 ness, greed, premature death, all these I part  
I track through your windings and turnings—I  
 come upon you where you thought eye should  
 never come upon you.
There is no endowment in man or woman that is  
 not tallied in you,
  [ begin page 209 ]ppp.00237.217.jpg There is no virtue, no beauty, in man or woman  
 but as good is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is  
 in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal plea- 
 sure waits for you.
As for me, I give nothing to any one, except I  
 give the like carefully to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God,  
 sooner than I sing the songs of the glory of  
Whoever you are, you are to hold your own at  
 any hazard,
These shows of the east and west are tame com- 
 pared to you,
These immense meadows, these interminable riv- 
 ers—you are immense and interminable as  
These furies, elements, storms, motions of nature,  
 throes of apparent dissolution—you are he  
 or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over nature,  
 elements, pain, passion, dissolution.
The hopples fall from your ankles! you find an  
 unfailing sufficiency!
  [ begin page 210 ]ppp.00237.218.jpg Old, young, male, female, rude, low, rejected by  
 the rest, whatever you are promulges itself,
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are  
 provided, nothing is scanted,
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance,  
 ennui, what you are picks its way.
  [ begin page 211 ]ppp.00237.219.jpg

11 — Sun-Down Poem.

FLOOD-TIDE of the river, flow on! I watch  
 you, face to face,
Clouds of the west! sun half an hour high! I see  
 you also face to face.
Crowds of men and women attired in the usual  
 costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds  
 that cross are more curious to me than you  
And you that shall cross from shore to shore  
 years hence, are more to me, and more in my  
 meditations, than you might suppose.
The impalpable sustenance of me from all things  
 at all hours of the day,
The simple, compact, well-joined scheme—my- 
 self disintegrated, every one disintegrated,  
 yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the  
  [ begin page 212 ]ppp.00237.220.jpg The glories strung like beads on my smallest  
 sights and hearings—on the walk in the  
 street, and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming  
 with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between  
 me and them,
The certainty of others—the life, love, sight,  
 hearing of others.
Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross  
 from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide, Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north  
 and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the  
 south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small, Fifty years hence others will see them as they  
 cross, the sun half an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred  
 years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sun-set, the pouring in of the flood- 
 tide, the falling back to the sea of the ebb- 
It avails not, neither time or place—distance  
 avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a genera- 
 tion, or ever so many generations hence,
  [ begin page 213 ]ppp.00237.221.jpg I project myself, also I return—I am with you,  
 and know how it is.
Just as you feel when you look on the river and  
 sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was  
 one of a crowd,
Just as you are refreshed by the gladness  
 of the river, and the bright flow, I was  
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry  
 with the swift current, I stood, yet was hur- 
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships,  
 and the thick-stemmed pipes of steamboats, I  
I too many and many a time crossed the river,  
 the sun half an hour high,
I watched the December sea-gulls, I saw them  
 high in the air floating with motionless  
 wings oscillating their bodies,
I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of  
 their bodies, and left the rest in strong  
I saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual  
 edging toward the south.
I too saw the reflection of the summer-sky in the  
  [ begin page 214 ]ppp.00237.222.jpg Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of  
Looked at the fine centrifugal spokes of light  
 round the shape of my head in the sun-lit  
Looked on the haze on the hills southward and  
Looked on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged  
 with violet,
Looked toward the lower bay to notice the arriv- 
 ing ships,
Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were  
 near me,
Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw  
 the ships at anchor,
The sailors at work in the rigging or out astride  
 the spars,
The round masts, the swinging motion of the  
 hulls, the slender serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pi- 
 lots in their pilot-houses,
The white wake left by the passage, the quick  
 tremulous whirl of the wheels,
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at  
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the  
 ladled cups, the frolicsome crests and glisten- 
  [ begin page 215 ]ppp.00237.223.jpg The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the  
 gray walls of the granite store-houses by the  
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam- 
 tug closely flanked on each side by the  
 barges—the hay-boat, the belated lighter,
On the neighboring shore the fires from the foun- 
 dry chimneys burning high and glaringly into  
 the night,
Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild  
 red and yellow light, over the tops of houses,  
 and down into the clefts of streets.
These and all else were to me the same as they  
 are to you,
I project myself a moment to tell you—also I  
I loved well those cities, I loved well the stately and rapid river, The men and women I saw were all near to me, Others the same—others who look back on me,  
 because I looked forward to them,
The time will come, though I stop here today and  
What is it, then, between us? What is the  
 count of the scores or hundreds of years  
 between us?
  [ begin page 216 ]ppp.00237.224.jpg Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not,  
 and place avails not.
I too lived, I too walked the streets of Manhattan Island, and  
 bathed in the waters around it;
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir with- 
 in me,
In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes  
 they came upon me,
In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my  
 bed, they came upon me.
I too had been struck from the float forever held  
 in solution,
I too had received identity by my body, That I was, I knew was of my body, and what I  
 should be, I knew I should be of my body.
It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall, The dark threw patches down upon me also, The best I had done seemed to me blank and sus- 
My great thoughts, as I supposed them, were they  
 not in reality meagre? Would not people  
 laugh at me?
It is not you alone who know what it is to be  
  [ begin page 217 ]ppp.00237.225.jpg I am he who knew what it was to be evil, I too knitted the old knot of contrariety, Blabbed, blushed, resented, lied, stole, grudged, Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not  
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, a solitary  
 committer, a coward, a malignant person,
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me, The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adul- 
 terous wish, not wanting,
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, lazi- 
 ness, none of these wanting.
But I was a Manhattanese, free, friendly, and  
I was called by my nighest name by clear loud  
 voices of young men as they saw me ap- 
 proaching or passing,
Felt their arms on my neck as I stood, or the neg- 
 ligent leaning of their flesh against me as I sat,
Saw many I loved in the street, or ferry-boat, or  
 public assembly, yet never told them a word,
Lived the same life with the rest, the same old  
 laughing, gnawing, sleeping,
Played the part that still looks back on the actor  
 or actress,
The same old role, the role that is what we make  
 it, as great as we like, or as small as we  
 like, or both great and small.
10   [ begin page 218 ]ppp.00237.226.jpg Closer yet I approach you, What thought you have of me, I had as much of  
 you—I laid in my stores in advance,
I considered long and seriously of you before you  
 were born.
Who was to know what should come home to me? Who knows but I am enjoying this? Who knows but I am as good as looking at you  
 now, for all you cannot see me?
It is not you alone, nor I alone, Not a few races, not a few generations, not a few  
It is that each came, or comes, or shall come,  
 from its due emission, without fail, either  
 now, or then, or henceforth.
Every thing indicates—the smallest does, and  
 the largest does,
A necessary film envelops all, and envelops the  
 soul for a proper time.
Now I am curious what sight can ever be more  
 stately and admirable to me than my mast- 
 hemm'd Manhatta, my river and sun-set, and  
 my scallop-edged waves of flood-tide, the  
 sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat  
 in the twilight, and the belated lighter,
  [ begin page 219 ]ppp.00237.227.jpg Curious what gods can exceed these that clasp  
 me by the hand, and with voices I love call  
 me promptly and loudly by my nighest name  
 as I approach,
Curious what is more subtle than this which ties  
 me to the woman or man that looks in my  
Which fuses me into you now, and pours my  
 meaning into you.
We understand, then, do we not? What I promised without mentioning it, have  
 you not accepted?
What the study could not teach—what the  
 preaching could not accomplish is accom- 
 plished, is it not?
What the push of reading could not start is  
 started by me personally, is it not?
Flow on, river! Flow with the flood-tide, and  
 ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edged waves! Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set, drench with your  
 splendor me, or the men and women genera- 
 tions after me!
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of  
Stand up, tall masts of Manahatta!—stand up,  
 beautiful hills of Brooklyn!
  [ begin page 220 ]ppp.00237.228.jpg Bully for you! you proud, friendly, free Manhat- 
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out ques- 
 tions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of  
Blab, blush, lie, steal, you or I or any one after  
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house or  
 street or public assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and mu- 
 sically call me by my nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the  
 actor or actress!
Play the old role, the role that is great or small,  
 according as one makes it!
Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may  
 not in unknown ways be looking upon you!
Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who  
 lean idly, yet haste with the hasting cur- 
Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large  
 circles high in the air!
Receive the summer-sky, you water! faithfully  
 hold it till all downcast eyes have time to  
 take it from you!
Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of  
 my head, or any one's head, in the sun-lit  
  [ begin page 221 ]ppp.00237.229.jpg Come on, ships, from the lower bay! pass up  
 or down, white-sailed schooners, sloops,  
Flaunt away, flags of all nations! be duly lowered  
 at sun-set!
Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast  
 black shadows at night-fall! cast red and  
 yellow light over the tops of the houses!
Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what  
 you are!
You necessary film, continue to envelop the  
About my body for me, and your body for you, be  
 hung our divinest aromas!
Thrive, cities! Bring your freight, bring your  
 shows, ample and sufficient rivers!
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps  
 more spiritual!
Keep your places, objects than which none else is  
 more lasting!
We descend upon you and all things, we arrest  
 you all,
We realize the soul only by you, you faithful solids  
 and fluids,
Through you color, form, location, sublimity,  
Through you every proof, comparison, and all the  
 suggestions and determinations of ourselves.
  [ begin page 222 ]ppp.00237.230.jpg You have waited, you always wait, you dumb  
 beautiful ministers! you novices!
We receive you with free sense at last, and are  
 insatiate henceforward,
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or with- 
 hold yourselves from us,
We use you, and do not cast you aside—we  
 plant you permanently within us,
We fathom you not—we love you—there is  
 perfection in you also,
You furnish your parts toward eternity, Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the  
  [ begin page 223 ]ppp.00237.231.jpg

12 — Poem of The Road.

AFOOT and light-hearted I take to the open  
Healthy, free, the world before me! The long brown path before me, leading wherever  
 I choose!
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I am good- 
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more,  
 need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.
The earth—that is sufficient, I do not want the constellations any nearer, I know they are very well where they are, I know they suffice for those who belong to them. Still here I carry my old delicious burdens, I carry them, men and women—I carry them  
 with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them, I am filled with them, and I will fill them in  
  [ begin page 224 ]ppp.00237.232.jpg You road I travel and look around! I believe you  
 are not all that is here!
I believe that something unseen is also here.
Here is the profound lesson of reception, neither  
 preference or denial,
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the  
 diseased, the illiterate person, are not de- 
The birth, the hasting after the physician, the  
 beggar's tramp, the drunkard's stagger, the  
 laughing party of mechanics,
The escaped youth, the rich person's carriage, the  
 fop, the eloping couple,
The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of  
 furniture into the town, the return back from  
 the town,
They pass, I also pass, any thing passes, none can  
 be interdicted,
None but are accepted, none but are dear to me.
You air that serves me with breath to speak! You objects that call from diffusion my meanings  
 and give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate  
 equable showers!
You animals moving serenely over the earth! You birds that wing yourselves through the air!  
 you insects!
  [ begin page 225 ]ppp.00237.233.jpg You sprouting growths from the farmers' fields!  
 you stalks and weeds by the fences!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the  
I think you are latent with curious existences —  
 you are so dear to me.
You flagged walks of the cities! you strong curbs  
 at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves!  
 you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!
You rows of houses! you window-pierced facades!  
 you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron  
You windows whose transparent shells might  
 expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches! You gray stones of interminable pavements! you  
 trodden crossings!
From all that has been near you I believe you  
 have imparted to yourselves, and now would  
 impart the same secretly to me,
From the living and the dead I think you have  
 peopled your impassive surfaces, and the  
 spirits thereof would be evident and ami- 
 cable with me.
The earth expanding right hand and left hand, 10*   [ begin page 226 ]ppp.00237.234.jpg The picture alive, every part in its best light, The music falling in where it is wanted, and  
 stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay  
 fresh sentiment of the road.
O highway I travel! O public road! do you say  
 to me, Do not leave me?
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you  
 are lost?
Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well- 
 beaten and undenied—Adhere to me?
O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to  
 leave you—yet I love you,
You express me better than I can express myself, You shall be more to me than my poem.
I think heroic deeds were all conceived in the  
 open air,
I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles, I think whatever I meet on the road I shall like,  
 and whatever beholds me shall like me,
I think whoever I see must be happy.
From this hour, freedom! From this hour, I ordain myself loosed of limits  
 and imaginary lines!
Going where I list—my own master, total and  
  [ begin page 227 ]ppp.00237.235.jpg Listening to others, and considering well what  
 they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently but with undeniable will divesting myself  
 of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of air, The east and the west are mine, and the north  
 and the south are mine.
I am larger than I thought! I did not know I held so much goodness! All seems beautiful to me, I can repeat over to men and women, You have  
 done such good to me, I would do the same  
 to you.
I will recruit for myself and you as I go, I will scatter myself among men and women as  
 I go,
I will toss the new gladness and roughness among  
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me, Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed,  
 and shall bless me.
Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear,  
 it would not amaze me,
  [ begin page 228 ]ppp.00237.236.jpg Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women ap- 
 peared, it would not astonish me.
Now I see the secret of the making of the best  
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and  
 sleep with the earth.
Here is space—here a great personal deed has  
A great deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole  
 race of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law,  
 and mocks all authority and all argument  
 against it.
Here is the test of wisdom, Wisdom is not finally tested in schools, Wisdom cannot be passed from one having it, to  
 another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof,  
 is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and  
 is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of  
 things, and the excellence of things,
Something there is in the float of the sight of  
 things that provokes it out of the soul.
  [ begin page 229 ]ppp.00237.237.jpg Now I re-examine philosophies and religions, They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not  
 prove at all under the spacious clouds, and  
 along the landscape and flowing currents.
Here is realization, Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he  
 has in him,
The animals, the past, the future, light, space,  
 majesty, love, if they are vacant of you, you  
 are vacant of them.
Only the kernel of every object nourishes; Where is he who tears off the husks for you and  
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes  
 for you and me?
Here is adhesiveness—it is not previously  
 fashioned, it is apropos;
Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved  
 by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?
Here is the efflux of the soul, The efflux of the soul comes through beautiful  
 gates of laws, provoking questions,
These yearnings, why are they? these thoughts  
 in the darkness, why are they?
  [ begin page 230 ]ppp.00237.238.jpg Why are there men and women that while they  
 are nigh me the sun-light expands my blood?
Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy  
 sink flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under but large  
 and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on  
 those trees, and always drop fruit as I pass;)
What is it I interchange so suddenly with stran- 
What with some driver as I ride on the seat by  
 his side?
What with some fisherman, drawing his seine by  
 the shore, as I walk by and pause?
What gives me to be free to a woman's or man's  
 good-will? What gives them to be free to  
The efflux of the soul is happiness—here is  
I think it pervades the air, waiting at all times, Now it flows into us—we are rightly charged.
Here rises the fluid and attaching character; The fluid and attaching character is the freshness  
 and sweetness of man and woman,
The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and  
 sweeter every day out of the roots of them- 
 selves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet contin- 
 ually out of itself.
  [ begin page 231 ]ppp.00237.239.jpg Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes  
 the sweat of the love of young and old,
From it falls distilled the charm that mocks beauty  
 and attainments,
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of  
Allons! Whoever you are, come travel with  
Traveling with me, you find what never tires.
The earth never tires! The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at  
 first—nature is rude and incomprehensible  
 at first,
Be not discouraged—keep on—there are divine  
 things, well enveloped,
I swear to you there are divine things more beau- 
 tiful than words can tell!
Allons! We must not stop here! However sweet these laid-up stores, however  
 convenient this dwelling, we cannot remain  
However sheltered this port, however calm these  
 waters, we must not anchor here!
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds  
 us, we are permitted to receive it but a little  
  [ begin page 232 ]ppp.00237.240.jpg Allons! the inducements shall be great to you, We will sail pathless and wild seas, We will go where winds blow, waves dash,  
 and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full  
Allons! With power, liberty, the earth, the  
Health, defiance, gaiety, self-esteem, curiosity!
Allons! From all formulas! From your formulas, O bat-eyed and materialistic  
The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the  
 burial waits no longer.
Allons! Yet take warning! He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews,  
None may come to the trial till he or she bring  
 courage and health.
Come not here if you have already spent the best  
 of yourself!
Only those may come who come in sweet and  
 determined bodies,
No diseased person—no rum-drinker or venereal  
 taint is permitted here,
  [ begin page 233 ]ppp.00237.241.jpg I and mine do not convince by arguments,  
 similes, rhymes,
We convince by our presence.
Listen! I will be honest with you, I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer  
 rough new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you: You shall not heap up what is called riches, You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you  
 earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were  
 destined—you hardly settle yourself to satis- 
 faction, before you are called by an irresistible  
 call to depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and  
 mockings of those who remain behind you,
What beckonings of love you receive, you shall  
 only answer with passionate kisses of parting,
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread  
 their reached hands toward you.
Allons! After the great companions! and to be- 
 long to them!
They too are on the road! they are the swift and  
 majestic men! they are the greatest women!
Over that which hindered them, over that which  
 retarded, passing impediments large or small,
  [ begin page 234 ]ppp.00237.242.jpg Committers of crimes, committers of many beauti- 
 ful virtues,
Enjoyers of calms of seas, and storms of seas, Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of  
Habitues of many different countries, habitues of  
 far-distant dwellings,
Trusters of men and women, observers of cities,  
 solitary toilers,
Pausers and contemplaters of tufts, blossoms, shells  
 of the shore,
Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides,  
 tender helpers of children, bearers of children,
Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves,  
 lowerers down of coffins,
Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the  
 years—the curious years, each emerging  
 from that which preceded it,
Journeyers as with companions, namely, their own  
 diverse phases,
Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby- 
Journeyers gaily with their own youth—journey- 
 ers with their bearded and well-grained  
Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsur- 
 passed, content,
Journeyers with their sublime old age of manhood  
 or womanhood,
  [ begin page 235 ]ppp.00237.243.jpg Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty  
 breadth of the universe,
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by  
 freedom of death.
Allons! to that which is endless as it was  
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights! To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the  
 days and nights they tend to!
Again to merge them in the start of superior  
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach  
 it and pass it!
To conceive no time, however distant, but what  
 you may reach it and pass it!
To look up or down no road but it stretches and  
 waits for you! however long, but it stretches  
 and waits for you!
To see no being, not God's or any, but you also  
 go thither!
To see no possession but you may possess it!  
 enjoying all without labor or purchase —  
 abstracting the feast, yet not abstracting one  
 particle of it;
To take the best of the farmer's farm and the rich  
 man's elegant villa, and the chaste blessings  
 of the well-married couple, and the fruits of  
 orchards and flowers of gardens!
  [ begin page 236 ]ppp.00237.244.jpg To take to your use out of the compact cities as  
 you pass through!
To carry buildings and streets with you afterward  
 wherever you go!
To gather the minds of men out of their brains as  
 you encounter them! to gather the love out  
 of their hearts!
To take your own lovers on the road with  
 you, for all that you leave them behind  
To know the universe itself as a road—as many  
 roads—as roads for traveling souls!
The soul travels, The body does not travel as much as the soul, The body has just as great a work as the soul,  
 and parts away at last for the journeys of the  
All parts away for the progress of souls, All religion, all solid things, arts, governments —  
 all that was or is apparent upon this globe or  
 any globe, falls into niches and corners before  
 the processions of souls along the grand roads  
 of the universe,
Of the progress of the souls of men and women  
 along the grand roads of the universe, all  
 other progress is the needed emblem and  
  [ begin page 237 ]ppp.00237.245.jpg Forever alive, forever forward, Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad,  
 turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men,  
 rejected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I  
 know not where they go,
But I know that they go toward the best— toward something great.
Allons! Whoever you are! come forth! You must not stay in your house, though you built  
 it, or though it has been built for you.
Allons! out of the dark confinement! It is useless to protest—I know all, and expose it. Behold through you as bad as the rest! Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of  
Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those  
 washed and trimmed faces,
Behold a secret silent loathing and despair!
No husband, no wife, no friend, no lover, so  
 trusted as to hear the confession,
Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and  
 hiding it goes, open and above-board it goes,
Formless and wordless through the streets of the  
 cities, polite and bland in the parlors,
  [ begin page 238 ]ppp.00237.246.jpg In the cars of rail-roads, in steam-boats, in the  
 public assembly,
Home to the houses of men and women, among  
 their families, at the table, in the bed-room,  
 every where,
Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright,  
 death under the breast-bones, hell under the  
Under the broad-cloth and gloves, under the  
 ribbons and artificial flowers,
Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a  
 syllable of itself,
Speaking of anything else, but never of itself.
Allons! through struggles and wars! The goal that was named cannot be counter- 
Have the past struggles succeeded? What has succeeded? Yourself? Your nation?  
Now understand me well—it is provided in the  
 essence of things, that from any fruition of  
 success, no matter what, shall come forth  
 something to make a greater struggle neces- 
My call is the call of battle—I nourish active  
  [ begin page 239 ]ppp.00237.247.jpg He going with me must go well armed, He going with me goes often with spare diet,  
 poverty, angry enemies, contentions.
Allons! the road is before us! It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have  
 tried it well.
Allons! be not detained! Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and  
 the book on the shelf unopened!
Let the tools remain in the work-shop! let the  
 money remain unearned!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the  
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the  
 lawyer plead in the court, and the judge  
 expound the law!
Mon enfant! I give you my hand! I give you my love, more precious than money, I give you myself, before preaching or law; Will you give me yourself? Will you come  
 travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
  [ begin page 240 ]ppp.00237.248.jpg

13 — Poem of Procreation.

A WOMAN waits for me—she contains all,  
 nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if  
 the moisture of the right man were lacking.
Sex contains all, Bodies, souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delica- 
 cies, results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal  
 mystery, the semitic milk,
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals, All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the  
All the governments, judges, gods, followed per- 
 sons of the earth,
These are contained in sex, as parts of itself  
 and justifications of itself.
Without shame the man I like knows and avows  
 the deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and  
 avows hers.
  [ begin page 241 ]ppp.00237.249.jpg O I will fetch bully breeds of children yet! They cannot be fetched, I say, on less terms than  
Electric growth from the male, and rich ripe fibre  
 from the female, are the terms.
I will dismiss myself from impassive women, I will go stay with her who waits for me, and  
 with those women that are warm-blooded and  
 sufficient for me,
I see that they understand me, and do not deny  
I see that they are worthy of me—so I will be  
 the robust husband of those women!
They are not one jot less than I am, They are tanned in the face by shining suns and  
 blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and  
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle,  
 shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, resist,  
 defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right—they are  
 calm, clear, well-possessed of themselves.
I draw you close to me, you women! I cannot let you go, I would do you good, I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our  
 own sake, but for others' sakes,
11   [ begin page 242 ]ppp.00237.250.jpg Enveloped in you sleep greater heroes and bards, They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but  
It is I, you women—I make my way, I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable—but I  
 love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for  
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for  
 These States—I press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually—I listen to no en- 
I dare not withdraw till I deposite what has so  
 long accumulated within me.
Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself, In you I wrap a thousand onward years, On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of  
 me and of America,
The drops I distil upon you are drops of fierce  
 and athletic girls, and of new artists, musi- 
 cians, singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in  
 their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my  
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others,  
 as I and you interpenetrate now,
  [ begin page 243 ]ppp.00237.251.jpg I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers  
 of them, as I count on the fruits of the gush- 
 ing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life,  
 death, immortality I plant so lovingly now.
  [ begin page 244 ]ppp.00237.252.jpg

14 — Poem of The Poet.

A YOUNG man came to me with a message  
 from his brother,
How should the young man know the whether and  
 when of his brother?
Tell him to send me the signs.
And I stood before the young man face to face,  
 and took his right hand in my left hand, and  
 his left hand in my right hand,
And I answered for his brother, and for men, and  
 I answered for the poet, and sent these signs.
Him all wait for, him all yield up to, his word is  
 decisive and final,
Him they accept, in him lave, in him perceive  
 themselves, as amid light,
Him they immerse, and he immerses them.
Beautiful women, the haughtiest nations, laws, the  
 landscape, people, animals,
The profound earth and its attributes, and the un- 
 quiet ocean,
  [ begin page 245 ]ppp.00237.253.jpg All enjoyments and properties, and money, and  
 whatever money will buy,
The best farms, others toiling and planting, and  
 he unavoidably reaps,
The noblest and costliest cities, others grading  
 and building, and he domiciles there,
Nothing for any one, but what is for him—near  
 and far are for him,
The ships in the offing, the perpetual shows and  
 marches on land, are for him, if they are for  
 any body.
He puts things in their attitudes, He puts today out of himself, with plasticity and  
He places his own city, times, reminiscences,  
 parents, brothers and sisters, associations,  
 employment, politics, so that the rest never  
 shame them afterward, nor assume to com- 
 mand them.
He is the answerer, What can be answered he answers, and what  
 cannot be answered, he shows how it cannot  
 be answered.
A man is a summons and challenge; It is vain to skulk—Do you hear that mocking  
 and laughter? Do you hear the ironical  
  [ begin page 246 ]ppp.00237.254.jpg Books, friendships, philosophers, priests, action,  
 pleasure, pride, beat up and down, seeking to  
 give satisfaction,
He indicates the satisfaction, and indicates them  
 that beat up and down also.
Whichever the sex, whatever the season or place,  
 he may go freshly and gently and safely, by  
 day or by night,
He has the pass-key of hearts—to him the  
 response of the prying of hands on the  
His welcome is universal—the flow of beauty is  
 not more welcome or universal than he is,
The person he favors by day or sleeps with at  
 night is blessed.
Every existence has its idiom, every thing has an  
 idiom and tongue,
He resolves all tongues into his own, and bestows  
 it upon men, and any man translates, and any  
 man translates himself also,
One part does not counteract another part—he is  
 the joiner, he sees how they join.
He says indifferently and alike, How are you,  
 friend? to the President at his levee,
And he says, Good-day, my brother! to Cudge that  
 hoes in the sugar-field,
  [ begin page 247 ]ppp.00237.255.jpg And both understand him, and know that his  
 speech is right.
He walks with perfect ease in the capitol, He walks among the Congress, and one represen- 
 tative says to another, Here is our equal  
 appearing and new.
Then the mechanics take him for a mechanic, And the soldiers suppose him to be a captain, and  
 the sailors that he has followed the sea,
And the authors take him for an author, and the  
 artists for an artist,
And the laborers perceive he could labor with  
 them and love them.
No matter what the work is, that he is the one to  
 follow it, or has followed it,
No matter what the nation, that he might find his  
 brothers and sisters there.
The English believe he comes of their English  
A Jew to the Jew he seems—a Russ to the Russ  
 —usual and near, removed from none.
Whoever he looks at in the traveler's coffee- 
 house claims him,
The Italian or Frenchman is sure, and the  
 German is sure, and the Spaniard is sure,  
 and the island Cuban is sure.
  [ begin page 248 ]ppp.00237.256.jpg The engineer, the deck-hand on the great lakes,  
 or on the Mississippi, or St. Lawrence, or  
 Sacramento, or Hudson, or Delaware, claims  
The gentleman of perfect blood acknowledges his  
 perfect blood,
The insulter, the prostitute, the angry person, the  
 beggar, see themselves in the ways of him —  
 he strangely transmutes them,
They are not vile any more—they hardly know  
 themselves, they are so grown.
Do you think it would be good to be the writer  
 of melodious verses?
Well, it would be good to be the writer of  
 melodious verses;
But what are verses beyond the flowing char- 
 acter you could have? or beyond beautiful  
 manners and behaviour?
Or beyond one manly or affectionate deed of an  
 apprentice-boy? or old woman? or man that  
 has been in prison, or is likely to be in  
  [ begin page 249 ]ppp.00237.257.jpg

15 — Clef Poem.

THIS night I am happy, As I watch the stars shining, I think a  
 thought of the clef of the universes, and  
 of the future.
What can the future bring me more than I have? Do you suppose I wish to enjoy life in other  
I say distinctly I comprehend no better sphere  
 than this earth,
I comprehend no better life than the life of my  
I do not know what follows the death of my body, But I know well that whatever it is, it is best for  
And I know well that what is really Me shall live  
 just as much as before.
I am not uneasy but I shall have good housing to  
11*   [ begin page 250 ]ppp.00237.258.jpg But this is my first—how can I like the rest any  
Here I grew up—the studs and rafters are grown  
 parts of me.
I am not uneasy but I am to be beloved by young  
 and old men, and to love them the same,
I suppose the pink nipples of the breasts of women  
 with whom I shall sleep will taste the same  
 to my lips,
But this is the nipple of a breast of my mother,  
 always near and always divine to me, her  
 true child and son.
I suppose I am to be eligible to visit the stars, in  
 my time,
I suppose I shall have myriads of new experiences  
 —and that the experience of this earth will  
 prove only one out of myriads;
But I believe my body and my soul already  
 indicate those experiences,
And I believe I shall find nothing in the stars  
 more majestic and beautiful than I have  
 already found on the earth,
And I believe I have this night a clue through  
 the universes,
And I believe I have this night thought a thought  
 of the clef of eternity.
A vast similitude interlocks all,   [ begin page 251 ]ppp.00237.259.jpg All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns,  
 moons, planets, comets, asteroids,
All the substances of the same, and all that is  
 spiritual upon the same,
All distances of place, however wide, All distances of time—all inanimate forms, All souls—all living bodies, though they be in  
 different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes,  
 the fishes, the brutes,
All men and women—me also, All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, lan- 
All identities that have existed or may exist on  
 this globe or any globe,
All lives and deaths—all of past, present, future, This vast similitude spans them, and always has  
 spanned, and shall forever span them.
  [ begin page 252 ]ppp.00237.260.jpg

16 — Poem of The Dead Young Men of Europe, The 72d and 73d Years of These States

SUDDENLY out of its stale and drowsy lair,  
 the lair of slaves,
Like lightning Europe le'pt forth, half startled at  
Its feet upon the ashes and the rags, its hands  
 tight to the throats of kings.
O hope and faith! O aching close of lives! O  
 many a sickened heart!
Turn back unto this day, and make yourselves  
And you, paid to defile the People! you liars,  
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts, For court thieving in its manifold mean forms,  
 worming from his simplicity the poor man's  
For many a promise sworn by royal lips, and  
 broken, and laughed at in the breaking,
  [ begin page 253 ]ppp.00237.261.jpg Then in their power, not for all these did the  
 blows strike of personal revenge, or the heads  
 of the nobles fall,
The People scorned the ferocity of kings.
But the sweetness of mercy brewed bitter destruc- 
 tion, and the frightened rulers come back,
Each comes in state with his train, hangman,  
 priest, tax-gatherer, soldier, lawyer, jailer,  
Behind all, lo, a Shape, Vague as the night, draped interminably, head  
 front and form, in scarlet folds,
Whose face and eyes none may see, Out of its robes only this—the red robes, lifted  
 by the arm,
One finger, pointed high over the top, like the  
 head of a snake appears.
Meanwhile, corpses lie in new-made graves —  
 bloody corpses of young men;
The rope of the gibbet hangs heavily, the bullets  
 of princes are flying, the creatures of power  
 laugh aloud,
And all these things bear fruits, and they are  
Those corpses of young men,   [ begin page 254 ]ppp.00237.262.jpg Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets, those  
 hearts pierced by the gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere  
 with unslaughter'd vitality.
They live in other young men, O kings! They live in brothers, again ready to defy you! They were purified by death—they were taught  
 and exalted.
Not a grave of the murdered for freedom, but  
 grows seed for freedom, in its turn to bear  
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the  
 rains and the snows nourish.
Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of  
 tyrants let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering,  
 counseling, cautioning.
Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair  
 of you.
Is the house shut? Is the master away? Nevertheless be ready—be not weary of watching, He will soon return—his messengers come anon.
  [ begin page 255 ]ppp.00237.263.jpg

17 — Poem of The Heart of The Son of Manhattan Island.

WHO has gone farthest? For I swear I will go  
And who has been just? For I would be the  
 most just person of the earth;
And who most cautious? For I would be more  
And who has been happiest? O I think it is I!  
 I think no one was ever happier than I;
And who has lavished all? For I lavish con- 
 stantly the best I have;
And who has been firmest? For I would be  
And who proudest? For I think I have reason to  
 be the proudest son alive—for I am the son  
 of the brawny and tall-topt city;
And who has been bold and true? For I would  
 be the boldest and truest being of the uni- 
And who benevolent? For I would show more  
 benevolence than all the rest;
  [ begin page 256 ]ppp.00237.264.jpg And who has projected beautiful words through  
 the longest time? By God! I will outvie  
 him! I will say such words, they shall  
 stretch through longer time!
And who has received the love of the most  
 friends? For I know what it is to receive  
 the passionate love of many friends;
And to whom has been given the sweetest from  
 women, and paid them in kind? For I will  
 take the like sweets, and pay them in kind;
And who possesses a perfect and enamored body?  
 For I do not believe any one possesses a  
 more perfect or enamored body than mine;
And who thinks the amplest thoughts? For I  
 will surround those thoughts;
And who has made hymns fit for the earth? For  
 I am mad with devouring ecstasy to make  
 joyous hymns for the whole earth!
  [ begin page 257 ]ppp.00237.265.jpg

18 — Poem of The Last Explanation of Prudence.

ALL day I have walked the city and talked with  
 my friends, and thought of prudence,
Of time, space, reality—of such as these, and  
 abreast with them, prudence.
After all, the last explanation remains to be made  
 about prudence,
Little and large alike drop quietly aside from the  
 prudence that suits immortality.
The soul is of itself, All verges to it, all has reference to what ensues, All that a person does, says, thinks, is of conse- 
Not a move can a man or woman make, that  
 affects him or her in a day, month, any part  
 of the direct life-time, or the hour of death,  
 but the same affects him or her onward after- 
 ward through the indirect life-time.
The indirect is more than the direct,   [ begin page 258 ]ppp.00237.266.jpg The spirit receives from the body just as much as  
 it gives to the body, if not more.
Not one word or deed—not venereal sore, dis- 
 coloration, privacy of the onanist, putridity of  
 gluttons or rum-drinkers, peculation, cunning,  
 betrayal, murder, seduction, prostitution, but  
 has results beyond death, as really as before  
Charity and personal force are the only invest- 
 ments worth anything.
No specification is necessary—all that a male  
 or female does, that is vigorous, benevolent,  
 clean, is so much profit to him or her in the  
 unshakable order of the universe, and through  
 the whole scope of it forever.
Who has been wise, receives interest, Savage, felon, President, judge, prostitute, farmer,  
 sailor, mechanic, young, old, it is the same,
The interest will come round—all will come  
Singly, wholly, to affect now, affected their time,  
 will forever affect, all of the past, and all of  
 the present, and all of the future,
All the brave actions of war and peace,   [ begin page 259 ]ppp.00237.267.jpg All help given to relatives, strangers, the poor, old,  
 sorrowful, young children, widows, the sick,  
 and to shunned persons,
All furtherance of fugitives, and of the escape of  
All self-denial that stood steady and aloof on  
 wrecks, and saw others fill the seats of the  
All offering of substance or life for the good old  
 cause, or for a friend's sake, or opinion's sake,
All pains of enthusiasts, scoffed at by their neigh- 
All the limitless sweet love and precious suffering  
 of mothers,
All honest men baffled in strifes recorded or unre- 
All the grandeur and good of ancient nations  
 whose fragments we inherit,
All the good of the hundreds of ancient nations  
 unknown to us by name, date, location,
All that was ever manfully begun, whether it suc- 
 ceeded or no,
All suggestions of the divine mind of man, or the  
 divinity of his mouth, or the shaping of his  
 great hands;
All that is well thought or said this day on any  
 part of the globe—or on any of the wander- 
 ing stars, or on any of the fixed stars, by  
 those there as we are here,
  [ begin page 260 ]ppp.00237.268.jpg All that is henceforth to be thought or done by  
 you, whoever you are, or by any one,
These inure, have inured, shall inure, to the  
 identities from which they sprang, or shall  
Did you guess anything lived only its moment? The world does not so exist—no parts palpable  
 or impalpable so exist,
No consummation exists without being from some  
 long previous consummation, and that from  
 some other, without the farthest conceivable  
 one coming a bit nearer the beginning than  
Whatever satisfies souls is true, Prudence satisfies the craving and glut of souls. Itself finally satisfies the soul, The soul has that measureless pride which re- 
 volts from every lesson but its own.
Now I give you an inkling, Now I breathe the word of the prudence that  
 walks abreast with time, space, reality,
That answers the pride which refuses every les- 
 son but its own.
What is prudence, is indivisible,   [ begin page 261 ]ppp.00237.269.jpg Declines to separate one part of life from every  
Divides not the righteous from the unrighteous,  
 or the living from the dead,
Matches every thought or act by its correlative, Knows no possible forgiveness or deputed atone- 
Knows that the young man who composedly  
 periled his life and lost it, has done exceeding  
 well for himself, without doubt,
That he who never periled his life, but retains it  
 to old age in riches and ease, has probably  
 achieved nothing for himself worth men- 
Knows that only the person has learned, who has  
 learned to prefer results,
Who favors body and soul the same, Who perceives the indirect assuredly following  
 the direct,
Who in his spirit in any emergency whatever  
 neither hurries or avoids death.
  [ begin page 262 ]ppp.00237.270.jpg

19 — Poem of The Singers, and of The Words of Poems.

PERFECT sanity shows the master among  
Time, always without flaw, indicates itself in  
What always indicates the poet, is the crowd of  
 the pleasant company of singers, and their  
The words of the singers are the hours or min- 
 utes of the light or dark—but the words of  
 the maker of poems are the complete light  
 and dark,
The maker of poems settles justice, reality, im- 
His insight and power encircle things and the  
 human race,
He is the glory and extract, thus far, of things  
 and of the human race.
The singers do not beget—only the poet be- 
  [ begin page 263 ]ppp.00237.271.jpg The singers are welcomed, understood, appear  
 often enough—but rare has the day been,  
 likewise the spot, of the birth of the maker  
 of poems,
Not every century, or every five centuries, has  
 contained such a day, for all its names.
The singers of successive hours of centuries may  
 have ostensible names, but the name of each  
 of them is one of the singers,
The name of each is, a heart-singer, eye-singer,  
 hymn-singer, law-singer, ear-singer, head- 
 singer, sweet-singer, wise-singer, droll- 
 singer, thrift-singer, sea-singer, wit-singer,  
 echo-singer, parlor-singer, love-singer, pas- 
 sion-singer, mystic-singer, weeping-singer,  
 fable-singer, item-singer, or something else.
All this time, and at all times, wait the words of  
The greatness of sons is the exuding of the great- 
 ness of mothers and fathers,
The words of poems are the tuft and final applause  
 of science.
Divine instinct, breadth of vision, the law of  
 reason, health, rudeness of body, withdrawn- 
 ness, gaiety, sun-tan, air-sweetness—such  
 are the words of poems.
  [ begin page 264 ]ppp.00237.272.jpg The sailor and traveler underlie the maker of poems, The builder, geometer, mathematician, astronomer,  
 melodist, philosoph, chemist, anatomist,  
 spiritualist, language-searcher, geologist,  
 phrenologist, artist—all these underlie the  
 maker of poems.
The words of poems give you more than poems, They give you to form for yourself poems,  
 religions, politics, war, peace, behaviour,  
 histories, essays, romances, and every thing  
They balance ranks, colors, races, creeds, and the  
They do not seek beauty, they are sought —  
 forever touching them, or close upon them,  
 follows beauty, longing, fain, love-sick;
They are not the finish, but rather the outset, They bring none to his or her terminus, or to be  
 content and full,
Whom they take, they take into space, to behold  
 the birth of stars, to learn one of the  
To launch off with absolute faith—to sweep  
 through the ceaseless rings, and never be  
 quiet again.
  [ begin page 265 ]ppp.00237.273.jpg

20 — Faith Poem.

I NEED no assurances—I am a man who is  
 pre-occupied of his own soul;
I do not doubt that whatever I know at a given  
 time, there waits for me more which I do not  
I do not doubt that from under the feet, and beside  
 the hands and face I am cognizant of, are  
 now looking faces I am not cognizant of —  
 calm and actual faces;
I do not doubt but the majesty and beauty of the  
 world is latent in any iota of the world;
I do not doubt there are realizations I have  
 no idea of, waiting for me through time  
 and through the universes—also upon this  
I do not doubt I am limitless, and that the uni- 
 verses are limitless—in vain I try to think  
 how limitless;
I do not doubt that the orbs, and the systems of  
 orbs, play their swift sports through the air 12   [ begin page 266 ]ppp.00237.274.jpg on purpose—and that I shall one day be  
 eligible to do as much as they, and more than  
I do not doubt there is far more in trivialities,  
 insects, vulgar persons, slaves, dwarfs, weeds,  
 rejected refuse, than I have supposed;
I do not doubt there is more in myself than I have  
 supposed—and more in all men and women  
 —and more in my poems than I have  
I do not doubt that temporary affairs keep on and  
 on, millions of years;
I do not doubt interiors have their interiors, and  
 exteriors have their exteriors—and that the  
 eye-sight has another eye-sight, and the hear- 
 ing another hearing, and the voice another  
I do not doubt that the passionately-wept deaths  
 of young men are provided for—and that the  
 deaths of young women, and the deaths of  
 little children, are provided for;
I do not doubt that wrecks at sea, no matter  
 what the horrors of them—no matter whose  
 wife, child, husband, father, lover, has gone  
 down—are provided for, to the minutest  
I do not doubt that shallowness, meanness, malig- 
 nance, are provided for;
  [ begin page 267 ]ppp.00237.275.jpg I do not doubt that cities, you, America, the  
 remainder of the earth, politics, freedom,  
 degradations, are carefully provided for;
I do not doubt that whatever can possibly happen,  
 any where, at any time, is provided for, in  
 the inherences of things.
  [ begin page 268 ]ppp.00237.276.jpg

21 — Liberty Poem for Asia, Africa, Europe, America, Australia, Cuba, and The Archipelagoes of the Sea.

COURAGE! my brother or my sister! Keep on! Liberty is to be subserved, what- 
 ever occurs;
That is nothing, that is quelled by one or two fail- 
 ures, or any number of failures,
Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the  
Or the show of the tushes of power—soldiers,  
 cannon, penal statutes.
What we believe in waits latent forever through  
 Asia, Africa, Europe, America, Australia,  
 Cuba, and all the islands and archipelagoes  
 of the sea;
What we believe in invites no one, promises  
 nothing, sits in calmness and light, is positive  
 and composed, knows no discouragement,
Waits patiently its time—a year—a century —  
 a hundred centuries.
  [ begin page 269 ]ppp.00237.277.jpg The battle rages with many a loud alarm and  
 frequent advance and retreat,
The infidel triumphs—or supposes he triumphs, The prison, scaffold, garrote, hand-cuffs, iron neck- 
 lace and anklet, lead-balls, do their work,
The named and unnamed heroes pass to other  
The great speakers and writers are exiled—they  
 lie sick in distant lands,
The cause is asleep—the strong throats are  
 choked with their own blood,
The young men drop their eye-lashes toward the  
 ground when they meet,
But for all this, liberty has not gone out of the  
 place, nor the infidel entered into pos- 
When liberty goes out of a place, it is not the  
 first to go, nor the second or third to go,
It waits for all the rest to go—it is the last.
When there are no more memories of the lovers  
 of the whole of the nations of the world,
The lovers' names scouted in the public gatherings  
 by the lips of the orators,
Boys not christened after them, but christened  
 after traitors and murderers instead,
Laws for slaves sweet to the taste of people —  
 the slave-hunt acknowledged,
  [ begin page 270 ]ppp.00237.278.jpg You or I walking abroad upon the earth, elated  
 at the sight of slaves, no matter who they  
And when all life and all the souls of men and  
 women are discharged from any part of the  
Then shall the instinct of liberty be discharged  
 from that part of the earth,
Then shall the infidel and the tyrant come into  
  [ begin page 271 ]ppp.00237.279.jpg

22 — Poem of Apparitions in Boston, The 78th Year of These States.

CLEAR the way there, Jonathan! Way for the President's marshal! Way for  
 the government cannon!
Way for the federal foot and dragoons—and the  
 apparitions copiously tumbling.
I rose this morning early to get betimes in Boston  
Here's a good place at the corner, I must stand  
 and see the show.
I love to look on the stars and stripes, I hope the  
 fifes will play Yankee Doodle.
How bright shine the cutlasses of the foremost  
Every man holds his revolver, marching stiff  
 through Boston town.
A fog follows, antiques of the same come  
  [ begin page 272 ]ppp.00237.280.jpg Some appear wooden-legged and some appear  
 bandaged and bloodless.
Why this is a show! It has called the dead out  
 of the earth!
The old grave-yards of the hills have hurried to  
Uncountable phantoms gather by flank and rear  
 of it!
Cocked hats of mothy mould! crutches made of  
Arms in slings! old men leaning on young men's  
What troubles you, Yankee phantoms? What is  
 all this chattering of bare gums?
Does the ague convulse your limbs? Do you  
 mistake your crutches for fire-locks, and  
 level them?
If you blind your eyes with tears you will not see  
 the President's marshal,
If you groan such groans you might balk the  
 government cannon.
For shame, old maniacs! Bring down those  
 tossed arms and let your white hair be,
Here gape your smart grand-sons—their wives  
 gaze at them from the windows,
  [ begin page 273 ]ppp.00237.281.jpg See how well-dressed—see how orderly they  
 conduct themselves.
Worse and worse! Can't you stand it? Are you  
Is this hour with the living too dead for you?
Retreat then! Pell-mell! Back to the hills, old  
I do not think you belong here, anyhow.
But there is one thing that belongs here—shall I  
 tell you what it is, gentlemen of Boston?
I will whisper it to the Mayor—he shall send a  
 committee to England,
They shall get a grant from the Parliament, go  
 with a cart to the royal vault,
Dig out King George's coffin—unwrap him quick  
 from the grave-clothes—box up his bones for  
 a journey,
Find a swift Yankee clipper—here is freight for  
 you, black-bellied clipper!
Up with your anchor! shake out your sails! steer  
 straight toward Boston bay.
Now call the President's marshal again, bring  
 out the government cannon,
12*   [ begin page 274 ]ppp.00237.282.jpg Fetch home the roarers from Congress, make  
 another procession, guard it with foot and  
This centre-piece for them: Look! all orderly citizens—look from the win- 
 dows, women!
The committee open the box, set up the regal  
 ribs, glue those that will not stay,
Clap the skull on top of the ribs, and clap a  
 crown on top of the skull.
You have got your revenge, old buster! The  
 crown is come to its own, and more than its  
Stick your hands in your pockets Jonathan—you  
 are a made man from this day,
You are mighty cute, and here is one of your  
  [ begin page 275 ]ppp.00237.283.jpg

23 — Poem of Remembrances for A Girl or A Boy of These States.

REMEMBER the organic compact of These  
Remember the pledge of the Old Thirteen thence- 
 forward to the rights, life, liberty, equality, of  
Remember what was promulged by the founders,  
 ratified by The States, signed in black and  
 white by the Commissioners, read by Wash- 
 ington at the head of the army!
Remember the purposes of the founders!—Re- 
 member Washington!
Remember the copious humanity streaming from  
 every direction toward America!
Remember the hospitality that belongs to nations  
 and men!—(Cursed be nation, woman, man,  
 without hospitality!)
Remember, government is to subserve individuals! Not any, not the President, is to have one jot more  
 than you or me,
Not any habitan of America is to have one jot less  
 than you or me.
  [ begin page 276 ]ppp.00237.284.jpg Anticipate when the thirty or fifty millions are to  
 become the hundred, or two hundred, or five  
 hundred millions, of equal freemen and free- 
 women, amicably joined.
Recall ages—One age is but a part—ages are  
 but a part,
Recall the angers, bickerings, delusions, supersti- 
 tions of the idea of caste,
Recall the bloody cruelties and crimes.
Anticipate the best women! I say an unnumbered new race of hardy and well- 
 defined women are to spread through all  
 These States,
I say a girl fit for These States must be free,  
 capable, dauntless, just the same as a boy.
Anticipate your own life—retract with merciless  
Shirk nothing—retract in time—Do you see those  
 errors, diseases, weaknesses, lies, thefts?
Do you see that lost character?—Do you see  
 decay, consumption, rum-drinking, dropsy,  
 fever, mortal cancer or inflammation?
Do you see death, and the approach of death?
Think of the soul! I swear to you that body of yours gives proportions  
 to your soul somehow to live in other spheres,
  [ begin page 277 ]ppp.00237.285.jpg I do not know how, but I know it is so. Think of loving and being loved! I swear to you, whoever you are, you can interfuse  
 yourself with such things that everybody that  
 sees you shall look longingly upon you!
Think of the past! I warn you that in a little while others will find  
 their past in you and your times.
The race is never separated—nor man nor woman  
All is inextricable—things, spirits, nature, nations,  
 you too—from precedents you come.
Recall the ever-welcome defiers! (The mothers  
 precede them;)
Recall the sages, poets, saviours, inventors, law- 
 givers, of the earth,
Recall Christ, brother of rejected persons —  
 brother of slaves, felons, idiots, and of insane  
 and diseased persons.
Think of the time when you was not yet born! Think of times you stood at the side of the dying! Think of the time when your own body will be  
Think of spiritual results!   [ begin page 278 ]ppp.00237.286.jpg Sure as the earth swims through the heavens,  
 does every one of its objects pass into  
 spiritual results!
Think of manhood, and you to be a man! Do you count manhood, and the sweet of manhood,  
Think of womanhood, and you to be a woman! The creation is womanhood, Have I not said that womanhood involves all? Have I not told how the universe has nothing  
 better than the best womanhood?
  [ begin page 279 ]ppp.00237.287.jpg

24 — Poem of Perfect Miracles.

REALISM is mine, my miracles, Take all of the rest—take freely—I keep  
 but my own—I give only of them,
I offer them without end—I offer them to you  
 wherever your feet can carry you, or your  
 eyes reach.
Why! who makes much of a miracle? As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward  
 the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in  
 the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods, Or talk by day with any one I love—or sleep in  
 the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at the table at dinner with my mother, Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car, Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of an  
 August forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,   [ begin page 280 ]ppp.00237.288.jpg Or birds—or the wonderfulness of insects in the  
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down—or of  
 stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new- 
 moon in May,
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that  
 like me best—mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savans—or to the soiree—or to  
 the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements  
 of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports, Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or  
 the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to  
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass, These, with the rest, one and all, are to me  
The whole referring—yet each distinct and in its  
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a  
Every inch of space is a miracle, Every square yard of the surface of the earth is  
 spread with the same,
  [ begin page 281 ]ppp.00237.289.jpg Every cubic foot of the interior swarms with the  
Every spear of grass—the frames, limbs, organs,  
 of men and women, and all that concerns  
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
To me the sea is a continual miracle, The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion  
 of the waves—the ships, with men in them  
 —what stranger miracles are there?
  [ begin page 282 ]ppp.00237.290.jpg

25 — Poem of The Child That Went Forth, and Always Goes Forth, Forever and Forever

THERE was a child went forth every day, And the first object he looked upon and re- 
 ceived with wonder, pity, love, or dread,  
 that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day,  
 or a certain part of the day, or for many  
 years, or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child, And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and  
 white and red clover, and the song of the  
And the March-born lambs, and the sow's pink- 
 faint litter, and the mare's foal, and the cow's  
 calf, and the noisy brood of the barn-yard or  
 by the mire of the pond-side, and the fish  
 suspending themselves so curiously below  
 there, and the beautiful curious liquid, and the  
 water-plants with their graceful flat heads —  
 all became part of him.
  [ begin page 283 ]ppp.00237.291.jpg The field-sprouts of April and May became part  
 of him—winter-grain sprouts, and those of  
 the light-yellow corn, and of the esculent  
 roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees covered with blossoms, and  
 the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the  
 commonest weeds by the road,
And the old drunkard staggering home from the  
 out-house of the tavern whence he had lately  
And the school-mistress that passed on her way to  
 the school, and the friendly boys that passed,  
 and the quarrelsome boys, and the tidy and  
 fresh-cheeked girls, and the bare-foot negro  
 boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country, wherever  
 he went.
His own parents—he that had propelled the  
 father-stuff at night and fathered him, and  
 she that conceived him in her womb and  
 birthed him—they gave this child more of  
 themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day—they and  
 of them became part of him.
The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on  
 the supper-table,
  [ begin page 284 ]ppp.00237.292.jpg The mother with mild words, clean her cap and  
 gown, a wholesome odor falling off her per- 
 son and clothes as she walks by,
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean,  
 angered, unjust,
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain,  
 the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the  
 furniture—the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsayed—the sense  
 of what is real—the thought if, after all, it  
 should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night- 
 time, the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all  
 flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets—if  
 they are not flashes and specks what are  
The streets themselves, and the facades of houses,  
 the goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the tiered wharves, the huge  
 crossing at the ferries,
The village on the highland seen from afar at sun- 
 set, the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, light falling on roofs  
 and gables of white or brown, three miles off,
The schooner near-by sleepily dropping down the  
 tide, the little boat slack-towed astern,
  [ begin page 285 ]ppp.00237.293.jpg The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests,  
The strata of colored clouds, the long bar of ma- 
 roon-tint away solitary by itself, the spread  
 of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fra- 
 grance of salt-marsh and shore-mud;
These became part of that child who went forth  
 every day, who now goes, and will always  
 go forth every day,
And these become of him or her that peruses  
 them now.
  [ begin page 286 ]ppp.00237.294.jpg

26 — Night Poem.

I WANDER all night in my vision, Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noise- 
 lessly stepping and stopping,
Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of  
Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill- 
 assorted, contradictory,
Pausing, gazing, bending, stopping.
How solemn they look there, stretched and still! How quiet they breathe, the little children in their  
The wretched features of ennuyees, the white  
 features of corpses, the livid faces of drunk- 
 ards, the sick-gray faces of onanists,
The gashed bodies on battle-fields, the insane in  
 their strong-doored rooms, the sacred idiots,
The new-born emerging from gates, and the dying  
 emerging from gates,
The night pervades them and enfolds them.
  [ begin page 287 ]ppp.00237.295.jpg The married couple sleep calmly in their bed —  
 he with his palm on the hip of the wife, and  
 she with her palm on the hip of the husband,
The sisters sleep lovingly side by side in their  
The men sleep lovingly side by side in theirs, And the mother sleeps with her little child care- 
 fully wrapped.
The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep, The prisoner sleeps well in the prison, the run- 
 away son sleeps,
The murderer that is to be hung next day—how  
 does he sleep?
And the murdered person—how does he sleep?
The female that loves unrequited sleeps, And the male that loves unrequited sleeps; The head of the money-maker that plotted all day  
And the enraged and treacherous dispositions  
I stand with drooping eyes by the worst-suffering  
 and restless,
I pass my hands soothingly to and fro a few  
 inches from them,
The restless sink in their beds—they fitfully  
  [ begin page 288 ]ppp.00237.296.jpg The earth recedes from me into the night, I saw that it was beautiful, and I see that what is  
 not the earth is beautiful.
I go from bedside to bedside, I sleep close with  
 the other sleepers, each in turn,
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other  
And I become the other dreamers.
I am a dance—Play up, there! the fit is whirling  
 me fast!
I am the ever-laughing—it is new moon and  
I see the hiding of douceurs, I see nimble ghosts  
 whichever way I look,
Cache, and cache again, deep in the ground  
 and sea, and where it is neither ground  
 or sea.
Well do they do their jobs, those journeymen  
Only from me can they hide nothing, and would  
 not if they could,
I reckon I am their boss, and they make me a pet  
And surround me and lead me, and run ahead  
 when I walk,
  [ begin page 289 ]ppp.00237.297.jpg To lift their cunning covers, to signify me with  
 stretched arms, and resume the way;
Onward we move! a gay gang of blackguards!  
 with mirth-shouting music and wild-flapping  
 pennants of joy!
I am the actor, the actress, the voter, the poli- 
The emigrant and the exile, the criminal that  
 stood in the box,
He who has been famous, and he who shall be  
 famous after today,
The stammerer, the well-formed person, the  
 wasted or feeble person.
I am she who adorned herself and folded her hair  
My truant lover has come, and it is dark.
Double yourself and receive me, darkness! Receive me and my lover too—he will not let me  
 go without him.
I roll myself upon you, as upon a bed—I resign  
 myself to the dusk.
He whom I call answers me and takes the place  
 of my lover,
He rises with me silently from the bed.
Darkness, you are gentler than my lover! his flesh  
 was sweaty and panting,
13   [ begin page 290 ]ppp.00237.298.jpg I feel the hot moisture yet that he left me. My hands are spread forth, I pass them in all  
I would sound up the shadowy shore to which you  
 are journeying.
Be careful, darkness! already, what was it touched  
I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he  
 are one,
I hear the heart-beat, I follow, I fade away.
O hot-cheeked and blushing! O foolish hectic! O for pity's sake, no one must see me now! my  
 clothes were stolen while I was abed,
Now I am thrust forth, where shall I run?
Pier that I saw dimly last night, when I looked  
 from the windows!
Pier out from the main, let me catch myself with  
 you and stay! I will not chafe you,
I feel ashamed to go naked about the world.
I am curious to know where my feet stand—and  
 what this is flooding me, childhood or man- 
 hood—and the hunger that crosses the bridge  
  [ begin page 291 ]ppp.00237.299.jpg The cloth laps a first sweet eating and drinking, Laps life-swelling yolks—laps ear of rose-corn,  
 milky and just ripened;
The white teeth stay, and the boss-tooth advances  
 in darkness,
And liquor is spilled on lips and bosoms by touch- 
 ing glasses, and the best liquor afterward.
I descend my western course, my sinews are  
Perfume and youth course through me, and I am  
 their wake.
It is my face yellow and wrinkled, instead of the  
 old woman's,
I sit low in a straw-bottom chair, and carefully darn  
 my grand-son's stockings.
It is I too, the sleepless widow looking out on the  
 winter midnight,
I see the sparkles of starshine on the icy and pallid  
A shroud I see, and I am the shroud—I wrap a  
 body and lie in the coffin,
It is dark here underground, it is not evil or pain  
 here, it is blank here, for reasons.
It seems to me that everything in the light and air  
 ought to be happy,
  [ begin page 292 ]ppp.00237.300.jpg Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave,  
 let him know he has enough.
I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer swimming  
 naked through the eddies of the sea,
His brown hair lies close and even to his head, he  
 strikes out with courageous arms, he urges  
 himself with his legs,
I see his white body, I see his undaunted eyes, I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash  
 him head-foremost on the rocks.
What are you doing, you ruffianly red-trickled  
Will you kill the courageous giant? Will you kill  
 him in the prime of his middle age?
Steady and long he struggles, He is baffled, banged, bruised—he holds out while  
 his strength holds out,
The slapping eddies are spotted with his blood —  
 they bear him away, they roll him, swing  
 him, turn him,
His beautiful body is borne in the circling eddies,  
 it is continually bruised on rocks,
Swiftly and out of sight is borne the brave corpse.
I turn, but do not extricate myself, Confused, a past-reading, another, but with dark- 
 ness yet.
  [ begin page 293 ]ppp.00237.301.jpg The beach is cut by the razory ice-wind, the  
 wreck-guns sound,
The tempest lulls—the moon comes floundering  
 through the drifts.
I look where the ship helplessly heads end on—I  
 hear the burst as she strikes—I hear the howls  
 of dismay—they grow fainter and fainter.
I cannot aid with my wringing fingers, I can but rush to the surf, and let it drench me  
 and freeze upon me.
I search with the crowd—not one of the company  
 is washed to us alive;
In the morning I help pick up the dead and lay  
 them in rows in a barn.
Now of the old war-days, the defeat at Brooklyn, Washington stands inside the lines, he stands on  
 the entrenched hills amid a crowd of officers,
His face is cold and damp, he cannot repress the  
 weeping drops, he lifts the glass perpetually  
 to his eyes, the color is blanched from his  
He sees the slaughter of the southern braves con- 
 fided to him by their parents.
The same, at last and at last, when peace is  
  [ begin page 294 ]ppp.00237.302.jpg He stands in the room of the old tavern—the  
 well-beloved soldiers all pass through,
The officers speechless and slow draw near in  
 their turns,
The chief encircles their necks with his arm, and  
 kisses them on the cheek,
He kisses lightly the wet cheeks one after another  
 —he shakes hands, and bids good-bye to the  
Now I tell what my mother told me today as we  
 sat at dinner together,
Of when she was a nearly grown girl living home  
 with her parents on the old homestead.
A red squaw came one breakfast-time to the old  
On her back she carried a bundle of rushes for  
 rush-bottoming chairs,
Her hair, straight, shiny, coarse, black, profuse,  
 half-enveloped her face,
Her step was free and elastic, her voice sounded  
 exquisitely as she spoke.
My mother looked in delight and amazement at  
 the stranger,
She looked at the beauty of her tall-borne face,  
 and full and pliant limbs,
The more she looked upon her she loved her,   [ begin page 295 ]ppp.00237.303.jpg Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty  
 and purity,
She made her sit on a bench by the jamb of the  
 fire-place, she cooked food for her,
She had no work to give her, but she gave her  
 remembrance and fondness.
The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward  
 the middle of the afternoon she went away,
O my mother was loth to have her go away! All the week she thought of her—she watched  
 for her many a month,
She remembered her many a winter and many a  
But the red squaw never came, nor was heard of  
 there again.
Now Lucifer was not dead—or if he was, I am  
 his sorrowful terrible heir!
I have been wronged—I am oppressed—I hate  
 him that oppresses me!
I will either destroy him, or he shall release me.
Damn him! how he does defile me! How he informs against my brother and sister,  
 and takes pay for their blood!
How he laughs when I look down the bend, after  
 the steamboat that carries away my woman!
  [ begin page 296 ]ppp.00237.304.jpg Now the vast dusk bulk that is the whale's bulk,  
 it seems mine,
Warily, sportsman! though I lie so sleepy and  
 sluggish, my tap is death.
A show of the summer softness! a contact of  
 something unseen! an amour of the light and  
I am jealous, and overwhelmed with friendli- 
And will go gallivant with the light and air myself, And have an unseen something to be in contact  
 with them also.
O love and summer! you are in the dreams, and  
 in me,
Autumn and winter are in the dreams—the far- 
 mer goes with his thrift,
The droves and crops increase, the barns are  
Elements merge in the night, ships make tacks in  
 the dreams, the sailor sails, the exile returns  
The fugitive returns unharmed, the immigrant is  
 back beyond months and years,
The poor Irishman lives in the simple house of  
 his childhood with the well-known neighbors  
 and faces,
  [ begin page 297 ]ppp.00237.305.jpg They warmly welcome him, he is bare-foot again,  
 he forgets he is well-off;
The Dutchman voyages home, and the Scotchman  
 and Welchman voyage home, and the native  
 of the Mediterranean voyages home,
To every port of England, France, Spain, enter  
 well-filled ships,
The Swiss foots it toward his hills, the Prussian  
 goes his way, the Hungarian his way, the  
 Pole his way,
The Swede returns, and the Dane and Norwegian  
The homeward bound, and the outward bound, The beautiful lost swimmer, the ennuyee, the  
 onanist, the female that loves unrequited, the  
The actor and actress, those through with their  
 parts, and those waiting to commence,
The affectionate boy, the husband and wife, the  
 voter, the nominee that is chosen, and the  
 nominee that has failed,
The great already known, and the great any-time  
 after today,
The stammerer, the sick, the perfect-formed, the  
The criminal that stood in the box, the judge that  
 sat and sentenced him, the fluent lawyers, the  
 jury, the audience,
13*   [ begin page 298 ]ppp.00237.306.jpg The laugher and weeper, the dancer, the midnight  
 widow, the red squaw,
The consumptive, the erysipalite, the idiot, he  
 that is wronged,
The antipodes, and every one between this and  
 them in the dark,
I swear they are averaged now—one is no better  
 than the other,
The night and sleep have likened them and re- 
 tored them.
I swear they are all beautiful! Every one that sleeps is beautiful—every thing  
 in the dim light is beautiful,
The wildest and bloodiest is over, and all is peace.
Peace is always beautiful, The myth of heaven indicates peace and night. The myth of heaven indicates the soul; The soul is always beautiful—it appears more or  
 it appears less—it comes or it lags behind,
It comes from its embowered garden, and looks  
 pleasantly on itself, and encloses the world,
Perfect and clean the genitals previously jetting,  
 and perfect and clean the womb cohering,
The head well-grown, proportioned, plumb, and  
 the bowels and joints proportioned and  
  [ begin page 299 ]ppp.00237.307.jpg The soul is always beautiful, The universe is duly in order, every thing is in its  
What is arrived is in its place, and what waits is  
 in its place;
The twisted skull waits, the watery or rotten blood  
The child of the glutton or venerealee waits long,  
 and the child of the drunkard waits long, and  
 the drunkard himself waits long,
The sleepers that lived and died wait—the  
 far advanced are to go on in their turns,  
 and the far behind are to go on in their  
The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall  
 flow and unite—they unite now.
The sleepers are very beautiful as they lie  
They flow hand in hand over the whole earth  
 from east to west as they lie unclothed,
The Asiatic and African are hand in hand, the  
 European and American are hand in hand,
Learned and unlearned are hand in hand, and male  
 and female are hand in hand,
The bare arm of the girl crosses the bare breast  
 of her lover, they press close without lust, his  
 lips press her neck,
  [ begin page 300 ]ppp.00237.308.jpg The father holds his grown or ungrown son in his  
 arms with measureless love, and the son holds  
 the father in his arms with measureless love,
The white hair of the mother shines on the white  
 wrist of the daughter,
The breath of the boy goes with the breath of the  
 man, friend is inarmed by friend,
The scholar kisses the teacher, and the teacher  
 kisses the scholar—the wronged is made  
The call of the slave is one with the master's call,  
 and the master salutes the slave,
The felon steps forth from the prison, the insane  
 becomes sane, the suffering of sick persons is  
The sweatings and fevers stop, the throat that was  
 unsound is sound, the lungs of the con- 
 sumptive are resumed, the poor distressed  
 head is free,
The joints of the rheumatic move as smoothly as  
 ever, and smoother than ever,
Stiflings and passages open, the paralysed become  
The swelled and convulsed and congested awake  
 to themselves in condition,
They pass the invigoration of the night and the  
 chemistry of the night, and awake.
I too pass from the night!   [ begin page 301 ]ppp.00237.309.jpg I stay awhile away O night, but I return to you  
 again, and love you!
Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you? I am not afraid—I have been well brought forward  
 by you,
I love the rich running day, but I do not desert  
 her in whom I lay so long,
I know not how I came of you, and I know not  
 where I go with you—but I know I came  
 well, and shall go well.
I will stop only a time with the night, and rise  
I will duly pass the day, O my mother, and duly  
 return to you.
  [ begin page 302 ]ppp.00237.310.jpg

27 — Poem of Faces.

SAUNTERING the pavement or riding the  
 country by-road, here then are faces!
Faces of friendship, precision, caution, suavity,  
The spiritual prescient face—the always welcome,  
 common, benevolent face,
The face of the singing of music—the grand faces  
 of natural lawyers and judges, broad at the  
The faces of hunters and fishers, bulged at the  
 brows—the shaved blanched faces of ortho- 
 dox citizens,
The pure, extravagant, yearning, questioning artist's  
The ugly face of some beautiful soul, the hand- 
 some detested or despised face,
The sacred faces of infants, the illuminated face  
 of the mother of many children,
The face of an amour, the face of veneration, The face as of a dream, the face of an immobile  
  [ begin page 303 ]ppp.00237.311.jpg The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a cas- 
 trated face,
A wild hawk, his wings clipped by the clipper, A stallion that yielded at last to the thongs and  
 knife of the gelder.
Sauntering the pavement or crossing the ceaseless  
 ferry, here then are faces!
I see them, and complain not, and am content  
 with all.
Do you suppose I could be content with all if I  
 thought them their own finale?
This now is too lamentable a face for a man Some abject louse asking leave to be, cringing  
 for it,
Some milk-nosed maggot blessing what lets it  
 wrig to its hole.
This face is a dog's snout sniffing for garbage; Snakes nest in that mouth, I hear the sibilant  
This face is a haze more chill than the arctic sea, Its sleepy and wobbling icebergs crunch as they  
This is a face of bitter herbs, this an emetic, they  
 need no label,
  [ begin page 304 ]ppp.00237.312.jpg And more of the drug-shelf, laudanum, caoutchouc,  
 or hog's-lard.
This face is an epilepsy, its wordless tongue gives  
 out the unearthly cry,
Its veins down the neck distend, its eyes roll till  
 they show nothing but their whites,
Its teeth grit, the palms of the hands are cut by  
 the turned-in nails,
The man falls struggling and foaming to the ground  
 while he speculates well.
This face is bitten by vermin and worms, And this is some murderer's knife with a half- 
 pulled scabbard.
This face owes to the sexton his dismalest fee, An unceasing death-bell tolls there. Those then are really men, the bosses and tufts  
 of the great round globe!
Features of my equals, would you trick me with  
 your creased and cadaverous march?
Well, you cannot trick me.
I see your rounded never-erased flow, I see neath the rims of your haggard and mean  
  [ begin page 305 ]ppp.00237.313.jpg Splay and twist as you like—poke with the tan- 
 gling fores of fishes or rats,
You'll be unmuzzled, you certainly will.
I saw the face of the most smeared and slobbering  
 idiot they had at the asylum,
And I knew for my consolation what they knew  
I knew of the agents that emptied and broke my  
The same wait to clear the rubbish from the fallen  
And I shall look again in a score or two of  
And I shall meet the real landlord perfect  
 and unharmed, every inch as good as  
The Lord advances, and yet advances! Always the shadow in front! always the reached  
 hand bringing up the laggards!
Out of this face emerge banners and horses—O  
 superb! I see what is coming,
I see the high pioneer-caps—I see the staves of  
 runners clearing the way,
I hear victorious drums.
This face is a life-boat,   [ begin page 306 ]ppp.00237.314.jpg This is the face commanding and bearded, it asks  
 no odds of the rest,
This face is flavored fruit, ready for eating, This face of a healthy honest boy is the programme  
 of all good.
These faces bear testimony slumbering or awake, They show their descent from the Master  
Off the word I have spoken I except not one —  
 red, white, black, all are deific,
In each house is the ovum, it comes forth after a  
 thousand years.
Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb  
Tall and sufficient stand behind and make signs  
 to me,
I read the promise and patiently wait.
This is a full-grown lily's face, She speaks to the limber-hipp'd man near the gar- 
 den pickets,
Come here, she blushingly cries—Come nigh to  
 me, limber-hipp'd man, and give me your finger  
 and thumb,
Stand at my side till I lean as high as I can upon  
  [ begin page 307 ]ppp.00237.315.jpg Fill me with albescent honey, bend down to me, Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my  
 breast and shoulders.
The old face of the mother of many children! Whist! I am fully content. Lulled and late is the smoke of the Sabbath  
It hangs low over the rows of trees by the  
It hangs thin by the sassafras, the wild-cherry,  
 and the cat-brier under them.
I saw the rich ladies in full dress at the soiree, I heard what the singers were singing so long, Heard who sprang in crimson youth from the  
 white froth and the water-blue.
Behold a woman! She looks out from her quaker cap—her face is  
 clearer and more beautiful than the sky.
She sits in an arm-chair, under the shaded porch  
 of the farm-house,
The sun just shines on her old white head.
Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen,   [ begin page 308 ]ppp.00237.316.jpg Her grand-sons raised the flax, and her grand- 
 daughters spun it with the distaff and the  
The melodious character of the earth! The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go,  
 and does not wish to go!
The justified mother of men!
  [ begin page 309 ]ppp.00237.317.jpg

28 — Bunch Poem.

THE friend I am happy with, The arm of my friend hanging idly over my  
The hill-side whitened with blossoms of the  
 mountain ash,
The same, late in autumn—the gorgeous hues of  
 red, yellow, drab, purple, and light and dark  
The rich coverlid of the grass—animals and  
 birds—the private untrimmed bank—the  
 primitive apples—the pebble-stones,
Beautiful dripping fragments—the negligent list  
 of one after another, as I happen to call them  
 to me, or think of them,
The real poems, (what we call poems being merely  
The poems of the privacy of the night, and of  
 men like me,
This poem, drooping shy and unseen, that I al- 
 ways carry, and that all men carry,
(Know, once for all, avowed on purpose, wherever  
 are men like me, are our lusty, lurking, mas- 
 culine poems,)
  [ begin page 310 ]ppp.00237.318.jpg Love-thoughts, love-juice, love-odor, love-yielding,  
 love-climbers, and the climbing sap,
Arms and hands of love—lips of love—phallic  
 thumb of love—breasts of love—bellies,  
 pressed and glued together with love,
Earth of chaste love—life that is only life after  
The body of my love—the body of the woman I  
 love—the body of the man—the body of the  
Soft forenoon airs that blow from the south-west, The hairy wild-bee that murmurs and hankers up  
 and down—that gripes the full-grown lady- 
 flower, curves upon her with amorous firm  
 legs, takes his will of her, and holds himself  
 tremulous and tight upon her till he is satis- 
The wet of woods through the early hours, Two sleepers at night lying close together as they  
 sleep, one with an arm slanting down across  
 and below the waist of the other,
The smell of apples, aromas from crushed sage- 
 plant, mint, birch-bark,
The boy's longings, the glow and pressure as he  
 confides to me what he was dreaming,
The dead leaf whirling its spiral whirl, and falling  
 still and content to the ground,
The no-formed stings that sights, people, objects,  
 sting me with,
  [ begin page 311 ]ppp.00237.319.jpg The hubbed sting of myself, stinging me as much  
 as it ever can any one,
The sensitive, orbic, underlapped brothers, that  
 only privileged feelers may be intimate where  
 they are,
The curious roamer, the hand, roaming all over  
 the body—the bashful withdrawing of flesh  
 where the fingers soothingly pause and edge  
The limpid liquid within the young man, The vexed corrosion, so pensive and so painful, The torment—the irritable tide that will not be  
 at rest,
The like of the same I feel—the like of the same  
 in others,
The young woman that flushes and flushes, and  
 the young man that flushes and flushes,
The young man that wakes, deep at night, the hot  
 hand seeking to repress what would master  
 him—the strange half-welcome pangs, vis- 
 ions, sweats—the pulse pounding through  
 palms and trembling encirling fingers—the  
 young man all colored, red, ashamed, angry;
The souse upon me of my lover the sea, as I lie  
 willing and naked,
The merriment of the twin-babes that crawl over  
 the grass in the sun, the mother never turn- 
 ing her vigilant eyes from them,
  [ begin page 312 ]ppp.00237.320.jpg The walnut-trunk, the walnut-husks, and the ripen- 
 ing or ripened long-round walnuts,
The continence of vegetables, birds, animals, The consequent meanness of me should I skulk  
 or find myself indecent, while birds and  
 animals never once skulk or find themselves  
The great chastity of paternity, to match the great  
 chastity of maternity,
The oath of procreation I have sworn, The greed that eats in me day and night with  
 hungry gnaw, till I saturate what shall pro- 
 duce boys to fill my place when I am through,
The wholesome relief, repose, content, And this bunch plucked at random from myself, It has done its work—I toss it carelessly to fall  
 where it may.
  [ begin page 313 ]ppp.00237.321.jpg

29 — Lesson Poem.

WHO learns my lesson complete? Boss, journeyman, apprentice? churchman  
 and atheist?
The stupid and the wise thinker? parents and  
 offspring? merchant, clerk, porter, and cus- 
 tomer? editor, author, artist, and school- 
Draw nigh and commence, It is no lesson, it lets down the bars to a good  
And that to another, and every one to another  
The great laws take and effuse without argument, I am of the same style, for I am their friend, I love them quits and quits—I do not halt and  
 make salaams.
I lie abstracted and hear beautiful tales of things  
 and the reasons of things,
They are so beautiful I nudge myself to listen.
14   [ begin page 314 ]ppp.00237.322.jpg I cannot say to any person what I hear—I  
 cannot say it to myself—it is very won- 
It is no little matter, this round and delicious globe  
 moving so exactly in its orbit forever and  
 ever without one jolt or the untruth of a  
 single second,
I do not think it was made in six days, nor  
 in ten thousand years, nor ten decillions of  
Nor planned and built one thing after another, as  
 an architect plans and builds a house.
I do not think seventy years is the time of a man  
 or woman,
Nor that seventy millions of years is the time of a  
 man or woman,
Nor that years will ever stop the existence of me  
 or any one else.
Is it wonderful that I should be immortal? as  
 every one is immortal,
I know it is wonderful—but my eye-sight is  
 equally wonderful, and how I was con- 
 ceived in my mother's womb is equally  
And how I was not palpable once, but am now —  
 and was born on the last day of May in the  
 Year 43 of America—and passed from a
  [ begin page 315 ]ppp.00237.323.jpg babe, in the creeping trance of three summers  
 and three winters, to articulate and walk —  
 all this is equally wonderful,
And that I grew six feet high, and that I have  
 become a man thirty-six years old in the Year  
 79 of America, and that I am here anyhow,  
 are all equally wonderful,
And that my soul embraces you this hour, and we  
 affect each other without ever seeing each  
 other, and never perhaps to see each other,  
 is every bit as wonderful,
And that I can think such thoughts as these is  
 just as wonderful,
And that I can remind you, and you think them and  
 know them to be true, is just as wonderful,
And that the moon spins round the earth, and on  
 with the earth, is equally wonderful,
And that they balance themselves with the sun  
 and stars is equally wonderful.
Come! I should like to hear you tell me what  
 there is in yourself that is not just as won- 
And I should like to hear the name of anything  
 between Sunday morning and Saturday night  
 that is not just as wonderful.
  [ begin page 316 ]ppp.00237.324.jpg

30 — Poem of The Propositions of Nakedness.

RESPONDEZ! Respondez! Let every one answer! Let all who sleep be  
 waked! Let none evade—not you, any  
 more than others!
Let that which stood in front go behind! and let  
 that which was behind advance to the front  
 and speak!
Let murderers, thieves, tyrants, bigots, unclean  
 persons, offer new propositions!
Let the old propositions be postponed! Let faces and theories be turned inside out! Let  
 meanings be criminal as well as results!  
 (Say! can results be criminal, and meanings  
 not criminal?)
Let there be no suggestion besides the suggestion  
 of drudgery!
Let none be pointed toward his destination!  
 (Say! do you know your destination?)
Let trillions of men and women be mocked with  
 bodies and mocked with souls!
  [ begin page 317 ]ppp.00237.325.jpg Let the love that waits in them, wait! Let it die,  
 or pass still-born to other spheres!
Let the sympathy that waits in every man, wait!  
 or let it also pass, a dwarf, to other spheres!
Let contradictions prevail! Let one thing con- 
 tradict another! and let one line of my poem  
 contradict another!
Let the people sprawl with yearning aimless  
 hands! Let their tongues be broken! Let their  
 eyes be discouraged! Let none descend into  
 their hearts with the fresh lusciousness of  
Let the theory of America be management, caste,  
 comparison! (Say! what other theory would  
Let them that distrust birth and death lead the  
 rest! (Say! why shall they not lead you?)
Let the crust of hell be neared and trod on! Let  
 the days be darker than the nights! Let  
 slumber bring less slumber than waking-time  
Let the world never appear to him or her for  
 whom it was all made!
Let the heart of the young man exile itself from the  
 heart of the old man! and let the heart of the  
 old man be exiled from that of the young man!
Let the sun and moon go! Let scenery take the  
 applause of the audience! Let there be  
 apathy under the stars!
  [ begin page 318 ]ppp.00237.326.jpg Let freedom prove no man's inalienable right!  
 Every one who can tyrannize, let him tyran- 
 nize to his satisfaction!
Let none but infidels be countenanced! Let the eminence of meanness, treachery,  
 sarcasm, hate, greed, indecency, impotence,  
 lust, be taken for granted above all! Let  
 poems, judges, governments, households,  
 religions, philosophies, take such for granted  
 above all!
Let the worst men beget children out of the worst  
Let priests still play at immortality! Let death be inaugurated! Let nothing remain upon the earth except  
 teachers, artists, moralists, lawyers, and  
 learned and polite persons!
Let him who is without my poems be assas- 
Let the cow, the horse, the camel, the garden-bee  
 —Let the mud-fish, the lobster, the mussel,  
 eel, the sting-ray and the grunting pig- 
 fish—Let these, and the like of these, be  
 put on a perfect equality with man and  
Let churches accommodate serpents, vermin, and  
 the corpses of those who have died of the  
 most filthy of diseases!
  [ begin page 319 ]ppp.00237.327.jpg Let marriage slip down among fools, and be for  
 none but fools!
Let men among themselves talk obscenely of wo- 
 men! and let women among themselves talk  
 obscenely of men!
Let every man doubt every woman! and let every  
 woman trick every man!
Let us all, without missing one, be exposed in pub- 
 lic, naked, monthly, at the peril of our lives!  
 Let our bodies be freely handled and examined  
 by whoever chooses!
Let nothing but love-songs, pictures, statues, ele- 
 gant works, be permitted to exist upon the earth!
Let the earth desert God, nor let there ever hence- 
 forth be mentioned the name of God!
Let there be no God! Let there be money, business, railroads, imports,  
 exports, custom, authority, precedents, pallor,  
 dyspepsia, smut, ignorance, unbelief!
Let judges and criminals be transposed! Let the  
 prison-keepers be put in prison! Let those  
 that were prisoners take the keys! (Say!  
 why might they not just as well be trans- 
Let the slaves be masters! Let the masters  
 become slaves!
Let the reformers descend from the stands where  
 they are forever bawling! Let an idiot or  
 insane person appear on each of the stands!
  [ begin page 320 ]ppp.00237.328.jpg Let the Asiatic, the African, the European, the  
 American and the Australian, go armed against  
 the murderous stealthiness of each other! Let  
 them sleep armed! Let none believe in good- 
Let there be no living wisdom! Let such be  
 scorned and derided off from the earth!
Let a floating cloud in the sky—Let a wave of  
 the sea—Let one glimpse of your eye-sight  
 upon the landscape or grass—Let growing  
 mint, spinach, onions, tomatoes—Let these  
 be exhibited as shows at a great price for  
Let all the men of These States stand aside for a  
 few smouchers! Let the few seize on what  
 they choose! Let the rest gawk, giggle  
 starve, obey!
Let shadows be furnished with genitals! Let  
 substances be deprived of their genitals!
Let there be immense cities—but through any of  
 them, not a single poet, saviour, knower, lover!
Let the infidels of These States laugh all faith  
 away! If one man be found who has faith,  
 let the rest set upon him! Let them affright  
 faith! Let them destroy the power of breed- 
 ing faith!
Let the she-harlots and the he-harlots be prudent!  
 Let them dance on, while seeming lasts! (O  
 seeming! seeming! seeming!)
  [ begin page 321 ]ppp.00237.329.jpg Let the preachers recite creeds! Let the preach- 
 ers of creeds never dare to go meditate upon  
 the hills, alone, by day or by night! (If one  
 ever once dare, he is lost!)
Let insanity have charge of sanity! Let books take the place of trees, animals, rivers,  
Let the portraits of heroes supersede heroes! Let the manhood of man never take steps after  
 itself! Let it take steps after eunuchs, and  
 after consumptive and genteel persons!
Let the white person tread the black person under  
 his heel! (Say! which is trodden under  
 heel, after all?)
Let the reflections of the things of the world be  
 studied in mirrors! Let the things them- 
 selves continue unstudied!
Let a man seek pleasure everywhere except in  
 himself! Let a woman seek happiness  
 everywhere except in herself! (Say! what  
 real happiness have you had one single time  
 through your whole life?)
Let the limited years of life do nothing for the  
 limitless years of death! (Say! what do  
 you suppose death will do, then?)
  [ begin page 322 ]ppp.00237.330.jpg

31 — Poem of The Sayers of The Words of The Earth.

EARTH, round, rolling, compact—suns, moons,  
 animals—all these are words,
Watery, vegetable, sauroid advances—beings,  
 premonitions, lispings of the future—these  
 are vast words.
Were you thinking that those were the words —  
 those upright lines? those curves, angles,  
No, those are not the words—the substantial  
 words are in the ground and sea,
They are in the air—they are in you.
Were you thinking that those were the words —  
 those delicious sounds out of your friends'  
No, the real words are more delicious than they.
Human bodies are words, myriads of words, In the best poems re-appears the body, man's or  
 woman's, well-shaped, natural, gay,
  [ begin page 323 ]ppp.00237.331.jpg Every part able, active, receptive, without shame  
 or the need of shame
Air, soil, water, fire, these are words, I myself am a word with them—my qualities  
 interpenetrate with theirs—my name is noth- 
 ing to them,
Though it were told in the three thousand lan- 
 guages, what would air, soil, water, fire,  
 know of my name?
A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding  
 gesture, are words, sayings, meanings,
The charms that go with the mere looks of some  
 men and women are sayings and meanings  
The workmanship of souls is by the inaudible  
 words of the earth,
The great masters, the sayers, know the earth's  
 words, and use them more than the audible  
Syllables are not the earth's words, Beauty, reality, manhood, time, life—the realities  
 of such as these are the earth's words.
Amelioration is one of the earth's words, The earth neither lags nor hastens,   [ begin page 324 ]ppp.00237.332.jpg It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in it- 
 self from the jump,
It is not half beautiful only—defects and excres- 
 cences show just as much as perfections  
The earth does not withhold, it is generous  
The truths of the earth continually wait, they are  
 not so concealed either,
They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print, They are imbued through all things, conveying  
 themselves willingly,
Conveying a sentiment and invitation of the earth  
 —I utter and utter,
I speak not, yet if you hear me not, of what avail  
 am I to you?
To bear—to better—lacking these, of what  
 avail am I?
Accouche! Accouchez! Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there? Will you squat and stifle there? The earth does not argue, Is not pathetic, has no arrangements, Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten,  
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable  
  [ begin page 325 ]ppp.00237.333.jpg Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out, Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts  
 none out.
The earth does not exhibit itself nor refuse to  
 exhibit itself—possesses still underneath,
Underneath the ostensible sounds, the august  
 chorus of heroes, the wail of slaves,
Persuasions of lovers, curses, gasps of the dying,