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Poem of the Daily Work of the Workmen and Workwomen of These States.

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.
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