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Poem of the Poet.

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  
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