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Poem of the Child That Went Forth, and Always Goes Forth, Forever and Forever

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.
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