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Carol of Occupations.



1COME closer to me; Push close, my lovers, and take the best I possess! Yield closer and closer, and give me the best you pos- 
2This is unfinished business with me—How is it with  
(I was chill'd with the cold types, cylinder, wet paper  
 between us.)
3Male and Female! I pass so poorly with paper and types, I must pass with  
 the contact of bodies and souls.
4American masses! 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.


5This is the carol of occupations; In the labor of engines and trades, and the labor of  
 fields, I find the developments,
And find the eternal meanings.
  [ begin page 210 ]ppp.00270.212.jpg 6Workmen and Workwomen! Were all educations, practical and ornamental, well dis- 
 play'd out of me, what would it amount to?
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?
7The learn'd, virtuous, benevolent, and the usual terms; A man like me, and never the usual terms. 8Neither 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.
9If you stand at work in a shop, I stand as nigh as the  
 nighest in the same shop;
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 outlaw'd deeds, do  
 you think I cannot remember my own foolish  
 and outlaw'd deeds?
If you carouse at the table, I carouse at the opposite  
 side of the table;
If you meet some stranger in the streets, and love him  
 or her—why I often meet strangers in the street,  
 and love them.
10Why, 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?
11Because you are greasy or pimpled, or that you were  
 once drunk, or a thief,
  [ begin page 211 ]ppp.00270.213.jpg Or diseas'd, 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 immortal?


12Souls of men and women! it is not you I call unseen,  
 unheard, untouchable and untouching;
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.
13Grown, half-grown, and babe, of this country and  
 every country, in-doors and out-doors, one just  
 as much as the other, I see,
And all else behind or through them.
14The wife—and she is not one jot less than the  
The daughter—and she is just as good as the son; The mother—and she is every bit as much as the  
15Offspring of ignorant and poor, boys apprenticed to  
Young fellows working on farms, and old fellows work- 
 ing on farms,
Sailor-men, merchant-men, coasters, immigrants, All these I see—but nigher and farther the same I  
None shall escape me, and none shall wish to escape  
16I 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.
17There is something that comes home to one now  
 and perpetually;
  [ begin page 212 ]ppp.00270.214.jpg It is not what is printed, preach'd, discussed—it eludes  
 discussion and print;
It is not to be put in a book—it is not in this book; 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 ever  
 provoked by them.
18You may read in many languages, yet read nothing  
 about it;
You may read the President's Message, and read noth- 
 ing 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 or revenue returns, prices current, or  
 any accounts of stock.


19The 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 reconnoissance,
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.
20The light and shade, the curious sense of body and  
 identity, the greed that with perfect complais- 
 ance devours all things, the endless pride and  
 out-stretching of man, unspeakable joys and  
The wonder every one sees in every one else he sees,  
 and the wonders that fill each minute of time  
  [ begin page 213 ]ppp.00270.215.jpg What have you reckon'd them for, camerado? Have you reckon'd them for a trade, or farm-work? or  
 for the profits of a store?
Or to achieve yourself a position? or to fill a gentle- 
 man's leisure, or a lady's leisure?
21Have you reckon'd the landscape took substance and  
 form that it might be painted in a picture?
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 tables,  
 or agriculture itself?
22Old institutions—these arts, libraries, legends, col- 
 lections, and the practice handed along in man- 
 ufactures—will we rate them so high?
Will we rate our cash and business high?—I have no  
I rate them as high as the highest—then a child born  
 of a woman and man I rate beyond all rate.
23We thought our Union grand, and our Constitution  
I do not say they are not grand and good, for they are; I am this day just as much in love with them as you; Then I am in love with you, and with all my fellows  
 upon the earth.
24We 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  
  [ begin page 214 ]ppp.00270.216.jpg Leaves are not more shed from the trees, or trees from  
 the earth, than they are shed out of you.


25When 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 again;
When a university course convinces, like a slumbering  
 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 like you.
26The 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 Twelfth-month for you; Laws, courts, the forming of States, the charters of  
 cities, the going and coming of commerce and  
 mails, are all for you.
27List close, my scholars dear! All doctrines, all politics and civilization, exurge from  
All sculpture and monuments, and anything inscribed  
 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?
  [ begin page 215 ]ppp.00270.217.jpg The most renown'd poems would be ashes, orations and  
 plays would be vacuums.
28All 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?)
29All 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 romanza—nor  
 that of the men's chorus, nor that of the women's  
It is nearer and farther than they.


30Will the whole come back then? Can each see signs of the best by a look in the looking- 
 glass? is there nothing greater or more?
Does all sit there with you, with the mystic, unseen  
31Strange and hard that paradox true I give; Objects gross and the unseen Soul are one. 32House-building, measuring, sawing the boards; Blacksmithing, glass-blowing, nail-making, coopering,  
 tin-roofing, shingle-dressing,
Ship-joining, dock-building, fish-curing, ferrying, flag- 
 ging of side-walks by flaggers,
The pump, the pile-driver, the great derrick, the coal- 
 kiln and brick-kiln,
Coal-mines, and all that is down there,—the lamps in  
 the darkness, echoes, songs, what meditations,  
 what vast native thoughts looking through  
 smutch'd faces,
  [ begin page 216 ]ppp.00270.218.jpg Iron works, forge-fires in the mountains, or by the  
 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-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 railroads;
Oil-works, silk-works, white-lead-works, the sugar-house,  
 steam-saws, the great mills and factories;
Stone-cutting, shapely trimmings for façades, or window  
 or door-lintels—the mallet, the tooth-chisel, the  
 jib to protect the thumb,
Oakum, the oakum-chisel, the caulking-iron,—the kettle  
 of boiling vault-cement, and the fire under the  
The cotton-bale, the stevedore's hook, the saw and buck  
 of the sawyer, the mould of the moulder, the  
 working-knife of the butcher, the ice-saw, and all  
 the work with ice,
The implements for daguerreotyping—the tools of the  
 rigger, grappler, sail-maker, block-maker,
Goods of gutta-percha, papier-mach, colors, brushes,  
 brush-making, glazier's implements,
The veneer and glue-pot, the confectioner's ornaments,  
 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 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,  
 cotton-picking—electro-plating, electrotyping,  
Stave-machines, planing-machines, reaping-machines,  
 ploughing-machines, thrashing-machines, steam  
  [ begin page 217 ]ppp.00270.219.jpg The cart of the carman, the omnibus, the ponderous  
Pyrotechny, letting off color'd fire-works at night, fancy  
 figures and jets;
Beef on the butcher's stall, the slaughter-house of the  
 butcher, the butcher in his killing-clothes,
The 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  
The men, and the work of the men, on railroads,  
 coasters, fish-boats, canals;
The daily routine of your own or any man's life—the  
 shop, yard, store, or factory;
These shows all near you by day and night—workman!  
 whoever you are, your daily life!
In that and them the heft of the heaviest—in them far  
 more than you estimated, and far less also;
In them realities for you and me—in them poems for  
 you and me;
In them, not yourself—you and your Soul enclose all  
 things, regardless of estimation;
In them the development good—in them, all themes  
 and hints.
33I 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 great; But I say that none lead to greater, than those lead to.


34Will 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 the sweetest, strongest,  
  [ begin page 218 ]ppp.00270.220.jpg Happiness, knowledge, not in another place, but this  
 place—not for another hour, but this hour;
Man in the first you see or touch—always in friend,  
 brother, nighest neighbor—Woman in mother,  
 lover, wife;
The popular tastes and employments taking precedence  
 in poems or any where,
You workwomen and workmen of These States having  
 your own divine and strong life,
And all else giving place to men and women like you.
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