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Cluster: The Answerer. (1871)

Table of Contents (1871)

Poems in this cluster




1Now list to my morning's romanza—I tell the signs  
 of the Answerer;
To the cities and farms I sing, as they spread in the  
 sunshine before me.
2A young man comes to me bearing a message from  
 his brother;
How shall the young man know the whether and when  
 of his brother?
Tell him to send me the signs.
3And I stand before the young man face to face, and  
 take his right hand in my left hand, and his left  
 hand in my right hand,
And I answer for his brother, and for men, and I an- 
 swer for him that answers for all, and send these  


4Him all wait for—him all yield up to—his word is  
 decisive and final,
Him they accept, in him lave, in him perceive them- 
 selves, as amid light,
Him they immerse, and he immerses them.
  [ begin page 202 ]ppp.00270.204.jpg 5Beautiful women, the haughtiest nations, laws, the  
 landscape, people, animals,
The profound earth and its attributes, and the unquiet  
 ocean, (so tell I my morning's romanza;)
All enjoyments and properties, and money, and what- 
 ever 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.
6He puts things in their attitudes; He puts to-day out of himself, with plasticity and love; He places his own city, times, reminiscences, parents,  
 brothers and sisters, associations, employment,  
 politics, so that the rest never shame them after- 
 ward, nor assume to command them.
7He is the answerer; What can be answer'd he answers—and what cannot be  
 answer'd, he shows how it cannot be answer'd.


8A man is a summons and challenge; (It is vain to skulk—Do you hear that mocking and  
 laughter? Do you hear the ironical echoes?)
9Books, friendships, philosophers, priests, action, plea- 
 sure, pride, beat up and down, seeking to give  
He indicates the satisfaction, and indicates them that  
 beat up and down also.
10Whichever the sex, whatever the season or place, he  
 may go freshly and gently and safely, by day or  
 by night;
  [ begin page 203 ]ppp.00270.205.jpg He has the pass-key of hearts—to Him the response of  
 the prying of hands on the knobs.
11His 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  


12Every existence has its idiom—everything 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.
13He 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,
And both understand him, and know that his speech is  
14He walks with perfect ease in the Capitol, He walks among the Congress, and one Representative  
 says to another, Here is our equal, appearing and  
15Then the mechanics take him for a mechanic, And the soldiers suppose him to be a soldier, and the  
 sailors that he has follow'd 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 fol- 
 low it, or has follow'd it,
No matter what the nation, that he might find his  
 brothers and sisters there,
  [ begin page 204 ]ppp.00270.206.jpg 16The English believe he comes of their English stock, A Jew to the Jew he seems—a Russ to the Russ—usual  
 and near, removed from none.
17Whoever 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;
The engineer, the deck-hand on the great lakes, or on  
 the Mississippi, or St. Lawrence, or Sacramento,  
 or Hudson, or Paumanok Sound, claims him.
18The 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 them- 
 selves, they are so grown.


1THE indications, and tally of time; Perfect sanity shows the master among philosophs; Time, always without flaw, indicates itself in parts; What always indicates the poet, is the crowd of the  
 pleasant company of singers, and their words;
The words of the singers are the hours or minutes of  
 the light or dark—but the words of the maker  
 of poems are the general light and dark;
The maker of poems settles justice, reality, immor- 
His insight and power encircle things and the human  
He is the glory and extract thus far, of things, and of  
 the human race.
  [ begin page 205 ]ppp.00270.207.jpg 2The singers do not beget—only the POET begets; The singers are welcom'd, understood, appear often  
 enough—but rare has the day been, likewise the  
 spot, of the birth of the maker of poems, the  
(Not every century, or every five centuries, has con- 
 tain'd such a day, for all its names.)
3The 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, eye-singer, ear-singer, head- 
 singer, sweet-singer, echo-singer, parlor-singer,  
 love-singer, or something else.
4All this time, and at all times, wait the words of true  
The words of true poems do not merely please, The true poets are not followers of beauty, but the  
 august masters of beauty;
The greatness of sons is the exuding of the greatness  
 of mothers and fathers,
The words of poems are the tuft and final applause of  
5Divine instinct, breadth of vision, the law of reason,  
 health, rudeness of body, withdrawnness,
Gayety, sun-tan, air-sweetness—such are some of the  
 words of poems.
6The sailor and traveler underlie the maker of poems,  
 the answerer;
The builder, geometer, chemist, anatomist, phrenolo- 
 gist, artist—all these underlie the maker of  
 poems, the answerer.
7The words of the true poems give you more than  
They give you to form for yourself, poems, religions,  
 politics, war, peace, behavior, histories, essays,  
 romances, and everything else,
  [ begin page 206 ]ppp.00270.208.jpg 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.
8They prepare for death—yet are they not the finish,  
 but rather the outset,
They bring none to his or her terminus, or to be con- 
 tent and full;
Whom they take, they take into space, to behold the  
 birth of stars, to learn one of the meanings,
To launch off with absolute faith—to sweep through the  
 ceaseless rings, and never be quiet again.


1POETS to come! orators, singers, musicians to come! Not to-day is to justify me, and answer what I am  
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental,  
 greater than before known,
Arouse! Arouse—for you must justify me—you must  
2I myself but write one or two indicative words for the  
I but advance a moment, only to wheel and hurry back  
 in the darkness.
3I am a man who, sauntering along, without fully stop- 
 ping, turns a casual look upon you, and then  
 averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it, Expecting the main things from you.
  [ begin page 207 ]ppp.00270.209.jpg


I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear; Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should  
 be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or  
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or  
 leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—  
 the deck-hand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the  
 hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter's song—the ploughboy's, on his way in  
 the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at  
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young  
 wife at work—or of the girl sewing or washing—  
 Each singing what belongs to her, and to none  
The day what belongs to the day—At night, the party  
 of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious  

Table of Contents (1871)

Poems in this cluster

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