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Cluster: Songs of Parting. (1871)

Table of Contents (1871)

Poems in this cluster




1As the time draws nigh, glooming, a cloud, A dread beyond, of I know not what, darkens me. 2I shall go forth, I shall traverse The States awhile—but I cannot tell  
 whither or how long;
Perhaps soon, some day or night while I am singing,  
 my voice will suddenly cease.


3O book, O chants! must all then amount to but this? Must we barely arrive at this beginning of us?…  
 And yet it is enough, O soul!
O soul! we have positively appear'd—that is enough.


YEARS of the modern! years of the unperform'd! Your horizon rises—I see it parting away for more  
 august dramas;
I see not America only—I see not only Liberty's nation,  
 but other nations preparing;
  [ begin page 374 ]ppp.00270.376.jpg I see tremendous entrances and exits—I see new com- 
 binations—I see the solidarity of races;
I see that force advancing with irresistible power on the  
 world's stage;
(Have the old forces, the old wars, played their parts?  
 are the acts suitable to them closed?)
I see Freedom, completely arm'd, and victorious, and  
 very haughty, with Law on one side, and Peace  
 on the other,
A stupendous Trio, all issuing forth against the idea of  
—What historic denouements are these we so rapidly  
I see men marching and countermarching by swift mil- 
I see the frontiers and boundaries of the old aristocracies  
I see the landmarks of European kings removed; I see this day the People beginning their landmarks,  
 (all others give way;)
—Never were such sharp questions ask'd as this day; Never was average man, his soul, more energetic, more  
 like a God;
Lo! how he urges and urges, leaving the masses no  
His daring foot is on land and sea everywhere—he col- 
 onizes the Pacific, the archipelagoes;
With the steam-ship, the electric telegraph, the news- 
 paper, the wholesale engines of war,
With these, and the world-spreading factories, he inter- 
 links all geography, all lands;
—What whispers are these, O lands, running ahead of  
 you, passing under the seas?
Are all nations communing? is there going to be but  
 one heart to the globe?
Is humanity forming, en-masse?—for lo! tyrants trem- 
 ble, crowns grow dim;
The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a gen- 
 eral divine war;
No one knows what will happen next—such portents  
 fill the days and nights;
  [ begin page 375 ]ppp.00270.377.jpg Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vain- 
 ly try to pierce it, is full of phantoms;
Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes  
 around me;
This incredible rush and heat—this strange extatic  
 fever of dreams, O years!
Your dreams, O years, how they penetrate through me!  
 (I know not whether I sleep or wake!)
The perform'd America and Europe grow dim, retiring  
 in shadow behind me,
The unperform'd, more gigantic than ever, advance, ad- 
 vance upon me.



OF these years I sing, How they pass and have pass'd, through convuls'd  
 pains, as through parturitions;
How America illustrates birth, muscular youth, the  
 promise, the sure fulfillment, the Absolute Suc- 
 cess, despite of people—Illustrates evil as well as  
How many hold despairingly yet to the models de- 
 parted, caste, myths, obedience, compulsion, and  
 to infidelity;
How few see the arrived models, the Athletes, the  
 Western States—or see freedom or spirituality—  
 or hold any faith in results,
(But I see the Athletes—and I see the results of the war  
 glorious and inevitable—and they again leading  
 to other results;)
How the great cities appear—How the Democratic  
 masses, turbulent, wilful, as I love them;
How the whirl, the contest, the wrestle of evil with  
 good, the sounding and resounding, keep on  
 and on;
  [ begin page 376 ]ppp.00270.378.jpg How society waits unform'd, and is for a while between  
 things ended and things begun;
How America is the continent of glories, and of the  
 triumph of freedom, and of the Democracies,  
 and of the fruits of society, and of all that is  
And how The States are complete in themselves—And  
 how all triumphs and glories are complete in  
 themselves, to lead onward,
And how these of mine, and of The States, will in their  
 turn be convuls'd, and serve other parturitions  
 and transitions,
And how all people, sights, combinations, the Demo- 
 cratic masses, too, serve—and how every fact,  
 and war itself, with all its horrors, serves,
And how now, or at any time, each serves the exquisite  
 transition of death.


OF seeds dropping into the ground—of birth, Of the steady concentration of America, inland, upward,  
 to impregnable and swarming places,
Of what Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and the rest, are to be, Of what a few years will show there in Nebraska, Col- 
 orado, Nevada, and the rest;
(Of afar, mounting the Northern Pacific to Sitka or  
Of what the feuillage of America is the preparation for  
 —and of what all sights, North, South, East and  
 West, are;
Of This Union, soak'd, welded in blood—of the solemn  
 price paid—of the unnamed lost, ever present in  
 my mind;
—Of the temporary use of materials, for identity's sake, Of the present, passing, departing—of the growth of  
 completer men than any yet,
Of myself, soon, perhaps, closing up my songs by these  
Of California, of Oregon—and of me journeying to live  
 and sing there;
  [ begin page 377 ]ppp.00270.379.jpg Of the Western Sea—of the spread inland between it  
 and the spinal river,
Of the great pastoral area, athletic and feminine, Of all sloping down there where the fresh free giver,  
 the mother, the Mississippi flows,
Of future women there—of happiness in those high  
 plateaus, ranging three thousand miles, warm  
 and cold;
Of mighty inland cities yet unsurvey'd, and unsus- 
 pected, (as I am also, and as it must be;)
Of the new and good names—of the modern develop- 
 ments—of inalienable homesteads;
Of a free and original life there—of simple diet and  
 clean and sweet blood;
Of litheness, majestic faces, clear eyes, and perfect  
 physique there;
Of immense spiritual results, future years, far west,  
 each side of the Anahuacs;
Of these leaves, well understood there, (being made for  
 that area;)
Of the native scorn of grossness and gain there; (O it lurks in me night and day—What is gain, after  
 all, to savageness and freedom?)

Song at Sunset.

1SPLENDOR of ended day, floating and filling me! Hour prophetic—hour resuming the past! Inflating my throat—you, divine average! You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing. 2Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness, Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection, Natural life of me, faithfully praising things; Corroborating forever the triumph of things.   [ begin page 378 ]ppp.00270.380.jpg 3Illustrious every one! Illustrious what we name space—sphere of unnum- 
 ber'd spirits;
Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all beings, even  
 the tiniest insect;
Illustrious the attribute of speech—the senses—the  
Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale  
 reflection on the new moon in the western sky!
Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch, to the last.
4Good in all, In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals, In the annual return of the seasons, In the hilarity of youth, In the strength and flush of manhood, In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age, In the superb vistas of Death. 5Wonderful to depart; Wonderful to be here! The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood! To breathe the air, how delicious! To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand! To prepare for sleep, for bed—to look on my rose- 
 color'd flesh;
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large; To be this incredible God I am; To have gone forth among other Gods—these men and  
 women I love.
6Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself! How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles around! How the clouds pass silently overhead! How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun,  
 moon, stars, dart on and on!
How the water sports and sings! (Surely it is alive!) How the trees rise and stand up—with strong trunks—  
 with branches and leaves!
(Surely there is something more in each of the trees—  
 some living Soul,)
  [ begin page 379 ]ppp.00270.381.jpg 7O amazement of things! even the least particle! O spirituality of things! O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents  
 —now reaching me and America!
I take your strong chords—I intersperse them, and  
 cheerfully pass them forward.
8I too carol the sun, usher'd, or at noon, or, as now,  
I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth, and  
 of all the growths of the earth,
I too have felt the resistless call of myself.
9As I sail'd down the Mississippi, As I wander'd over the prairies, As I have lived—As I have look'd through my windows,  
 my eyes,
As I went forth in the morning—As I beheld the light  
 breaking in the east;
As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and again  
 on the beach of the Western Sea;
As I roam'd the streets of inland Chicago—whatever  
 streets I have roam'd;
Or cities, or silent woods, or peace, or even amid the  
 sights of war;
Wherever I have been, I have charged myself with con- 
 tentment and triumph.
10I sing the Equalities, modern or old, I sing the endless finales of things; I say Nature continues—Glory continues; I praise with electric voice; For I do not see one imperfection in the universe; And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last  
 in the universe.
11O setting sun! though the time has come, I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated  
  [ begin page 380 ]ppp.00270.382.jpg


WHEN I heard the learn'd astronomer; When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns  
 before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add,  
 divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lec- 
 tured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick; Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself, In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.


WHAT you give me, I cheerfully accept, A little sustenance, a hut and garden, a little money—  
 these, as I rendezvous with my poems;
A traveler's lodging and breakfast as I journey through  
 The States—Why should I be ashamed to own  
 such gifts? Why to advertise for them?
For I myself am not one who bestows nothing upon  
 man and woman;
For I bestow upon any man or woman the entrance to  
 all the gifts of the universe.


OF what I write from myself—As if that were not the  
Of Histories—As if such, however complete, were not  
 less complete than the preceding poems;
As if those shreds, the records of nations, could possibly  
 be as lasting as the preceding poems;
As if here were not the amount of all nations, and of all  
 the lives of heroes.
  [ begin page 381 ]ppp.00270.383.jpg



1TO conclude—I announce what comes after me; I announce mightier offspring, orators, days, and then,  
 for the present, depart.
2I remember I said, before my leaves sprang at all, I would raise my voice jocund and strong, with reference  
 to consummations.
3When America does what was promis'd, When there are plentiful athletic bards, inland and  
When through These States walk a hundred millions of  
 superb persons,
When the rest part away for superb persons, and con- 
 tribute to them,
When breeds of the most perfect mothers denote  
Then to me and mine our due fruition.
4I have press'd through in my own right, I have sung the Body and the Soul—War and Peace  
 have I sung,
And the songs of Life and of Birth—and shown that  
 there are many births:
I have offer'd my style to every one—I have journey'd  
 with confident step;
While my pleasure is yet at the full, I whisper, So long! And take the young woman's hand, and the young  
 man's hand, for the last time.


5I announce natural persons to arise; I announce justice triumphant;   [ begin page 382 ]ppp.00270.384.jpg I announce uncompromising liberty and equality; I announce the justification of candor, and the justifica- 
 tion of pride.
6I announce that the identity of These States is a  
 single identity only;
I announce the Union more and more compact, indis- 
I announce splendors and majesties to make all the  
 previous politics of the earth insignificant.
7I announce adhesiveness—I say it shall be limitless,  
I say you shall yet find the friend you were looking for.
8I announce a man or woman coming—perhaps you  
 are the one, (So long!)
I announce the great individual, fluid as Nature, chaste,  
 affectionate, compassionate, fully armed.
9I announce a life that shall be copious, vehement,  
 spiritual, bold;
I announce an end that shall lightly and joyfully meet  
 its translation;
I announce myriads of youths, beautiful, gigantic, sweet- 
I announce a race of splendid and savage old men.


10O thicker and faster! (So long!) O crowding too close upon me; I foresee too much—it means more than I thought; It appears to me I am dying. 11Hasten throat, and sound your last! Salute me—salute the days once more. Peal the old  
 cry once more.
12Screaming electric, the atmosphere using, At random glancing, each as I notice absorbing,   [ begin page 383 ]ppp.00270.385.jpg Swiftly on, but a little while alighting, Curious envelop'd messages delivering, Sparkles hot, seed ethereal, down in the dirt dropping, Myself unknowing, my commission obeying, to question  
 it never daring,
To ages, and ages yet, the growth of the seed leaving, To troops out of me, out of the army, the war arising—  
 they the tasks I have set promulging,
To women certain whispers of myself bequeathing—  
 their affection me more clearly explaining,
To young men my problems offering—no dallier I—I  
 the muscle of their brains trying,
So I pass—a little time vocal, visible, contrary; Afterward, a melodious echo, passionately bent for—  
 (death making me really undying;)
The best of me then when no longer visible—for toward  
 that I have been incessantly preparing.
13What is there more, that I lag and pause, and crouch  
 extended with unshut mouth?
Is there a single final farewell?


14My songs cease—I abandon them; From behind the screen where I hid, I advance person- 
 ally, solely to you.
15Camerado! This is no book; Who touches this, touches a man; (Is it night? Are we here alone?) It is I you hold, and who holds you; I spring from the pages into your arms—decease calls  
 me forth.
16O how your fingers drowse me! Your breath falls around me like dew—your pulse lulls  
 the tympans of my ears;
I feel immerged from head to foot; Delicious—enough.
  [ begin page 384 ]ppp.00270.386.jpg 17Enough, O deed impromptu and secret! Enough, O gliding present! Enough, O summ'd-up  


18Dear friend, whoever you are, take this kiss, I give it especially to you—Do not forget me; I feel like one who has done work for the day, to retire  
I receive now again of my many translations—from my  
 avataras ascending—while others doubtless await  
An unknown sphere, more real than I dream'd, more  
 direct, darts awakening rays about me—So long!
Remember my words—I may again return, I love you—I depart from materials; I am as one disembodied, triumphant, dead.

Table of Contents (1871)

Poems in this cluster

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