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Leaves of Grass (1867)

  ppp.00473.001.jpg LEAVES 
New-York. 1867.   ppp.00473.002.jpg ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by WALT WHITMAN, in the Clerk's Office of the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York. WM. E. CHAPIN & CO, Printers, 24 Beekman Street, New York.


Inscription . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Starting from Paumanok . . . . . . . . 8
Walt Whitman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
To the Garden, the World . . . . . . . 95
From Pent-Up Aching Rivers . . .
I Sing the Body Electric . . . . . . . . 98
A Woman Waits for Me . . . . . . . . . 108
Spontaneous Me . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
One Hour to Madness and Joy . . 112
We Two, how long we were fool'd 114
Native Moments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
Once I Pass'd through a Populous 
  City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Facing West from California's 
  Shores . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ages and Ages, Returning at In- 
 tervals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
O Hymen! O Hymenee! . . . . . . . . 117
I am He that Aches with Love . .
As Adam, Early in the Morning .
Excelsior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
In Paths Untrodden . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Scented Herbage of my Breast . . . 120
Whoever you are Holding Me  
 now in Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
These, I, Singing in Spring . . . . . 124
A Song . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
Not Heaving from my Ribb'd 
  Breast only . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Of the Terrible Doubt of Appear- 
 ances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Recorders Ages Hence . . . . . . . . . . 128
When I Heard at the Close of the  
 day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Are you the New Person Drawn 
  Toward me? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Roots and Leaves Themselves 
  Alone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Not Heat Flames up and Con- 
 sumes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Trickle, Drops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Of Him I love Day and Night . . . 132
City of Orgies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
Behold this Swarthy Face . . . . . . .
I saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak 
  Growing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
That Music Always Round Me . .
To a Stranger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
This Moment, Yearning and 
  Thoughtful . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I Hear it was Charged Against Me 136
The Prairie-Grass Dividing . . . . . 137
We Two Boys Together Clinging
O Living Always—Always Dying 138
When I Peruse the Conquer'd 
  Fame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Glimpse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Promise to California . . . . . . . . . 139
Here, Sailor! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Here the Frailest Leaves of Me . . 140
What Think you, I take my Pen 
  in Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
No Labor-Saving Machine . . . . . .
I Dream'd in a Dream . . . . . . . . . . . 141
To the East and to the West . . . .
Earth, my Likeness . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Leaf for Hand in Hand . . . . . . . 142
Fast Anchor'd, Eternal . . . . . . . . .
Sometimes, with One I Love . . . .
That Shadow, my Likeness . . . . . 143
Among the Multitude . . . . . . . . . . .
To a Western Boy . . . . . . . . . . . . .
O You whom I often and Silently 
  Come . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Full of Life, Now . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Salut au Monde . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
What Place is Besieged? . . . . . . . . 158
"There was a child went forth" . 159
"Myself and mine gymnastic 
  ever" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Who learns my lesson com- 
 plete!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Whoever you are, I fear," &c . . 165
Beginners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
Tests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Perfections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Song of the Broad-Axe . . . . . . . . . . 169
With Antecedents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
Savantism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry . . . . . . . . 185
To a Foil'd Revolter or Revoltress 193
To get Betimes in Boston Town . 195
To a Common Prostitute . . . . . . . . 197
To a Pupil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 198
To Rich Givers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Word Out of the Sea . . . . . . . . . . 199
A Leaf of Faces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
Stronger Lessons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
Europe, the 72d and 73d years of 
  These States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
  [ begin page iv ]ppp.00473.004.jpg
The Runner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
To the Sayers of Words . . . . . . . . . 215
Longings for Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222
To a President . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
Walt Whitman's Caution . . . . . . .
To Other Lands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Song of the Open Road . . . . . . . . . . 225
To the States, to Identify the 
  16th,17th, or 18th Presiden- 
 tiad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
To a Certain Cantatrice . . . . . . . . .
To Workingmen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239
Debris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248
"O hastening light!" . . . . . . . . . . 249
"Tears! tears! tears!" . . . . . . . . .
"Aboard at a ship's helm," . . . . . 250
American Feuillage . . . . . . . . . . . . 251
Mannahatta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257
To You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258
France, the 18th Year of These 
  States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A Hand-Mirror . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260
"Of the visages of things" . . . . 261
"Of waters, forests, hills" . . . . . .
"Of persons arrived at high po- 
 sitions," . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Of ownership." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"As I sit with others, at a great 
  feast" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Of what I write from myself" . 263
"Of obedience, faith, adhesive- 
 ness" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
To Him that was Crucified . . . . . . 264
To Old Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
To One Shortly to Die . . . . . . . . . . 265
To You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Unnamed Lands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 266
Kosmos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267
When I read the Book . . . . . . . . . 268
Says . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269
Despairing Cries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
Picture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Poems of Joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271
Respondez! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280
The City Dead-House . . . . . . . . . . 284
Leaflets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Think of the Soul" . . . . . . . . . . . 285
"Unfolded out of the folds of 
  the woman" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Night on the prairies" . . . . . . . . 287
"The world below the brine" . . . 288
"I sit and look out upon all the 
  sorrows of the world" . . . . . .
Visor'd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Not the Pilot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
As if a Phantom Caress'd Me . . .
Great are the Myths . . . . . . . . . . . . 291
Morning Romanza . . . . . . . . . . . . . 294
Burial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 298
This Compost! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306
I hear America Singing . . . . . . . . . 308
Manhattan's streets I saunter'd . 309
I was Looking a Long While . . . . 312
The Indications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 313
"On the beach at night alone" . 315
"To oratists—to male and fe- 
 male" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Laws for Creations" . . . . . . . . . . . 317
"Poets to come!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Me Imperturbe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 318
Sleep-Chasings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319
Elemental Drifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331
Miracles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 335
You Felons on Trial in Courts . . 336
Mediums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337
Now Lift me Close . . . . . . . . . . . . . 338


See Table of Contents prefixed.


See Table of Contents prefixed.



SMALL is the theme of the following Chant, yet the  
 greatest—namely, ONE'S-SELFthat wondrous  
 thing, a simple, separate person. That, for the  
 use of the New World, I sing.
Man's physiology complete, from top to toe, I sing. Not  
 physiognomy alone, nor brain alone, is worthy for  
 the muse;—I say the Form complete is worthier  
 far. The female equally with the male, I sing.
Nor cease at the theme of One's-Self. I speak the word  
 of the modern, the word EN-MASSE.
My Days I sing, and the Lands—with interstice I knew  
 of hapless War.
O friend, whoe'er you are, at last arriving hither to com- 
 mence, I feel through every leaf the pressure of
 your hand, which I return. And thus upon our  
 journey link'd together let us go.



1STARTING from fish-shape Paumanok, where I was  
Well-begotten, and rais'd by a perfect mother; After roaming many lands—lover of populous pave- 
Dweller in Mannahatta, city of ships, my city—or on  
 southern savannas;
Or a soldier camp'd, or carrying my knapsack and gun  
 —or a miner in California;
Or rude in my home in Dakotah's woods, my diet  
 meat, my drink from the spring;
Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep  
Far from the clank of crowds, intervals passing, rapt  
 and happy;
Aware of the fresh free giver, the flowing Missouri—  
 aware of mighty Niagara;
Aware of the buffalo herds, grazing the plains—the  
 hirsute and strong-breasted bull;
Of earths, rocks, Fifth-month flowers, experienced—  
 stars, rain, snow, my amaze;
Having studied the mocking-bird's tones, and the  
 mountain hawk's,
And heard at dusk the unrival'd one, the hermit  
 thrush from the swamp-cedars,
Solitary, singing in the West, I strike up for a New  
  [ begin page 8 ]ppp.00473.008.jpg


2Victory, union, faith, identity, time, Yourself, the present and future lands, the indissolu- 
 ble compacts, riches, mystery,
Eternal progress, the kosmos, and the modern reports.
3This, then, is life; Here is what has come to the surface after so many  
 throes and convulsions.
4How curious! how real! Under foot the divine soil—over head the sun. 5See, revolving, the globe; The ancestor-continents, away, group'd together; The present and future continents, north and south, 
 with the isthmus between.
6See, vast, trackless spaces; As in a dream, they change, they swiftly fill; Countless masses debouch upon them; They are now cover'd with the foremost people, arts, 
 institutions, known.
7See, projected, through time, For me, an audience interminable. 8With firm and regular step they wend—they never  
Successions of men, Americanos, a hundred millions; One generation playing its part, and passing on, Another generation playing its part, and passing on in  
 its turn,
With faces turn'd sideways or backward towards me, 
 to listen,
With eyes retrospective towards me.
  [ begin page 9 ]ppp.00473.009.jpg


9Americanos! Conquerors! marches humanitarian; Foremost! century marches! Libertad! masses! For you a programme of chants. 10Chants of the prairies; Chants of the long-running Mississippi, and down to  
 the Mexican sea;
Chants of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and  
Chants going forth from the centre, from Kansas, and  
 thence, equi-distant,
Shooting in pulses of fire, ceaseless, to vivify all.


11In the Year 80 of The States, My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this  
 soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here, from parents the same, 
 and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-six years old, in perfect health, begin, Hoping to cease not till death.
12Creeds and schools in abeyance, (Retiring back a while, sufficed at what they are, but  
 never forgotten,)
I harbor, for good or bad—I permit to speak, at every  
Nature now without check, with original energy.


13Take my leaves, America! take them South, and  
 take them North!
Make welcome for them everywhere, for they are your  
 own offspring;
Surround them, East and West! for they would sur- 
 round you;
And you precedents! connect lovingly with them, for  
 they connect lovingly with you.
  [ begin page 10 ]ppp.00473.010.jpg 14I conn'd old times; I sat studying at the feet of the great masters: Now, if eligible, O that the great masters might re- 
 turn and study me!
15In the name of These States, shall I scorn the  
Why these are the children of the antique, to jus- 
 tify it.


16Dead poets, philosophs, priests, Martyrs, artists, inventors, governments long since, Language-shapers, on other shores, Nations once powerful, now reduced, withdrawn, or  
I dare not proceed till I respectfully credit what you  
 have left, wafted hither :
I have perused it—own it is admirable, (moving  
 awhile among it;)
Think nothing can ever be greater—nothing can ever  
 deserve more than it deserves;
Regarding it all intently a long while, then dismiss- 
 ing it,
I stand in my place, with my own day, here.
17Here lands female and male; Here the heirship and heiress-ship of the world—here  
 the flame of materials;
Here Spirituality, the translatress, the openly-avow'd, The ever-tending, the finale of visible forms; The satisfier, after due long-waiting, now advancing, Yes, here comes my mistress, the Soul.


18The SOUL! Forever and forever—longer than soil is brown and  
 solid—longer than water ebbs and flows.
  ppp.00473.011.jpg 19I will make the poems of materials, for I think they  
 are to be the most spiritual poems;
And I will make the poems of my body and of mor- 
For I think I shall then supply myself with the poems  
 of my Soul, and of immortality.
20I will make a song for These States, that no one  
 State may under any circumstances be sub- 
 jected to another State;
And I will make a song that there shall be comity by  
 day and by night between all The States, and  
 between any two of them;
And I will make a song for the ears of the President, 
 full of weapons with menacing points,
And behind the weapons countless dissatisfied faces : And a song make I, of the One form'd out of all; The fang'd and glittering One whose head is over all; Resolute, warlike One, including and over all; (However high the head of any else, that head is over all.)
21I will acknowledge contemporary lands; I will trail the whole geography of the globe, and sa- 
 lute courteously every city large and small;
And employments! I will put in my poems, that with  
 you is heroism, upon land and sea—And I will  
 report all heroism from an American point of  
And sexual organs and acts! do you concentrate in  
 me—for I am determin'd to tell you with cour- 
 ageous clear voice, to prove you illustrious.
22I will sing the song of companionship; I will show what alone must finally compact These; I believe These are to found their own ideal of  
 manly love, indicating it in me;
I will therefore let flame from me the burning fires  
 that were threatening to consume me;
  [ begin page 12 ]ppp.00473.012.jpg I will lift what has too long kept down those smoul- 
 dering fires;
I will give them complete abandonment; I will write the evangel-poem of comrades and of love; (For who but I should understand love, with all its sorrow and joy? And who but I should be the poet of comrades?)


23I am the credulous man of qualities, ages, races; I advance from the people en-masse in their own  
Here is what sings unrestricted faith.
24Omnes! Omnes! let others ignore what they may; I make the poem of evil also—I commemorate that  
 part also;
I am myself just as much evil as good, and my nation  
 is—And I say there is in fact no evil,
(Or if there is, I say it is just as important to you, to  
 the land, or to me, as anything else.)
25I too, following many, and follow'd by many, inau- 
 gurate a Religion—I too go to the wars;
(It may be I am destin'd to utter the loudest cries  
 thereof, the winner's pealing shouts;
Who knows? they may rise from me yet, and soar  
 above every thing.)
26Each is not for its own sake; I say the whole earth, and all the stars in the sky, are  
 for Religion's sake.
27I say no man has ever yet been half devout enough None has ever yet adored or worship'd half enough;   ppp.00473.013.jpg None has begun to think how divine he himself is, and  
 how certain the future is.
28I say that the real and permanent grandeur of  
 These States must be their religion;
Otherwise there is no real and permanent grandeur; (Nor character, nor life worthy the name, without Re- 
Nor land, nor man or woman, without Religion.)


29What are you doing, young man? Are you so earnest—so given up to literature, science, 
 art, amours?
These ostensible realities, politics, points? Your ambition or business, whatever it may be?
30It is well—Against such I say not a word—I am  
 their poet also;
But behold! such swiftly subside—burnt up for Re- 
 ligion sake;
For not all matter is fuel to heat, impalpable flame, 
 the essential life of the earth,
Any more than such are to Religion.


31What do you seek, so pensive and silent? What do you need, Camerado? Dear son! do you think it is love? 32Listen, dear son—listen, America, daughter or son! It is a painful thing to love a man or woman to ex- 
 cess—and yet it satisfies—it is great;
But there is something else very great—it makes the  
 whole coincide;
It, magnificent, beyond materials, with continuous  
 hands, sweeps and provides for all.


33Know you! to drop in the earth the germs of a  
 greater Religion,
The following chants, each for its kind, I sing.
34My comrade! For you, to share with me, two greatnesses—and a  
 third one, rising inclusive and more resplen- 
The greatness of Love and Democracy—and the  
 greatness of Religion.
35Melange mine own! the unseen and the seen; Mysterious ocean where the streams empty; Prophetic spirit of materials shifting and flickering  
 around me;
Living beings, identities, now doubtless near us, in the air, that we know not of; Contact daily and hourly that will not release me; These selecting—these, in hints, demanded of me.
36Not he, with a daily kiss, onward from childhood  
 kissing me,
Has winded and twisted around me that which holds  
 me to him,
Any more than I am held to the heavens, to the spir- 
 itual world,
And to the identities of the Gods, my lovers, faithful  
 and true,
After what they have done to me, suggesting themes.
37O such themes! Equalities! O amazement of things! O divine average! O warblings under the sun—usher'd, as now, or at  
 noon, or setting!
O strain, musical, flowing through ages—now reach- 
 ing hither,
I take to your reckless and composite chords—I add  
 to them, and cheerfully pass them forward.
  [ begin page 15 ]ppp.00473.015.jpg


38As I have walk'd in Alabama my morning walk, I have seen where the she-bird, the mocking-bird  
 on her nest in the briers, hatching her brood.
39I have seen the he-bird also; I have paused to hear him, near at hand, inflating his  
 throat, and joyfully singing.
40And while I paused, it came to me that what he  
 really sang for was not there only,
Nor for his mate nor himself only, nor all sent back  
 by the echoes;
But subtle, clandestine, away beyond, A charge transmitted, and gift occult, for those being  


41Democracy! Near at hand to you a throat is now inflating itself and joyfully singing. 42Ma femme! For the brood beyond us and of us, For those who belong here, and those to come, I, exultant, to be ready for them, will now shake out  
 carols stronger and haughtier than have ever  
 yet been heard upon earth.
43I will make the songs of passion, to give them their  
And your songs, outlaw'd offenders—for I scan you  
 with kindred eyes, and carry you with me the  
 same as any.
44I will make the true poem of riches, To earn for the body and the mind, whatever adheres, 
 and goes forward, and is not dropt by death.
  [ begin page 16 ]ppp.00473.016.jpg 45I will effuse egotism, and show it underlying all—  
 and I will be the bard of personality;
And I will show of male and female that either is but  
 the equal of the other;
And I will show that there is no imperfection in the  
 present—and can be none in the future;
And I will show that whatever happens to anybody, it  
 may be turn'd to beautiful results—and I will  
 show that nothing can happen more beautiful  
 than death;
And I will thread a thread through my poems that  
 time and events are compact,
And that all the things of the universe are perfect  
 miracles, each as profound as any.
46I will not make poems with reference to parts; But I will make leaves, poems, poemets, songs, says, 
 thoughts, with reference to ensemble:
And I will not sing with reference to a day, but with  
 reference to all days;
And I will not make a poem, nor the least part of a  
 poem, but has reference to the Soul;
(Because, having look'd at the objects of the universe, 
 I find there is no one, nor any particle of one, 
 but has reference to the Soul.)


47Was somebody asking to see the Soul? See! your own shape and countenance—persons, sub- 
 stances, beasts, the trees, the running rivers, the  
 rocks and sands. All hold spiritual joys, and afterwards loosen them:
How can the real body ever die, and be buried?
49Of your real body, and any man's or woman's real  
Item for item, it will elude the hands of the corpse- 
 cleaners, and pass to fitting spheres,
  [ begin page 17 ]ppp.00473.017.jpg Carrying what has accrued to it from the moment of  
 birth to the moment of death.
50Not the types set up by the printer return their im- 
 pression, the meaning, the main concern,
Any more than a man's substance and life, or a wo- 
 man substance and life, return in the body  
 and the Soul,
Indifferently before death and after death.
51Behold! the body includes and is the meaning, the  
 main concern—and includes and is the Soul;
Whoever you are! how superb and how divine is your  
 body, or any part of it.


52Whoever you are! to you endless announcements. 53Daughter of the lands, did you wait for your poet? Did you wait for one with a flowing mouth and in- 
 dicative hand?
54Toward the male of The States, and toward the  
 female of The States,
Live words—words to the lands.
55O the lands! interlink'd, food-yielding lands! Land of coal and iron! Land of gold! Lands of  
 cotton, sugar, rice!
Land of wheat, beef, pork! Land of wool and hemp! 
 Land of the apple and grape!
Land of the pastoral plains, the grass-fields of the  
 world! Land of those sweet-air'd interminable  
Land of the herd, the garden, the healthy house of  
Lands where the northwest Columbia winds, and  
 where the southwest Colorado winds!
  [ begin page 18 ]ppp.00473.018.jpg Land of the eastern Chesapeake! Land of the Dela- 
Land of Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan! Land of the Old Thirteen! Massachusetts land! Land  
 of Vermont and Connecticut!
Land of the ocean shores! Land of sierras and peaks! Land of boatmen and sailors! Fishermen's land! Inextricable lands! the clutch'd together! the passion- 
 ate ones!
The side by side! the elder and younger brothers! 
 the bony-limb'd!
The great women's land! the feminine! the ex- 
 perienced sisters and the inexperienced sisters!
Far breath'd land! Arctic braced! Mexican breez'd! 
 the diverse! the compact!
The Pennsylvanian! the Virginian! the double Caro- 
O all and each well-loved by me! my intrepid nations! 
 O I at any rate include you all with perfect love!
I cannot be discharged from you! not from one, any  
 sooner than another!
O Death! O for all that, I am yet of you, unseen, this  
 hour, with irrepressible love,
Walking New England, a friend, a traveler, Splashing my bare feet in the edge of the summer  
 ripples, on Paumanok's sands,
Crossing the prairies—dwelling again in Chicago—  
 dwelling in every town,
Observing shows, births, improvements, structures, 
Listening to the orators and the oratresses in public  
Of and through The States, as during life—each man  
 and woman my neighbor,
The Louisianian, the Georgian, as near to me, and I  
 as near to him and her,
The Mississippian and Arkansian yet with me—and  
  I yet with any of them;
  [ begin page 19 ]ppp.00473.019.jpg Yet upon the plains west of the spinal river—yet in  
 my house of adobie,
Yet returning eastward—yet in the Sea-Side State, or  
 in Maryland,
Yet Kanadian, cheerily braving the winter—the snow  
 and ice welcome to me,
Yet a true son either of Maine, or of the Granite State, 
 or of the Narragansett Bay State, or of the  
 Empire State;
Yet sailing to other shores to annex the same—yet  
 welcoming every new brother;
Hereby applying these leaves to the new ones, from  
 the hour they unite with the old ones;
Coming among the new ones myself, to be their com- 
 panion and equal—coming personally to you  
Enjoining you to acts, characters, spectacles, with  


56With me, with firm holding—yet haste, haste on. 57For your life, adhere tome; Of all the men of the earth, I only can unloose you  
 and toughen you;
I may have to be persuaded many times before I  
 consent to give myself to you—but what of  
Must not Nature be persuaded many times?
58No dainty dolce affettuoso I; Bearded, sunburnt, gray-neck'd, forbidding, I have  
To be wrestled with as I pass, for the solid prizes of  
 the universe;
For such I afford whoever can persevere to win them.
  [ begin page 20 ]ppp.00473.020.jpg


59On my way a moment I pause; Here for you! and here for America! Still the Present I raise aloft—Still the Future of  
 The States I harbinge, glad and sublime;
And for the Past, I pronounce what the air holds of  
60The red aborigines! Leaving natural breaths, sounds of rain and winds, 
 calls as of birds and animals in the woods, 
 syllabled to us for names;
Okonee, Koosa, Ottawa, Monongahela, Sauk, Natchez, 
 Chattahoochee, Kaqueta, Oronoco,
Wabash, Miami, Saginaw, Chippewa, Oshkosh, Walla- 
Leaving such to The States, they melt, they depart, 
 charging the water and the land with names.


61O expanding and swift! O henceforth, Elements, breeds, adjustments, turbulent, quick, and  
A world primal again—Vistas of glory, incessant and  
A new race, dominating previous ones, and grander  
 far, with new contests,
New politics, new literatures and religions, new in- 
 ventions and arts.
62These! my voice announcing—I will sleep no more, 
 but arise;
You oceans that have been calm within me! how I  
 feel you, fathomless, stirring, preparing un- 
 precedented waves and storms.
  [ begin page 21 ]ppp.00473.021.jpg


63See! steamers steaming through my poems! See, in my poems immigrants continually coming and  
See, in arriere, the wigwam, the trail, the hunter's  
 hut, the flat-boat, the maize-leaf, the claim, the  
 rude fence, and the backwoods village;
See, on the one side the Western Sea, and on the  
 other the Eastern Sea, how they advance and  
 retreat upon my poems, as upon their own  
See, pastures and forests in my poems—See, animals, 
 wild and tame—See, beyond the Kanzas, count- 
 less herds of buffalo, feeding on short curly  
See, in my poems, cities, solid, vast, inland, with  
 paved streets, with iron and stone edifices, 
 ceaseless vehicles, and commerce;
See, the many-cylinder'd steam printing-press—See, 
 the electric telegraph, stretching across the  
 Continent, from the Western Sea to Man- 
See, through Atlantica's depths, pulses American, 
 Europe reaching—pulses of Europe, duly re- 
See, the strong and quick locomotive, as it departs, 
 panting, blowing the steam-whistle;
See, ploughmen, ploughing farms—See, miners, dig- 
 ging mines—See, the numberless factories;
See, mechanics, busy at their benches, with tools—  
 See from among them, superior judges, philo- 
 sophs, Presidents, emerge, drest in working  
See, lounging through the shops and fields of The  
 States, me, well-beloved, close-held by day and  
Hear the loud echoes of my songs there! Read the  
 hints come at last.
  [ begin page 22 ]ppp.00473.022.jpg


64O Camerado close! O you and me at last—and us two only. 65O a word to clear one's path ahead endlessly! O something extatic and undemonstrable! O music  
O now I triumph—and you shall also; O hand in hand—O wholesome pleasure—O one more  
 desirer and lover!
O to haste, firm holding—to haste, haste on, with me.
  [ begin page 23 ]ppp.00473.023.jpg



1 I CELEBRATE myself; And what I assume you shall assume; For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to  
2I loafe and invite my Soul; I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of sum- 
 mer grass.
3Houses and rooms are full of perfumes—the shelves  
 are crowded with perfumes;
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it; The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall  
 not let it.
4The atmosphere is not a perfume—it has no taste of  
 the distillation—it is odorless;
It is for my mouth forever—I am in love with it; I will go to the bank by the wood, and become undis- 
 guised and naked;
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.


5The smoke of my own breath; Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, 
 crotch and vine;
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my  
 heart, the passing of blood and air through my  
  [ begin page 24 ]ppp.00473.024.jpg The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the  
 shore, and dark-color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in  
 the barn;
The sound of the belch'd words of my voice, words  
 loos'd to the eddies of the wind;
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around  
 of arms;
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple  
 boughs wag;
The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or  
 along the fields and hill-sides;
The feeling of health, the full noon trill, the song of  
 me rising from bed and meeting the sun.
6Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you  
 reckon'd the earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read? Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of  
7Stop this day and night with me, and you shall pos- 
 sess the origin of all poems;
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun—  
 (there are millions of suns left;)
You shall no longer take things at second or third  
 hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, 
 nor feed on the spectres in books;
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take  
 things from me:
You shall listen to all sides, and filter them from your- 


8I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk  
 of the beginning and the end.
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
9There was never any more inception than there is  
Nor any more youth or age than there is now;   [ begin page 25 ]ppp.00473.025.jpg And will never be any more perfection than there  
 is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
10Urge, and urge, and urge; Always the procreant urge of the world. 11Out of the dimness opposite equals advance—always  
 substance and increase, always sex;
Always a knit of identity—always distinction—always  
 a breed of life.
12To elaborate is no avail—learn'd and unlearn'd feel  
 that it is so.
13 Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, 
 well entretied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical, I and this mystery, here we stand.
14Clear and sweet is my Soul, and clear and sweet is  
 all that is not my Soul.
15Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by  
 the seen,
Till that becomes unseen, and receives proof in its  
16Showing the best, and dividing it from the worst, 
 age vexes age;
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, 
 while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and  
 admire myself.
17Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of  
 any man hearty and clean;
Not an inch, nor a particle of an inch, is vile, and  
 none shall be less familiar than the rest.
  [ begin page 26 ]ppp.00473.026.jpg 18I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing; As the hugging and loving Bed-fellow sleeps at my  
 side through the night, and withdraws at the  
 peep of the day, with stealthy tread,
Leaving me baskets cover'd with white towels, swell- 
 ing the house with their plenty,
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization, and  
 scream at my eyes,
That they turn from gazing after and down the road, And forthwith cipher and show me a cent, Exactly the contents of one, and exactly the contents  
 of two, and which is ahead?


19Trippers and askers surround me; People I meet—the effect upon me of my early life, or  
 the ward and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, 
 authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues, The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman  
 I love,
The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or ill- 
 doing, or loss or lack of money, or depressions  
 or exaltations;
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of  
 doubtful news, the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights, and go from me  
But they are not the Me myself.
20Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I  
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, 
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpa- 
 ble certain rest,
  [ begin page 27 ]ppp.00473.027.jpg Looking with side-curved head, curious what will come  
Both in and out of the game, and watching and won- 
 dering at it.
21Backward I see in my own days where I sweated  
 through fog with linguists and contenders;
I have no mockings or arguments—I witness and wait.


22I believe in you, my Soul—the other I am must  
 not abase itself to you;
And you must not be abased to the other.
23Loafe with me on the grass—loose the stop from  
 your throat;
Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or  
 lecture, not even the best;
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.
24I mind how once we lay, such a transparent sum- 
 mer morning;
How you settled your head athwart my hips, and gently  
 turn'd over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged  
 your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
And reach'd till you felt my beard, and reach'd till you  
 held my feet.
25Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and  
 knowledge that pass all the argument of the  
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my  
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of  
 my own;
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, 
 and the women my sisters and lovers;
And that a kelson of the creation is love;   [ begin page 28 ]ppp.00473.028.jpg And limitless are leaves, stiff or drooping in the fields; And brown ants in the little wells beneath them; And mossy scabs of the worm-fence, and heap'd stones, 
 elder, mullen and pokeweed.


26A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with  
 full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what  
 it is, any more than he.
27I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of  
 hopeful green stuff woven.
28Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly dropt, Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, 
 that we may see and remark, and say, Whose?
29Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced  
 babe of the vegetation.
30Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic; And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and  
 narrow zones.
Growing among black folks as among white; Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them  
 the same, I receive them the same.
31And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of  
32Tenderly will I use you,curling grass; It may be you transpire from the breasts of young  
It may be if I had known them I would have loved  
  [ begin page 29 ]ppp.00473.029.jpg It may be you are from old people, and from women, 
 and from offspring taken soon out of their  
 mothers' laps;
And here you are the mothers' laps.
33This grass is very dark to be from the white heads  
 of old mothers;
Darker than the colorless beards of old men; Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of  
34O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues! And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of  
 mouths for nothing.
35I wish I could translate the hints about the dead  
 young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the  
 offspring taken soon out of their laps.
36What do you think has become of the young and  
 old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and  
37They are alive and well somewhere; The smallest sprout shows there is really no death; And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does  
 not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
38All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses; And to die is different from what any one supposed, 
 and luckier.
B   [ begin page 30 ]ppp.00473.030.jpg


39Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her, it is just as lucky to  
 die, and I know it.
40I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new  
 wash'd babe, and am not contain'd between my- 
 hat and boots;
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every  
 one good;
The earth good, and the stars good, and their  
 adjuncts all good.
41I am not an earth, nor an adjunct of an earth; I am the mate and companion of people, all just as  
 immortal and fathomless as myself;
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)
42Every kind for itself and its own—for me mine, male  
 and female;
For me those that have been boys, and that love  
For me the man that is proud, and feels how it stings  
 to be slighted;
For me the sweetheart and the old maid—for me  
 mothers, and the mothers of mothers;
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed  
For me children, and the begetters of children.
43Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale, nor  
I see through the broadcloth and gingham, whether  
 or no;
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and  
 cannot be shaken away.
  [ begin page 31 ]ppp.00473.031.jpg


44The little one sleeps in its cradle; I lift the gauze, and look a long time, and silently  
 brush away flies with my hand.
45The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up  
 the bushy hill;
I peeringly view them from the top.
46The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the  
I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair—I note  
 where the pistol has fallen.
47The blab of the pave, the tires of carts, sluff of  
 boot-soles, talk of the promenaders;
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating  
 thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the  
 granite floor;
The snow-sleighs, the clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of  
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd  
The flap of the curtain'd litter, a sick man inside, 
 borne to the hospital;
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows  
 and fall;
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star, 
 quickly working his passage to the centre of  
 the crowd;
The impassive stones that receive and return so many  
What groans of over-fed or half-starv'd who fall  
 sun-struck, or in fits;
What exclamations of women taken suddenly, who  
 hurry home and give birth to babes;
What living and buried speech is always vibrating here  
 —what howls restrain'd by decorum,
  [ begin page 32 ]ppp.00473.032.jpg Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, 
 acceptances, rejections with convex lips;
I mind them or the show or resonance of them—I  
 come, and I depart.


48The big doors of the country-barn stand open and  
The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow- 
 drawn wagon;
The clear light plays on the brown gray and green in- 
 ter tinged;
The armfuls are packt to the sagging mow.
49I am there—I help—I came stretcht atop of the  
I felt its soft jolts—one leg reclined on the other; I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and  
And roll head over heels, and tangle my hair full of  


50Alone, far in the wilds and mountains, I hunt, Wandering, amazed at my own lightness and glee; In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the  
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh kill'd game; Falling asleep on the gather'd leaves, with my dog and  
 gun by my side.
51The Yankee clipper is under her three sky-sails—  
 she cuts the sparkle and scud;
My eyes settle the land—I bend at her prow, or shout  
 joyously from the deck.
52The boatman and clam-diggers arose early and stopt  
 for me;
  [ begin page 33 ]ppp.00473.033.jpg I tuck'd my trowser-ends in my boots, and went and  
 had a good time:
You should have been with us that day round the  
53I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in  
 the far-west—the bride was a red girl;
Her father and his friends sat near, cross-legged and  
 dumbly smoking—they had moccasins to their  
 feet, and large thick blankets hanging from their  
On a bank lounged the trapper—he was drest mostly  
 in skins—his luxuriant beard and curls pro- 
 tected his neck—he held his bride by the hand;
She had long eye-lashes—her head was bare—her  
 coarse straight locks descended upon her volup- 
 tuous limbs and reach'd to her feet.
54The runaway slave came to my house and stopt out- 
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the wood- 
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him  
 limpsy and weak,
And went where he sat on a log, and led him in and  
 assured him,
And brought water, and fill'd a tub for his sweated  
 body and bruis'd feet,
And gave him a room that enter'd from my own, and  
 gave him some coarse clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and  
 his awkwardness,
And remember putting plasters on the galls of his  
 neck and ankles;
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated  
 and pass'd north;
(I had him sit next me at table—my fire-lock lean'd  
 in the corner.)
  [ begin page 34 ]ppp.00473.034.jpg


55Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore; Twenty-eight young men, and all so friendly: Twenty-eight years of womanly life, and all so lone- 
56She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank; She hides, handsome and richly drest, aft the blinds  
 of the window.
57Which of the young men does she like the best? Ah, the homeliest of them is beautiful to her. 58Where are you off to, lady?for I see you; You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in  
 your room.
59Dancing and laughing along the beach came the  
 twenty-ninth bather;
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved  
60The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it  
 ran from their long hair;
Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.
61An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies; It descended tremblingly from their temples and  
62The young men float on their backs—their white  
 bellies bulge to the sun—they do not ask who  
 seizes fast to them;
They do not know who puffs and declines with pen- 
 dant and bending arch;
They do not think whom they souse with spray.
  [ begin page 35 ]ppp.00473.035.jpg


63The butcher-boy puts off his killing clothes, or  
 sharpens his knife at the stall in the market;
I loiter, enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and  
64Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ  
 the anvil;
Each has his main-sledge—they are all out—(there is  
 a great heat in the fire.)
65From the cinder-strew'd threshold I follow their  
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their  
 massive arms;
Overhand the hammers swing—overhand so slow—  
 overhand so sure:
They do not hasten—each man hits in his place.


66The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses  
 —the block swags underneath on its tied-over  
The negro that drives the dray of the stone-yard—  
 steady and tall he stands, poised on one leg on  
 the string-piece;
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast, and  
 loosens over his hip-band;
His glance is calm and commanding—he tosses the  
 slouch of his hat away from his forehead;
The sun falls on his crispy hair and moustache—falls  
 on the black of his polish'd and perfect limbs.
67I behold the picturesque giant, and love him—and I  
 do not stop there;
I go with the team also.
  [ begin page 36 ]ppp.00473.036.jpg 69In me the caresser of life wherever moving—back- 
 ward as well as forward slueing;
To niches aside and junior bending. Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain, or halt in the  
 leafy shade! what is that you express in your  
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in  
 my life.
70My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck, on  
 my distant and day-long ramble;
71I believe in those wing'd purposes, And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within  
And consider green and violet, and the tufted crown, 
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is  
 not something else;
And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, 
 yet trills pretty well to me;
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of  


72The wild gander leads his flock through the cool  
Ya-honk! he says, and sounds it down to me like an  
(The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen  
I find its purpose and place up there toward the  
 wintry sky.)
73The sharp hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the  
 house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog,
  [ begin page 37 ]ppp.00473.037.jpg The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats, The brood of the turkey-hen, and she with her half- 
 spread wings;
I see in them and myself the same old law.
74The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred  
They scorn the best I can do to relate them.
75I am enamour'd of growing outdoors, Of men that live among cattle, or taste of the ocean  
 or woods,
Of the builders and steerers of ships, and the wielders  
 of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses;
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.
76What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is  
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns; Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that  
 will take me;
Not asking the sky to come down to my good will; Scattering it freely forever.


77The pure contralto sings in the organ loft; The carpenter dresses his plank—the tongue of his  
 foreplane whistles its wild ascending lisp;
The married and unmarried children ride home to  
 their Thanksgiving dinner;
The pilot seizes the king-pin—he heaves down with a  
 strong arm;
The mate stands braced in the whale-boat—lance and  
 harpoon are ready;
The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious  
The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the  
B2   [ begin page 38 ]ppp.00473.038.jpg The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of  
 the big wheel;
The farmer stops by the bars, as he walks on a First- 
 day loafe, and looks at the oats and rye;
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a confirm'd  
(He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in  
 his mother's bed-room;)
The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works  
 at his case,
He turns his quid of tobacco, while his eyes blurr with  
 the manuscript;
The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table, What is removed drops horribly in a pail; The quadroon girl is sold at the stand—the drunkard. 
 nods by the bar-room stove;
The machinist rolls up his sleeves—the policeman  
 travels his beat—the gate-keeper marks who pass;
The young fellow drives the express-wagon—(I love  
 him, though I do not know him;)
The half-breed straps on his light boots to compete in  
 the race;
The western turkey-shooting draws old and young—  
 some lean on their rifles, some sit on logs,
Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his  
 position, levels his piece;
The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the  
 wharf or levee;
As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer  
 views them from his saddle;
The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for  
 their partners, the dancers bow to each other;
The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof'd garret, and  
 harks to the musical rain;
The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the  
The squaw, wrapt in her yellow-hemm'd cloth, is  
 offering moccasins and bead-bags for sale;
  [ begin page 39 ]ppp.00473.039.jpg The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with  
 half-shut eyes bent side-ways;
As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat, the plank  
 is thrown for the shore-going passengers;
The young sister holds out the skein, while the elder  
 sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now and  
 then for the knots;
The one-year wife is recovering and happy, having a  
 week ago borne her first child;
The clean-hair'd Yankee girl works with her sewing- 
 machine, or in the factory or mill;
The nine months' gone is in the parturition chamber, 
 her faintness and pains are advancing;
The paving-man leans on his two handed rammer—  
 the reporter's lead flies swiftly over the note-book  
 —the sign-painter is lettering with red and gold;
The canal boy trots on the tow path—the bookkeeper  
 counts at his desk, the shoemaker waxes his  
The conductor beats time for the band, and all the  
 performers follow him;
The child is baptized—the convert is making his first  
The regatta is spread on the bay—the race is begun  
 —how the white sails sparkle!
The drover, watching his drove, sings out to them that  
 would stray;
The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the pur- 
 chaser higgling about the odd cent;)
The camera and plate are prepared, the lady must sit  
 for her daguerreotype;
The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand  
 of the clock moves slowly;
The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just- 
 open lips;
The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on  
 her tipsy and pimpled neck;
The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men  
 jeer and wink to each other;
  [ begin page 40 ]ppp.00473.040.jpg (Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths, nor jeer you;) The President, holding a cabinet council, is surrounded  
 by the Great Secretaries;
On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly  
 with twined arms;
The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of  
 halibut in the hold;
The Missourian crosses the plains, toting his wares and  
 his cattle;
As the fare-collector goes through the train, he gives  
 notice by the jingling of loose change;
The floor-men are laying the floor—the tinners are  
 tinning the roof—the masons are calling for  
In single file, each shouldering his hod, pass onward  
 the laborers;
Seasons pursuing each other, the indescribable crowd  
 is gather'd—it is the Fourth of Seventh-month  
 —(What salutes of cannon and small arms!)
Seasons pursuing each other, the plougher ploughs, the  
 mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the  
Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by  
 the hole in the frozen surface;
The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter  
 strikes deep with his axe;
Flatboatmen make fast, towards dusk, near the cotton- 
 wood or pekan-trees;
Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river, 
 or through those drain'd by the Tennessee, or  
 through those of the Arkansaw;
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chatta- 
 hooche or Altamahaw;
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and  
 great-grandsons around them;
In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and  
 trappers after their day's sport;
The city sleeps, and the country sleeps;   [ begin page 41 ]ppp.00473.041.jpg The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their  
The old husband sleeps by his wife, and the young  
 husband sleeps by his wife;
And these one and all tend inward to me, and I tend  
 outward to them;
And such as it is to be of these, more or less, I am.


78I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the  
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others, Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man, Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse, and stuff'd with  
 the stuff that is fine;
One of the great nation, the nation of many nations, 
 the smallest the same, and the largest the same;
A southerner soon as a northerner—a planter non- 
 chalant and hospitable, down by the Oconee I  
A Yankee, bound my own way, ready for trade, my  
 joints the limberest joints on earth, and the  
 sternest joints on earth;
A Kentuckian, walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my  
 deer-skin leggings—a Louisianian or Georgian;
A boatman over lakes or bays, or along coasts—a  
 Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;
At home on Kanadian snow-shoes, or up in the bush, 
 or with fishermen off Newfoundland;
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest  
 and tacking;
At home on the hills of Vermont, or in the woods of  
 Maine, or the Texan ranch;
Comrade of Californians—comrade of free north-west- 
 erners, (loving their big proportions;)
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen—comrade of all who  
 shake hands and welcome to drink and meat;
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thought- 
  [ begin page 42 ]ppp.00473.042.jpg A novice beginning, yet experient of myriads of sea- 
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and re- 
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker; A prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, 
79I resist anything better than my own diversity; I breathe the air, but leave plenty after me, And am not stuck up, and am in my place. 80(The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place; The suns I see, and the suns I cannot see, are in their  
The palpable is in its place, and the impalpable is in its  


81These are the thoughts of all men in all ages and  
 lands—they are not original with me;
If they are not yours as much as mine, they are  
 nothing, or next to nothing;
If they are not the riddle and the untying of the rid- 
 dle, they are nothing;
If they are not just as close as they are distant, they  
 are nothing.
82This is the grass that grows wherever the land is, 
 and the water is;
This is the common air that bathes the globe.


83With music strong I come—with my cornets and  
 my drums,
I play not marches for accepted victors only—I play  
 great marches for conquer'd and slain persons.
  [ begin page 43 ]ppp.00473.043.jpg
84Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall—battles are lost in the same  
 spirit in which they are won.
85I beat and pound for the dead; I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gay- 
 est for them.
86Vivas to those who have fail'd! And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea! And to those themselves who sank in the sea! And to all generals that lost engagements! and all  
 overcome heroes!
And the numberless unknown heroes, equal to the  
 greatest heroes known.


87This is the meal pleasantly set—this is the meat for  
 natural hunger;
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous—I  
 make appointments with all;
I will not have a single person slighted or left away; The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited; The heavy-lipp'd slave is invited—the venerealee is  
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.
88This is the press of a bashful hand—this is the float  
 and odor of hair;
This is the touch of my lips to yours—this is the mur- 
 mur of yearning;
This is the far-off depth and height reflecting my own  
This is the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet <  
89Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? Well, I have—for the Fourth-month showers have, 
 and the mica on the side of a rock has.
  [ begin page 44 ]ppp.00473.044.jpg
90Do you take it I would astonish? Does the daylight astonish? Does the early redstart, 
 twittering through the woods?
Do I astonish more than they?
91This hour I tell things in confidence; I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.


92Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude; How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat? 93What is a man, anyhow? What am I? What are you? 94All I mark as my own, you shall offset it with your  
Else it were time lost listening to me.
95I do not snivel that snivel the world over, That months are vacuums, and the ground but wal- 
 low and filth;
That life is a suck and a sell, and nothing remains at  
 the end but threadbare crape, and tears.
96Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for  
 invalids—conformity goes to the fourth-remov'd;
I wear my hat as I please, indoors or out.
97Why should I pray? Why should I venerate and  
 be ceremonious?
98Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, 
 counsell'd with doctors, and calculated close,
I find no sweeter fat then sticks to my own bones.   [ begin page 45 ]ppp.00473.045.jpg
99In all people I see myself—none more, and not one  
 a barley-corn less;
And the good or bad I say of myself, I say of them.
100And I know I am solid and sound; To me the converging objects of the universe perpetu- 
 ally flow;
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing  
101I know I am deathless; I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by the car- 
 penter compass;
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with  
 a burnt stick at night.
102I know I am august; I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be  
I see that the elementary laws never apologize; (I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant  
 my house by, after all.)
103I exist as I am—that is enough; If no other in the world be aware, I sit content; And if each and all be aware, I sit content. 104One world is aware, and by far the largest to me, 
 and that is myself;
And whether I come to my own to-day, or in ten  
 thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerful- 
 ness I can wait.
105My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite; I laugh at what you call dissolution; And I know the amplitude of time.
  [ begin page 46 ]ppp.00473.046.jpg


106I am the poet of the Body; And I am the poet of the Soul. 107The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains  
 of hell are with me;
The first I graft and increase upon myself—the latter  
 I translate into a new tongue.
108I am the poet of the woman the same as the man; And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man; And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of  
109I chant the chant of dilation or pride; We have had ducking and deprecating about enough; I show that size is only development. 110Have you outstript the rest? Are you the Presi- 
It is a trifle—they will more than arrive there, every  
 one, and still pass on.
111I am he that walks with the tender and growing  
I call to the earth and sea, half-held by the night.
112Press close, bare-bosom'd night! Press close, mag- 
 netic, nourishing night!
Night of south winds! night of the large few stars! Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night.
113Smile, O voluptuous, cool-breath'd earth! Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees; Earth of departed sunset! earth of the mountains, 
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon, just  
 tinged with blue!
  [ begin page 47 ]ppp.00473.047.jpg Earth of shine and dark, mottling the tide of the  
Earth of the limpid gray of clouds, brighter and  
 clearer for my sake!
Far-swooping elbow'd earth! rich, apple-blossom'd  
Smile, for your lover comes!
114Prodigal, you have given me love! Therefore I to  
 you give love!
O unspeakable, passionate love!


115You sea! I resign myself to you also—I guess  
 what you mean;
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers; I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me; We must have a turn together—I undress—hurry me  
 out of sight of the land;
Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse;
116Sea of stretch'd ground-swells! Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths! Sea of the brine of life! sea of unshovell'd yet always- 
 ready graves!
Howler and scooper of storms! capricious and dainty sea! I am integral with you—I too am of one phase, and of  
 all phases.
117Partaker of influx and efflux I—extoller of hate and  
Extoller of amies, and those that sleep in each others'  
118I am he attesting sympathy; (Shall I make my list of things in the house, and skip  
 the house that supports them?)
  [ begin page 48 ]ppp.00473.048.jpg 119I am not the poet of goodness only—I do not de- 
 cline to be the poet of wickedness also.
120Washes and razors for foofoos—for me freckles and  
 a bristling beard.
121What blurt is this about virtue and about vice? Evil propels me, and reform of evil propels me—I  
 stand indifferent;
My gait is no fault-finder's or rejecter's gait; I moisten the roots of all that has grown.
122Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging  
Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work'd  
 over and rectified?
123I find one side a balance, and the antipodal side a  
Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine; Thoughts and deeds of the present, our rouse and  
 early start.
124This minute that comes to me over the past decil- 
There is no better than it and now.
125What behaved well in the past, or behaves well  
 to-day, is not such a wonder;
The wonder is, always and always, how there can be  
 a mean man or an infidel.


126Endless unfolding of words of ages! And mine a word of the modern—the word En- 
127A word of the faith that never balks; Here or henceforward, it is all the same to me—  
 I accept time, absolutely.
  [ begin page 49 ]ppp.00473.049.jpg
128It alone is without flaw—it rounds and completes all; That mystic, baffling wonder I love, alone completes all. 129I accept reality, and dare not question it; Materialism first and last imbuing. 130Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demon- 
Fetch stonecrop, mixt with cedar and branches of  
This is the lexicographer—this the chemist—this  
 made a grammar of the old cartouches;
These mariners put the ship through dangerous un- 
 known seas;
This is the geologist—this works with the scalpel—  
 and this is a mathematician.
131Gentlemen! to you the first honors always: Your facts are useful and real—and yet they are not  
 my dwelling;
(I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.)
132Less the reminders of properties told, my words; And more the reminders, they, of life untold, and of  
 freedom and extrication,
And make short account of neuters and geldings, and  
 favor men and women fully equipt,
And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives, 
 and them that plot and conspire.


133Walt Whitman am I, of mighty Manhattan the son, Turbulent, fleshy and sensual, eating, drinking and  
No sentimentalist—no stander above men and women, 
 or apart from them;
No more modest than immodest.
  [ begin page 50 ]ppp.00473.050.jpg 134Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! 135Whoever degrades another degrades me; And whatever is done or said returns at last to me. 136Through me the afflatus surging and surging—  
 through me the current and index.
137I speak the pass-word primeval—I give the sign of  
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have  
 their counterpart of on the same terms.
138Through me many long dumb voices; Voices of the interminable generations of slaves; Voices of prostitutes, and of deform'd persons; Voices of the diseas'd and despairing, and of thieves  
 and dwarfs;
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion, And of the threads that connect the stars—and of  
 wombs, and of the fatherstuff,
And of the rights of them the others are down upon; Of the trivial, flat, foolish, despised, Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.
139Through me forbidden voices; Voices of sexes and lusts—voices veil'd, and I remove  
 the veil;
Voices indecent, by me clarified and transfigur'd.
140I do not press my fingers across my mouth; I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the  
 head and heart;
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
141I believe in the flesh and the appetites; Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part  
 and tag of me is a miracle.
  [ begin page 51 ]ppp.00473.051.jpg 142Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy what- 
 ever I touch or am touch'd from;
The scent of these arm-pits, aroma finer than prayer; This head more than churches, bibles, and all the  
143If I worship one thing more than another, it shall  
 be the spread of my own body, or any part of it.
144Translucent mould of me, it shall be you! Shaded ledges and rests, it shall be you! Firm masculine colter, it shall be you. 145Whatever goes to the tilth of me, it shall be you! You my rich blood! Your milky stream, pale strip- 
 pings of my life.
146Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall be  
My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions.
147Root of wash't sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! 
 nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you!
Mix't tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be  
Trickling sap of maple! fibre of manly wheat! it shall  
 be you!
148Sun so generous, it shall be you! Vapors lighting and shading my face, it shall be you! You sweaty brooks and dews, it shall be you! Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me, it  
 shall be you!
Broad, muscular fields! branches of live oak! lov- 
 ing lounger in my winding paths! it shall be  
Hands I have taken—face I have kiss'd—mortal I  
 have ever touch'd! it shall be you.
  [ begin page 52 ]ppp.00473.052.jpg 149I dote on myself—there is that lot of me, and all so  
Each moment, and whatever happens, thrills me with  
150O I am wonderful! I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause  
 of my faintest wish;
Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause  
 of the friendship I take again.
151That I walk up my stoop! I pause to consider if it  
 really be;
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than  
 the metaphysics of books.
152To behold the day-break! The little light fades the immense and diaphanous  
The air tastes good to my palate.
153Hefts of the moving world, at innocent gambols  
 silently rising, freshly exuding,
Scooting obliquely high and low.
154Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous  
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.
155The earth by the sky staid with—the daily close of  
 their junction;
The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over  
 my head;
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be  
  [ begin page 53 ]ppp.00473.053.jpg


156Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sun-rise  
 would kill me,
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of  
157We also ascend, dazzling and tremendous as the  
We found our own, O my Soul, in the calm and cool  
 of the day-break.
158My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach; With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds, and  
 volumes of worlds.
159Speech is the twin of my vision—it is unequal to  
 measure itself;
It provokes me forever; It says sarcastically, Walt, you contain enough—why  
  don't you let it out then?
160Come now, I will not be tantalized—you conceive  
 too much of articulation.
161Do you not know, O speech, how the buds beneath  
 you are folded?
Waiting in gloom, protected by frost; The dirt receding before my prophetical screams; I underlying causes, to balance them at last; My knowledge my live parts—it keeping tally with  
 the meaning of things;
Happiness—which, whoever hears me, let him or her  
 set out in search of this day.
162My final merit I refuse you—I refuse putting from  
 me what I really am;
Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me; I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking to- 
 ward you.
C   [ begin page 54 ]ppp.00473.054.jpg 163Writing and talk do not prove me; I carry the plenum of proof, and everything else, in  
 my face;
With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skep- 


164I think I will do nothing now but listen, To accrue what I hear into myself—to let sounds con- 
 tribute toward me.
165I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, 
 gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my  
I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human  
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused  
 or following;
Sounds of the city, and sounds out of the city—sounds  
 of the day and night;
Talkative young ones to those that like them—the  
 loud laugh of work-people at their meals;
The angry base of disjointed friendship—the faint  
 tones of the sick;
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips  
 pronouncing a death-sentence;
The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the  
 wharves—the refrain of the anchor-lifters;
The ring of alarm-bells—the cry of fire—the whirr of  
 swift-streaking engines and hose-carts, with  
 premonitory tinkles, and color'd lights;
The steam-whistle—the solid roll of the train of ap- 
 proaching cars;
The slow-march play'd at the head of the association, 
 marching two and two;
(They go to guard some corpse—the flag-tops are  
 draped with black muslin.)
  [ begin page 55 ]ppp.00473.055.jpg 166I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man's heart's  
I hear the key'd cornet—it glides quickly in through  
 my ears;
It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and  
167I hear the chorus—it is a grand opera; Ah, this indeed is music! This suits me. 168A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me; The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me  
169I hear the train'd soprano—(what work, with hers, 
 is this?)
The orchestra wrenches such ardors from me, I did  
 not know I possess'd them;
It sails me—I dab with bare feet—they are lick'd by  
 the indolent waves;
I am exposed, cut by bitter and angry hail—I lose my  
Steep'd amid honey'd morphine, my windpipe throt- 
 tled in fakes of death;
At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles, And that we call BEING.


170To be, in any form—what is that? (Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come  
 back thither;)
If nothing lay more develop't, the quahaug in its cal- 
 lous shell were enough.
171Mine is no callous shell; I have instant conductors all over me, whether I pass  
 or stop;
  [ begin page 56 ]ppp.00473.056.jpg They seize every object, and lead it harmlessly through  
172I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am  
To touch my person to some one else's is about as  
 much as I can stand.


173Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new  
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins, Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help  
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike  
 what is hardly different from myself;
On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs, Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip, Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial, Depriving me of my best, as for a purpose, Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare  
Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight  
 and pasture-fields,
Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away, They bribed to swap off with touch, and go and graze  
 at the edges of me;
No consideration, no regard for my draining strength  
 or my anger;
Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a  
Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry  
174The sentries desert every other part of me; They have left me helpless to a red marauder; They all come to the headland, to witness and assist  
 against me.
  [ begin page 57 ]ppp.00473.057.jpg 175I am given up by traitors; I talk wildly—I have lost my wits—I and nobody else  
 am the greatest traitor;
I went myself first to the headland—my own hands  
 carried me there.
176You villain touch! what are you doing? My breath  
 is tight in its throat;
Unclench your floodgates! you are too much for me.


177Blind, loving, wrestling touch! sheath'd, hooded, 
 sharp-tooth'd touch!
Did it make you ache so, leaving me?
178Parting, track't by arriving—perpetual payment of  
 perpetual loan;
Rich, showering rain, and recompense richer after- 
179Sprouts take and accumulate—stand by the curb  
 prolific and vital;
Landscapes, projected, masculine, full-sized, and  


180All truths wait in all things; They neither hasten their own delivery, nor resist it; They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon; The insignificant is as big to me as any; (What is less or more than a touch?) 181Logic and sermons never convince; The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul. 182Only what proves itself to every man and woman  
 is so;
Only what nobody denies is so.
  [ begin page 58 ]ppp.00473.058.jpg 183A minute and a drop of me settle my brain; I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and  
And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or  
And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have  
 for each other,
And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson, 
 until it becomes omnific,
And until every one shall delight us, and we them.


184I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey- 
 work of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of  
 sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest, And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors  
 of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all  
And the cow crunching with depres't head surpasses  
 any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions  
 of infidels,
And I could come every afternoon of my life to look  
 at the farmer's girl boiling her iron ten-kettle  
 and baking short-cake.
185I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, 
 fruits, grains, esculent roots,
And am stuccoed with quadrupeds and birds all over, And have distanced what is behind me for good  
And call anything close again, when I desire it.
186In vain the speeding or shyness;   [ begin page 59 ]ppp.00473.059.jpg In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against  
 my approach;
In vain the mastadon retreats beneath its own pow- 
 der bones;
In vain objects stand leagues off, and assume manifold  
In vain the ocean settling in hollows, and the great  
 monsters lying low;
In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky; In vain the snake slides through the creepers and  
In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods; In vain the razor-bill'd auk sails far north to Labrador; I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of  
 the cliff.


187I think I could turn and live with animals, they are  
 so placid and self-contain'd;
I stand and look at them long and long.
188They do not sweat and whine about their condition; They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their  
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to  
Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the  
 mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived  
 thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole  
189So they show their relations to me, and I accept  
They bring me tokens of myself—they evince them  
 plainly in their possession.
  [ begin page 60 ]ppp.00473.060.jpg
190I wonder where they get those tokens: Did I pass that way huge times ago, and negligently  
 drop them?
Myself moving forward then and now and forever, Gathering and showing more always and with velocity, Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among  
Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remem- 
Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him  
 on brotherly terms.
191A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive  
 to my caresses,
Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears, Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground, Eyes well apart, full of sparkling wickedness—ears  
 finely cut, flexibly moving.
192His nostrils dilate, as my heels embrace him; His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, as we speed  
 around and return.
193I but use you a moment, then I resign you, stallion; Why do I need your paces, when I myself out-gallop  
Even, as I stand or sit, passing faster than you.


194O swift wind! O space and time! now I see it is  
 true, what I guess'd at;
What I guess'd when I loaf'd on the grass; What I guess'd while I lay alone in my bed, And again as I walk'd the beach under the paling  
 stars of the morning.
  [ begin page 61 ]ppp.00473.061.jpg
195My ties and ballasts leave me—I travel—I sail—my  
 elbows rest in the sea-gaps;
I skirt the sierras—my palms cover continents; I am afoot with my vision.
196By the city's quadrangular houses—in log huts—  
 camping with lumbermen;
Along the ruts of the turnpike—along the dry gulch  
 and rivulet bed;
Weeding my onion-patch, or hoeing rows of carrots  
 and parsnips—crossing savannas—trailing in  
Prospecting—gold-digging—girdling the trees of a  
 new purchase;
Scorch'd ankle-deep by the hot sand—hauling my boat  
 down the shallow river;
Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb over- 
 head—where the buck turns furiously at the  
Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock  
 —where the otter is feeding on fish;
Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the  
Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey  
 —where the beaver pats the mud with his  
 paddle-shaped tail;
Over the growing sugar—over the yellow-flower'd cot- 
 ton plant—over the rice in its low moist field;
Over the sharp-peak'd farm house, with its scallop'd  
 scum and slender shoots from the gutters;
Over the western persimmon—over the long-leav'd  
 corn—over the delicate blue-flower flax;
Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and  
 buzzer there with the rest;
Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and  
 shades in the breeze;
C2   [ begin page 62 ]ppp.00473.062.jpg Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, hold- 
 ing on by low scragged limbs;
Walking the path worn in the grass, and beat through  
 the leaves of the brush;
Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods and  
 the wheat-lot;
Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve—where  
 the great gold-bug drops through the dark;
Where the flails keep time on the barn floor; Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree  
 and flows to the meadow;
Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the  
 tremulous shuddering of their hides;
Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen—where  
 andirons straddle the hearth  
 webs fall in festoons from the rafters;
Where trip-hammers crash—where the press is whirl- 
 ing its cylinders;
Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes  
 out of its ribs;
Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, float- 
 ing in it myself, and looking composedly down;
Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose—where  
 the heat hatches pale-green eggs in the dented  
Where the she-whale swims with her calf, and never  
 forsakes it;
Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long pennant  
 of smoke;
Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out  
 of the water;
Where the half-burn'd brig is riding on unknown cur- 
Where shells grow to her slimy deck—where the dead  
 are corrupting below;
Where the dense-starr'd flag is borne at the head of the  
Approaching Manhattan, up by the long-stretching  
  [ begin page 63 ]ppp.00473.063.jpg Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my  
Upon a doorblock of hard wood  
Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs, or a  
 good game of base-ball;
At he-festivals, with blackguard gibes, ironical license, 
 bull-dances, drinking, laughter;
At the cider-mill, tasting the sweets of the brown  
 mash, sucking the juice through a straw;
At apple-peelings, wanting kisses for all the red fruit  
 I find;
At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, 
Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles, 
 cackles, screams, weeps;
Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard—where  
 the dry-stalks are scatter'd—where the brood  
 cow waits in the hovel;
Where the bull advances to do his masculine work—  
 where the stud to the mare—where the cock is  
 treading the hen;
Where the heifers browse—where geese nip their food  
 with short jerks;
Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limit- 
 less and lonesome prairie;
Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the  
 square miles far and near;
Where the humming-bird shimmers—where the neck  
 of the long-lived swan is curving and winding;
Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where  
 she laughs her near-human laugh;
Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden, 
 half hid by the high weeds;
Where band-neck'd partridges roost in a ring on the  
 ground with their heads out;
Where burial coaches enter the arch'd gates of a  
  [ begin page 64 ]ppp.00473.064.jpg Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and  
 icicled trees;
Where the yellow-crown'd heron comes to the edge of  
 the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs;
Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools the  
 warm noon;
Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on the  
 walnut-tree over the well;
Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver- 
 wired leaves;
Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under con- 
 ical firs;
Through the gymnasium—through the curtain'd saloon  
 —through the office or public hall;
Pleas'd with the native, and pleas'd with the foreign  
 —pleas'd with the new and old;
Pleas'd with women, the homely as well as the hand- 
Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet  
 and talks melodiously;
Pleas'd with the tune of the choir of the white-washt  
Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Meth- 
 odist preacher, or any preacher—imprest seri- 
 ously at the camp-meeting:
Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the  
 whole forenoon—flatting the flesh of my nose  
 on the thick plate-glass;
Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn'd up  
 to the clouds,
My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, 
 and I in the middle:
Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek'd bush- 
 boy—behind me he rides at the drape of the  
Far from the settlements, studying the print of ani- 
 mals' feet, or the moccasin print;
By the cot in the hospital, reaching lemonade to a  
 feverish patient;
  [ begin page 65 ]ppp.00473.065.jpg Nigh the coffin'd corpse when all is still, examining  
 with a candle:
Voyaging to every port, to dicker and adventure; Hurrying with the modern crowd, as eager and fickle  
 as any;
Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife  
Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts  
 gone from me a long while;
Walking the old hills of Judea, with the beautiful  
 gentle God by my side;
Speeding through space—speeding through heaven and  
 the stars;
Speeding amid the seven satellites, and the broad  
 ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand  
Speeding with tail'd meteors—throwing fire-balls like  
 the rest;
Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full  
 mother in its belly;
Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning, Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing; I tread day and night such roads.
197I visit the orchards of spheres, and look at the  
And look at quintillions ripen'd, and look at quintil- 
 lions green.
198I fly the flight of the fluid and swallowing soul; My course runs below the soundings of plummets. 199I help myself to material and immaterial; No guard can shut me off, nor law prevent me.   [ begin page 66 ]ppp.00473.066.jpg 200I anchor my ship for a little while only; My messengers continually cruise away, or bring their  
 returns to me.
201I go hunting polar furs and the seal—leaping  
 chasms with a pike-pointed staff—clinging to  
 topples of brittle and blue.
202I ascend to the foretruck; I take my place late at night in the crow's-nest; We sail the arctic sea—it is plenty light enough; Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on  
 the wonderful beauty;
The enormous masses of ice pass me, and I pass them  
 —the scenery is plain in all directions;
The white-topt mountains show in the distance—I  
 fling out my fancies toward them;
(We are approaching some great battle-field in which  
 we are soon to be engaged;
We pass the colossal out-posts of the encampment—  
 we pass with still feet and caution;
Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and  
 ruin'd city;
The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the  
 living cities of the globe.)
203I am a free companion—I bivouac by invading  
204I turn the bridegroom out of bed, and stay with the  
 bride myself;
I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.
205My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the rail  
 of the stairs;
They fetch my man's body up, dripping and drown'd.
  [ begin page 67 ]ppp.00473.067.jpg 206I understand the large hearts of heroes, The courage of present times and all times; How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless  
 wreck of the steam-ship, and Death chasing it  
 up and down the storm;
How he knuckled tight, and gave not back one inch, 
 and was faithful of days and faithful of nights,
And chalk'd in large letters, on a board, Be of good  
  cheer, we will not desert you:
How he follow'd with them, and tack'd with them—  
 and would not give it up;
How he saved the drifting company at last: How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when  
 boated from the side of their prepared graves;
How the silent old-faced infants, and the lifted sick, 
 and the sharp-lipp'd unshaved men:
All this I swallow—it tastes good—I like it well—it  
 becomes mine;
I am the man—I suffer'd—I was there.
207The disdain and calmness of martyrs; The mother, condemn'd for a witch, burnt with dry  
 wood, her children gazing on;
The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the  
 fence, blowing, cover'd with sweat;
The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck  
 —the murderous buckshot and the bullets;
All these I feel or am.
208I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the  
Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack  
 the marksmen;
I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd  
 with the ooze of my skin;
I fall on the weeds and stones; The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close,   [ begin page 68 ]ppp.00473.068.jpg Taunt my dizzy ears, and beat me violently over the  
 head with whip-stocks.
209Agonies are one of my changes of garments; I do not ask the wounded person how he feels—I my- 
 self become the wounded person;
My hurts turns livid upon me as I lean on a cane and  
210I am the mash'd fireman with breastbone broken: Tumbling walls buried me in their debris; Heat and smoke I inspired—I heard the yelling shouts  
 of my comrades;
I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels; They have clear'd the beams away—they tenderly lift  
 me forth.
211I lie in the night air in my red shirt—the pervading  
 hush is for my sake;
Painless after all I lie, exhausted but not so unhappy; White and beautiful are the faces around me—the  
 heads are bared of their fire-caps;
The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the  
212Distant and dead resuscitate; They show as the dial or move as the hands of me—  
 I am the clock myself.
213I am an old artillerist—I tell of my fort's bombard- 
I am there again.
214Again the long roll of the drummers; Again the attacking cannon, mortars; Again the cannon responsive.   [ begin page 69 ]ppp.00473.069.jpg 215I take part—I see and hear the whole; The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aim'd  
The ambulanza slowly passing, trailing its red drip; Workmen searching after damages, making indispen- 
 sable repairs;
The fall of grenades through the rent roof—the fan- 
 shaped explosion;
The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in  
 the air.
216Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general—he  
 furiously waves with his hand;
He gasps through the clot, Mind not me—mind—the  


217Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth; (I tell not the fall of Alamo, Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo, The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo;) Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hun- 
 dred and twelve young men.
218Retreating, they had form'd in a hollow square, with  
 their baggage for breastworks;
Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's, 
 nine times their number, was the price they took  
 in advance;
Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition  
They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv'd  
 writing and seal, gave up their arms, and  
 march'd back prisoners of war.
219They were the glory of the race of rangers; Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship,   [ begin page 70 ]ppp.00473.070.jpg Large, turbulent, generous, brave, handsome, proud, 
 and affectionate,
Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of  
Not a single one over thirty years of age.
220The second First-day morning they were brought  
 out in squads, and massacred—it was beautiful  
 early summer;
The work commenced about five o'clock, and was over  
 by eight.
221None obey'd the command to kneel; Some made a mad and helpless rush—some stood  
 stark and straight;
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart—the  
 living and dead lay together;
The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt—the new- 
 comers saw them there;
Some, half-kill'd, attempted to crawl away; These were despatch'd with bayonets, or batter'd with  
 the blunts of muskets;
A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till  
 two more came to release him;
The three were all torn, and cover'd with the boy's  
222At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies: That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred  
 and twelve young men.


223Would you hear of an old-fashion'd sea-fight? Would you learn who won by the light of the moon  
 and stars?
List to the story as my grandmother's father, the  
 sailor, told it to me.
  [ begin page 71 ]ppp.00473.071.jpg 224Our foe was no skulk in his ship, I tell you, (said he;) His was the surly English pluck—and there is no  
 tougher or truer, and never was, and never will  
Along the lower'd eve he came, horribly raking us.
225We closed with him—the yards entangled—the  
 cannon touch'd;
My captain lash'd fast with his own hands.
226We had receiv'd some eighteen-pound shots under  
 the water;
On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at  
 the first fire, killing all around, and blowing up  
227Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark; Ten o'clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks  
 on the gain, and five feet of water reported;
The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in  
 the after-hold, to give them a chance for them- 
228The transit to and from the magazine is now  
 stopt by the sentinels,
They see so many strange faces, they do not know  
 whom to trust.
229Our frigate takes fire; The other asks if we demand quarter? If our colors are struck, and the fighting is done? 230Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my  
 little captain,(says my grandmother's father;)
We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just  
  begun our part of the fighting.
  [ begin page 72 ]ppp.00473.072.jpg 231Only three guns are in use; One is directed by the captain himself against the  
 enemy's main-mast;
Two, well served with grape and canister, silence his  
 musketry and clear his decks.
232The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, 
 especially the main-top;
They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.
233Not a moment's cease; The leaks gain fast on the pumps—the fire eats toward  
 the powder-magazine;
One of the pumps has been shot away—it is generally  
 thought we are sinking.
234Serene stands the little captain; He is not hurried—his voice is neither high nor low; His eyes give more light to us than our battle- 
235Toward twelve at night, there in the beams of the  
 moon, they surrender to us.


236O now it is not my grandmother's father there in  
 the fight;
I feel it is I myself.
237Stretch'd and still lies the midnight; Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the  
Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking—preparations  
 to pass to the one we have conquer'd;
The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his  
 orders through a countenance white as a sheet;
Near by, the corpse of the child that serv'd in the  
  [ begin page 73 ]ppp.00473.073.jpg The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and  
 carefully curl'd whiskers;
The flames, spite of all that can be done, flickering  
 aloft and below;
The husky voices of the two or three officer yet fit  
 for duty; Formless stacks of bodies, and bodies by themselves—  
 dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars,
Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the  
 soothe of waves,
Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, 
 strong scent, Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and  
 fields by the shore, death-messages given in  
 charge to survivors,
The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth of  
 his saw,
Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild  
 scream, and long, dull, tapering groan;
These so—these irretrievable.


238O Christ! This is mastering me! Through the conquer'd doors they crowd. I am  
239I embody all presences outlaw'd or suffering; See myself in prison shaped like another man, And feel the dull unintermitted pain. 240For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their car- 
 bines and keep watch;
It is I let out in the morning, and barr'd at night.
241Not a mutineer walks handcuff'd to jail, but I am  
 handcuff'd to him and walk by his side;
(I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one, 
 with sweat on my twitching lips.)
  [ begin page 74 ]ppp.00473.074.jpg 242Not a youngster is taken for larceny, but I go up too, 
 and am tried and sentenced.
243Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp, but I also  
 lie at the last gasp;
My face is ash-color'd—my sinews gnarl—away from  
 me people retreat.
244Askers embody themselves in me, and I am embo- 
 died in them;
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg.


245Enough! enough! enough! Somehow I have been stunn'd. Stand back! Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers, 
 dreams, gaping;
I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.
246That I could forget the mockers and insults! That I could forget the trickling tears, and the blows  
 of the bludgeons and hammers!
That I could look with a separate look on my own  
 crucifixion and bloody crowning.
247I remember now; I resume the overstaid fraction; The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided  
 to it, or to any graves;
Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me.
248I troop forth replenish't with supreme power, one of  
 an average unending procession;
Inland and sea-coast we go, and we pass all boundary  
  [ begin page 75 ]ppp.00473.075.jpg Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole  
The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thous- 
 ands of years.
249Eleves, I salute you! come forward! Continue your annotations, continue your question- 


250The friendly and flowing savage, Who is he? Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and master- 
 ing it?
251Is he some south-westerner, rais'd out-doors? Is  
 he Kanadian?
Is he from the Mississippi country? Iowa, Oregon, 
 California? the mountains? prairie-life, bush- 
 life? or from the sea?
252Wherever he goes, men and women accept and de- 
 sire him;
They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to  
 them, stay with them.
253Behavior lawless as snow-flakes, words simple as  
 grass, uncomb'd head, laughter, and naiveté,
Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes  
 and emanations;
They descend in new forms from the tips of his  
They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath  
 —they fly out of the glance of his eyes.


254Flaunt of the sunshine, I need not your bask,—lie  
You light surface only—I force surfaces and depths  
  [ begin page 76 ]ppp.00473.076.jpg 255Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands; Say, old Top-knot! what do you want? 256Man or woman! I might tell how I like you, but  
And might tell what it is in me, and what it is in you, 
 but cannot;
And might tell that pining I have—that pulse of my  
 nights and days.
257Behold! I do not give lectures or a little charity; What I give, I give out of myself. 258You there, impotent, loose in the knees! Open your scarf'd chops till I blow grit within you; Spread your palms, and lift the flaps of your pockets; I am not to be denied—I compel—I have stores  
 plenty and to spare;
And anything I have I bestow.
259I do not ask who you are—that is not so important  
 to me;
You can do nothing, and be nothing, but what I will  
 infold you.
260To cotton-field drudge or cleaner of privies I lean; On his right cheek I put the family kiss, And deep in my soul I swear, I never will deny him. 261On women fit for conception I start bigger and nim- 
 bler babes;
This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arrogant  
262To any one dying—thither I speed, and twist the  
 knob of the door;
Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed; Let the physician and the priest go home.
  [ begin page 77 ]ppp.00473.077.jpg 263I seize the descending man, and raise him with re- 
 sistless will.
264O despairer, here is my neck; By God! you shall not go down! Hang your whole  
 weight upon me.
265I dilate you with tremendous breath—I buoy you  
Every room of the house do I fill with an arm'd force, Lovers of me, bafflers of graves.
266Sleep! I and they keep guard all night; Not doubt—not decease shall dare to lay finger upon  
I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to  
 myself; And when you rise in the morning you will find what  
 I tell you is so.


267I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on  
 their backs;
And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed  
268I heard what was said of the universe; Heard it and heard it of several thousand years: It is middling well as far as it goes,—But is that all? 269Magnifying and applying come I, Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters, Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah, Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules  
 his grandson;
Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha, In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, 
 the crucifix engraved,
With Odin, and the hideous-faced Mexitli, and every  
 idol and image;
  [ begin page 78 ]ppp.00473.078.jpg Taking them all for what they are worth, and not a  
 cent more;
Admitting they were alive and did the work of their  
They bore mites, as for unfledg'd birds, who have now  
 to rise and fly and sing for themselves;
Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better  
 in myself—bestowing them freely on each man  
 and woman I see;
Discovering as much, or more, in a framer framing a  
Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd up  
 sleeves, driving the mallet and chisel;
Not objecting to special revelations—considering a  
 curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my hand  
 just as curious as any revelation;
Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes  
 no less to me than the Gods of the antique wars;
Minding their voices peal through the crash of de- 
Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd laths—  
 their white foreheads whole and unhurt out of  
 the flames:
By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple  
 interceding for every person born;
Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three  
 lusty angels with shirts bagg'd out at their  
The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins  
 past and to come,
Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee law- 
 yers for his brother, and sit by him while he is  
 tried for forgery;
What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square  
 rod about me, and not filling the square rod  
The bull and the bug never worship'd half enough; Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd;   [ begin page 79 ]ppp.00473.079.jpg The supernatural of no account—myself waiting my  
 time to be one of the Supremes;
The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much  
 good as the best, and be as prodigious:
By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator; Putting myself here and now to the ambush't womb  
 of the shadows.


270A call in the midst of the crowd; My own voice, orotund, sweeping, and final. 271Come my children; Come my boys and girls, my women, household, and  
Now the performer launches his nerve—he has pass'd  
 his prelude on the reeds within.
272Easily written, loose-finger'd chords! I feel the  
 thrum of your climax and close.
273My head slues round on my neck; Music rolls, but not from the organ; Folks are around me, but they are no household of  
274Ever the hard unsunk ground; Ever the eaters and drinkers—ever the upward and  
 downward sun—ever the air and the ceaseless  
Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, 
Ever the old inexplicable query—ever that thorn'd  
 thumb—that breath of itches and thirsts;
Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly  
 one hides, and bring him forth;
Ever love—ever the sobbing liquid of life; Ever the bandage under the chin—ever the tressels of  
  [ begin page 80 ]ppp.00473.080.jpg 275Here and there, with dimes on the eyes walking; To feed the greed of the belly, the brains liberally  
Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never  
 once going;
Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff  
 for payment receiving;
A few idly owning, and they the wheat continually  
276This is the city, and I am one of the citizens; Whatever interests the rest interests me—politics, 
 markets, newspapers, schools,
Benevolent societies, improvements, banks, tariffs, 
 steamships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate, 
 and personal estate.
277The little plentiful mannikins, skipping around in  
 collars and tail'd coats,
I am aware who they are—(they are actually not worms  
 or fleas.)
278I acknowledge the duplicates of myself—the weakest  
 and shallowest is deathless with me;
What I do and say, the same waits for them; Every thought that flounders in me, the same flounders  
 in them.
279I know perfectly well my own egotism; I know my omnivorous lines, and cannot write any less; And would fetch you, whoever you are, flush with my- 
280No words of routine are mine, But abruptly to question, to leap beyond, yet nearer  
This printed and bound book—but the printer, and the  
 printing-office boy?
  [ begin page 81 ]ppp.00473.081.jpg The well-taken photographs—but your wife or friend  
 close and solid in your arms?
The black ship mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in  
 her turrets—but the pluck of the captain and  
In the houses, the dishes and fare and furniture—but  
 the host and hostess, and the look out of their  
The sky up there—yet here, or next door, or across the  
The saints and sages in history—but you yourself? Sermons, creeds, theology—but the fathomless human  
And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?


281I do not despise you, priests; My faith is the greatest of faiths, and the least of  
Enclosing worship ancient and modern, and all between  
 ancient and modern,
Believing I shall come again upon the earth after five  
 thousand years,
Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the Gods, 
 saluting the sun,
Making a fetish of the first rock or stump, powwowing  
 with sticks in the circle of obis,
Helping the lama or brahmin as he trims the lamps of  
 the idols,
Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic proces- 
 sion—rapt and austere in the woods, a gymno- 
Drinking mead from the skull-cup—to Shastas and  
 Vedas admirant—minding the Koran,
Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the stone  
 and knife, beating the serpent-skin drum,
Accepting the Gospels—accepting him that was cruci- 
 fied, knowing assuredly that he is divine,
  [ begin page 82 ]ppp.00473.082.jpg To the mass kneeling, or the puritan's prayer rising, 
 or sitting patiently in a pew,
Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting  
 dead-like till my spirit arouses me,
Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of  
 pavement and land,
Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.
282One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang, I turn  
 and talk like a man leaving charges before a  
283Down-hearted doubters, dull and excluded, Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, disheart- 
 en, atheistical;
I know every one of you—I know the sea of torment, 
 despair and unbelief.
284How the flukes splash! How they contort, rapid as lightning, with spasms, 
 and spouts of blood!
285Be at peace, bloody flukes of doubters and sullen  
I take my place among you as much as among any; The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the  
And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me, 
 all, precisely the same.
286I do not know what is untried and afterward; But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and can- 
 not fail.
287Each who passes is consider'd—each who stops is  
 consider'd—not a single one can it fail.
  [ begin page 83 ]ppp.00473.083.jpg 288It cannot fail the young man who died and was  
Nor the young woman who died and was put by his  
Nor the little child that peep'd in at the door, and  
 then drew back, and was never seen again,
Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and  
 feels it with bitterness worse than gall,
Nor him in the poor house, turbercled by rum and the  
 bad disorder,
Nor the numberless slaughter'd and wreck'd—nor the  
 brutish koboo call'd the ordure of humanity,
Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths for  
 food to slip in,
Nor anything in the earth, or down in the oldest  
 graves of the earth,
Nor anything in the myriads of spheres—nor one of  
 the myriads of myriads that inhabit them,
Nor the present—nor the least wisp that is known.


289It is time to explain myself—Let us stand up. 290What is known I strip away; I launch all men and women forward with me into  
291The clock indicates the moment—but what does  
 eternity indicate?
292We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and  
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.
293Births have brought us richness and variety, And other births will bring us richness and variety.   [ begin page 84 ]ppp.00473.084.jpg 294I do not call one greater and one smaller; That which fills its period and place is equal to any. 295Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my  
 brother, my sister?
I am sorry for you—they are not murderous or jeal- 
 ous upon me;
All has been gentle with me—I keep no account with  
(What have I to do with lamentation?)
296I am an acme of things accomplish'd, and I an  
 encloser of things to be.
297My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs; On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches  
 between the steps;
All below duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount.
298Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me; Afar down I see the huge first Nothing—I know I was  
 even there;
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the  
 lethargic mist,
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid  
299Long I was hugg'd close—long and long. 300Immense have been the preparations for me, Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me. 301Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like  
 cheerful boatmen;
For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings; They sent influences to look after what was to hold  
  [ begin page 85 ]ppp.00473.085.jpg 302Before I was born out of my mother, generations  
 guided me;
My embryo has never been torpid—nothing could  
 overlay it.
303For it the nebula cohered to an orb, The long slow strata piled to rest it on, Vast vegetables gave it sustenance, Monstrous sauroids transported it in their months, 
 and deposited it with care.
304All forces have been steadily employ'd to complete  
 and delight me;
Now on this spot I stand with my robust Soul.


305O span of youth! Ever-push't elasticity! O manhood, balanced, florid, and full. 306My lovers suffocate me! Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin, Jostling me through streets and public halls—coming  
 naked to me at night,
Crying by day Ahoy! from the rocks of the river—  
 swinging and chirping over my head,
Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled  
Lighting on every moment of my life, Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses, Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts, and  
 giving them to be mine.
307Old age superbly rising! O welcome, ineffable grace  
 of dying days!
308Every condition promulges not only itself—it pro- 
 mulges what grows after and out of itself,
And the dark hush promulges as much as any.
D   [ begin page 86 ]ppp.00473.086.jpg 309I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled  
And all I see, multiplied as high as I can cipher, edge  
 but the rim of the farther systems.
310Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always  
Outward and outward, and forever outward.
311My sun has his sun, and round him obediently  
He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit, And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest  
 inside them.
312There is no stoppage, and never can be stoppage; If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon  
 their surfaces, were this moment reduced back  
 to a pallid float, it would not avail in the long run;
We should surely bring up again where we now  
And as surely go as much farther—and then farther  
 and farther.
313A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic  
 leagues, do not hazard the span, or make it  
They are but parts—anything is but a part.
314See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of  
Count ever so much, there is limitless time around  
315My rendezvous is appointed—it is certain; The Lord will be there, and wait till I come, on perfect  
(The great Camerado, the lover true for whom I pine, 
 will be there.)
  [ begin page 87 ]ppp.00473.087.jpg


316I know I have the best of time and space, and was  
 never measured, and never will be measured.
317I tramp a perpetual journey—(come listen all!) My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff  
 cut from the woods;
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair; I have no chair, no church, no philosophy; I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, or exchange; But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a  
My left hand hooking you round the waist, My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents, 
 and a plain public road.
318Not I—not any one else, can travel that road for  
You must travel it for yourself.
319It is not far—it is within reach; Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and  
 did not know;
Perhaps it is every where on water and on land.
320Shoulder your duds, dear son, and I will mine, and  
 let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as  
 we go.
321If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff  
 of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service to  
For after we start, we never lie by again.
  [ begin page 88 ]ppp.00473.088.jpg 322This day before dawn I ascended a hill, and look'd  
 at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my Spirit, When we become the enfolders  
  of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of  
  everything in them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied  
And my Spirit said No, we but level that lift, to pass and  
  continue beyond.
323You are also asking me questions, and I hear you; I answer that I cannot answer—you must find out for  
324Sit a while, dear son; Here are biscuits to eat, and here is milk to drink; But as soon as you sleep, and renew yourself in sweet  
 clothes, I kiss you with a good-bye kiss, and  
 open the gate for your egress hence.
325Long enough have you dream'd contemptible  
Now I wash the gum from your eyes; You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light, 
 and of every moment of your life.
326Long have you timidly waded, holding a plank by  
 the shore;
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer, To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod  
 to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your  


327I am the teacher of athletes; He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own, 
 proves the width of my own;
He most honors my style who learns under it to  
 destroy the teacher.
  [ begin page 89 ]ppp.00473.089.jpg 328The boy I love, the same becomes a man, not  
 through derived power, but in his own right,
Wicked, rather than virtuous out of conformity or  
Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak, Unrequited love, or a slight, cutting him worse than  
 sharp steel cuts,
First-rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull's-eye, to sail  
 a skiff, to sing a song, or play on the banjo,
Preferring scars, and the beard, and faces pitted with  
 small-pox, over all latherers,
And those well tann'd to those that keep out of the sun.
329I teach straying from me—yet who can stray from  
I follow you, whoever you are, from the present  
My words itch at your ears till you understand them.
330I do not say these things for a dollar, or to fill up  
 the time while I wait for a boat;
It is you talking just as much as myself—I act as the  
 tongue of you;
Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen'd.
331I swear I will never again mention love or death in- 
 side a house,
And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only  
 to him or her who privately stays with me in  
 the open air.
332If you would understand me, go to the heights or  
The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or mo- 
 tion of waves a key;
The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words.
  [ begin page 90 ]ppp.00473.090.jpg 333No shutter'd room or school can commune with me, But roughs and little children better than they. 334The young mechanic is closest to me—he knows me  
The woodman, that takes his axe and jug with him, 
 shall take me with him all day;
The farm-boy, ploughing in the field, feels good at the  
 sound of my voice;
In vessels that sail, my words sail—I go with fisher- 
 men and seamen, and love them.
335The soldier camp'd, or upon the march, is mine; On the night ere the pending battle, many seek me, 
 and I do not fail them;
On the solemn night (it may be their last,) those that  
 know me, seek me.
336My face rubs to the hunter's face, when he lies down  
 alone in his blanket;
The driver, thinking of me, does not mind the jolt of  
 his wagon;
The young mother and old mother comprehend me; The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment, and  
 forget where they are;
They and all would resume what I have told them.


337I have said that the soul is not more than the body, And I have said that the body is not more than the soul: And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's  
 self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy, walks  
 to his own funeral, drest in his shroud,
And I or you, pocketless of a dime, may purchase the  
 pick of the earth,
  [ begin page 91 ]ppp.00473.091.jpg And to glance with an eye, or show a bean in its pod, 
 confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young  
 man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for  
 the wheel'd universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand  
 cool and composed before a million universes.
338And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God, For I, who am curious about each, am not curious  
 about God;
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace  
 about God, and about death.)
339I hear and behold God in every object, yet under- 
 stand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonder- 
 ful than myself.
340Why should I wish to see God better than this day? I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, 
 and each moment then;
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my  
 own face in the glass;
I find letters from God drop't in the street—and every  
 one is sign'd by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that  
 wheresoe'er I go,
Others will punctually come forever and ever.


341And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mor- 
 tality, it is idle to try to alarm me.
342To his work without flinching the accoucheur  
I see the elder hand, pressing, receiving, supporting; I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors, And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape.
  [ begin page 92 ]ppp.00473.092.jpg 343And as to you, Corpse, I think you are good man- 
 nure—but that does not offend me;
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing, I reach to the leafy lips—I reach to the polish't breasts  
 of melons.
344And as to you Life, I reckon you are the leavings of  
 many deaths;
(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times  
345I hear you whispering there, O stars of heaven; O suns! O grass of graves! O perpetual transfers and  
If you do not say anything, how can I say anything.
346Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest, Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing  
Toss, sparkles of day and dusk! toss on the black  
 stems that decay in the muck!
Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs.
347I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night; I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sun- 
 beams reflected;
And debouch to the steady and central from the off- 
 spring great or small.


348There is that in me—I do not know what it is—but  
 I know it is in me.
349Wrench't and sweaty—calm and cool then my body  
I sleep—I sleep long.
350I do not know it—it is without name—it is a word  
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.
  [ begin page 93 ]ppp.00473.093.jpg 351Something it swings on more than the earth I swing  
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes  
352Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for  
 my brothers and sisters.
353Do you see, O my brothers and sisters? It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan—it is  
 eternal life—it is HAPPINESS.
354The past and present wilt—I have fill'd them, emp- 
 tied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.


355Listener up there! Here you! What have you to  
 confide to me?
Look in my face, while I snuff the sidle of evening; Talk honestly—no one else hears you, and I stay only  
 a minute longer.
356Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large—I contain multitudes. 357I concentrate toward them that are nigh—I wait on  
 the door-slab.
358Who has done his day's work? Who will soonest be  
 through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?
359Will you speak before I am gone? Will you prove  
 already too late?


360The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he  
 complains of my gab and my loitering.
  [ begin page 94 ]ppp.00473.094.jpg 361I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable; I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. 362The last scud of day holds back for me; It flings my likeness after the rest, and true as any, on  
 the shadow'd wilds;
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
363I depart as air—I shake my white locks at the run- 
 away sun;
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
364I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the  
 grass I love;
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.
365You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean; But I shall be good health to you nevertheless, And filter and fibre your blood. 366Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged; Missing me one place, search another; I stop somewhere, waiting for you.
  [ begin page 95 ]ppp.00473.095.jpg



To THE garden, the world, anew ascending, Potent mates, daughters, sons, preluding, The love, the life of their bodies, meaning and being, Curious, here behold my resurrection, after slumber; The revolving cycles, in their wide sweep, having  
 brought me again,
Amorous, mature—all beautiful to me—all wondrous; My limbs, and the quivering fire that ever plays through  
 them, for reasons, most wondrous;
Existing, I peer and penetrate still, Content with the present—content with the past, By my side, or back of me, Eve following, Or in front, and I following her just the same.


FROM pent-up, aching rivers; From that of myself, without which I were nothing; From what I am determin'd to make illustrious, even  
 if I stand sole among men;
From my own voice resonant—singing the phallus, Singing the song of procreation,   [ begin page 96 ]ppp.00473.096.jpg Singing the need of superb children, and therein superb  
 grown people,
Singing the muscular urge and the blending, Singing the bedfellow's song, (O resistless yearning! O for any and each, the body correlative attracting! O for you, whoever you are, your correlative body! O  
 it, more than all else, you delighting!)
—From the hungry gnaw that eats me night and day; From native moments—from bashful pains—singing  
Singing something yet unfound, though I have dili- 
 gently sought it, many a long year;
Singing the true song of the Soul, fitful, at random; Singing what, to the Soul, entirely redeem'd her, the  
 faithful one, even the prostitute, who detain'd  
 me when I went to the city;
Singing the song of prostitutes; Renascent with grossest Nature, or among animals; Of that—of them, and what goes with them, my poems  
Of the smell of apples and lemons—of the pairing of  
Of the wet of woods—of the lapping of waves, Of the mad pushes of waves upon the land—I them  
The overture lightly sounding—the strain anticipat- 
The welcome nearness—the sight of the perfect body; The swimmer swimming naked in the bath, or motion- 
 less on his back lying and floating;
The female form approaching—I, pensive, love-flesh  
 tremulous, aching;
—The slave's body for sale,—I, sternly, with harsh  
 voice, auctioneering;
The divine list, for myself or you, or for any one, mak- 
The face—the limbs—the index from head to foot, and  
 what it arouses;
  [ begin page 97 ]ppp.00473.097.jpg The mystic deliria—the madness amorous—the utter  
(Hark close, and still, what I now whisper to you, I love you—O you entirely possess me, O I wish that you and I escape from the rest, and go  
 utterly off—O free and lawless,
Two hawks in the air—two fishes swimming in the sea  
 not more lawless than we;)
—The furious storm through me careering—I passion- 
 ately trembling;
The oath of the inseparableness of two together—of  
 the woman that loves me, and whom I love more  
 than my life—that oath swearing;
(O I willingly stake all, for you! O let me be lost, if it must be so! O you and I—what is it to us what the rest do or  
What is all else to us? only that we enjoy each other,  
 and exhaust each other, if it must be so;)
—From the master—the pilot I yield the vessel to; The general commanding me, commanding all—from  
 him permission taking;
From time the programme hastening, (I have loiter'd  
 too long, as to is;)
From sex—From the warp and from the woof; (To talk to the perfect girl who understands me, To waft to her these from my own lips—to effuse them  
 from my own body;)
From privacy—from frequent repinings alone; From plenty of persons near, and yet the right person  
 not near;
From the soft sliding of hands over me, and thrusting  
 of fingers through my hair and beard;
From the long sustain'd kiss upon the mouth or bosom; From the close pressure that makes me or any man  
 drunk, fainting with excess;
From what the divine husband knows—from the work  
 of fatherhood;
  [ begin page 98 ]ppp.00473.098.jpg From exultation, victory, and relief—from the bedfel- 
 low embrace in the night;
From the act-poems of eyes, hands, hips, and bosoms, From the cling of the trembling arm, From the bending curve and the clinch, From side by side, the pliant coverlid off-throwing, From the one so unwilling to have me leave—and me  
 just as unwilling to leave,
(Yet a moment, O tender waiter, and I return;) —From the hour of shining stars and dropping dews, From the night, a moment, I, emerging, flitting out, Celebrate you, act divine—and you, children prepared  
And you, stalwart loins.



1 I SING the Body electric; The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth 
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond 
 to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the 
 charge of the Soul.
2Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own 
 bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they 
 who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do as much as the Soul? And if the body were not the Soul, what is the Soul?
  [ begin page 99 ]ppp.00473.099.jpg


3The love of the Body of man or woman balks ac- 
 count—the body itself balks account;
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is 
4The expression of the face balks account; But the expression of a well-made man appears not 
 only in his face;
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the 
 joints of his hips and wrists;
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of 
 his waist and knees—dress does not hide him;
The strong, sweet, supple quality he has, strikes 
 through the cotton and flannel;
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem,  
 perhaps more;
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck 
 and shoulder-side.
5The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and 
 heads of women, the folds of their dress, their 
 style as we pass in the street, the contour of 
 their shape downwards,
The swimmer naked in the swimming bath, seen as he 
 swims through the transparent green-shine, or 
 lies with his face up, and rolls silently to and 
 fro in the heave of the water,
The bending forward and backward of rowers in row- 
 boats—the horseman in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their perform- 
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their 
 open dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child—the farmer's daughter in 
 the garden or cow-yard,
The young fellow hoeing corn—the sleigh-driver 
 guiding his six horses through the crowd,
  [ begin page 100 ]ppp.00473.100.jpg The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys, quite 
 grown, lusty, good-natured, native-born, out on 
 the vacant lot at sun-down, after work,
The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of love 
 and resistance,
The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled 
 over and blinding the eyes;
The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play 
 of masculine muscle through clean-setting 
 trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell 
 strikes suddenly again, and the listening on the 
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes—the bent head,  
 the curv'd neck, and the counting;
Such-like I love—I loosen myself, pass freely, am at 
 the mother's breast with the little child,
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march 
 in line with the firemen, and pause, listen,  
 and count.


6I knew a man, a common farmer—the father of 
 five sons;
And in them were the fathers of sons—and in them 
 were the fathers of sons.
7This man was of wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty 
 of person;
The shape of his head, the richness and breadth of 
 his manners, the pale yellow and white of his 
 hair and beard, and the immeasurable meaning 
 of his black eyes,
These I used to go and visit him to see—he was wise 
He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old—his 
 sons were massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced,  
  [ begin page 101 ]ppp.00473.101.jpg They and his daughters loved him—all who saw him 
 loved him;
They did not love him by allowance—they loved him 
 with personal love;
He drank water only—the blood show'd like scarlet 
 through the clear-brown skin of his face;
He was a frequent gunner and fisher—he sail'd his 
 boat himself—he had a fine one presented to 
 him by a ship-joiner—he had fowling-pieces,  
 presented to him by men that loved him;
When he went with his five sons and many grand-sons 
 to hunt or fish, you would pick him out as the 
 most beautiful and vigorous of the gang,
You would wish long and long to be with him—you 
 would wish to sit by him in the boat, that you 
 and he might touch each other.


8I have perceiv'd that to be with those I like is 
To stop in company with the rest at evening is 
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing,  
 laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them, or touch any one, or rest my 
 arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a 
 moment—what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight—I swim in it, as in a 
9There is something in staying close to men and wo- 
 men, and looking on them, and in the contact 
 and odor of them, that pleases the soul well;
All things please the soul—but these please the soul 


10This is the female form; A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot; E   [ begin page 102 ]ppp.00473.102.jpg It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction! I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a 
 helpless vapor—all falls aside but myself and it;
Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth,  
 the atmosphere and the clouds, and what was 
 expected of heaven or fear'd of hell, are now 
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the 
 response likewise ungovernable!
Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling 
 hands, all diffused—mine too diffused;
Ebb stung by the flow, and flow stung by the ebb— 
 love-flesh swelling and deliciously aching;
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous,  
 quivering jelly of love, white-blow and deliri- 
 ous juice;
Bridegroom night of love, working surely and softly 
 into the prostrate dawn;
Undulating into the willing and yielding day, Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh'd 
11This is the nucleus—after the child is born of 
 woman, the man is born of woman;
This is the bath of birth—this is the merge of small 
 and large, and the outlet again.
12Be not ashamed, women—your privilege encloses 
 the rest, and is the exit of the rest,
You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates 
 of the soul.
13The female contains all qualities, and tempers them 
 —she is in her place, and moves with perfect 
She is all things duly veil'd—she is both passive and 
She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons 
 as well as daughters.
  [ begin page 103 ]ppp.00473.103.jpg 14As I see my soul reflected in nature; As I see through a mist, one with inexpressible com- 
 pleteness and beauty,
See the bent head, and arms folded over the breast— 
 the female I see.


15The male is not less the soul, nor more—he too is 
 in his place;
He too is all qualities—he is action and power; The flush of the known universe is in him; Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defiance 
 become him well;
The wildest largest passions, bliss that is utmost, sor- 
 row that is utmost, become him well—pride is 
 for him;
The full-spread pride of man is calming and excellent 
 to the soul;
Knowledge becomes him—he likes it always—he 
 brings everything to the test of himself;
Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the sail, he 
 strikes soundings at last only here;
Where else does he strike soundings, except here?
16The man's body is sacred, and the woman's body is 
No matter who it is, it is sacred; Is it a slave? Is it one of the dull-faced immigrants 
 just landed on the wharf?
Each belongs here or anywhere, just as much as the 
 well-off—just as much as you;
Each has his or her place in the procession.
17All is a procession; The universe is a procession, with measured and beau- 
 tiful motion.
  [ begin page 104 ]ppp.00473.104.jpg 18Do you know so much yourself, that you call the slave 
 or the dull-face ignorant?
Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight, and 
 he or she has no right to a sight?
Do you think matter has cohered together from its 
 diffuse float—and the soil is on the surface,  
 and water runs, and vegetation sprouts,
For you only, and not for him and her?


19A man's Body at auction; I help the auctioneer—the sloven does not half know 
 his business.
20Gentlemen, look on this wonder! Whatever the bids of the bidders, they cannot be high 
 enough for it;
For it the globe lay preparing quintillions of years,  
 without one animal or plant;
For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily roll'd.
21In this head the all-baffling brain; In it and below it, the makings of heroes. 22Examine these limbs, red, black, or white—they are 
 so cunning in tendon and nerve;
They shall be stript, that you may see them.
23Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition, Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant back-bone and neck,  
 flesh not flabby, good sized arms and legs,
And wonders within there yet.
24Within there runs blood, The same old blood! The same red-running blood! There swells and jets a heart—there all passions, de- 
 sires, reachings, aspirations;
Do you think they are not there because they are not 
 express'd in parlors and lecture—rooms?
  [ begin page 105 ]ppp.00473.105.jpg 25This is not only one man—this is the father of those 
 who shall be fathers in their turns;
In him the start of populous states and rich republics; Of him countless immortal lives, with countless em- 
 bodiments and enjoyments.
26How do you know who shall come from the off- 
 spring of his offspring through the centuries?
Who might you find you have come from yourself, if 
 you could trace back through the centuries?


27A woman's Body at auction! She too is not only herself—she is the teeming 
 mother of mothers;
She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be 
 mates to the mothers.
28Have you ever loved the Body of a woman? Have you ever loved the Body of a man? Your father—where is your father? Your mother—is she living? have you been much 
 with her? and has she been much with you?
Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all,  
 in all nations and times, all over the earth?
29If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred, And the glory and sweet of a man, is the token of man- 
 hood untainted;
And in man or woman, a clean, strong, firm-fibred 
 body, is beautiful as the most beautiful face.
30Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live 
 body? or the fool that corrupted her own live 
For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot con- 
 ceal themselves.
  [ begin page 106 ]ppp.00473.106.jpg


31O my Body! I dare not desert the likes of you in 
 other men and women, nor the likes of the 
 parts of you;
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the 
 likes of the Soul, (and that they are the Soul;)
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my 
 poems—and that they are poems,
Man's, woman's, child's, youth's, wife's, husband's,  
 mother's, father's, young man's, young woman's 
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears, Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eye-brows, and the 
 waking or sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws,  
 and the jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition, Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the 
 neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoul- 
 ders, and the ample side-round of the chest,
Upper-arm, arm-pit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm- 
 sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb,  
 fore-finger, finger-balls, finger-joints, finger- 
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast- 
 bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the back-bone, Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward 
 round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above, Leg-fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg, Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel; All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of 
 my or your body, or of any one's body, male or 
  [ begin page 107 ]ppp.00473.107.jpg The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet 
 and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame, Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, ma- 
Womanhood, and all that is a woman—and the man 
 that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laugh- 
 ter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturbations and 
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shout- 
 ing aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking,  
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm- 
 curving and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and 
 around the eyes,
The skin, the sun-burnt shade, freckles, hair, The curious sympathy one feels, when feeling with the 
 hand the naked meat of the body,
The circling rivers, the breath, and breathing it in 
 and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and 
 thence downward toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you, or within me—the 
 bones, and the marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health; O I say, these are not the parts and poems of the Body 
 only, but of the Soul,
O I say now these are the Soul!
  [ begin page 108 ]ppp.00473.108.jpg


1 A WOMAN waits for me—she contains all, nothing is  
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the  
 moisture of the right man were lacking.
2Sex contains all, Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, 
 results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, 
 the semitic milk,
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals, All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the  
All the governments, judges, gods, follow'd persons of  
 the earth,
These are contain'd in sex, as parts of itself, and jus- 
 tifications of itself.
3Without shame the man I like knows and avows the  
 deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows  
4Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women, I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with  
 those women that are warm-blooded and suffi- 
 cient for me:
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me: I see that they are worthy of me—I will be the robust  
 husband of those women.
5They are not one jot less than I am, They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and  
 blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,   [ begin page 109 ]ppp.00473.109.jpg They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, 
 strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend them- 
They are ultimate in their own right—they are calm, 
 clear, well-possess'd of themselves.
6I draw you close to me, you women! I cannot let you go, I would do you good, I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our  
 own sake, but for others' sakes;
Evelop'd in you sleep greater heroes and bards, They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me:
7It is I, you women—I make my way, I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable—but I love you, I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you, I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for  
 These States—I press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually—I listen to no entreaties, I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long  
 accumulated within me.
8Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself, In you I wrap a thousand onward years, On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me  
 and America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and ath- 
 letic girls, new artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in  
 their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my  
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I  
 and you interpenetrate now,
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of  
 them, as I count on the fruits of the gushing  
 showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death, 
 immortality, I plant so lovingly now.
E2   [ begin page 110 ]ppp.00473.110.jpg


SPONTANEOUS me, Nature, The loving day, the mounting sun, the friend I am  
 happy with,
The arm of my friend hanging idly over my shoulder, The hill-side whiten'd with blossoms of the mountain  
The same, late in autumn—the hues of red, yellow,  
 drab, purple, and light and dark green,
The rich coverlid of the grass—animals and birds—  
 the private untrimm'd bank—the primitive  
 apples—the pebble-stones,
Beautiful dripping fragments—the negligent list of  
 one after another, as I happen to call them to  
 me, or think of them,
The real poems, (what we call poems being merely  
The poems of the privacy of the night, and of men  
 like me,
This poem, drooping shy and unseen, that I always  
 carry, and that all men carry,
(Know, once for all, avow'd on purpose, wherever are  
 men like me, are our lusty, lurking, masculine  
Love-thoughts, love-juice, love-odor, love-yielding,  
 love-climbers, and the climbing sap,
Arms and hands of love—lips of love—phallic thumb  
 of love—breasts of love—bellies press'd and  
 glued together with love,
Earth of chaste love—life that is only life after love, The body of my love—the body of the woman I  
 love—the body of the man—the body of the  
Soft forenoon airs that blow from the south-west,   [ begin page 111 ]ppp.00473.111.jpg The hairy wild-bee that murmurs and hankers up and  
 down—that gripes the full-grown lady-flower,  
 curves upon her with amorous firm legs, takes  
 his will of her, and holds himself tremulous  
 and tight till he is satisfied,
The wet of woods through the early hours, Two sleepers at night lying close together as they  
 sleep, one with an arm slanting down across  
 and below the waist of the other,
The smell of apples, aromas from crush'd sage-plant,  
 mint, birch-bark,
The boy's longings, the glow and pressure as he con- 
 fides to me what he was dreaming,
The dead leaf whirling its spiral whirl, and falling  
 still and content to the ground,
The no-form'd stings that sights, people, objects, sting  
 me with,
The hubb'd sting of myself, stinging me as much as it  
 ever can any one,
The sensitive, orbic, underlapp'd brothers, that only  
 privileged feelers may be intimate where they  
The curious roamer, the hand, roaming all over the  
 body—the bashful withdrawing of flesh where  
 the fingers soothingly pause and edge them- 
The limpid liquid within the young man, The vexed corrosion, so pensive and so painful, The torment—the irritable tide that will not be at rest, The like of the same I feel—the like of the same in  
The young man that flushes and flushes, and the  
 young woman that flushes and flushes,
The young man that wakes, deep at night, the hot  
 hand seeking to repress what would master  
The mystic amorous night—the strange half-welcome  
 pangs, visions, sweats,
  [ begin page 112 ]ppp.00473.112.jpg The pulse pounding through palms and trembling  
 encircling fingers—the young man all color'd,  
 red, ashamed, angry;
The souse upon me of my lover the sea, as I lie willing  
 and naked,
The merriment of the twin-babes that crawl over the  
 grass in the sun, the mother never turning her  
 vigilant eyes from them,
The walnut-trunk, the walnut-husks, and the ripening  
 or ripen'd long-round walnuts;
The continence of vegetables, birds, animals, The consequent meanness of me should I skulk or find  
 myself indecent, while birds and animals never  
 once skulk or find themselves indecent;
The great chastity of paternity, to match the great  
 chastity of maternity,
The oath of procreation I have sworn—my Adamic  
 and fresh daughters,
The greed that eats me day and night with hungry  
 gnaw, till I saturate what shall produce boys to  
 fill my place when I am through,
The wholesome relief, repose, content; And this bunch, pluck'd at random from myself; It has done its work—I toss it carelessly to fall where  
 it may.


1 ONE hour to madness and joy! O furious! O confine me not! (What is this that frees me so in storms? What do my shouts amid lightnings and raging winds  
  [ begin page 113 ]ppp.00473.113.jpg 2O to drink the mystic deliria deeper than any  
 other man!
O savage and tender achings! (I bequeath them to you, my children, I tell them to you, for reasons, O bridegroom and  
3O to be yielded to you, whoever you are, and you to  
 be yielded to me, in defiance of the world!
O to return to Paradise! O bashful and feminine! O to draw you to me—to plant on you for the first  
 time the lips of a determin'd man!
4O the puzzle—the thrice-tied knot—the deep and  
 dark pool! O all untied and illumin'd!
O to speed where there is space enough and air  
 enough at last!
O to be absolv'd from previous ties and conventions—  
 I from mine, and you from yours!
O to find a new unthought-of nonchalance with the  
 best of nature!
O to have the gag remov'd from one's mouth! O to have the feeling, to-day or any day, I am suffi- 
 cient as I am!
5O something unprov'd! something in a trance! O madness amorous! O trembling! O to escape utterly from others' anchors and holds! To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dan- 
To court destruction with taunts—with invitations! To ascend—to leap to the heavens of the love indicated  
 to me!
To rise thither with my inebriate Soul! To be lost, if it must be so! To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness  
 and freedom!
With one brief hour of madness and joy.
  [ begin page 114 ]ppp.00473.114.jpg


WE two—how long we were fool'd! Now transmuted, we swiftly escape, as Nature escapes; We are Nature—long have we been absent, but now  
 we return;
We become plants, leaves, foliage, roots, bark; We are bedded in the ground—we are rocks; We are oaks—we grow in the openings side by side; We browse—we are two among the wild herds, spon- 
 taneous as any;
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together; We are what the locust blossoms are—we drop scent  
 around the lanes, mornings and evenings;
We are also the coarse smut of beats, vegetables,  
We are two predatory hawks—we soar above, and look  
We are two resplendent suns—we it is who balance  
 ourselves, orbic and stellar—we are as two  
We prowl fang'd and four-footed in the woods—we  
 spring on prey;
We are two clouds, forenoons and afternoons, driving  
We are seas mingling—we are two of those cheerful  
 waves, rolling over each other, and interwetting  
 each other;
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive,  
 pervious, impervious;
We are snow, rain, cold, darkness—we are each pro- 
 duct and influence of the globe;
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home  
 again—we two have;
We have voided all but freedom, and all but our own  
  [ begin page 115 ]ppp.00473.115.jpg


NATIVE moments! when you come upon me—Ah you  
 are here now!
Give me now libidinous joys only! Give me the drench of my passions! Give me life  
 coarse and rank!
To-day, I go consort with nature's darlings—to-night too; I am for those who believe in loose delights—I share  
 the midnight orgies of young men;
I dance with the dancers, and drink with the drinkers; The echoes ring with our indecent calls; I take for my love some prostitute—I pick out some  
 low person for my dearest friend,
He shall be lawless, rude, illiterate—he shall be one  
 condemn'd by others for deeds done;
I will play a part no longer—Why should I exile my- 
 self from my companions?
O you shunn'd persons! I at least do not shun you, I come forthwith in your midst—I will be your poet, I will be more to you than to any of the rest.


ONCE I pass'd through a populous city, imprinting my  
 brain, for future use, with its shows, architec- 
 ture, customs, and traditions;
Yet now, of all that city, I remember only a woman I  
 casually met there, who detain'd me for love of  
Day by day and night by night we were together,—All  
 else has long been forgotten by me;
I remember, I say, only that woman who passionately  
 clung to me;
Again we wander—we love—we separate again; Again she holds me by the hand—I must not go! I see her close beside me, with silent lips, sad and  
  [ begin page 116 ]ppp.00473.116.jpg


FACING west, from California's shores, Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound, I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of  
 maternity, the land of migrations, look afar,
Look off the shores of my Western Sea—the circle  
 almost circled;
For, starting westward from Hindustan, from the vales  
 of Kashmere,
From Asia—from the north—from the God, the sage,  
 and the hero,
From the south—from the flowery peninsulas, and the  
 spice islands;
Long having wander'd since—round the earth having  
Now I face home again—very pleas'd and joyous; (But where is what I started for, so long ago? And why is it yet unfound?)


AGES and ages, returning at intervals, Undestroy'd, wandering immortal, Lusty, phallic, with the potent original loins, perfectly  
I, chanter of Adamic songs, Through the new garden, the West, the great cities  
Deliriate, thus prelude what is generated, offering these,  
 offering myself,
Bathing myself, bathing my songs in Sex, Offspring of my loins.
  [ begin page 117 ]ppp.00473.117.jpg


O HYMEN! O Hymenee! Why do you tantalize me thus? O why sting me for a swift moment only? Why can you not continue? O why do you now cease? Is it because, if you continued beyond the swift mo- 
 ment, you would soon certainly kill me?


I AM he that aches with amorous love; Does the earth gravitate? Does not all matter,  
 aching, attract all matter?
So the Body of me, to all I meet, or know.


AS Adam, early in the morning, Walking forth from the bower, refresh'd with sleep; Behold me where I pass—hear my voice—approach, Touch me—touch the palm of your hand to my Body  
 as I pass;
Be not afraid of my Body.
  [ begin page 118 ]ppp.00473.118.jpg


WHO has gone farthest? For I swear I will go farther; And who has been just? For I would be the most just  
 person of the earth;
And who most cautious? For I would be more  
And who has been happiest? O I think it is I! I  
 think no one was ever happier than I;
And who has lavish'd all? For I lavish constantly the  
 best I have;
And who has been firmest? For I would be firmer; And who proudest? For I think I have reason to be  
 the proudest son alive—for I am the son of the  
 brawny and tall-topt city;
And who has been bold and true? For I would be  
 the boldest and truest being of the universe;
And who benevolent? For I would show more be- 
 nevolence than all the rest;
And who has projected beautiful words through the  
 longest time? By God! I will outvie him! I  
 will say such words, they shall stretch through  
 longer time!
And who has receiv'd the love of the most friends?  
 For I know what it is to receive the passionate  
 love of many friends;
And to whom has been given the sweetest from  
 women, and paid them in kind? For I will  
 take the like sweets and pay them in kind;
And who possesses a perfect and enamour'd body?  
 For I do not believe any one possesses a more  
 perfect or enamour'd body than mine;
And who thinks the amplest thoughts? For I will  
 surround those thoughts;
And who has made hymns fit for the earth? For I  
 am mad with devouring extacy to make joyous  
 hymns for the whole earth!
  [ begin page 119 ]ppp.00473.119.jpg



IN paths untrodden, In the growth by margins of pond-waters, Escaped from the life that exhibits itself, From all the standards hitherto publish'd—from the  
 pleasures, profits, conformities,
Which too long I was offering to feed my Soul; Clear to me, now, standards not yet publish'd—clear  
 to me that my Soul,
That the Soul of the man I speak for, feeds, rejoices  
 in comrades;
Here, by myself, away from the clank of the world, Tallying and talk'd to here by tongues aromatic, No longer abash'd—for in this secluded spot I can  
 respond as I would not dare elsewhere,
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself,  
 yet contains all the rest,
Resolv'd to sing no songs to-day but those of manly  
Projecting them along that substantial life, Bequeathing, hence, types of athletic love, Afternoon, this delicious Ninth-month, in my forty- 
 first year,
I proceed, for all who are, or have been, young men, To tell the secret of my nights and days, To celebrate the need of comrades.
  [ begin page 120 ]ppp.00473.120.jpg


SCENTED herbage of my breast, Leaves from you I yield, I write, to be perused best  
Tomb-leaves, growing up above me, above  
Perennial roots, tall leaves—O the winter shall not  
 freeze you, delicate leaves,
Every year shall you bloom again—Out from where  
 you retired, you shall emerge again;
O I do not know whether many, passing by, will dis- 
 cover you, or inhale your faint odor—but I  
 believe a few will;
O slender leaves! O blossoms of my blood! I permit  
 you to tell, in your own way, of the heart that  
 is under you;
O burning and throbbing—surely all will one day be  
O I do not know what you mean, there underneath  
 yourselves—you are not happiness,
You are often more bitter than I can bear—you burn  
 and sting me,
Yet you are very beautiful to me, you faint-tinged  
 roots—you make me think of Death,
Death is beautiful from you—(what indeed is beauti- 
 ful, except Death and Love?)
O I think it is not for life I am chanting here my  
 chant of lovers—I think it must be for Death,
For how calm, how solemn it grows, to ascend to the  
 atmosphere of lovers,
Death or life I am then indifferent—my Soul declines  
 to prefer,
I am not sure but the high Soul of lovers welcomes  
 death most;
Indeed, O Death, I think now these leaves mean pre- 
 cisely the same as you mean;
  [ begin page 121 ]ppp.00473.121.jpg Grow up taller, sweet leaves, that I may see! grow  
 up out of my breast!
Spring away from the conceal'd heart there! Do not fold yourself so in your pink-tinged roots,  
 timid leaves!
Do not remain down there so ashamed, herbage of my  
Come, I am determin'd to unbare this broad breast of  
 mine—I have long enough stifled and choked:
Emblematic and capricious blades, I leave you—now  
 you serve me not;
Away! I will say what I have to say, by itself, I will escape from the sham that was proposed to  
I will sound myself and comrades only—I will never  
 again utter a call, only their call,
I will raise with it, immortal reverberations through  
 The States,
I will give an example to lovers, to take permanent  
 shape and will through The States;
Through me shall the words be said to make death  
Give me your tone therefore, O Death, that I may  
 accord with it,
Give me yourself—for I see that you belong to me  
 now above all, and are folded inseparably to- 
 gether—you Love and Death are;
Nor will I allow you to balk me any more with what I  
 was calling life,
For now it is convey'd to me that you are the pur- 
 ports essential,
That you hide in these shifting forms of life, for reasons  
 —and that they are mainly for you,
That you, beyond them, come forth, to remain, the  
 real reality,
That behind the mask of materials you patiently wait,  
 no matter how long,
That you will one day, perhaps take control of all,   [ begin page 122 ]ppp.00473.122.jpg That you will perhaps dissipate this entire show of  
That may be you are what it is all for—but it does not  
 last so very long,
But you will last very long.

Whoever you are, Holding me now in Hand.

1 WHOEVER you are, holding me now in hand, Without one thing, all will be useless, I give you fair warning, before you attempt me  
I am not what you supposed, but far different.
2Who is he that would become my follower? Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections? 3The way is suspicious—the result uncertain, perhaps  
You would have to give up all else—I alone would ex- 
 pect to be your God, sole and exclusive,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhaust- 
The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity  
 to the lives around you, would have to be aban- 
Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself  
 any further—Let go your hand from my  
Put me down, and depart on your way.
4Or else, by stealth, in some wood, for trial, Or back of a rock, in the open air, (For in any roof'd room of a house I emerge not—nor  
 in company,
  [ begin page 123 ]ppp.00473.123.jpg And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, 
 or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill—first watch- 
 ing lest any person, for miles around, ap- 
 proach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of  
 the sea, or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you, With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss, or the new  
 husband's kiss,
For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade.
5Or, if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing, Where I may feel the throbs of your heart, or rest  
 upon your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea; For thus, merely touching you, is enough—is best, And thus, touching you, would I silently sleep and be  
 carried eternally.
6But these leaves conning, you con at peril, For these leaves, and me, you will not understand, They will elude you at first, and still more afterward  
 —I will certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably  
 caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.
7For it is not for what I have put into it that I have  
 written this book,
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it, Nor do those know me best who admire me, and  
 vauntingly praise me,
Nor will the candidates for my love, (unless at most a  
 very few,) prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only—they will do just as  
 much evil, perhaps more;
For all is useless without that which you may guess at  
 many times and not hit—that which I hinted at;
Therefore release me, and depart on your way.
  [ begin page 124 ]ppp.00473.124.jpg


THESE, I, singing in spring, collect for lovers, (For who but I should understand lovers, and all their  
 sorrow and joy?
And who but I should be the poet of comrades?) Collecting, I traverse the garden, the world—but soon  
 I pass the gates,
Now along the pond-side—now wading in a little,  
 fearing not the wet,
Now by the post-and-rail fences, where the old stones  
 thrown there, pick'd from the fields, have accu- 
Wild-flowers and vines and weeds come up through  
 the stones, and partly cover them—Beyond  
 these I pass,
Far, far in the forest, before I think where I go, Solitary, smelling the earthy smell, stopping now and  
 then in the silence,
Alone I had thought—yet soon a silent troop gathers  
 around me,
Some walk by my side, and some behind, and some  
 embrace my arms or neck,
They, the spirits of friends, dead or alive—thicker  
 they come, a great crowd, and I in the middle,
Collecting, dispensing, singing in spring, there I wan- 
 der with them,
Plucking something for tokens—tossing toward who- 
 ever is near me;
Here! lilac, with a branch of pine, Here out of my pocket, some moss which I pull'd off  
 a live-oak in Florida, as it hung trailing down,
Here, some pinks and laurel leaves, and a handful of  
And here what I now draw from the water, wading in  
 the pond-side,
(O here I last saw him that tenderly loves me—and  
 returns again, never to separate from me,
  [ begin page 125 ]ppp.00473.125.jpg And this, O this shall henceforth be the token of com- 
 rades—this Calamus-root shall,
Interchange it, youths, with each other! Let none  
 render it back!)
And twigs of maple, and a bunch of wild orange, and  
And stems of currants, and plum-blows, and the aro- 
 matic cedar:
These, I, compass'd around by a thick cloud of spirits, Wandering, point to, or touch as I pass, or throw them  
 loosely from me,
Indicating to each one what he shall have—giving  
 something to each;
But what I drew from the water by the pond-side,  
 that I reserve,
I will give of it—but only to them that love, as I my- 
 self am capable of loving.



COME, I will make the continent indissoluble; I will make the most splendid race the sun ever yet  
 shone upon;
I will make divine magnetic lands, 
 With the love of comrades, 
 With the life-long love of comrades.


I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the  
 rivers of America, and along the shores of the  
 great lakes, and all over the prairies;
I will make inseparable cities, with their arms about  
 each other's necks;  
 By the love of comrades, 
 By the manly love of comrades.
E   [ begin page 126 ]ppp.00473.126.jpg


For you these, from me, O Democracy, to serve you, 
 ma femme!
For you! for you, I am trilling these songs, 
 In the love of comrades, 
 In the high-towering love of comrades.

Not Heaving from my Ribb'd Breast only.

NOT heaving from my ribb'd breast only; Not in sighs at night, in rage, dissatisfied with myself; Not in those long-drawn, ill-supprest sighs; Not in many an oath and promise broken; Not in my wilful and savage soul's volition; Not in the subtle nourishment of the air; Not in this beating and pounding at my temples and  
Not in the curious systole and diastole within, which  
 will one day cease;
Not in many a hungry wish, told to the skies only; Not in cries, laughter, defiances, thrown from me when  
 alone, far in the wilds;
Not in husky pantings through clench'd teeth; Not in sounded and resounded words—chattering  
 words, echoes, dead words;
Not in the murmurs of my dreams while I sleep, Nor the other murmurs of these incredible dreams of  
 every day;
Nor in the limbs and senses of my body, that take you  
 and dismiss you continually—Not there;
Not in any or all of them, O adhesiveness! O pulse  
 of my life!
Need I that you exist and show yourself, any more  
 than in these songs.
  [ begin page 127 ]ppp.00473.127.jpg

Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances.

OF the terrible doubt of appearances, Of the uncertainty after all—that we may be deluded, That may-be reliance and hope are but speculations  
 after all,
That may-be identity beyond the grave is a beautiful  
 fable only,
May-be the things I perceive—the animals, plants, men,  
 hills, shining and flowing waters,
The skies of day and night—colors, densities, forms—  
 May-be these are, (as doubtless they are,) only  
 apparitions, and the real something has yet to be  
(How often they dart out of themselves, as if to con- 
 found me and mock me!
How often I think neither I know, nor any man knows,  
 aught of them;)
May-be seeming to me what they are, (as doubtless  
 they indeed but seem,) as from my present point  
 of view—And might prove, (as of course they  
 would,) naught of what they appear, or naught  
 anyhow, from entirely changed points of view;
—To me, these, and the like of these, are curiously  
 answer'd by my lovers, my dear friends;
When he whom I love travels with me, or sits a long  
 while holding me by the hand,
When the subtle air, the impalpable, the sense that  
 words and reason hold not, surround us and  
 pervade us,
Then I am charged with untold and untellable wisdom  
 —I am silent—I require nothing further,
I cannot answer the question of appearances, or that  
 of identity beyond the grave;
But I walk or sit indifferent—I am satisfied, He ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.
  [ begin page 128 ]ppp.00473.128.jpg


RECORDERS ages hence! Come, I will take you down underneath this impassive  
 exterior—I will tell you what to say of me;
Publish my name and hang up my picture as that of  
 the tenderest lover,
The friend, the lover's portrait, of whom his friend,  
 his lover, was fondest,
Who was not proud of his songs, but of the measure- 
 less ocean of love within him—and freely  
 pour'd it forth,
Who often walk'd lonesome walks, thinking of his  
 dear friends, his lovers,
Who pensive, away from one he lov'd, often lay sleep- 
 less and dissatisfied at night,
Who knew too well the sick, sick dread lest the one  
 he lov'd might secretly be indifferent to him,
Whose happiest days were far away, through fields,  
 in woods, on hills, he and another, wandering  
 hand in hand, they twain, apart from other  
Who oft as he saunter'd the streets, curved with his  
 arm the shoulder of his friend—while the arm  
 of his friend rested upon him also.

When I Heard at the Close of the Day.

WHEN I heard at the close of the day how my name  
 had been receiv'd with plaudits in the capitol,  
 still it was not a happy night for me that fol- 
And else, when I carous'd, or when my plans were  
 accomplish'd, still I was not happy;
But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of  
 perfect health, refresh'd, singing, inhaling the  
 ripe breath of autumn,
  [ begin page 129 ]ppp.00473.129.jpg When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and  
 disappear in the morning light,
When I wander'd alone over the beach, and undress- 
 ing, bathed, laughing with the cool waters, and  
 saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my dear friend, my lover,  
 was on his way coming, O then I was happy;
O then each breath tasted sweeter—and all that day  
 my food nourish'd me more—and the beautiful  
 day pass'd well,
And the next came with equal joy—and with the next,  
 at evening, came my friend;
And that night, while all was still, I heard the waters  
 roll slowly continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands, as  
 directed to me, whispering, to congratulate me,
For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the  
 same cover in the cool night,
In the stillness, in the autumn moonbeams, his face  
 was inclined toward me,
And his arm lay lightly around my breast—and that  
 night I was happy.

Are you the New Person Drawn Toward me?

ARE you the new person drawn toward me? To begin with, take warning—I am surely far differ- 
 ent from what you suppose;
Do you suppose you will find in me your ideal? Do you think it so easy to have me become your  
Do you think the friendship of me would be unalloy'd  
Do you think I am trusty and faithful?   [ begin page 130 ]ppp.00473.130.jpg Do you see no further than this façade—this smooth  
 and tolerant manner of me?
Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground  
 toward a real heroic man?
Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all  
 maya, illusion?

Roots and Leaves Themselves Alone.

ROOTS and leaves themselves alone are these; Scents brought to men and women from the wild  
 woods, and from the pond-side,
Breast-sorrel and pinks of love—fingers that wind  
 around tighter than vines,
Gushes from the throats of birds, hid in the foliage  
 of trees, as the sun is risen;
Breezes of land and love—breezes set from living  
 shores out to you on the living sea—to you,  
 O sailors!
Frost-mellow'd berries, and Third-month twigs,  
 offer'd fresh to young persons wandering out  
 in the fields when the winter breaks up,
Love-buds, put before you and within you, whoever  
 you are,
Buds to be unfolded on the old terms; If you bring the warmth of the sun to them, they  
 will open, and bring form, color, perfume, to  
If you become the aliment and the wet, they will  
 become flowers, fruits, tall branches and trees.
  [ begin page 131 ]ppp.00473.131.jpg

Not Heat Flames up and Consumes.

NOT heat flames up and consumes, Not sea-waves hurry in and out, Not the air, delicious and dry, the air of the ripe  
 summer, bears lightly along white down-balls  
 of myriads of seeds,
Wafted, sailing gracefully, to drop where they may; Not these—O none of these, more than the flames of  
 me, consuming, burning for his love whom I  
O none, more than I, hurrying in and out; Does the tide hurry, seeking something, and never  
 give up? O I the same;
O nor down-balls, nor perfumes, nor the high, rain- 
 emitting clouds, are borne through the open  
Any more than my Soul is borne through the open  
Wafted in all directions, O love, for friendship, for  


TRICKLE, drops! my blue veins leaving! O drops of me! trickle, slow drops, Candid, from me falling—drip, bleeding drops, From wounds made to free you whence you were  
From my face—from my forehead and lips, From my breast—from within where I was conceal'd  
 —press forth, red drops—confession drops;
Stain every page—stain every song I sing, every word  
 I say, bloody drops;
  [ begin page 132 ]ppp.00473.132.jpg Let them know your scarlet heat—let them glisten; Saturate them with yourself, all ashamed and wet; Glow upon all I have written or shall write, bleeding  
Let it all be seen in your light, blushing drops.

Of Him I Love Day and Night.

OF him I love day and night, I dream'd I heard he was  
And I dream'd I went where they had buried him I love  
 —but he was not in that place;
And I dream'd I wander'd, searching among burial- 
 places, to find him;
And I found that every place was a burial-place; The houses full of life were equally full of death, (this  
 house is now;)
The streets, the shipping, the places of amusement,  
 the Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, the Manna- 
 hatta, were as full of the dead as of the living,
And fuller, O vastly fuller, of the dead than of the  
—And what I dream'd I will henceforth tell to every  
 person and age,
And I stand henceforth bound to what I dream'd; And now I am willing to disregard burial-places, and  
 dispense with them;
And if the memorials of the dead were put up indif- 
 ferently everywhere, even in the room where I  
 eat or sleep, I should be satisfied;
And if the corpse of any one I love, or if my own  
 corpse, be duly render'd to powder, and pour'd  
 in the sea, I shall be satisfied;
Or if it be distributed to the winds, I shall be sat- 
  [ begin page 133 ]ppp.00473.133.jpg


CITY of orgies, walks and joys! City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst  
 will one day make you illustrious,
Not the pageants of you—not your shifting tableaux,  
 your spectacles, repay me;
Not the interminable rows of your houses—nor the  
 ships at the wharves,
Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright win- 
 dows, with goods in them;
Nor to converse with learn'd persons, or bear my share  
 in the soiree or feast;
Not those—but, as I pass, O Manhattan! your fre- 
 quent and swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering response to my own—these repay me; Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.


BEHOLD this swarthy face, this unrefined face—these  
 gray eyes,
This beard—the white wool, unclipt upon my neck, My brown hands, and the silent manner of me, with- 
 out charm;
Yet comes one, a Manhattanese, and ever at parting,  
 kisses me lightly on the lips with robust love,
And I, in the public room, or on the crossing of the  
 street, or on the ship's deck, kiss him in return;
We observe that salute of American comrades, land  
 and sea,
We are those two natural and nonchalant persons.
F2   [ begin page 134 ]ppp.00473.134.jpg

I saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing.

I SAW in Louisiana a live-oak growing, All alone stood it, and the moss hung down from the  
Without any companion it grew there, uttering joyous  
 leaves of dark green,
And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think  
 of myself;
But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves,  
 standing alone there, without its friend, its  
 lover near—for I knew I could not;
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of  
 leaves upon it, and twined around it a little  
And brought it away—and I have placed it in sight in  
 my room;
It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear  
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of  
Yet it remains to me a curious token—it makes me  
 think of manly love;
—For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there  
 in Louisiana, solitary, in a wide flat space,
Uttering joyous leaves all its life, without a friend, a  
 lover, near,
I know very well I could not.

That Music Always Round Me.

THAT music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning  
 —yet long untaught I did not hear;
But now the chorus I hear, and am elated; A tenor, strong, ascending, with power and health,  
 with glad notes of day-break I hear,
  [ begin page 135 ]ppp.00473.135.jpg A soprano, at intervals, sailing buoyantly over the  
 tops of immense waves,
A transparent base, shuddering lusciously under and  
 through the universe,
The triumphant tutti—the funeral wailings, with  
 sweet flutes and violins—all these I fill myself  
I hear not the volumes of sound merely—I am moved  
 by the exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out,  
 striving, contending with fiery vehemence to  
 excel each other in emotion,
I do not think the peformers​ know themselves—but  
 now I think I begin to know them.


PASSING stranger! you do not know how longingly I  
 look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking,  
 (it comes to me, as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you, All is recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affection- 
 ate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl  
 with me,
I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has  
 become not yours only, nor left my body mine  
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as  
 we pass—you take of my beard, breast, hands,  
 in return,
I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when  
 I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again, I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
  [ begin page 136 ]ppp.00473.136.jpg

This Moment, Yearning and Thoughtful.

THIS moment yearning and thoughtful, sitting alone, It seems to me there are other men in other lands,  
 yearning and thoughtful;
It seems to me I can look over and behold them, in  
 Prussia, Italy, France, Spain—or far, far away,  
 in China, or in Russia or India—talking other  
And it seems to me if I could know those men, I  
 should become attached to them, as I do to men  
 in my own lands;
O I know we should be brethren and lovers, I know I should be happy with them.

I Hear it was Charged Against Me.

I HEAR it was charged against me that I sought to  
 destroy institutions;
But really I am neither for nor against institutions; (What indeed have I in common with them?—Or  
 what with the destruction of them?)
Only I will establish in the Mannahatta, and in every  
 city of These States, inland and seaboard,
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel  
 little or large, that dents the water,
Without edifices, or rules, or trustees, or any argu- 
The institution of the dear love of comrades.
  [ begin page 137 ]ppp.00473.137.jpg

The Prairie-Grass Dividing.

THE prairie-grass dividing—its special odor breathing, I demand of it the spiritual corresponding, Demand the most copious and close companionship  
 of men,
Demand the blades to rise of words, acts, beings, Those of the open atmosphere, coarse, sunlit, fresh,  
Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with  
 freedom and command—leading, not following,
Those with a never-quell'd audacity—those with sweet  
 and lusty flesh, clear of taint,
Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents  
 and Governors, as to say, Who are you?
Those of earth-born passion, simple, never constrain'd'  
 never obedient,
Those of inland America.

We Two Boys Together Clinging.

WE two boys together clinging, One the other never leaving, Up and down the roads going—North and South  
 excursions making,
Power enjoying—elbows stretching—fingers clutch- 
Armed and fearless—eating, drinking, sleeping, lov- 
No law less than ourselves owning—sailing, soldiering,  
 thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials, priests alarming—air breathing, water  
 drinking, on the turf of the sea-beach dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking,  
 feebleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.

O Living Always—Always Dying!

O LIVING always—always dying! O the burials of me, past and present! O me, while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperi- 
 ous as ever!
O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not  
 —I am content;)
O to disengage myself from those corpses of me,  
 which I turn and look at, where I cast them!
To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the  
 corpses behind!

When I Peruse the Conquer'd Fame.

WHEN I peruse the conquer'd fame of heroes, and the  
 victories of mighty generals, I do not envy the  
Nor the President in his Presidency, nor the rich in  
 his great house;
But when I read of the brotherhood of lovers, how it  
 was with them,
How through life, through dangers, odium, unchang- 
 ing, long and long,
Through youth, and through middle and old age, how  
 unfaltering, how affectionate and faithful they  
Then I am pensive—I hastily put down the book, and  
 walk away, fill'd with the bitterest envy.


A GLIMPSE, through an interstice caught, Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room,  
 around the stove, late of a winter night—And I  
 unremark'd, seated in a corner;
  [ begin page 139 ]ppp.00473.139.jpg Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, silently  
 approaching, and seating himself near, that he  
 may hold me by the hand;
A long while, amid the noises of coming and going—  
 of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together,  
 speaking little, perhaps not a word.


A PROMISE to California, Also to the great Pastoral Plains, and for Oregon: Sojourning east a while longer, soon I travel toward  
 you, to remain, to teach robust American love;
For I know very well that I and robust love belong  
 among you, inland, and along the Western  
For These States tend inland, and toward the Western  
 Sea—and I will also.


WHAT ship, puzzled at sea, cons for the true reckon- 
Or, coming in, to avoid the bars, and follow the chan- 
 nel, a perfect pilot needs?
Here, sailor! Here, ship! take aboard the most perfect  
Whom, in a little boat, putting off, and rowing, I,  
 hailing you, offer.
  [ begin page 140 ]ppp.00473.140.jpg


HERE the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest- 
Here I shade down and hide my thoughts—I do not  
 expose them,
And yet they expose me more than all my other  


WHAT think you I take my pen in hand to record? The battle-ship, perfect-model'd, majestic, that I saw  
 pass the offing to-day under full sail?
The splendors of the past day? Or the splendor of the  
 night that envelops me?
Or the vaunted glory and growth of the great city  
 spread around me?—No;
But I record of two simple men I saw to-day, on the  
 pier, in the midst of the crowd, parting the part- 
 ing of dear friends;
The one to remain hung on the other's neck, and pas- 
 sionately kiss'd him,
While the one to depart, tightly prest the one to  
 remain in his arms.


No labor-saving machine, Nor discovery have I made; Nor will I be able to leave behind me any wealthy  
 bequest to found a hospital or library,
Nor reminiscence of any deed of courage, for America, Nor literary success, nor intellect—nor book for the  
Only a few carols, vibrating through the air, I leave, For comrades and lovers.
  [ begin page 141 ]ppp.00473.141.jpg


I DREAM'D in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the  
 attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;
I dream'd that was the new City of Friends; Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust  
 love—it led the rest;
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of  
 that city,
And in all their looks and words.


To the East and to the West; To the man of the Seaside State, and of Pennsylvania, To the Kanadian of the North—to the Southerner I  
These, with perfect trust, to depict you as myself—the  
 germs are in all men;
I believe the main purport of These States is to found  
 a superb friendship, exalté, previously unknown,
Because I perceive it waits, and has been always wait- 
 ing, latent in all men.


EARTH! my likeness! Though you look so impassive, ample and spheric  
I now suspect that is not all; I now suspect there is something fierce in you, eligible  
 to burst forth;
For an athlete is enamour'd of me—and I of him, But toward him there is something fierce and terrible  
 in me, eligible to burst forth,
I dare not tell it in words—not even in these songs.
  [ begin page 142 ]ppp.00473.142.jpg


A LEAF for hand in hand! You natural persons old and young! You on the Mississippi, and on all the branches and  
 bayous of the Mississippi!
You friendly boatmen and mechanics! You roughs! You twain! And all processions moving along the  
I wish to infuse myself among you till I see it com- 
 mon for you to walk hand in hand!


FAST-ANCHOR'D, eternal, O love! O woman I love; O bride! O wife! more resistless than I can tell, the  
 thought of you!
Then separate, as disembodied, or another born, Ethereal, the last athletic reality, my consolation; I ascend—I float in the regions of your love, O man, O sharer of my roving life.


SOMETIMES with one I love, I fill myself with rage, for  
 fear I effuse unreturn'd love;
But now I think there is no unreturn'd love—the pay  
 is certain, one way or another;
(I loved a certain person ardently, and my love was  
 not return'd;
Yet out of that, I have written these songs.)
  [ begin page 143 ]ppp.00473.143.jpg


THAT shadow, my likeness, that goes to and fro, seek- 
 ing a livelihood, chattering, chaffering;
How often I find myself standing and looking at it  
 where it flits;
How often I question and doubt whether that is really  
But in these, and among my lovers, and carolling my  
O I never doubt whether that is really me.


1 AMONG the men and women, the multitude, I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine  
Acknowledging none else—not parent, wife, husband, 
 brother, child, any nearer than I am;
Some are baffled—But that one is not—that one knows  
2Ah, lover and perfect equal! I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint  
And I, when I meet you, mean to discover you by the  
 like in you.


O BOY of the West! To you many things to absorb, I teach, to help you  
 become eleve of mine:
Yet if blood like mine circle not in your veins; If you be not silently selected by lovers, and do not  
 silently select lovers,
Of what use is it that you seek to become eleve of  
  [ begin page 144 ]ppp.00473.144.jpg


O YOU whom I often and silently come where you are,  
 that I may be with you;
As I walk by your side, or sit near, or remain in the  
 same room with you,
Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your  
 sake is playing within me.


1 FULL of life, now, compact, visible, I, forty years old the Eighty-third Year of The States, To one a century hence, or any number of centuries  
To you, yet unborn, these seeking you.
2When you read these, I, that was visible, am become  
Now it is you, compact, visible, realizing my poems, 
 seeking me;
Fancying how happy you were, if I could be with you, 
 and become your loving comrade;
Be it as if I were with you. Be not too certain but I  
 am now with you.
  [ begin page 145 ]ppp.00473.145.jpg



1O TAKE my hand, Walt Whitman! Such gliding wonders! such sights and sounds! Such join'd unended links, each hook'd to the next! Each answering all—each sharing the earth with all. 2What widens within you, Walt Whitman? What waves and soils exuding? What climes? what persons and lands are here? Who are the infants? some playing, some slumbering? Who are the girls? who are the married women? Who are the three old men going slowly with their  
 arms about each others' necks?
What rivers are these? what forests and fruits are  
What are the mountains call'd that rise so high in the  
What myriads of dwellings are they, fill'd with  
  dewellers​ ?


3Within me latitude widens, longitude lengthens; Asia, Africa, Europe, are to the east—America is pro- 
 vided for in the west;
Banding the bulge of the earth winds the hot equator, Curiously north and south turn the axis-ends; Within me is the longest day—the sun wheels in slant- 
 ing rings—it does not set for months?
  [ begin page 146 ]ppp.00473.146.jpg Stretch'd in due time within me the midnight sun just  
 rises above the horizon, and sinks again;
Within me zones, seas, cataracts, plants, volcanoes, 
Malaysia, Polynesia, and the great West Indian  


4What do you hear, Walt Whitman? 5I hear the workman singing, and the farmer's wife  
I hear in the distance the sounds of children, and of  
 animals early in the day;
I hear quick rifle-cracks from the riflemen of East  
 Tennessee and Kentucky, hunting on hills;
I hear emulous shouts of Australians, pursuing the  
 wild horse;
I hear the Spanish dance, with castanets, in the chest- 
 nut shade, to the rebeck and guitar;
I hear continual echoes from the Thames; I hear fierce French liberty songs; I hear of the Italian boat-sculler the musical recita- 
 tive of old poems;
I hear the Virginia plantation chorus of negroes, of a  
 harvest night, in the glare of pine knots;
I hear the strong baritone of the 'long-shore-men of  
I hear the stevedores unlading the cargoes, and sing- 
I hear the screams of the water-fowl of solitary north- 
 west lakes;
I hear the rustling pattering of locusts, as they strike  
 the grain and grass with the showers of their  
 terrible clouds;
I hear the Coptic refrain, toward sundown, pensively  
 falling on the breast of the black venerable vast  
 mother, the Nile;
  [ begin page 147 ]ppp.00473.147.jpg I hear the bugles of raft-tenders on the streams of  
I hear the chirp of the Mexican muleteer, and the  
 bells of the mule;
I hear the Arab muezzin, calling from the top of the  
I hear the Christian priests at the altars of their  
 churches—I hear the responsive base and  
I hear the wail of utter despair of the white-hair'd  
 Irish grand-parents, when they learn the death  
 of their grandson;
I hear the cry of the Cossack, and the sailor's voice, 
 putting to sea at Okotsk;
I hear the wheeze of the slave-coffle, as the slaves  
 march on—as the husky gangs pass on by twos  
 and threes, fasten'd together with wrist-chains  
 and ankle-chains;
I hear the entreaties of women tied up for punishment  
 —I hear the sibilant whisk of thongs through  
 the air;
I hear the Hebrew reading his records and psalms; I hear the rhythmic myths of the Greeks, and the  
 strong legends of the Romans;
I hear the tale of the divine life and bloody death of  
 the beautiful God, the Christ;
I hear the Hindoo teaching his favorite pupil the  
 loves, wars, adages, transmitted safely to this  
 day from poets who wrote three thousand years  


6What do you see, Walt Whitman? Who are they you salute, and that one after another  
 salute you?
7I see a great round wonder rolling through the air; I see diminute farms, hamlets, ruins, grave-yards, 
 jails, factories, palaces, hovels, huts of barba- 
 rians, tents of nomads, upon the surface;
  [ begin page 148 ]ppp.00473.148.jpg I see the shaded part on one side, where the sleepers  
 are sleeping—and the sun-lit part on the other  
I see the curious silent change of the light and shade, I see distant lands, as real and near to the inhabitants  
 of them, as my land is to me,
8I see plenteous waters; I see mountain peaks—I see the sierras of Andes and  
 Alleghanies, where they range;
I see plainly the Himalayas, Chian Shahs, Altays, 
I see the Rocky Mountains, and the Peak of Winds; I see the Styrian Alps, and the Karnac Alps; I see the Pyrenees, Balks, Carpathians—and to the  
 north the Dofrafields, and off at sea Mount  
I see Vesuvius and Etna—I see the Anahuacs; I see the Mountains of the Moon, and the Snow  
 Mountains, and the Red Mountains of Mada- 
I see the Vermont hills, and the long string of Cor- 
I see the vast deserts of Western America; I see the Lybian, Arabian, and Asiatic deserts; I see huge dreadful Arctic and Antartic icebergs; I see the superior oceans and the inferior ones—the  
 Atlantic and Pacific, the sea of Mexico, the  
 Brazilian sea, and the sea of Peru,
The Japan waters, those of Hindostan, the China Sea, 
 and the Gulf of Guinea,
The spread of the Baltic, Caspian, Bothnia, the British  
 shores, and the Bay of Biscay,
The clear-sunn'd Mediterranean, and from one to an- 
 other of its islands,
The inland fresh-tasted seas of North America, The White Sea, and the sea around Greenland.
  [ begin page 149 ]ppp.00473.149.jpg 9I behold the mariners of the world; Some are in storms—some in the night, with the  
 watch on the lookout;
Some drifting helplessly—some with contagious dis- 
10I behold the sail and steamships of the world, some  
 in clusters in port, some on their voyages;
Some double the Cape of Storms—some Cape Verde, 
 —others Cape Guardafui, Bon, or Bajadore;
Others Dondra Head—others pass the Straits of Sun- 
 da—others Cape Lopatka—others Behring's  
Others Cape Horn—others the Gulf of Mexico, or  
 along Cuba or Hayti—others Hudson's Bay or  
 Baffin's Bay;
Others pass the Straits of Dover—others enter the  
 Wash—others the Firth of Solway—others  
 round Cape Clear—others the Land's End;
Others traverse the Zuyder Zee, or the Scheld; Others add to the exits and entrances at Sandy Hook; Others to the comers and goers at Gibraltar, or the  
Others sternly push their way through the northern  
Others descend or ascend the Obi or the Lena: Others the Niger or the Congo—others the Indus, the  
 Burampooter and Cambodia;
Others wait at the wharves of Manhattan, steam'd up, 
 ready to start;
Wait, swift and swarthy, in the ports of Australia; Wait at Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, Marseilles, Lis- 
 bon, Naples, Hamburg, Bremen, Bordeaux, the  
 Hague, Copenhagen;
Wait at Valparaiso, Rio Janeiro, Panama; Wait at their moorings at Boston, Philadelphia, Balti- 
 more, Charleston, New Orleans, Galveston, San  
F   [ begin page 150 ]ppp.00473.150.jpg


11I see the tracks of the rail-roads of the earth; I see them welding State to State, city to city, through  
 North America;
I see them in Great Britain, I see them in Europe; I see them in Asia and in Africa.
12I see the electric telegraphs of the earth; I see the filaments of the news of the wars, deaths, 
 losses, gains, passions, of my race.
13I see the long river-stripes of the earth; I see where the Mississippi flows—I see where the  
 Columbia flows;
I see the Great River, and the Falls of Niagara; I see the Amazon and the Paraguay; I see the four great rivers of China, the Amour, the  
 Yellow River, the Yiang-tse, and the Pearl;
I see where the Seine flows, and where the Loire, the  
 Rhone, and the Guadalquiver flow;
I see the windings of the Volga, the Dnieper, the  
I see the Tuscan going down the Arno, and the Vene- 
 tian along the Po;
I see the Greek seaman sailing out of Egina bay.


14I see the site of the old empire of Assyria, and that  
 of Persia, and that of India;
I see the falling of the Ganges over the high rim of  
15I see the place of the idea of the Deity incarnated  
 by avatars in human forms;
I see the spots of the successions of priests on the earth  
 —oracles, sacrificers, brahmins, sabians, lamas, 
 monks, muftis, exhorters;
  [ begin page 151 ]ppp.00473.151.jpg I see where druids walked the groves of Mona—I see  
 the mistletoe and vervain;
I see the temples of the deaths of the bodies of Gods  
 —I see the old signifiers.
16I see Christ once more eating the bread of his last  
 supper, in the midst of youths and old persons;
I see where the strong divine young man, the Hercu- 
 les, toil'd faithfully and long, and then died;
I see the place of the innocent rich life and hapless  
 fate of the beautiful nocturnal son, the full- 
 limb Bacchus;
I see Kneph, blooming, drest in blue, with the crown  
 of feathers on his head;
I see Hermes, unsuspected, dying, well-beloved, saying  
 to the people, Do not weep for me,
This is not my true country, I have lived banish'd from  
  my true country—I now go back there,
I return to the celestial sphere, where every one goes in  
  his turn.


17I see the battle-fields of the earth—grass grows up- 
 on them, and blossoms and corn;
I see the tracks of ancient and modern expeditions.
18I see the nameless masonries, venerable messages of  
 the unknown events, heroes, records of the earth.
19I see the places of the sagas; I see pine-trees and fir-trees torn by northern blasts; I see granite boulders and cliffs—I see green meadows  
 and lakes;
I see the burial-cairns of Scandinavian warriors; I see them raised high with stones, by the marge of  
 restless oceans, that the dead men's spirits, 
 when they wearied of their quiet graves, might  
 rise up through the mounds, and gaze on the  
 tossing billows, and be refresh'd by storms, im- 
 mensity, liberty, action.
  [ begin page 152 ]ppp.00473.152.jpg 20I see the steppes of Asia; I see the tumuli of Mongolia—I see the tents of Kal- 
 mucks and Baskirs;
I see the nomadic tribes, with herds of oxen and cows; I see the table-lands notch'd with ravines—I see the  
 jungles and deserts;
I see the camel, the wild steed, the bustard, the fat- 
 tail sheep, the antelope, and the burrowing  
21I see the high-lands of Abyssinia; I see flocks of goats feeding, and see the fig-tree, 
 tamarind, date,
And see fields of teff-wheat, and see the places of  
 verdure and gold.
22I see the Brazilian vaquero; I see the Bolivian ascending Mount Sorata; I see the Wacho crossing the plains—I see the incom- 
 parable rider of horses with his lasso on his  
I see over the pampas the pursuit of wild cattle for  
 their hides.


23I see little and large sea-dots, some inhabited, some  
I see two boats with nets, lying off the shore of Pau- 
 manok, quite still;
I see ten fishermen waiting—they discover now a  
 thick school of mossbonkers—they drop the  
 join'd sein-ends in the water,
The boats separate—they diverge and row off, each on  
 its rounding course to the beach, enclosing the  
The net is drawn in by a windlass by those who stop  
Some of the fishermen lounge in their boats—others  
 stand negligently ankle-deep in the water, 
 poised on strong legs;
  [ begin page 153 ]ppp.00473.153.jpg The boats are partly drawn up—the water slaps  
 against them;
On the sand, in heaps and winrows, well out from the  
 water, lie the green-back'd spotted mossbonkers.


24I see the despondent red man in the west, lingering  
 about the banks of Moingo, and about Lake  
He has heard the quail and beheld the honey-bee, and  
 sadly prepared to depart.
25I see the regions of snow and ice; I see the sharp-eyed Samoiede and the Finn; I see the seal-seeker in his boat, poising his lance; I see the Siberian on his slight-built sledge, drawn by  
I see the porpoise-hunters—I see the whale-crews of  
 the South Pacific and the North Atlantic;
I see the cliffs, glaciers, torrents, valleys, of Switzer- 
 land—I mark the long winters, and the iso- 
26I see the cities of the earth, and make myself at  
 random a part of them;
I am a real Parisian; I am a habitan of Vienna, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Con- 
I am of Adelaide, Sidney, Melbourne; I am of London, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, 
I am of Madrid, Cadiz, Barcelona, Oporto, Lyons, 
 Brussels, Berne, Frankfort, Stuttgart, Turin, 
I belong in Moscow, Cracow, Warsaw—or northward  
 in Christiania or Stockholm—or in Siberian  
 Irkutsk—or in some street in Iceland;
I descend upon all those cities, and rise from them  
  [ begin page 154 ]ppp.00473.154.jpg


27I see vapors exhaling from unexplored countries; I see the savage types, the bow and arrow, the pois- 
 on splint, the fetish, and the obi.
28I see African and Asiatic towns; I see Algiers, Tripoli, Derne, Mogadore, Timbuctoo, 
I see the swarms of Pekin, Canton, Benares, Delhi, 
 Calcutta, Yedo;
I see the Kruman in his hut, and the Dahoman and  
 Ashantee-man in their huts;
I see the Turk smoking opium in Aleppo; I see the picturesque crowds at the fairs of Khiva, and  
 those of Herat;
I see Teheran—I see Muscat and Medina, and the  
 intervening sands—I see the caravans toiling  
I see Egypt and the Egyptians—I see the pyramids  
 and obelisks;
I look on chisel'd histories, songs, philosophies, cut  
 in slabs of sand-stone, or on granite blocks;
I see at Memphis mummy-pits, containing mummies. 
 embalm'd, swathed in linen cloth, lying there  
 many centuries;
I look on the fall'n Theban, the large-ball'd eyes, the  
 side-drooping neck, the hands folded across the  
29I see the menials of the earth, laboring; I see the prisoners in the prisons; I see the defective human bodies of the earth; I see the blind, the deaf and dumb, idiots, hunch- 
 backs, lunatics;
I see the pirates, thieves, betrayers, murderers, slave- 
 makers of the earth;
I see the helpless infants, and the helpless old men  
 and women.
  [ begin page 155 ]ppp.00473.155.jpg 30I see male and female everywhere; I see the serene brotherhood of philosophs; I see the constructiveness of my race; I see the results of the perseverance and industry of  
 my race;
I see ranks, colors, barbarisms, civilizations—I go  
 among them—I mix indiscriminately,
And I salute all the inhabitants of the earth.


31You, where you are! You daughter or son of England! You of the mighty Slavic tribes and empires! you  
 Russ in Russia!
You dim-descended, black, divine-soul'd African, large, 
 fine-headed, nobly-form'd, superbly destin'd, on  
 equal terms with me!
You Norwegian! Swede! Dane! Icelander! you  
You Spaniard of Spain! you Portuguese! You Frenchwoman and Frenchman of France! You Belge! you liberty-lover of the Netherlands! You sturdy Austrian! you Lombard! Hun! Bohe- 
 mian! farmer of Styria!
You neighbor of the Danube! You working-man of the Rhine, the Elbe, or the  
 Weser! you working-woman too!
You Sardinian! you Bavarian! Swabian! Saxon! 
 Wallachian! Bulgarian!
You citizen of Prague! Roman! Neapolitan! Greek! You lithe matador in the arena at Seville! You mountaineer living lawlessly on the Taurus or  
You Bokh horse-herd, watching your mares and stal- 
 lions feeding!
You beautiful-bodied Persian, at full speed in the sad- 
 dle, shooting arrows to the mark!
You Chinaman and Chinawoman of China! you Tar- 
 tar of Tartary!
  [ begin page 156 ]ppp.00473.156.jpg You women of the earth subordinated at your tasks! You Jew journeying in your old age through every  
 risk, to stand once on Syrian ground!
You other Jews waiting in all lands for your Messiah! You thoughtful Armenian, pondering by some stream  
 of the Euphrates! you peering amid the ruins  
 of Nineveh! you ascending Mount Ararat!
You foot-worn pilgrim welcoming the far-away sparkle  
 of the minarets of Mecca!
You sheiks along the stretch from Suez to Babelman- 
 deb, ruling your families and tribes!
You olive-grower tending your fruit on fields of Naz- 
 areth, Damascus, or Lake Tiberias!
You Thibet trader on the wide inland, or bargaining  
 in the shops of Lassa!
You Japanese man or woman! you liver in Madagas- 
 car, Ceylon, Sumatra, Borneo!
All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe, Austra- 
 lia, indifferent of place!
All you on the numberless islands of the archipela- 
 goes of the sea!
And you of centuries hence, when you listen to me! And you, each and everywhere, whom I specify not, 
 but include just the same!
Health to you! Good will to you all—from me and  
 America sent.
32Each of us inevitable; Each of us limitless—each of us with his or her right  
 upon the earth;
Each of us allow'd the eternal purports of the earth; Each of us here as divinely as any is here.


33You Hottentot with clicking palate! You wolly- 
 hair hordes!
You own'd persons, dropping sweat-drops or blood- 
  [ begin page 157 ]ppp.00473.157.jpg You human forms with the fathomless ever-impressive  
 countenances of brutes!
I dare not refuse you—the scope of the world, and of  
 time and space, are upon me.
34You poor koboo whom the meanest of the rest look  
 down upon, for all your glimmering language  
 and spirituality!
You low expiring aborigines of the hills of Utah, 
 Oregon, California!
You dwarf'd Kamtschatkan, Greenlander, Lapp! You Austral negro, naked, red, sooty, with protrusive  
 lip, grovelling, seeking your food!
You Caffre, Berber, Soudanese! You haggard, uncouth, untutor'd Bedowee! You plague-swarms in Madras, Nankin, Kaubul, Cairo! You bather bathing in the Ganges! You benighted roamer of Amazonia! you Patagonian! 
 you Fejee-man!
You peon of Mexico! you slave of Carolina, Texas, 
I do not prefer others so very much before you either; I do not say one word against you, away back there, 
 where you stand;
(You will come forward in due time to my side.)
35My spirit has pass'd in compassion and determina- 
 tion around the whole earth;
I have look'd for equals and lovers, and found them  
 ready for me in all lands;
I think some divine rapport has equalized me with  


36O vapors! I think I have risen with you, and moved  
 away to distant continents, and fallen down there, 
 for reasons;
I think I have blown with you, O winds; O waters, I have finger'd every shore with you.
F2   [ begin page 158 ]ppp.00473.158.jpg 37I have run through what any river or strait of the  
 globe has run through;
I have taken my stand on the bases of peninsulas, and  
 on the highest embedded rocks, to cry thence.
38 Salut au Monde! What cities the light or warmth penetrates, I pen- 
 etrate those cities myself;
All islands to which birds wing their way, I wing my  
 way myself.
39Toward all, I raise high the perpendicular hand—I make the  
To remain after me in sight forever, For all the haunts and homes of men.


WHAT place is besieged, and vainly tries to raise the  
Lo! I send to that place a commander, swift, brave,  
And with him horse and foot—and parks of artillery, And artillerymen, the deadliest that ever fired gun.
  [ begin page 159 ]ppp.00473.159.jpg



1 THERE was a child went forth every day; And the first object he look'd upon, that object he be- 
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.
2The 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 phoebe- 
And the Third-month 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.
3The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month  
 became part of him;
Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow  
 corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover'd with blossoms, and the  
 fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the com- 
 monest weeds by the road;
  [ begin page 160 ]ppp.00473.160.jpg And the old drunkard staggering home from the out- 
 house of the tavern, whence he had lately risen,
And the school-mistress that pass'd on her way to the  
And the friendly boys that pass'd—and the quarrel- 
 some boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek'd girls—and the bare- 
 foot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country, wherever he  
4His own parents; He that had father'd him, and she that had conceiv'd  
 him in her womb, and birth'd him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that; They gave him afterward every day—they became part  
 of him.
5The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on  
 the supper-table;
The mother with mild words—clean her cap and gown. 
 a wholesome odor falling off her person and  
 clothes as she walks by;
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger'd. 
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the  
 crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the fur- 
 niture—the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay'd—the sense of what  
 is real—the thought if, after all, it should prove  
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 they?
  [ begin page 161 ]ppp.00473.161.jpg The streets themselves, and the façades of houses, and  
 goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank'd 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-tow'd astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, 
The strata of color'd clouds, the long bar of maroon- 
 tint, away solitary by itself—the spread of pur- 
 ity it lies motionless in,
The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance  
 of salt-marsh and shore-mud;
These became part of that child who went forth every  
 day, and who now goes, and will always go forth  
 every day.


1 MYSELF and mine gymnastic ever, To stand the cold or heat—to take good aim with a  
 gun—to sail a boat—to manage horses—to be- 
 get superb children,
To speak readily and clearly—to feel at home among  
 common people,
And to hold our own in terrible positions, on land  
 and sea.
2Not for an embroiderer; (There will always be plenty of embroiderers—I wel- 
 come them also;)
But for the fibre of things, and for inherent men and  
3Not to chisel ornaments,   [ begin page 162 ]ppp.00473.162.jpg But to chisel with free stroke the heads and limbs of  
 plenteous Supreme Gods, that The States may  
 realize them, walking and talking.
4Let me have my own way; Let others promulge the laws—I will make no account  
 of the laws;
Let others praise eminent men and hold up peace—  
 I hold up agitation and conflict;
I praise no eminent man—I rebuke to his face the one  
 that was thought most worthy.
5(Who are you? you mean devil! And what are you  
 secretly guilty of, all your life?
Will you turn aside all your life? Will you grub and  
 chatter all your life?)
6(And who are you—blabbing by rote, years, pages, 
 languages, reminiscences,
Unwitting to-day that you do not know how to speak  
 a single word?)
7Let others finish specimens—I never finish speci- 
I shower them by exhaustless laws, as nature does, 
 fresh and modern continually.
8I give nothing as duties; What others give as duties, I give as living impulses; (Shall I give the heart's action as a duty?) 9Let others dispose of questions—I dispose of noth- 
 ing—I arouse unanswerable questions;
Who are they I see and touch, and what about them? What about these likes of myself, that draw me so close  
 by tender directions and indirections?
10I call to the world to distrust the accounts of my  
 friends, but listen to my enemies—as I myself do;
  [ begin page 163 ]ppp.00473.163.jpg I charge you, too, forever, reject those who would ex- 
 pound me—for I cannot expound myself;
I charge that there be no theory or school founded out  
 of me;
I charge you to leave all free, as I have left all free.
11After me, vista! O, I see life is not short, but immeasurably long; I henceforth tread the world, chaste, temperate, an  
 early riser, a steady grower,
Every hour the semen of centuries—and still of cen- 
12I will follow up these continual lessons of the air, 
 water, earth;
I perceive I have no time to lose.


1 WHO learns my lesson complete? Boss, journeyman, apprentice—churchman and athe- 
The stupid and the wise thinker—parents and off- 
 spring—merchant, clerk, porter, and customer,
Editor, author, artist, and schoolboy—Draw nigh and  
It is no lesson—it lets down the bars to a good lesson, And that to another, and every one to another still.
2The great laws take and effuse without argument; I am of the same style, for I am their friend, I love them quits and quits—I do not halt and make  
3I lie abstracted, and hear beautiful tales of things, 
 and the reasons of things
They are so beautiful, I nudge myself to listen.
  [ begin page 164 ]ppp.00473.164.jpg 4I cannot say to any person what I hear—I cannot  
 say it to myself—it is very wonderful.
5It is no small matter, this round and delicious globe. 
 moving so exactly in its orbit forever and ever, 
 without one jolt, or the untruth of a single  
I do not think it was made in six days, nor in ten  
 thousand years, nor ten billions of years,
Nor plann'd and built one thing after another, as an  
 architect plans and builds a house.
6I do not think seventy years is the time of a man or  
Nor that seventy millions of years is the time of a  
 man or woman,
Nor that years will ever stop the existence of me, or  
 any one else.
7Is it wonderful that I should be immortal? as every  
 one is immortal;
I know it is wonderful—but my eye-sight is equally  
 wonderful, and how I was conceived in my  
 mother's womb is equally wonderful;
And pass'd from a babe, in the creeping trance of  
 a couple of summers and winters, to articulate  
 and walk—All this is equally wonderful.
8And that my Soul embraces you this hour, and we  
 affect each other without ever seeing each other, 
 and never perhaps to see each other, is every  
 bit as wonderful.
9And that I can think such thoughts as these, is just  
 as wonderful;
And that I can remind you, and you think them and  
 know them to be true, is just as wonderful.
  [ begin page 165 ]ppp.00473.165.jpg 10And that the moon spins round the earth, and on  
 with the earth, is equally wonderful;
And that they balance themselves with the sun and  
 stars, is equally wonderful.


1 WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking the walks of  
I fear those supposed realities are to melt from under  
 your feet and hands;
Even now, your features, joys, speech, house, trade, 
 manners, troubles, follies, costume, crimes, 
 dissipate away from you,
Your true Soul and Body appear before me, They stand forth out of affairs—out of commerce, 
 shops, law, science, work, farms, clothes, the  
 house, medicine, print, buying, selling, eating, 
 drinking, suffering, dying.
2Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, 
 that you be my poem;
I whisper with my lips close to your ear, I have loved many women and men, but I love none  
 better than you.
3O I have been dilatory and dumb; I should have made my way straight to you long ago; I should have blabb'd nothing but you, I should have  
 chanted nothing but you.
4I will leave all, and come and make the hymns of  
None have understood you, but I understand you; None have done justice to you—you have not done  
 justice to yourself;
  [ begin page 166 ]ppp.00473.166.jpg None but have found you imperfect—I only find no  
 imperfection in you;
None but would subordinate you—I only am he who  
 will never consent to subordinate you;
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, 
 better, God, beyond what waits intrinsically in  
5Painters have painted their swarming groups, and  
 the centre figure of all;
From the head of the centre figure spreading a nim- 
 bus of gold-color'd light;
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head with- 
 out its nimbus of gold-color'd light;
From my hand, from the brain of every man and  
 woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.
6O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about  
You have not known what you are—you have slum- 
 ber upon yourself all your life;
Your eye-lids have been the same as closed most of  
 the time;
What you have done returns already in mockeries; (Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return  
 in mockeries, what is their return?)
7The mockeries are not you; Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk; I pursue you where none else has pursued you; Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, 
 the accustom'd routine, if these conceal you from  
 others, or from yourself, they do not conceal you  
 from me;
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure com- 
 plexion, if these balk others, they do not balk  
The pert apparel, the deform'd attitude, drunkenness, 
 greed, premature death, all these I part aside.
  [ begin page 167 ]ppp.00473.167.jpg 8There is no endowment in man or woman that is  
 not tallied in you;
There is no virtue, no beauty, in man or woman, but as  
 good is in you;
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in  
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure  
 waits for you.
9As for me, I give nothing to any one, except I give  
 the like carefully to you;
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner  
 than I sing the songs of the glory of you.
10Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard! These shows of the east and west are tame compared  
 to you;
These immense meadows—these interminable rivers—  
 you are immense and interminable as they;
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, 
 throes of apparent dissolution—you are he or  
 she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, 
 elements, pain, passion, dissolution.
11The hopples fall from your ankles—you find an un- 
 failing sufficiency;
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by  
 the rest, whatever you are promulges itself;
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are pro- 
 vided, nothing is scanted;
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, 
 what you are picks it way.
  [ begin page 168 ]ppp.00473.168.jpg


HOW they are provided for upon the earth, (appearing  
 at intervals;)
How dear and dreadful they are to the earth; How they inure to themselves as much as to any—  
 What a paradox appears, their age;
How people respond to them, yet know them not; How there is something relentless in their fate, all  
How all times mischoose the objects of their adulation  
 and reward,
And how the same inexorable price must still be paid  
 for the same great purchase.


ALL submit to them, where they sit, inner, secure,  
 unapproachable to analysis, in the Soul;
Not traditions—not the outer authorities are the  
 judges—they are the judges of outer authori- 
 ties, and of all traditions;
They corroborate as they go, only whatever corrobo- 
 rates themselves, and touches themselves;
For all that, they have it forever in themselves to  
 corroborate far and near, without one excep- 


ONLY themselves understand themselves, and the like  
 of themselves,
As Souls only understand Souls.
  [ begin page 169 ]ppp.00473.169.jpg



1 WEAPON, shapely, naked, wan; Head from the mother's bowels drawn! Wooded flesh and metal bone! limb only one, and lip  
 only one!
Gray-blue leaf by red-heat grown! helve produced from  
 a little seed sown!
Resting the grass amid and upon, To be lean'd, and to lean on.
2Strong shapes, and attributes of strong shapes—  
 masculine trades, sights and sounds;
Long varied train of an emblem, dabs of music; Fingers of the organist skipping staccato over the keys  
 of the great organ.


3Welcome are all earth's lands, each for its kind; Welcome are lands of pine and oak; Welcome are lands of the lemon and fig; Welcome are lands of gold; Welcome are lands of wheat and maize—welcome  
 those of the grape;
Welcome are lands of sugar and rice; Welcome the cotton-lands—welcome those of the white  
 potato and sweet potato;
Welcome are mountains, flats, sands, forests, prairies; Welcome the rich borders of rivers, table-lands, 
  [ begin page 170 ]ppp.00473.170.jpg Welcome the measureless grazing-lands—welcome the  
 teeming soil of orchards, flax, honey, hemp;
Welcome just as much the other more hard-faced  
Lands rich as lands of gold, or wheat and fruit lands; Lands of mines, lands of the manly and rugged ores; Lands of coal, copper, lead, tin, zinc; LANDS OF IRON! lands of the make of the axe!


4The log at the wood-pile, the axe supported by it; The sylvan hut, the vine over the doorway, the space  
 clear'd for a garden,
The irregular tapping of rain down on the leaves, 
 after the storm is lull'd,
The wailing and moaning at intervals, the thought of  
 the sea,
The thought of ships struck in the storm, and put on  
 their beam-ends, and the cutting away of  
The sentiment of the huge timbers of old-fashion'd  
 houses and barns;
The remember'd print or narrative, the voyage at a  
 venture of men, families, goods,
The disembarkation, the founding of a new city, The voyage of those who sought a New England and  
 found it—the outset anywhere,
The settlements of the Arkansas, Colorado, Ottawa, 
The slow progress, the scant fare, the axe, rifle, saddle- 
The beauty of all adventurous and daring persons, The beauty of wood-boys and wood-men, with their  
 clear untrimm'd faces,
The beauty of independence, departure, actions that  
 rely on themselves,
The American contempt for statutes and ceremonies, 
 the boundless impatience of restraint,
  [ begin page 171 ]ppp.00473.171.jpg The loose drift of character, the inkling through ran- 
 dom types, the solidification;
The butcher in the slaughter-house, the hands aboard  
 schooners and sloops, the raftsman, the pioneer,
Lumbermen in their winter camp, day-break in the  
 woods, stripes of snow on the limbs of trees, 
 the occasional snapping,
The glad clear sound of one's own voice, the merry  
 song, the natural life of the woods, the strong  
 day's work,
The blazing fire at night, the sweet taste of supper  
 the talk, the bed of hemlock boughs, and the  
—The house-builder at work in cities or anywhere, The preparatory jointing, squaring, sawing, mortising, The hoist-up of beams, the push of them in their  
 places, laying them regular,
Setting the studs by their tenons in the mortises, ac- 
 cording as they were prepared,
The blows of mallets and hammers, the attitudes of  
 the men, their curv'd limbs,
Bending, standing, astride the beams, driving in pins, 
 holding on by posts and braces,
The hook'd arm over the plate, the other arm wielding  
 the axe,
The floor-men forcing the planks close, to be nail'd, Their postures bringing their weapons downward on  
 the bearers,
The echoes resounding through the vacant building; The huge store-house carried up in the city, well  
 under way,
The six framing-men, two in the middle, and two at  
 each end, carefully bearing on their shoulders  
 a heavy stick for a cross-beam,
The crowded line of masons with trowels in their  
 right hands, rapidly laying the long side-wall, 
 two hundred feet from front to rear,
The flexible rise and fall of backs, the continual click  
 of the trowels striking the bricks,
  [ begin page 172 ]ppp.00473.172.jpg The bricks, one after another, each laid so workman- 
 like in its place, and set with a knock of the  
The piles of materials, the mortar on the mortar- 
 boards, and the steady replenishing by the hod- 
—Spar-makers in the spar-yard, the swarming row of  
 well-grown apprentices,
The swing of their axes on the square-hew'd log, 
 shaping it toward the shape of a mast,
The brisk short crackle of the steel driven slantingly  
 into the pine,
The butter-color'd chips flying off in great flakes and  
The limber motion of brawny young arms and hips in  
 easy costumes;
The constructor of wharves, bridges, piers, bulk-heads, 
 floats, stays against the sea;
—The city fireman—the fire that suddenly bursts forth  
 in the close-pack'd square,
The arriving engines, the hoarse shouts, the nimble  
 stepping and daring,
The strong command through the fire-trumpets, the  
 falling in line, the rise and fall of the arms  
 forcing the water,
The slender, spasmic blue-white jets—the bringing to  
 bear of the hooks and ladders, and their  
The crash and cut away of connecting wood-work, or  
 through floors, if the fire smoulders under  
The crowd with their lit faces, watching—the glare  
 and dense shadows;
—The forger at his forge-furnace, and the user of iron  
 after him,
The maker of the axe large and small, and the welder  
 and temperer,
The chooser breathing his breath on the cold steel. 
 and trying the edge with his thumb,
  [ begin page 173 ]ppp.00473.173.jpg The one who clean-shapes the handle and sets it  
 firmly in the socket;
The shadowy processions of the portraits of the past  
 users also,
The primal patient mechanics, the architects and  
The far-off Assyrian edifice and Mizra edifice, The Roman lictors preceding the consuls, The antique European warrior with his axe in combat, The uplifted arm, the clatter of blows on the helmeted  
The death-howl, the limpsey tumbling body, the rush  
 of friend and foe thither,
The seige of revolted lieges determin'd for liberty, The summons to surrender, the battering at castle  
 gates, the truce and parley;
The sack of an old city in its time, The bursting in of mercenaries and bigots tumultuously  
 and disorderly,
Roar, flames, blood, drunkenness, madness, Goods freely rifled from houses and temples, screams  
 of women in the gripe of brigands,
Craft and thievery of camp-followers, men running, old  
 persons despairing,
The hell of war, the cruelties of creeds, The list of all executive deeds and words, just or un- 
The power of personality, just or unjust.


5Muscle and pluck forever! What invigorates life, invigorates death, And the dead advance as much as the living advance, And the future is no more uncertain than the present, And the roughness of the earth and of man encloses  
 as much as the delicatesse of the earth and of  
And nothing endures but personal qualities.
  [ begin page 174 ]ppp.00473.174.jpg 6What do you think endures? Do you think the great city endures? Or a teeming manufacturing state? or a prepared con- 
 stitution? or the best built steamships?
Or hotels of granite and iron? or any chef-d'eouvres of  
 engineering, forts, armaments?
7Away! These are not to be cherish'd for themselves; They fill their hour, the dancers dance, the musicians  
 play for them;
The show passes, all does well enough of course, All does very well till one flash of defiance.
8The great city is that which has the greatest man or  
If it be a few ragged huts, it is still the greatest city in  
 the whole world.


9The place where the great city stands is not the  
 place of stretch'd wharves, docks, manufactures, 
 deposits of produce,
Nor the place of ceaseless salutes of new comers, or  
 the anchor-lifters of the departing,
Nor the place of the tallest and costliest buildings, or  
 shops selling goods from the rest of the earth,
Nor the place of the best libraries and schools—nor  
 the place where money is plentiest,
Nor the place of the most numerous population.
10Where the city stands with the brawniest breed of  
 orators and bards;
Where the city stands that is beloved by these, and  
 loves them in return, and understands them;
Where no monuments exist to heroes, but in the  
 common words and deeds;
Where thrift is in its place, and prudence is in its  
  [ begin page 175 ]ppp.00473.175.jpg Where the men and women think lightly of the laws; Where the slave ceases, and the master of slaves ceases; Where the populace rise at once against the never- 
 ending audacity of elected persons;
Where fierce men and women pour forth, as the sea  
 to the whistle of death pours its sweeping and  
 unript waves;
Where outside authority enters always after the pre- 
 cedence of inside authority;
Where the citizen is always the head and ideal—and  
 President, Mayor, Governor, and what not, are  
 agents for pay;
Where children are taught to be laws to themselves, 
 and to depend on themselves;
Where equanimity is illustrated in affairs; Where speculations on the Soul are encouraged; Where women walk in public processions in the streets, 
 the same as the men,
Where they enter the public assembly and take places  
 the same as the men;
Where the city of the faithfulest friends stands; Where the city of the cleanliness of the sexes stands; Where the city of the healthiest fathers stands; Where the city of the best-bodied mothers stands, There the great city stands.


11How beggarly appear arguments, before a defiant  
How the floridness of the materials of cities shrivels  
 before a man's or woman's look!
12All waits, or goes by default, till a strong being ap- 
A strong being is the proof of the race, and of the  
 ability of the universe;
When he or she appears, materials are overaw'd, The dispute on the Soul stops,   [ begin page 176 ]ppp.00473.176.jpg The old customs and phrases are confronted, turn'd  
 back, or laid away.
13What is your money-making now? What can it do  
What is your respectability now? What are your theology, tuition, society, traditions, 
 statute-books, now?
Where are your jibes of being now? Where are your cavils about the Soul now?
14Was that your best? Were those your vast and  
Riches, opinions, politics, institutions, to part obedi- 
 ently from the path of one man or woman!
The centuries, and all authority, to be trod under the  
 foot-soles of one man or woman!


15A sterile landscape covers the ore—there is as good  
 as the best, for all the forbidding appearance;
There is the mine, there are the miners; The forge-furnace is there, the melt is accomplish'd;  
 the hammers-men are at hand with their tongs  
 and hammers;
What always served and always serves, is at hand.
16Than this nothing has better served—it has served  
Served the fluent-tongued and subtle-sensed Greek, 
 and long ere the Greek:
Served in building the buildings that last longer than  
Served the Hebrew, the Persian, the most ancient  
Served the mound-raiser on the Mississippi—served  
 those whose relics remain in Central America;
  [ begin page 177 ]ppp.00473.177.jpg Served Albic temples in woods or on plains, with un- 
 hewn pillars, and the druids;
Served the artificial clefts, vast, high, silent, on the  
 snow-cover'd hills of Scandinavia;
Served those who, time out of mind, made on the  
 granite walls rough sketches of the sun, moon, 
 stars, ships, ocean-waves;
Served the paths of the irruptions of the Goths—  
 served the pastoral tribes and nomads;
Served the long, long distant Kelt—served the hardy  
 pirates of the Baltic;
Served before any of those, the venerable and harm- 
 less men of Ethiopia;
Served the making of helms for the galleys of plea- 
 sure, and the making of those for war;
Served all great works on land, and all great works on  
 the sea;
For the mediæval ages, and before the mediæval ages; Served not the living only, then as now, but served the  


17I see the European headsman; He stands mask'd, clothed in red, with huge legs, and  
 strong naked arms,
And leans on a ponderous axe.
18Whom have you slaughter'd lately, European heads- 
Whose is that blood upon you, so wet and sticky?
19I see the clear sunsets of the martyrs; I see from the scaffolds the descending ghosts, Ghosts of dead lords, uncrown'd ladies, impeach'd  
 ministers, rejected kings,
Rivals, traitors, poisoners, disgraced chieftains, and  
 the rest.
  [ begin page 178 ]ppp.00473.178.jpg 20I see those who in any land have died for the  
 good cause;
The seed is spare, nevertheless the crop shall never run  
(Mind you, O foreign kings, O priests, the crop shall  
 never run out.)
21I see the blood wash'd entirely away from the axe; Both blade and helve are clean; They spirt no more the blood of European nobles—  
 they clasp no more the necks of queens.
22I see the headsman withdraw and become useless; I see the scaffold untrodden and mouldy—I see no  
 longer any axe upon it;
I see the mighty and friendly emblem of the power of  
 my own race—the newest, largest race.


23& America! I do not vaunt my love for you; I have what I have. 24The axe leaps! The solid forest gives fluid utterances; They tumble forth, they rise and form, Hut, tent, landing, survey, Flail, plough, pick, crowbar, spade, Shingle, rail, prop, wainscot, jamb, lath, panel, gable, Citadel, ceiling, saloon, academy, organ, exhibition- 
 house, library,
Cornice, trellis, pilaster, balcony, window, shutter, tur- 
 ret, porch,
Hoe, rake, pitch-fork, pencil, wagon, staff, saw, jack- 
 plane, mallet, wedge, rounce,
Chair, tub, hoop, table, wicket, vane, sash, floor, Work-box, chest, string'd instrument, boat, frame, and  
 what not,
Capitols of States, and capitol of the nation of States,   [ begin page 179 ]ppp.00473.179.jpg Long stately rows in avenues, hospitals for orphans, or  
 for the poor or sick,
Manhattan steamboats and clippers, taking the meas- 
 ure of all seas.
25The shapes arise! Shapes of the using of axes anyhow, and the users, 
 and all that neighbors them,
Cutters down of wood, and haulers of it to the Penob- 
 scot or Kennebec,
Dwellers in cabins among the Californian mountains, 
 or by the little lakes, or on the Columbia,
Dwellers south on the banks of the Gila or Rio Grande  
 —friendly gatherings, the characters and fun,
Dwellers up north in Minnesota and by the Yellow- 
 stone river—dwellers on coasts and off coasts,
Seal-fishers, whalers, arctic seamen breaking passages  
 through the ice.
26The shapes arise! Shapes of factories, arsenals, foundries, markets; Shapes of the two-threaded tracks of railroads; Shapes of the sleepers of bridges, vast frameworks, 
 girders, arches;
Shapes of the fleets of barges, tows, lake craft, river  
27The shapes arise! Ship-yards and dry-docks along the Eastern and West- 
 ern Seas, and in many a bay and by-place,
The live-oak kelsons, the pine planks, the spars, the  
 hackmatack-roots for knees,
The ships themselves on their ways, the tiers of scaf- 
 folds, the workmen busy outside and inside,
The tools lying around, the great auger and little au- 
 ger, the adze, bolt, line, square, gouge, and bead- 
  [ begin page 180 ]ppp.00473.180.jpg


28The shapes arise! The shape measur'd, saw'd, jack'd, join'd, stain'd, The coffin-shape for the dead to lie within in his  
The shape got out in posts, in the bedstead posts, in  
 the posts of the bride's bed;
The shape of the little trough, the shape of the rockers  
 beneath, the shape of the babe's cradle;
The shape of the floor-planks, the floor-planks for  
 dancers' feet;
The shape of the planks of the family home, the  
 home of the friendly parents and children,
The shape of the roof of the home of the happy  
 young man and woman, the roof over the well- 
 married young man and woman,
The roof over the supper joyously cook'd by the chaste  
 wife, and joyously eaten by the chaste husband, 
 content after his day's work.
29The shapes arise! The shape of the prisoner's place in the court-room, 
 and of him or her seated in the place;
The shape of the liquor-bar lean'd against by the  
 young rum-drinker and the old rum drinker;
The shape of the shamed and angry stairs, trod by  
 sneaking footsteps;
The shape of the sly settee, and the adulterous un- 
 wholesome couple;
The shape of the gambling-board with its devilish  
 winnings and losings;
The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted and  
 sentenced murderer, the murderer with hag- 
 gard face and pinion'd arms,
The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent and  
 white-lipp'd crowd, the sickening dangling of  
 the rope.
  [ begin page 181 ]ppp.00473.181.jpg 30The shapes arise! Shapes of doors giving many exits and entrances; The door passing the dissever'd friend, flush'd and in  
The door that admits good news and bad news; The door whence the son left home, confident and  
 puff'd up;
The door he enter'd again from a long and scandalous  
 absence, diseas'd, broken down, without inno- 
 cence, without means.


31Her shape arises, She, less guarded than ever, yet more guarded than  
The gross and soil'd she moves among do not make  
 her gross and soil'd;
She knows the thoughts as she passes—nothing is con- 
 ceal from her;
She is none the less considerate or friendly therefor; She is the best-beloved—it is without exception—she  
 has no reason to fear, and she does not fear;
Oaths, quarrels, hiccupp'd songs, smutty expressions, 
 are idle to her as she passes;
She is silent—she is possess'd of herself—they do not  
 offend her;
She receives them as the laws of nature receive them  
 —she is strong,
She too is a law of nature—there is no law stronger  
 than she is.


32The main shapes arise! Shapes of Democracy, total—result of centuries; Shapes, ever projecting other shapes; Shapes of a hundred Free States, begetting another  
Shapes of turbulent manly cities; Shapes of the women fit for These States, G2   [ begin page 182 ]ppp.00473.182.jpg Shapes of the friends and home-givers of the whole  
Shapes bracing the earth, and braced with the whole  


1 WITH antecedents; With my fathers and mothers, and the accumulations  
 of past ages;
With all which, had it not been, I would not now be  
 here, as I am:
With Egypt, India, Phenicia, Greece and Rome; With the Kelt, the Scandinavian, the Alb, and the  
With antique maritime ventures,—with laws, artizan- 
 ship, wars and journeys;
With the poet, the skald, the saga, the myth, and the  
With the sale of slaves—with enthusiasts—with the  
 troubadour, the crusader, and the monk;
With those old continents whence we have come to this  
 new continent;
With the fading kingdoms and kings over there; With the fading religions and priests; With the small shores we look back to from our own  
 large and present shores;
With countless years drawing themselves onward, and  
 arrived at these years;
You and Me arrived—America arrived, and making  
 this year;
This year! sending itself ahead countless years to  
  [ begin page 183 ]ppp.00473.183.jpg 2O but it is not the years—it is I—it is You; We touch all laws, and tally all antecedents; We are the skald, the oracle, the monk, and the  
 knight—we easily include them, and more;
We stand amid time, beginningless and endless—we  
 stand amid evil and good;
All swings around us—there is as much darkness as  
The very sun swings itself and its system of planets  
 around us:
Its sun, and its again, all swing around us.
3As for me, (torn, stormy, even as I, amid these ve- 
 hement days;)
I have the idea of all, and am all, and believe in all; I believe materialism is true, and spiritualism is true—  
 I reject no part.
4Have I forgotten any part? Come to me, whoever and whatever, till I give you  
5I respect Assyria, China, Teutonia, and the He- 
I adopt each theory, myth, god, and demi-god; I see that the old accounts, bibles, genealogies, are  
 true, without exception;
I assert that all past days were what they should have  
And that they could no-how have been better than  
 they were,
And that to-day is what it should be—and that  
 America is,
And that to-day and America could no-how be better  
 than they are.
6In the name of These States, and in your and my  
 name, the Past,
  [ begin page 184 ]ppp.00473.184.jpg And in the name of These States, and in your and my  
 name, the Present time.
7I know that the past was great, and the future will  
 be great,
And I know that both curiously conjoint in the pres- 
 ent time,
(For the sake of him I typify—for the common aver- 
 age man's sake—your sake, if you are he;)
And that where I am, or you are, this present day,  
 there is the centre of all days, all races,
And there is the meaning, to us, of all that has ever  
 come of races and days, or ever will come.


THITHER, as I look, I see each result and glory re- 
 tracing itself and nestling close, always obli- 
Thither hours, months, years—thither trades, com- 
 pacts, establishments, even the most minute;
Thither every-day life, speech, utensils, politics, per- 
 sons, estates;
Thither we also, I with my leaves and songs, trustful,  
As a father, to his father going, takes his children  
 along with him.
  [ begin page 185 ]ppp.00473.185.jpg


1 FLOOD-TIDE below me! I watch you face to face; Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see  
 you also face to face.
2Crowds of men and women attired in the usual cos- 
 tumes! how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that  
 cross, returning home, are more curious to me  
 than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence,  
 are more to me, and more in my meditations,  
 than you might suppose.
3The impalpable sustenance of me from all things, at  
 all hours of the day;
The simple, compact, well-join'd scheme—myself dis- 
 integrated, every one disintegrated, yet part of  
 the scheme;
The similitudes of the past, and those of the future; The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and  
 hearings—on the walk in the street, and the  
 passage over the river;
The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me  
 far away;
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me  
 and them;
The certainty of others—the life, love, sight, hearing  
 of others.
  [ begin page 186 ]ppp.00473.186.jpg 4Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross  
 from shore to shore;
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide; Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and  
 west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south  
 and east;
Others will see the islands large and small; Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross,  
 the sun half an hour high;
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years  
 hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide,  
 the falling back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
5It avails not, neither time or place—distance avails  
I am with you, you men and women of a generation,  
 or ever so many generations hence;
I project myself—also I return—I am with you, and  
 know how it is.
6Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky  
 so I felt;
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one  
 of a crowd;
Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river  
 and the bright flow, I was refresh'd;
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with  
 the swift current, I stood, yet was hurried;
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and  
 the thick-stem'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.
7I too many and many a time cross'd the river, the  
 sun half an hour high;
I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls—I saw them  
 high in the air, floating with motionless wings,  
 oscillating their bodies,
  [ begin page 187 ]ppp.00473.187.jpg I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their  
 bodies, and left the rest in strong shadow,
I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging  
 toward the south.
8I too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the  
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of  
Look'd at the fine centrifugal spokes of light round the  
 shape of my head in the sun-lit water,
Look'd on the haze on the hills southward and south- 
Look'd on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with  
Look'd toward the lower bay to notice the arriving  
Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me, Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw the  
 ships at anchor,
The sailors at work in the rigging, or out astride the  
The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the  
 slender serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in  
 their pilot-houses,
The white wake left by the passage, the quick trem- 
 ulous whirl of the wheels,
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sun-set, The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled  
 cups, the frolicsome crests and glistening,
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray  
 walls of the granite store-houses by the docks,
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug  
 closely flank'd on each side by the barges—the  
 hay-boat, the belated lighter,
On the neighboring shore, the fires from the foundry  
 chimneys burning high and glaringly into the  
  [ begin page 188 ]ppp.00473.188.jpg Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild red  
 and yellow light, over the tops of houses, and  
 down into the clefts of streets.
9These, and all else, were to me the same as they are  
 to you;
I project myself a moment to tell you—also I return.
10I loved well those cities; I loved well the stately and rapid river; The men and women I saw were all near to me; Others the same—others who look back on me, because  
 I look'd forward to them;
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and  
11What is it, then, between us? What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years  
 between us?
12Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not,  
 and place avails not.
13I too lived—Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine; I too walked the streets of Manhattan Island, and  
 bathed in the waters around it;
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within  
In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes they  
 came upon me,
In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my bed,  
 they came upon me.
14I too had been struck from the float forever held in  
I too had receiv'd identity by my Body; That I was, I knew was of my body—and what I  
 should be, I knew I should be of my body.
  [ begin page 189 ]ppp.00473.189.jpg 15It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall, The dark threw patches down upon me also; The best I had done seem'd to me blank and sus- 
My great thoughts, as I supposed them, were they not  
 in reality meagre? would not people laugh at  
16It is not you alone who know what it is to be evil; I am he who knew what it was to be evil; I too knitted the old knot of contrariety, Blabb'd, blush'd, resented, lied, stole, grudg'd, Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not  
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly,  
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me, The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous  
 wish, not wanting,
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness,  
 none of these wanting.
17But I was Manhattanese, friendly and proud! I was call'd by my nighest name by clear loud voices  
 of young men as they saw me approaching or  
Felt their arms on my neck as I stood, or the negligent  
 leaning of their flesh against me as I sat,
Saw many I loved in the street, or ferry-boat, or public  
 assembly, yet never told them a word,
Lived the same life with the rest, the same old laugh- 
 ing, gnawing, sleeping,
Play'd the part that still looks back on the actor or  
The same old role, the role that is what we make it,  
 as great as we like,
Or as small as we like, or both great and small.
  [ begin page 190 ]ppp.00473.190.jpg 18Closer yet I approach you; What thought you have of me, I had as much of you  
 —I laid in my stores in advance;
I consider'd long and seriously of you before you were  
19Who was to know what should come home to me? Who knows but I am enjoying this? Who knows but I am as good as looking at you now,  
 for all you cannot see me?
20It is not you alone, nor I alone; Not a few races, nor a few generations, nor a few  
It is that each came, or comes, or shall come, from its  
 due emission, without fail, either now, or then,  
 or henceforth.
21Every thing indicates—the smallest does, and the  
 largest does;
A necessary film envelops all, and envelops the Soul  
 for a proper time.
22Now I am curious what sight can ever be more stately  
 and admirable to me than my mast-hemm'd  
My river and sun-set, and my scallop-edg'd waves of  
The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in  
 the twilight, and the belated lighter;
Curious what Gods can exceed these that clasp me by  
 the hand, and with voices I love call me promptly  
 and loudly by my nighest name as I approach;
Curious what is more subtle than this which ties me  
 to the woman or man that looks in my face,
Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning  
 into you.
  [ begin page 191 ]ppp.00473.191.jpg 23We understand, then, do we not? What I promis'd without mentioning it, have you not  
What the study could not teach—what the preaching  
 could not accomplish, is accomplish'd, is it not?
What the push of reading could not start, is started  
 by me personally, is it not?
24Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb  
 with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edged waves! Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set! drench with your  
 splendor me, or the men and women generations  
 after me;
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of pas- 
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta!—stand up, beauti- 
 ful hills of Brooklyn!
Bully for you! you proud, friendly, free Manhat- 
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions  
 and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solu- 
Blab, blush, lie, steal, you or I or any one after us! Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house, or street,  
 or public assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically  
 call me by my nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the  
 actor or actress!
Play the old role, the role that is great or small,  
 according as one makes it!
Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may not in  
 unknown ways be looking upon you;
Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean  
 idly, yet haste with the hasting current;
Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large cir- 
 cles high in the air;
  [ begin page 192 ]ppp.00473.192.jpg Receive the summer sky, you water! and faithfully  
 hold it, till all downcast eyes have time to take  
 it from you;
Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my  
 head, or any one's head, in the sun-lit water;
Come on, ships from the lower bay! pass up or down,  
 white-sail'd schooners, sloops, lighters!
Flaunt away, flags of all nations! be duly lower'd at  
Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast black  
 shadows at nightfall! cast red and yellow light  
 over the tops of the houses;
Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you  
You necessary film, continue to envelop the soul; About my body for me, and your body for you, be  
 hung our divinest aromas;
Thrive, cities! bring your freight, bring your shows,  
 ample and sufficient rivers;
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more  
Keep your places, objects than which none else is more  
25We descend upon you and all things—we arrest you  
We realize the soul only by you, you faithful solids  
 and fluids;
Through you color, form, location, sublimity, ideality; Through you every proof, comparison, and all the sug- 
 gestions and determinations of ourselves.
26You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beau- 
 tiful ministers! you novices!
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insati- 
 ate henceforward;
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or with- 
 hold yourselves from us;
  [ begin page 193 ]ppp.00473.193.jpg We use you, and do not cast you aside—we plant you  
 permanently within us;
We fathom you not—we love you—there is perfection  
 in you also;
You furnish your parts toward eternity; Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the  


1 COURAGE! my brother or my sister! Keep on! Liberty is to be subserved, whatever occurs; That is nothing, that is quell'd by one or two failures,  
 or any number of failures,
Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the people, or  
 by any unfaithfulness,
Or the show of the tushes of power, soldiers, cannon,  
 penal statutes.
2What we believe in waits latent forever through all  
 the continents, and all the islands and archi- 
 pelagos of the sea.
3What we believe in invites no one, promises nothing,  
 sits in calmness and light, is positive and com- 
 posed, knows no discouragement,
Waiting patiently, waiting its time.
4The battle rages with many a loud alarm, and fre- 
 quent advance and retreat,
The infidel triumphs—or supposes he triumphs, The prison, scaffold, garrote, hand-cuffs, iron necklace  
 and anklet, lead-balls, do their work,
The named and unnamed heroes pass to other spheres, The great speakers and writers are exiled—they lie sick  
 in distant lands,
  [ begin page 194 ]ppp.00473.194.jpg The cause is asleep—the strongest throats are still,  
 choked with their own blood,
The young men drop their eyelashes toward the ground  
 when they meet;
But for all this, liberty has not gone out of the place,  
 nor the infidel enter'd into possession.
5When liberty goes out of a place, it is not the first  
 to go, nor the second or third to go,
It waits for all the rest to go—it is the last.
6When there are no more memories of heroes and  
And when all life, and all the souls of men and women  
 are discharged from any part of the earth,
Then only shall liberty be discharged from that part of  
 the earth,
And the infidel and the tyrant come into possession.
7Then courage! revolter! revoltress! For till all ceases, neither must you cease. 8I do not know what you are for, (I do not know what  
 I am for myself, nor what anything is for,)
But I will search carefully for it even in being foil'd, In defeat, poverty, imprisonment—for they too are  
9Did we think victory great? So it is—But now it seems to me, when it cannot be  
 help'd, that defeat is great,
And that death and dismay are great.
  [ begin page 195 ]ppp.00473.195.jpg


1TO get betimes in Boston town, I rose this morning  
Here's a good place at the corner—I must stand and  
 see the show.
2Clear the way there, Jonathan! Way for the President's marshal! Way for the gov- 
 ernment cannon!
Way for the Federal foot and dragoons—and the appa- 
 ritions copiously tumbling.
3I love to look on the stars and stripes—I hope the fifes  
 will play Yankee Doodle.
4How bright shine the cutlasses of the foremost  
Every man holds his revolver, marching stiff through  
 Boston town.
5A fog follows—antiques of the same come limping, Some appear wooden-legged, and some appear ban- 
 daged and bloodless.
6Why this is indeed a show! It has call'd the dead  
 out of the earth!
The old grave-yards of the hills have hurried to see! Phantoms! phantoms countless by flank and rear! Cock'd hats of mothy mould! crutches made of mist! Arms in slings! old men leaning on young men's  
7What troubles you, Yankee phantoms? What is all  
 this chattering of bare gums?
Does the ague convulse your limbs? Do you mistake  
 your crutches for fire-locks, and level them?
  [ begin page 196 ]ppp.00473.196.jpg 8If you blind your eyes with tears, you will not see  
 the President's marshal;
If you groan such groans you might balk the govern- 
 ment cannon.
9For shame, old maniacs! Bring down those toss'd  
 arms, and let your white hair be;
Here gape your great grand-sons—their wives gaze at  
 them from the windows,
See how well-dress'd—see how orderly they conduct  
10Worse and worse! Can't you stand it? Are you  
Is this hour with the living too dead for you?
11Retreat then! Pell-mell! To your graves! Back! back to the hills, old limpers! I do not think you belong here, anyhow. 12But there is one thing that belongs here—shall I  
 tell you what it is, gentlemen of Boston?
13I will whisper it to the Mayor—he shall send a  
 committee to England;
They shall get a grant from the Parliament, go with a  
 cart to the royal vault—haste!
Dig out King George's coffin, unwrap him quick from  
 the grave-clothes, box up his bones for a  
Find a swift Yankee clipper—here is freight for you,  
 black-bellied clipper,
Up with your anchor! shake out your sails! steer  
 straight toward Boston bay.
14Now call for the President's marshal again, bring  
 out the government cannon,
Fetch home the roarers from Congress, make another  
 procession, guard it with foot and dragoons.
  [ begin page 197 ]ppp.00473.197.jpg 15This centre-piece for them: Look! all orderly citizens—look from the windows,  
16The committee open the box, set up the regal ribs,  
 glue those that will not stay,
Clap the skull on top of the ribs, and clap a crown on  
 top of the skull.
17You have got your revenge, old buster! The crown  
 is come to its own, and more than its own.
18Stick your hands in your pockets, Jonathan—you  
 are a made man from this day;
You are mighty cute—and here is one of your  


1BE composed—be at ease with me—I am Walt  
 Whitman, liberal and lusty as Nature;
Not till the sun excludes you, do I exclude you; Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you, and the  
 leaves to rustle for you, do my words refuse to  
 glisten and rustle for you.
2My girl, I appoint with you an appointment—and I  
 charge you that you make preparation to be  
 worthy to meet me,
And I charge you that you be patient and perfect till  
 I come.
3Till then, I salute you with a significant look, that  
 you do not forget me.
H   [ begin page 198 ]ppp.00473.198.jpg


1IS reform needed? Is it through you? The greater the reform needed, the greater PER- 
you need to accomplish it.
2You! do you not see how it would serve to have  
 eyes, blood, complexion, clean and sweet?
Do you not see how it would serve to have such a Body  
 and Soul, that when you enter the crowd, an  
 atmosphere of desire and command enters with  
 you, and every one is impress'd with your per- 
3O the magnet! the flesh over and over! Go, dear friend! if need be, give up all else, and com- 
 mence to-day to inure yourself to pluck, reality,  
 self-esteem, definiteness, elevatedness;
Rest not, till you rivet and publish yourself of your  
 own personality.


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.
  [ begin page 199 ]ppp.00473.199.jpg



1 OUT of the rock'd cradle, Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle, Out of the Ninth-month midnight, Over the sterile sands, and the fields beyond, where  
 the child, leaving his bed, wander'd alone, bare- 
 headed, barefoot,
Down from the shower'd halo, Up from the mystic play of shadows, twining and  
 twisting as if they were alive,
Out from the patches of briers and blackberries, From the memories of the bird that chanted to me, From your memories, sad brother—from the fitful  
 risings and fallings I heard,
From under that yellow half-moon, late-risen, and  
 swollen as if with tears,
From those beginning notes of sickness and love, 
 there in the transparent mist,
From the thousand responses of my heart, never to cease, From the myriad thence-arous'd words, From the word stronger and more delicious than any, From such, as now they start, the scene revisiting, As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing, Borne hither—ere all eludes me, hurriedly, A man—yet by these tears a little boy again, Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves, I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter, Taking all hints to use them—but swiftly leaping  
 beyond them,
A reminiscence sing.
  [ begin page 200 ]ppp.00473.200.jpg


2Once, Paumanok, When the snows had melted, and the Fifth-month  
 grass was growing,
Up this sea-shore, in some briers, Two guests from Alabama—two together, And their nest, and four light-green eggs, spotted with  
And every day the he-bird, to and fro, near at hand, And every day the she-bird, crouch'd on her nest, 
 silent, with bright eyes,
And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never  
 disturbing them,
Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.


3 Shine! shine! shine! Pour down your warmth, great Sun! While we bask—we two together. 4 Two together! Winds blow South, or winds blow North, Day come white, or night come black, Home, or rivers and mountains from home, Singing all time, minding no time, If we two but keep together.


5Till of a sudden, May-be kill'd, unknown to her mate, One forenoon the she-bird crouch'd not on the nest, Nor return'd that afternoon, nor the next, Nor ever appear'd again. 6And thenceforward, all summer, in the sound of the  
And at night, under the full of the moon, in calmer  
  [ begin page 201 ]ppp.00473.201.jpg Over the hoarse surging of the sea, Or flitting from brier to brier by day, I saw, I heard at intervals, the remaining one, the  
The solitary guest from Alabama.


7 Blow! blow! blow! Blow up, sea-winds, along Paumanok's shore! I wait and I wait, till you blow my mate to me.


8Yes, when the stars glisten'd, All night long, on the prong of a moss-scallop'd stake, Down, almost amid the slapping waves, Sat the lone singer, wonderful, causing tears. 9He call'd on his mate; He pour'd forth the meanings which I, of all men, 
10Yes, my brother, I know; The rest might not—but I have treasur'd every  
For once, and more than once, dimly, down to the  
 beach gliding,
Silent, avoiding the moonbeams, blending myself with  
 the shadows,
Recalling now the obscure shapes, the echoes, the  
 sounds and sights after their sorts,
The white arms out in the breakers tirelessly tossing, I, with bare feet, a child, the wind wafting my hair, Listen'd long and long.
11Listen'd, to keep, to sing—now translating the  
Following you, my brother.
  [ begin page 202 ]ppp.00473.202.jpg


12 Soothe! soothe! soothe! Close on its wave soothes the wave behind, And again another behind, embracing and lapping,  
  every one close,
But my love soothes not me, not me.
13 Low hangs the moon—it rose late; O it is lagging—O I think it is heavy with love,  
  with love.
14 O madly the sea pushes, pushes upon the land. With love—with love. 15 O night! do I not see my love fluttering out there  
  among the breakers?
What is that little black thing I see there in the white?
16 Loud! loud! loud! Loud I call to you, my love! High and clear I shoot my voice over the waves; Surely you must know who is here, is here; You must know who I am, my love. 17 Low-hanging moon! What is that dusky spot in your brown yellow? O it is the shape, the shape of my mate! O moon, do not keep her from me any longer. 18 Land! land! O land! Whichever way I turn, O I think you could give me  
  my mate back again, if you only would;
For I am almost sure I see her dimly whichever way  
  I look.
19 O rising stars! Perhaps the one I want so much will rise, will rise  
  with some of you.
  [ begin page 203 ]ppp.00473.203.jpg 20O throat! O trembling throat! Sound clearer through the atmosphere! Pierce the woods, the earth; Somewhere listening to catch you, must be the one I  
21 Shake out, carols! Solitary here—the night's carols! Carols of lonesome love! Death's carols! Carols under that lagging, yellow, waning moon! O, under that moon, where she droops almost down  
  into the sea!
O reckless, despairing carols.
22 But soft! sink low; Soft! let me just murmur; And do you wait a moment, you husky-noised sea; For somewhere I believe I heard my mate responding  
  to me,
So faint—I must be still, be still to listen; But not altogether still, for then she might not come  
  immediately tome.
23 Hither, my love! Here I am! Here! With this just-sustain'd note I announce myself to  
This gentle call is for you, my love, for you.
24 Do not be decoy'd elsewhere! That is the whistle of the wind—it is not my voice; That is the fluttering, the fluttering of the spray; Those are the shadows of leaves. 25 O darkness! O in vain! O I am very sick and sorrowful.   [ begin page 204 ]ppp.00473.204.jpg 26 O brown halo in the sky, near the moon, drooping  
  upon the sea!
O troubled reflection in the sea! O throat! O throbbing heart! O all—and I singing uselessly, uselessly all the night.
27 Yet I murmur, murmur on! O murmurs—you yourselves make me continue to sing,  
  I know not why.
28 O past! O life! O songs of joy! In the air—in the woods—over fields; Loved! loved! loved! loved! loved! But my love no more, no more with me! We two together no more.


29The aria sinking; All else continuing—the stars shining, The winds blowing—the notes of the bird continuous  
With angry moans the fierce old mother incessantly  
On the sands of Paumanok's shore, gray and rustling; The yellow half-moon enlarged, sagging down, droop- 
 ing, the face of the sea almost touching;
The boy extatic—with his bare feet the waves, with  
 his hair the atmosphere dallying,
The love in the heart long pent, now loose, now at last  
 tumultuously bursting,
The aria's meaning, the ears, the Soul, swiftly deposit- 
The strange tears down the cheeks coursing, The colloquy there—the trio—each uttering, The undertone—the savage old mother, incessantly  
To the boy's Soul's questions sullenly timing—some  
 drown'd secret hissing,
To the outsetting bard of love.
  [ begin page 205 ]ppp.00473.205.jpg


30Demon or bird! (said the boy's soul,) Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it  
 mostly to me?
For I, that was a child, my tongue's use sleeping, Now I have heard you, Now in a moment I know what I am for—I awake, And already a thousand singers—a thousand songs, 
 clearer, louder and more sorrowful than yours,
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within  
Never to die.
31O you singer, solitary, singing by yourself—project- 
 ing me;
O solitary me, listening—never more shall I cease per- 
 petuating you;
Never more shall I escape, never more the reverbera- 
Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent  
 from me,
Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was  
 before what there, in the night,
By the sea, under the yellow and sagging moon, The messenger there aroused—the fire, the sweet hell  
The unknown want, the destiny of me.
32O give me the clew! (it lurks in the night here  
O if I am to have so much, let me have more! O a word! O what is my destination? (I fear it is  
 henceforth chaos;)
O how joys, dreads, convolutions, human shapes, and  
 all shapes, spring as from graves around me!
O phantoms! you cover all the land and all the sea! O I cannot see in the dimness whether you smile or  
 frown upon me;
H2   [ begin page 206 ]ppp.00473.206.jpg O vapor, a look, a word! O well-beloved! O you dear women's and men's phantoms!
33A word then, (for I will conquer it,) The word final, superior to all, Subtle, sent up—what is it?—I listen; Are you whispering it, and have been all the time, you  
Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands?


34Whereto answering, the sea, Delaying not, hurrying not, Whisper'd me through the night, and very plainly be- 
 fore daybreak,
Lisp'd to me the low and delicious word DEATH; And again Death—ever Death, Death, Death, Hissing melodious, neither like the bird, nor like my  
 arous'd child's heart,
But edging near, as privately for me, rustling at my  
Creeping thence steadily up to my ears, and laving me  
 softly all over,
Death, Death, Death, Death, Death.
35Which I do not forget, But fuse the song of my dusky demon and brother, That he sang to me in the moonlight on Paumanok's  
 gray beach,
With the thousand responsive songs, at random, My own songs, awaked from that hour; And with them the key, the word up from the waves, The word of the sweetest song, and all songs, That strong and delicious word which, creeping to my  
The sea whisper'd me.
  [ begin page 207 ]ppp.00473.207.jpg



1 SAUNTERING the pavement, or riding the country by- 
 road—lo! such faces!
Faces of friendship, precision, caution, suavity, 
The spiritual prescient face—the always welcome, 
 common, benevolent face,
The face of the singing of music—the grand faces of  
 natural lawyers and judges, broad at the back- 
The faces of hunters and fishers, bulged at the brows—  
 the shaved blanch'd faces of orthodox citizens;
The pure, extravagant, yearning, questioning artist's  
The ugly face of some beautiful Soul, the handsome  
 detested or despised face;
The sacred faces of infants, the illuminated face of the  
 mother of many children;
The face of an amour, the face of veneration; The face as of a dream, the face of an immobile rock; The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a castrated  
A wild hawk, his wings clipp'd by the clipper; A stallion that yielded at last to the thongs and knife  
 of the gelder.
2Sauntering the pavement, thus, or crossing the  
 ceaseless ferry, faces, and faces, and faces:
I see them, and complain not, and am content with  
  [ begin page 208 ]ppp.00473.208.jpg


3Do you suppose I could be content with all, if I  
 thought them their own finale?
4This now is too lamentable a face for a man; Some abject louse, asking leave to be—cringing for it; Some milk-nosed maggot, blessing what lets it wrig to  
 its hole.
5This face is a dog's snout, sniffing for garbage; Snakes nest in that mouth—I hear the sibilant threat. 6This face is a haze more chill than the arctic sea; Its sleepy and wobbling icebergs crunch as they go. 7This is a face of bitter herbs—this an emetic—they  
 need no label;
And more of the drug-shelf, laudanum, caoutchouc, or  
8This face is an epilepsy, its wordless tongue gives  
 out the unearthly cry,
Its veins down the neck distend, its eyes roll till  
 they show nothing but their whites,
Its teeth grit, the palms of the hands are cut by the  
 turn'd-in nails,
The man falls struggling and foaming to the ground  
 while he speculates well.
9This face is bitten by vermin and worms, And this is some murderer's knife with a half-pull'd  
10This face owes to the sexton his dismalest fee; An unceasing death-bell tolls there.
  [ begin page 209 ]ppp.00473.209.jpg


11Those then are really men—the bosses and tufts of  
 the great round globe!
12Features of my equals, would you trick me with  
 your creas'd and cadaverous march?
Well, you cannot trick me.
13I see your rounded never-erased flow; I see neath the rims of your haggard and mean dis- 
14Splay and twist as you like—poke with the tangling  
 fores of fishes or rats;
You'll be unmuzzled, you certainly will.
15I saw the face of the most smear'd and slobbering  
 idiot they had at the asylum;
And I knew for my consolation what they knew not; I knew of the agents that emptied and broke my  
The same wait to clear the rubbish from the fallen  
And I shall look again in a score or two of ages, And I shall meet the real landlord, perfect and un- 
 harm, every inch as good as myself.


16The Lord advances, and yet advances; Always the shadow in front—always the reach'd hand  
 bringing up the laggards.
17Out of this face emerge banners and horses—O su- 
 perb! I see what is coming;
I see the high pioneer-caps—I see the staves of run- 
 ners clearing the way,
I hear victorious drums.
  [ begin page 210 ]ppp.00473.210.jpg 18This face is a life-boat; This is the face commanding and bearded, it asks no  
 odds of the rest;
This face is flavor'd fruit, ready for eating; This face of a healthy honest boy is the programme of  
 all good.
19These faces bear testimony slumbering or awake; They show their descent from the Master himself. 20Off the word I have spoken I except not one—red, 
 white, black, are all deific;
In each house is the ovum—it comes forth after a  
 thousand years.
21Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb me; Tall and sufficient stand behind, and make signs to  
I read the promise, and patiently wait.
22This is a full-grown lily's face, She speaks to the limber-hipp'd man near the garden  
Come here, she blushingly cries—Come nigh to me, lim- 
 ber-hipp'd man,
Stand at my side till I lean as high as I can upon you, Fill me with albescent honey, bend down to me, Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my breast and  


23The old face of the mother of many children! Whist! I am fully content. 24Lull'd and late is the smoke of the First-day  
It hangs low over the rows of trees by the fences, It hangs thin by the sassafras, the wild-cherry, and  
 the cat-brier under them.
  [ begin page 211 ]ppp.00473.211.jpg 25I saw the rich ladies in full dress at the soiree, I heard what the singers were singing so long, Heard who sprang in crimson youth from the white  
 froth and the water-blue.
26Behold a woman! She looks out from her quaker cap—her face is clearer  
 and more beautiful than the sky.
27She sits in an arm-chair, under the shaded porch of  
 the farm-house,
The sun just shines on her old white head.
28Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen, Her grandsons raised the flax, and her grand-daugh- 
 ters spun it with the distaff and the wheel.
29The melodious character of the earth, The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go, and  
 does not wish to go,
The justified mother of men.


HAVE you learned lessons only of those who admired  
 you, and were tender with you, and stood aside  
 for you?
Have you not learned the great lessons of those who  
 rejected you, and braced themselves against  
 you? or who treated you with contempt, or  
 disputed the passage with you?
  [ begin page 212 ]ppp.00473.212.jpg

  The 72d and 73d Years of These States.

1SUDDENLY, out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair  
 of slaves,
Like lightning it le'pt forth, half startled at itself, Its feet upon the ashes and the rags—its hands tight  
 to the throats of kings.
2O hope and faith! O aching close of exiled patriots' lives! O many a sicken'd heart! Turn back unto this day, and make yourselves afresh. 3And you, paid to defile the People! you liars,  
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts, For court thieving in its manifold mean forms, worm- 
 ing from his simplicity the poor man's wages,
For many a promise sworn by royal lips, and broken,  
 and laugh'd at in the breaking,
Then in their power, not for all these did the blow.  
 strike revenge, or the heads of the nobles fall;
The People scorn'd the ferocity of kings.
4But the sweetness of mercy brew'd bitter destruc- 
 tion, and the frighten'd rulers come back;
Each comes in state with his train—hangman, priest,  
Soldier, lawyer, lord, jailer, and sycophant.
5Yet behind all, lowering, stealing—lo, a Shape, Vague as the night, draped interminably, head, front  
 and form, in scarlet folds,
Whose face and eyes none may see, Out of its robes only this—the red robes, lifted by the  
  [ begin page 213 ]ppp.00473.213.jpg One finger, crook'd, pointed high over the top, like  
 the head of a snake appears.
6Meanwhile, corpses lie in new-made graves—bloody  
 corpses of young men;
The rope of the gibbet hangs heavily, the bullets of  
 princes are flying, the creatures of power laugh  
And all these things bear fruits—and they are good.
7Those corpses of young men, Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets—those  
 hearts pierc'd by the gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere with  
 unslaughter'd vitality.
8They live in other youngmen, O kings! They live in brothers, again ready to defy you! They were purified by death—they were taught and  
9Not a grave of the murder'd for freedom, but grows  
 seed for freedom, in its turn to bear seed,
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the rains  
 and the snows nourish.
10Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of tyrants  
 let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering,  
 counseling, cautioning.
11Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair  
 of you.
12Is the house shut? Is the master away? Nevertheless, be ready—be not weary of watching; He will soon return—his messengers come anon.
  [ begin page 214 ]ppp.00473.214.jpg


OF Public Opinion; Of a calm and cool fiat, sooner or later, (How im- 
 passive! How certain and final!)
Of the President with pale face asking secretly to  
 himself, What will the people say at last?
Of the frivolous Judge—Of the corrupt Congressman,  
 Governor, Mayor—Of such as these, standing  
 helpless and exposed;
Of the mumbling and screaming priest—(soon, soon  
Of the lessening, year by year, of venerableness, and  
 of the dicta of officers, statutes, pulpits, schools;
Of the rising forever taller and stronger and broader,  
 of the intuitions of men and women, and of  
 self-esteem, and of personality;
—Of the New World—Of the Democracies, resplendent,  
Of the conformity of politics, armies, navies, to them  
 and to me,
Of the shining sun by them—Of the inherent light,  
 greater than the rest,
Of the envelopment of all by them, and of the effusion  
 of all from them.


ON a flat road runs the well-train'd runner; He is lean and sinewy, with muscular legs; He is thinly clothed—he leans forward as he runs, With lightly closed fists, and arms partially rais'd.
  [ begin page 215 ]ppp.00473.215.jpg



1 EARTH, round, rolling, compact—suns, moons, ani- 
 mals—all these are words to be said;
Watery, vegetable, sauroid advances—beings, premoni- 
 tions, lispings of the future,
Behold! these are vast words to be said.
2Were you thinking that those were the words—  
 those upright lines? those curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words—the substantial words  
 are in the ground and sea,
They are in the air—they are in you.
3Were you thinking that those were the words—  
 those delicious sounds out of your friends'  
No, the real words are more delicious than they.
4Human bodies are words, myriads of words; In the best poems re-appears the body, man's or wo- 
 man, well-shaped, natural, gay,
Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or  
 the need of shame.
5Air, soil, water, fire—these are words; I myself am a word with them—my qualities inter- 
 penetrate with theirs—my name is nothing to  
Though it were told in the three thousand languages, 
 what would air, soil, water, fire, know of my  
  [ begin page 216 ]ppp.00473.216.jpg 6A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding ges- 
 ture, are words, sayings, meanings;
The charms that go with the mere looks of some men  
 and women, are sayings and meanings also.


7The workmanship of souls is by the inaudible words  
 of the earth;
The great masters know the earth's words, and use  
 them more than the audible words.
8Amelioration is one of the earth's words; The earth neither lags nor hastens; It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in itself  
 from the jump;
It is not half beautiful only—defects and excrescences  
 show just as much as perfections show.
9The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough; The truths of the earth continually wait, they are not  
 so conceal'd either;
They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print; They are imbued through all things, conveying them- 
 selves willingly,
Conveying a sentiment and invitation of the earth—I  
 utter and utter,
I speak not, yet if you hear me not, of what avail am  
 I to you?
To bear—to better—lacking these, of what avail  
 am I?
10(Accouche! Accouchez! Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there? Will you squat and stifle there?) 11The earth does not argue, Is not pathetic, has no arrangements, Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,   [ begin page 217 ]ppp.00473.217.jpg Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures, Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out, Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts  
 none out.
12The earth does not exhibit itself, nor refuse to ex- 
 hibit itself—possesses still underneath;
Underneath the ostensible sounds, the august chorus  
 of heroes, the wail of slaves,
Persuasions of lovers, curses, gasps of the dying, 
 laughter of young people, accents of bar- 
Underneath these, possessing the words that never  
13To her children, the words of the eloquent dumb  
 great mother never fail;
The true words do not fail, for motion does not fail, 
 and reflection does not fail;
Also the day and night do not fail, and the voyage we  
 pursue does not fail.


14Of the interminable sisters, Of the ceaseless cotillions of sisters, Of the centripetal and centrifugal sisters, the elder  
 and younger sisters,
The beautiful sister we know dances on with the rest.
15With her ample back towards every beholder, With the fascinations of youth, and the equal fascina- 
 tions of age,
Sits she whom I too love like the rest—sits undis- 
Holding up in her hand what has the character of a  
 mirror, while her eyes glance back from it,
Glance as she sits, inviting none, denying none, Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before her  
 own face.
  [ begin page 218 ]ppp.00473.218.jpg 16Seen at hand, or seen at a distance, Duly the twenty-four appear in public every day, Duly approach and pass with their companions, or a  
Looking from no countenances of their own, but from  
 the countenances of those who are with them,
From the countenances of children or women, or the  
 manly countenance,
From the open countenances of animals, or from in- 
 animate things,
From the landscape or waters, or from the exquisite  
 apparition of the sky,
From our countenances, mine and yours, faithfully re- 
 turning them,
Every day in public appearing without fail, but never  
 twice with the same companions.
17Embracing man, embracing all, proceed the three  
 hundred and sixty-five resistlessly round the  
Embracing all, soothing, supporting, follow close three  
 hundred and sixty-five offsets of the first, sure  
 and necessary as they.
18Tumbling on steadily, nothing dreading, Sunshine, storm, cold, heat, forever withstanding. 
 passing, carrying,
The Soul's realization and determination still inherit- 
The fluid vacuum around and ahead still entering and  
No balk retarding, no anchor anchoring, on no rock  
Swift, glad, content, unbereav'd, nothing losing, Of all able and ready at any time to give strict ac- 
The divine ship sails the divine sea.
  [ begin page 219 ]ppp.00473.219.jpg


19Whoever you are! motion and reflection are especi- 
 ally for you;
The divine ship sails the divine sea for you.
20Whoever you are! you are he or she for whom the  
 earth is solid and liquid,
You are he or she for whom the sun and moon hang  
 in the sky,
For none more than you are the present and the past, For none more than you is immortality.
21Each man to himself, and each woman to herself, 
 such is the word of the past and present, and  
 the word of immortality;
No one can acquire for another—not one! Not one can grow for another—not one!
22The song is to the singer, and comes back most to  
The teaching is to the teacher, and comes back most  
 to him;
The murder is to the murderer, and comes back most  
 to him;
The theft is to the thief, and comes back most to him; The love is to the lover, and comes back most to him; The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him  
 —it cannot fail;
The oration is to the orator, the acting is to the actor  
 and actress, not to the audience;
And no man understands any greatness or goodness  
 but his own, or the indication of his own.


23I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or  
 her who shall be complete!
I swear the earth remains jagged and broken only to  
 him or her who remains broken and jagged!
  [ begin page 220 ]ppp.00473.220.jpg 24I swear there is no greatness or power that does  
 not emulate those of the earth!
I swear there can be no theory of any account, unless  
 it corroborate the theory of the earth!
No politics, art, religion, behavior, or what not, is of  
 account, unless it compare with the amplitude  
 of the earth,
Unless it face the exactness; vitality, impartiality, rec- 
 titude of the earth.
25I swear I begin to see love with sweeter spasms than  
 that which responds love!
It is that which contains itself—which never invites, 
 and never refuses.
26I swear I begin to see little or nothing in audible  
I swear I think all merges toward the presentation of  
 the unspoken meanings of the earth!
Toward him who sings the songs of the Body, and of  
 the truths of the earth;
Toward him who makes the dictionaries of words that  
 print cannot touch.
27I swear I see what is better than to tell the best; It is always to leave the best untold. 28When I undertake to tell the best, I find I cannot, My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots, My breath will not be obedient to its organs, I become a dumb man. 29The best of the earth cannot be told anyhow—all  
 or any is best;
It is not what you anticipated—it is cheaper, easier  
Things are not dismiss'd from the places they held  
  [ begin page 221 ]ppp.00473.221.jpg The earth is just as positive and direct as it was be- 
Facts, religions, improvements, politics, trades, are as  
 real as before;
But the Soul is also real,—it too is positive and  
No reasoning, no proof has establish'd it, Undeniable proof has establish'd it.


30This is a poem for the sayers of words—these are  
 hints of meanings,
These are they that echo the tones of Souls, and  
 the phrases of Souls;
If they did not echo the phrases of Souls, what were  
 they then ?
If they had not reference to you in especial, what were  
 they then?
31I swear I will never henceforth have to do with the  
 faith that tells the best!
I will have to do only with that faith that leaves the  
 best untold.


32Say on, sayers! Delve! mould! pile the words of the earth! Work on—it is materials you bring, not breaths; Work on, age after age! nothing is to be lost; It may have to wait long, but it will certainly come in  
When the materials are all prepared, the architects  
 shall appear.
33I swear to you the architects shall appear without  
 fail! I announce them and lead them;
I swear to you they will understand you and justify  
I   [ begin page 222 ]ppp.00473.222.jpg I swear to you the greatest among them shall be he  
 who best knows you, and encloses all, and is  
 faithful to all;
I swear to you, he and the rest shall not forget you—  
 they shall perceive that you are not an iota less  
 than they;
I swear to you, you shall be glorified in them.


O MAGNET-SOUTH! O glistening, perfumed South! My  
O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse, and love! Good  
 and evil! O all dear to me!
O dear to me my birth-things—All moving things,  
 and the trees where I was born—the grains,  
 plants, rivers;
Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they  
 flow, distant, over flats of silvery sands, or  
 through swamps;
Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altama- 
 haw, the Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee, the  
 Coosa, and the Sabine;
O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my Soul  
 to haunt their banks again;
Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes—I float  
 on the Okeechobee—I cross the hummock land,  
 or through pleasant openings, or dense forests;
I see the parrots in the woods—I see the papaw tree  
 and the blossoming titi;
Again, sailing in my coaster, on deck, I coast off  
 Georgia—I coast up the Carolinas,
I see where the live-oak is growing—I see where the  
 yellow-pine, the scented bay-tree, the lemon and  
 orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto;
  [ begin page 223 ]ppp.00473.223.jpg I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico Sound  
 through an inlet, and dart my vision inland;
O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar,  
The cactus, guarded with thorns—the laurel-tree,  
 with large white flowers;
The range afar—the richness and barrenness—the old  
 woods charged with mistletoe and trailing moss,
The piney odor and the gloom—the awful natural  
 stillness, (Here in these dense swamps the free- 
 booter carries his gun, and the fugitive slave  
 has his conceal'd hut;)
O the strange fascination of these half-known, half- 
 impassable swamps, infested by reptiles, re- 
 sounding with the bellow of the alligator, the  
 sad noises of the night-owl and the wild-cat,  
 and the whirr of the rattlesnake;
The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all  
 the forenoon—singing through the moon-lit  
The humming-bird, the wild-turkey, the raccoon, the  
A Tennessee corn-field—the tall, graceful, long-leav'd  
 corn—slender, flapping, bright green, with  
 tassels—with beautiful ears, each well-sheath'd  
 in its husk;
An Arkansas prairie—a sleeping lake, or still bayou; O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs—I can stand  
 them not—I will depart;
O to be a Virginian, where I grew up! O to be a  
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Ten- 
 nessee, and never wander more!
  [ begin page 224 ]ppp.00473.224.jpg


ALL you are doing and saying is to America dangled  
You have not learn'd of Nature—of the politics of  
 Nature, you have not learn'd the great ampli- 
 tude, rectitude, impartiality;
You have not seen that only such as they are for These  
And that what is less than they, must sooner or later  
 lift off from These States.


TO The States, or any one of them, or any city of The  
 States, Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth,  
 ever afterward resumes its liberty.


I HEAR you have been asking for something to repre- 
 sent the new race, our self-poised Democracy,
Therefore I send you my poems, that you behold in  
 them what you wanted.
  [ begin page 225 ]ppp.00473.225.jpg



1 AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me, The long brown path before me, leading wherever I  
2Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am  
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, 
 need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.
3The earth—that is sufficient; I do not want the constellations any nearer; I know they are very well where they are; I know they suffice for those who belong to them. 4Still here I carry my old delicious burdens; I carry them, men and women—I carry them with me  
 wherever I go;
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them; I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.


5You road I enter upon and look around! I believe  
 you are not all that is here; I believe that much unseen is also here.
  [ begin page 226 ]ppp.00473.226.jpg 6Here is the profound lesson of reception, neither  
 preference or denial;
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the dis- 
 eas, the illiterate person, are not denied;
The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar's  
 tramp, the drunkard's stagger, the laughing  
 party of mechanics,
The escaped youth, the rich person's carriage, the fop, 
 the eloping couple,
The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of  
 furniture into the town, the return back from  
 the town,
They pass, I also pass, anything passes—none can be  
None but are accepted, none but are dear to me.


7You air that serves me with breath to speak! You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and  
 give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate  
 equable showers!
You animals moving serenely over the earth! You birds that wing yourselves through the air! you  
You sprouting growths from the farmers' fields! you  
 stalks and weeds by the fences!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the road- 
I think you are latent with unseen existences—you  
 are so dear to me.
8You flagg'd walks of the cities! you strong curbs at  
 the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you  
 timber-lined sides! you distant ships!
You rows of houses! you window-pierc'd façades! you  
  [ begin page 227 ]ppp.00473.227.jpg You porches and entrances! you copings and iron  
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so  
You doors and ascending steps! you arches! You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trod- 
 den crossings!
From all that has been near you, I believe you have im- 
 parted to yourselves, and now would impart the  
 same secretly to me;
From the living and the dead I think you have peopled  
 your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof  
 would be evident and amicable with me.


9The earth expanding right hand and left hand, The picture alive, every part in its best light, The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping  
 where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay fresh  
 sentiment of the road.
10O highway I travel! O public road! do you say to  
 me, Do not leave me?
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you are  
Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well-beaten  
 and undenied—adhere to me?
11O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave  
 you—yet I love you;
You express me better than I can express myself; You shall be more to me than my poem.
12I think heroic deeds were all conceiv'd in the open  
I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles;   [ begin page 228 ]ppp.00473.228.jpg I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, 
 and whoever beholds me shall like me;
I think whoever I see must be happy.


13From this hour, freedom! From this hour I ordain myself loosed of limits and  
 imaginary lines,
Going where I list—my own master, total and abso- 
Listening to others, and considering well what they  
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of  
 the holds that would hold me.
14I inhale great draughts of air; The east and the west are mine, and the north and the  
 south are mine.
15I am larger than I thought; I did not know I held so much goodness. 16All seems beautiful to me; I can repeat over to men and women, You have done  
 such good to me, I would do the same to you.
17I will recruit for myself and you as I go; I will scatter myself among men and women as I go; I will toss the new gladness and roughness among  
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me; Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and  
 shall bless me.


18Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear, it  
 would not amaze me;
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear'd, 
 it would not astonish me.
  [ begin page 229 ]ppp.00473.229.jpg 19Now I see the secret of the making of the best per- 
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with  
 the earth.
20Here is space—here a great personal deed has room; A great deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race  
 of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law, and  
 mocks all authority and all argument against it.
21Here is the test of wisdom; Wisdom is not finally tested in schools; Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it, to an- 
 other not having it;
Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is  
 its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is  
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of  
 things, and the excellence of things;
Something there is in the float of the sight of things  
 that provokes it out of the Soul.
22Now I reëxamine philosophies and religions, They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at  
 all under the spacious clouds, and along the land- 
 scape and flowing currents.
23Here is realization; Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in  
The animals, the past, the future, light, space, majesty, 
 love, if they are vacant of you, you are vacant  
 of them.
24Only the kernel of every object nourishes; Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me? Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for  
 you and me?
I2   [ begin page 230 ]ppp.00473.230.jpg
25Here is adhesiveness—it is not previously fashion'd  
 —it is apropos;
Do you know what it is, as you pass, to be loved by  
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?


26Here is the efflux of the Soul; The efflux of the Soul comes from within, through em- 
 bower gates, ever provoking questions:
These yearnings, why are they? These thoughts in the  
 darkness, why are they?
Why are there men and women that while they are  
 nigh me, the sun-light expands my blood?
Why, when they leave me, do my pennants of joy sink  
 flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under, but large and  
 melodious thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on those  
 trees, and always drop fruit as I pass;)
What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers? What with some driver, as I ride on the seat by his  
What with some fisherman, drawing his seine by the  
 shore, as I walk by, and pause?
What gives me to be free to a woman's or man's good- 
 will? What gives them to be free to mine?


27The efflux of the Soul is happiness—here is happi- 
I think it pervades the air, waiting at all times; Now it flows into us—we are rightly charged.
28Here rises the fluid and attaching character; The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and  
 sweetness of man and woman;
  [ begin page 231 ]ppp.00473.231.jpg (The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and  
 sweeter every day out of the roots of them- 
 selves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet contin- 
 ually out of itself.)
29Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes  
 the sweat of the love of young and old;
From it falls distill'd the charm that mocks beauty  
 and attainments;
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of