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Starting From Paumanok



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Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep  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  
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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