Skip to main content

Walt Whitman



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.
Back to top