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Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun



GIVE me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full- 
Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the  
Give me a field where the unmow'd grass grows; Give me an arbor, give me the trellis'd grape; Give me fresh corn and wheat—give me serene-moving  
 animals, teaching content;
Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus west  
 of the Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars;
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers,  
 where I can walk undisturb'd;
Give me for marriage a sweet-breath'd woman, of whom  
 I should never tire;
Give me a perfect child—give me, away, aside from the  
 noise of the world, a rural domestic life;
Give me to warble spontaneous songs, reliev'd, recluse  
 by myself, for my own ears only;
Give me solitude—give me Nature—give me again,  
 O Nature, your primal sanities!
—These, demanding to have them, (tired with ceaseless  
 excitement, and rack'd by the war-strife;)
These to procure, incessantly asking, rising in cries from  
 my heart,
While yet incessantly asking, still I adhere to my city; Day upon day, and year upon year, O city, walking  
 your streets,
Where you hold me enchain'd a certain time, refusing  
 to give me up;
Yet giving to make me glutted, enrich'd of soul—you  
 give me forever faces;
  [ begin page 48a ]ppp.00473.386.jpg (O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing  
 my cries;
I see my own soul trampling down what it ask'd for.)


Keep your splendid silent sun; Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by  
 the woods;
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn- 
 fields and orchards;
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the Ninth- 
 month bees hum;
Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms in- 
 cessant and endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me  
 comrades and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones  
 by the hand every day!
Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhattan! Give me Broadway, with the soldiers marching—give  
 me the sound of the trumpets and drums!
(The soldiers in companies or regiments—some, starting  
 away, flush'd and reckless;
Some, their time up, returning, with thinn'd ranks—  
 young, yet very old, worn, marching, noticing  
—Give me the shores and the wharves heavy-fringed  
 with the black ships!
O such for me! O an intense life! O full to repletion,  
 and varied!
The life of the theatre, bar-room, huge hotel, for me! The saloon of the steamer! the crowded excursion for  
 me! the torch-light procession!
The dense brigade, bound for the war, with high piled  
 military wagons following;
People, endless, streaming, with strong voices, passions,  
Manhattan streets, with their powerful throbs, with the  
 beating drums, as now;
  [ begin page 49a ]ppp.00473.387.jpg The endless and noisy chorus, the rustle and clank of  
 muskets, (even the sight of the wounded;)
Manhattan crowds with their turbulent musical chorus  
 —with varied chorus and light of the sparkling  
Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me.
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