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A Broadway Pageant (Reception Japanese Embassy, June 16, 1860)


1 OVER sea, hither from Niphon, Courteous, the Princes of Asia, swart-cheek'd princes, First-comers, guests, two-sworded princes, Lesson-giving princes, leaning back in their open ba- 
 rouches, bare-headed, impassive,
This day they ride through Manhattan.
2Libertad! I do not know whether others behold what I behold, In the procession, along with the Princes of Asia, the  
Bringing up the rear, hovering above, around, or in the  
 ranks marching;
But I will sing you a song of what I behold, Libertad.
3When million-footed Manhattan, unpent, descends to  
 its pavements;
When the thunder-cracking guns arouse me with the  
 proud roar I love;
When the round-mouth'd guns, out of the smoke and  
 smell I love, spit their salutes;
When the fire-flashing guns have fully alerted me—  
 when heaven-clouds canopy my city with a  
 delicate thin haze;
When, gorgeous, the countless straight stems, the for- 
 ests at the wharves, thicken with colors;
When every ship, richly drest, carries her flag at the  
When pennants trail, and street-festoons hang from the  
  [ begin page 62a ]ppp.00473.400.jpg When Broadway is entirely given up to foot-passengers  
 and foot-standers—when the mass is densest;
When the facades of the houses are alive with people—  
 when eyes gaze, riveted, tens of thousands at a  
When the guests from the islands advance—when the  
 pageant moves forward, visible;
When the summons is made—when the answer that  
 waited thousands of years, answers;
I too, arising, answering, descend to the pavements,  
 merge with the crowd, and gaze with them.
4Superb-faced Manhattan! Comrade Americanos!—to us, then, at last, the Orient  
5To us, my city, Where our tall-topt marble and iron beauties range on  
 opposite sides—to walk in the space between,
To-day our Antipodes comes.
6The Originatress comes, The land of Paradise—land of the Caucasus—the nest  
 of birth,
The nest of languages, the bequeather of poems, the  
 race of eld,
Florid with blood, pensive, rapt with musings, hot with  
Sultry with perfume, with ample and flowing garments, With sunburnt visage, with intense soul and glittering  
The race of Brahma comes!
7See, my cantabile! these, and more, are flashing to us  
 from the procession;
As it moves, changing, a kaleidoscope divine it moves,  
 changing, before us.
8Not the errand-bearing princes, nor the tann'd Japa- 
 nee only;
  [ begin page 63a ]ppp.00473.401.jpg Lithe and silent, the Hindoo appears—the whole Asiatic  
 continent itself appears—the Past, the dead,
The murky night-morning of wonder and fable, inscruta- 
The envelop'd mysteries, the old and unknown hive- 
The North—the sweltering South—Assyria—the  
 Hebrews—the Ancient of ancients,
Vast desolated cities—the gliding Present—all of  
 these, and more, are in the pageant-procession.
9Geography, the world, is in it; The Great Sea, the brood of islands, Polynesia, the coast  
The coast you, henceforth, are facing—you Libertad!  
 from your Western golden shores;
The countries there, with their populations—the mil- 
 lions en-masse, are curiously here;
The swarming market places—the temples, with idols  
 ranged along the sides, or at the end—bonze,  
 brahmin, and lama;
The mandarin, farmer, merchant, mechanic, and fisher- 
The singing-girl and the dancing-girl—the ecstatic  
 person—the divine Buddha;
The secluded Emperors—Confucius himself—the  
 great poets and heroes—the warriors, the castes,  
Trooping up, crowding from all directions—from the  
 Altay mountains,
From Thibet—from the four winding and far-flowing  
 rivers of China,
From the Southern peninsulas, and the demi-continental  
 islands—from Malaysia;
These, and whatever belongs to them, palpable, show  
 forth to me, and are seiz'd by me,
And I am seiz'd by them, and friendlily held by them, Till, as here, them all I chant, Libertad! for themselves  
 and for you.
  [ begin page 64a ]ppp.00473.402.jpg 10For I too, raising my voice, join the ranks of this  
I am the chanter—I chant aloud over the pageant; I chant the world on my Western Sea; I chant, copious, the islands beyond, thick as stars in  
 the sky;
I chant the new empire, grander than any before—As  
 in a vision it comes to me;
I chant America, the Mistress—I chant a greater su- 
I chant, projected, a thousand blooming cities yet, in  
 time, on those groups of sea-islands;
I chant my sail-ships and steam-ships threading the ar- 
I chant my stars and stripes fluttering in the wind; I chant commerce opening, the sleep of ages having  
 done its work—races, reborn, refresh'd;
Lives, works, resumed—The object I know not—but  
 the old, the Asiatic, resumed, as it must be,
Commencing from this day, surrounded by the world.
11And you, Libertad of the world! You shall sit in the middle, well-pois'd, thousands of  
As to-day, from one side, the Princes of Asia come to  
As to-morrow, from the other side, the Queen of Eng- 
 land sends her eldest son to you.
12The sign is reversing, the orb is enclosed, The ring is circled, the journey is done; The box-lid is but perceptibly open'd—nevertheless the  
 perfume pours copiously out of the whole box.
13Young Libertad! With the venerable Asia, the all-mother, Be considerate with her, now and ever, hot Libertad—  
 for you are all;
  [ begin page 65a ]ppp.00473.403.jpg Bend your proud neck to the long-off mother, now  
 sending messages over the archipelagoes to you;
Bend your proud neck low for once, young Libertad.
14Were the children straying westward so long? so  
 wide the tramping?
Were the precedent dim ages debouching westward  
 from Paradise so long?
Were the centuries steadily footing it that way, all the  
 while unknown, for you, for reasons?
They are justified—they are accomplish'd—they shall  
 now be turn'd the other way also, to travel to- 
 ward you thence;
They shall now also march obediently eastward, for  
 your sake, Libertad.
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