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Cluster: Leaves of Grass. (1867)

Table of Contents (1867)

Poems in this cluster



1 ON the beach at night alone, As the old mother sways her to and fro, singing her  
 savage and husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining—I think a thought  
 of the clef of the universes, and of the future.
2A VAST SIMILITUDE interlocks all, All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, 
 planets, comets, asteroids,
All the substances of the same, and all that is spiritual  
 upon the same,
All distances of place, however wide, All distances of time—all inanimate forms, All Souls—all living bodies, though they be ever so  
 different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes—the  
 fishes, the brutes,
All men and women—me also; All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages; All identities that have existed, or may exist, on this  
 globe, or any globe;
All lives and deaths—all of the past, present, future; This vast similitude spans them, and always has  
 spann'd, and shall forever span them, and com- 
 pactly hold them.


1 TO ORATISTS—to male or female, Vocalism, breath, measure, concentration, determina- 
 tion, and the divine power to use words.
  [ begin page 316 ]ppp.00473.316.jpg 2Are you full-lung'd and limber-lipp'd from long  
 trial? from vigorous practice? from physique?
Do you move in these broad lands as broad as they? Come duly to the divine power to use words?
3For only at last, after many years—after chastity, 
 friendship, procreation, prudence, and naked- 
After treading ground and breasting river and lake; After a loosen'd throat—after absorbing eras, temper- 
 aments, races—after knowledge, freedom, 
After complete faith—after clarifyings, elevations, and  
 removing obstructions;
After these, and more, it is just possible there comes  
 to a man, a woman, the divine power to use  
4Then toward that man or that woman, swiftly hasten  
 all—None refuse, all attend;
Armies, ships, antiquities, the dead, libraries, paintings, 
 machines, cities, hate, despair, amity, pain, theft, 
 murder, aspiration, form in close ranks;
They debouch as they are wanted to march obediently  
 through the mouth of that man, or that woman.
5O I see arise orators fit for inland America; And I see it is as slow to become an orator as to be- 
 come a man;
And I see that power is folded in a great vocalism.
6Of a great vocalism, the merciless light thereof shall  
 pour, and the storm rage,
Every flash shall be a revelation, an insult, The glaring flame on depths, on heights, on suns, on  
On the interior and exterior of man or woman, On the laws of Nature—on passive materials,   [ begin page 317 ]ppp.00473.317.jpg On what you called death—(and what to you there- 
 fore was death,
As far as there can be death.)


1 LAWS for Creations, For strong artists and leaders—for fresh broods of  
 teachers, and perfect literats for America,
For diverse savans, and coming musicians.
2All must have reference to the ensemble of the  
 world, and the compact truth of the world;
There shall be no subject too pronounced—All works  
 shall illustrate the divine law of indirections.
3What do you suppose creation is? What do you suppose will satisfy the Soul, except to  
 walk free, and own no superior?
What do you suppose I have intimated to you in a  
 hundred ways, but that man or woman is as  
 good as God?
And that there is no God any more divine than Your- 
And that that is what the oldest and newest myths  
 finally mean?
And that you or any one must approach Creations  
 through such laws?


1 POETS to come! Not to-day is to justify me, and Democracy, and what  
 we are for;
M   [ begin page 318 ]ppp.00473.318.jpg But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, 
 greater than before known,
You must justify me.
2I but write one or two indicative words for the  
I but advance a moment, only to wheel and hurry back  
 in the darkness.
3I am a man who, sauntering along, without fully  
 stopping, turns a casual look upon you, and  
 then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it, Expecting the main things from you.

Table of Contents (1867)

Poems in this cluster

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