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Cluster: Chants Democratic and Native American. (1860)

Table of Contents (1860–1861)

Poems in this cluster



O mater! O fils! O brood continental! O flowers of the prairies! O space boundless! O hum of mighty products! O you teeming cities! O so invincible, turbulent, 
O race of the future! O women! O fathers! O you men of passion and the storm! O native power only! O beauty! O yourself! O God! O divine average! O you bearded roughs! O bards! O all those slum- 
O arouse! the dawn-bird's throat sounds shrill! Do  
 you not hear the cock crowing?
O, as I walk'd the beach, I heard the mournful notes  
 foreboding a tempest—the low, oft-repeated  
 shriek of the diver, the long-lived loon;
  [ begin page 106 ]ppp.01500.114.jpg O I heard, and yet hear, angry thunder;—O you  
 sailors! O ships! make quick preparation!
O from his masterful sweep, the warning cry of the  
(Give way there, all! It is useless! Give up your  
O sarcasms! Propositions! (O if the whole world  
 should prove indeed a sham, a sell!)
O I believe there is nothing real but America and  
O to sternly reject all except Democracy! O imperator! O who dare confront you and me? O to promulgate our own! O to build for that which  
 builds for mankind!
O feuillage! O North! O the slope drained by the  
 Mexican sea!
O all, all inseparable—ages, ages, ages! O a curse on him that would dissever this Union for  
 any reason whatever!
O climates, labors! O good and evil! O death! O you strong with iron and wood! O Personality! O the village or place which has the greatest man or  
 woman! even if it be only a few ragged huts;
O the city where women walk in public processions in  
 the streets, the same as the men;
O a wan and terrible emblem, by me adopted! O shapes arising! shapes of the future centuries! O muscle and pluck forever for me! O workmen and workwomen forever for me! O farmers and sailors! O drivers of horses forever  
 for me!
O I will make the new bardic list of trades and tools! O you coarse and wilful! I love you!   [ begin page 107 ]ppp.01500.115.jpg O South! O longings for my dear home! O soft and  
 sunny airs!
O pensive! O I must return where the palm grows  
 and the mocking-bird sings, or else I die!
O equality! O organic compacts! I am come to be  
 your born poet!
O whirl, contest, sounding and resounding! I am  
 your poet, because I am part of you;
O days by-gone! Enthusiasts! Antecedents! O vast preparations for These States! O years! O what is now being sent forward thousands of years  
 to come!
O mediums! O to teach! to convey the invisible faith! To promulge real things! to journey through all The  
O creation! O to-day! O laws! O unmitigated  
O for mightier broods of orators, artists, and singers! O for native songs! carpenter's, boatman's, plough- 
 man's songs! shoemaker's songs!
O haughtiest growth of time! O free and extatic! O what I, here, preparing, warble for! O you hastening light! O the sun of the world will  
 ascend, dazzling, and take his height—and you  
 too will ascend;
O so amazing and so broad! up there resplendent, 
 darting and burning;
O prophetic! O vision staggered with weight of light! 
 with pouring glories!
O copious! O hitherto unequalled! O Libertad! O compact! O union impossible to  
O my Soul! O lips becoming tremulous, powerless! O centuries, centuries yet ahead!   [ begin page 108 ]ppp.01500.116.jpg O voices of greater orators! I pause—I listen for  
O you States! Cities! defiant of all outside authority! 
 I spring at once into your arms! you I most  
O you grand Presidentiads! I wait for you! New history! New heroes! I project you! Visions of poets! only you really last! O sweep on! 
 sweep on!
O Death! O you striding there! O I cannot yet! O heights! O infinitely too swift and dizzy yet! O purged lumine! you threaten me more than I can  
O present! I return while yet I may to you! O poets to come, I depend upon you!


1A NATION announcing itself, (many in one,) I myself make the only growth by which I can be  
I reject none, accept all, reproduce all in my own  
2A breed whose testimony is behavior, What we are WE ARE—nativity is answer enough  
 to objections;
We wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded,   [ begin page 109 ]ppp.01500.117.jpg We are powerful and tremendous in ourselves, We are executive in ourselves—We are sufficient  
 in the variety of ourselves,
We are the most beautiful to ourselves, and in our- 
Nothing is sinful to us outside of ourselves, Whatever appears, whatever does not appear, we are  
 beautiful or sinful in ourselves only.
3Have you thought there could be but a single  
There can be any number of Supremes—One does  
 not countervail another, any more than one eye- 
 sight countervails another, or one life counter- 
 vails another.
4All is eligible to all, All is for individuals—All is for you, No condition is prohibited, not God's or any, If one is lost, you are inevitably lost. 5All comes by the body—only health puts you rapport  
 with the universe.
6Produce great persons, the rest follows. 7How dare a sick man, or an obedient man, write  
 poems for These States?
Which is the theory or book that, for our purposes, is  
 not diseased?
8Piety and conformity to them that like! Peace, obesity, allegiance, to them that like! 10   [ begin page 110 ]ppp.01500.118.jpg I am he who tauntingly compels men, women,  
 nations, to leap from their seats and contend  
 for their lives.
9I am he who goes through the streets with a barbed  
 tongue, questioning every one I meet—ques- 
 tioning you up there now:
Who are you, that wanted only to be told what you  
 knew before?
Who are you, that wanted only a book to join you in  
 your nonsense?
10Are you, or would you be, better than all that has  
 ever been before?
If you would be better than all that has ever been  
 before, come listen to me, and not otherwise.
11Fear grace—Fear delicatesse, Fear the mellow sweet, the sucking of honey-juice, Beware the advancing mortal ripening of nature, Beware what precedes the decay of the ruggedness of  
 states and men.
12Ages, precedents, poems, have long been accumu- 
 lating undirected materials,
America brings builders, and brings its own styles.
13Mighty bards have done their work, and passed to  
 other spheres,
One work forever remains, the work of surpassing all  
 they have done.
14America, curious toward foreign characters, stands by  
 its own at all hazards,
  [ begin page 111 ]ppp.01500.119.jpg Stands removed, spacious, composite, sound, Sees itself promulger of men and women, initiates  
 the true use of precedents,
Does not repel them or the past, or what they have  
 produced under their forms, or amid other pol- 
 itics, or amid the idea of castes, or the old  
Takes the lesson with calmness, perceives the corpse  
 slowly borne from the eating and sleeping rooms  
 of the house,
Perceives that it waits a little while in the door—  
 that it was fittest for its days,
That its life has descended to the stalwart and well-  
 shaped heir who approaches,
And that he shall be fittest for his days.
15Any period, one nation must lead, One land must be the promise and reliance of the  
16These States are the amplest poem, Here is not merely a nation, but a teeming nation of  
Here the doings of men correspond with the broad- 
 cast doings of the day and night,
Here is what moves in magnificent masses, carelessly  
 faithful of particulars,
Here are the roughs, beards, friendliness, combative- 
 ness, the Soul loves,
Here the flowing trains—here the crowds, equality,  
 diversity, the Soul loves.
17Race of races, and bards to corroborate!   [ begin page 112 ]ppp.01500.120.jpg Of them, standing among them, one lifts to the light  
 his west-bred face,
To him the hereditary countenance bequeathed, both  
 mother's and father's,
His first parts substances, earth, water, animals, trees, Built of the common stock, having room for far and  
Used to dispense with other lands, incarnating this  
Attracting it body and Soul to himself, hanging on its  
 neck with incomparable love,
Plunging his semitic muscle into its merits and  
Making its geography, cities, beginnings, events,  
 glories, defections, diversities, vocal in him,
Making its rivers, lakes, bays, embouchure in him, Mississippi with yearly freshets and changing chutes  
 —Missouri, Columbia, Ohio, Niagara, Hudson,  
 spending themselves lovingly in him,
If the Atlantic coast stretch, or the Pacific coast  
 stretch, he stretching with them north or south,
Spanning between them east and west, and touching  
 whatever is between them,
Growths growing from him to offset the growth of  
 pine, cedar, hemlock, live-oak, locust, chest- 
 nut, cypress, hickory, lime-tree, cotton-wood,  
 tulip-tree, cactus, tamarind, orange, magnolia,  
Tangles as tangled in him as any cane-brake or  
He likening sides and peaks of mountains, forests  
 coated with transparent ice, and icicles hanging  
 from the boughs,
  [ begin page 113 ]ppp.01500.121.jpg Off him pasturage sweet and natural as savanna,  
 upland, prairie,
Through him flights, songs, screams, answering those  
 of the wild-pigeon, coot, fish-hawk, qua-bird,  
 mocking-bird, condor, night-heron, eagle;
His spirit surrounding his country's spirit, unclosed  
 to good and evil,
Surrounding the essences of real things, old times  
 and present times,
Surrounding just found shores, islands, tribes of red  
Weather-beaten vessels, landings, settlements, the  
 rapid stature and muscle,
The haughty defiance of the Year 1—war, peace,  
 the formation of the Constitution,
The separate States, the simple, elastic scheme, the  
The Union, always swarming with blatherers, and  
 always calm and impregnable,
The unsurveyed interior, log-houses, clearings, wild  
 animals, hunters, trappers;
Surrounding the multiform agriculture, mines, tem- 
 perature, the gestation of new States,
Congress convening every Twelfth Month, the mem- 
 bers duly coming up from the uttermost parts;
Surrounding the noble character of mechanics and  
 farmers, especially the young men,
Responding their manners, speech, dress, friendships  
 —the gait they have of persons who never knew  
 how it felt to stand in the presence of superiors,
The freshness and candor of their physiognomy, the  
 copiousness and decision of their phrenology,
10*   [ begin page 114 ]ppp.01500.122.jpg The picturesque looseness of their carriage, their  
 deathless attachment to freedom, their fierceness  
 when wronged,
The fluency of their speech, their delight in music,  
 their curiosity, good temper, and open-handed- 
 ness—the whole composite make,
The prevailing ardor and enterprise, the large am- 
The perfect equality of the female with the male, the  
 fluid movement of the population,
The superior marine, free commerce, fisheries,  
 whaling, gold-digging,
Wharf-hemmed cities, railroad and steamboat lines,  
 intersecting all points,
Factories, mercantile life, labor-saving machinery, the  
 north-east, north-west, south-west,
Manhattan firemen, the Yankee swap, southern plan- 
 tation life,
Slavery, the tremulous spreading of hands to shelter  
 it—the stern opposition to it, which ceases only  
 when it ceases.
18For these and the like, their own voices! For these,  
 space ahead!
Others take finish, but the Republic is ever con- 
 structive, and ever keeps vista;
Others adorn the past—but you, O, days of the  
 present, I adorn you!
O days of the future, I believe in you! O America, because you build for mankind, I build  
 for you!
O well-beloved stone-cutters! I lead them who plan  
 with decision and science,
  [ begin page 115 ]ppp.01500.123.jpg I lead the present with friendly hand toward the  
19Bravas to States whose semitic impulses send whole- 
 some children to the next age!
But damn that which spends itself on flaunters and  
 dalliers, with no thought of the stain, pains,  
 dismay, feebleness, it is bequeathing.
20By great bards only can series of peoples and States  
 be fused into the compact organism of one  
21To hold men together by paper and seal, or by com- 
 pulsion, is no account,
That only holds men together which is living prin- 
 ciples, as the hold of the limbs of the body, or  
 the fibres of plants.
22Of all races and eras, These States, with veins full  
 of poetical stuff, most need poets, and are to have  
 the greatest, and use them the greatest,
Their Presidents shall not be their common referee  
 so much as their poets shall.
23Of mankind, the poet is the equable man, Not in him, but off from him, things are grotesque,  
 eccentric, fail of their full returns,
Nothing out of its place is good, nothing in its place  
 is bad,
He bestows on every object or quality its fit propor- 
 tions, neither more nor less,
He is the arbiter of the diverse, he is the key,   [ begin page 116 ]ppp.01500.124.jpg He is the equalizer of his age and land, He supplies what wants supplying—he checks what  
 wants checking,
In peace, out of him speaks the spirit of peace, large,  
 rich, thrifty, building populous towns, encour- 
 aging agriculture, arts, commerce, lighting the  
 study of man, the Soul, health, immortality,  
In war, he is the best backer of the war—he fetches  
 artillery as good as the engineer's—he can make  
 every word he speaks draw blood;
The years straying toward infidelity, he withholds by  
 his steady faith,
He is no arguer, he is judgment, He judges not as the judge judges, but as the sun  
 falling round a helpless thing;
As he sees the farthest he has the most faith, His thoughts are the hymns of the praise of things, In the dispute on God and eternity he is silent, He sees eternity less like a play with a prologue and  
He sees eternity in men and women—he does not  
 see men and women as dreams or dots.
24Of the idea of perfect and free individuals, the idea  
 of These States, the bard walks in advance,  
 leader of leaders,
The attitude of him cheers up slaves, and horrifies  
 foreign despots.
25Without extinction is Liberty! Without retrograde  
 is Equality!
They live in the feelings of young men, and the  
 best women,
  [ begin page 117 ]ppp.01500.125.jpg Not for nothing have the indomitable heads of the  
 earth been always ready to fall for Liberty!
26Are YOU indeed for Liberty? Are you a man who would assume a place to teach  
 here, or lead here, or be a poet here?
The place is august—the terms obdurate.
27Who would assume to teach here, may well prepare  
 himself, body and mind,
He may well survey, ponder, arm, fortify, harden,  
 make lithe, himself,
He shall surely be questioned beforehand by me with  
 many and stern questions.
28Who are you, indeed, who would talk or sing in  
Have you studied out MY LAND, its idioms and  
Have you learned the physiology, phrenology, poli- 
 tics, geography, pride, freedom, friendship, of  
 my land? its substratums and objects?
Have you considered the organic compact of the first  
 day of the first year of the independence of The  
 States, signed by the Commissioners, ratified by  
 The States, and read by Washington at the head  
 of the army?
Have you possessed yourself of the Federal Constitu- 
Do you acknowledge Liberty with audible and abso- 
 lute acknowledgment, and set slavery at nought  
 for life and death?
Do you see who have left described processes and  
 poems behind them, and assumed new ones?
  [ begin page 118 ]ppp.01500.126.jpg Are you faithful to things? Do you teach whatever  
 the land and sea, the bodies of men, womanhood,  
 amativeness, angers, excesses, crimes, teach?
Have you sped through customs, laws, popularities? Can you hold your hand against all seductions, follies,  
 whirls, fierce contentions? Are you very strong?  
 Are you of the whole people?
Are you not of some coterie? some school or religion? Are you done with reviews and criticisms of life? ani- 
 mating to life itself?
Have you vivified yourself from the maternity of  
 These States?
Have you sucked the nipples of the breasts of the  
 mother of many children?
Have you too the old, ever-fresh, forbearance and  
Do you hold the like love for those hardening to  
 maturity? for the last-born? little and big?  
 and for the errant?
29What is this you bring my America? Is it uniform with my country? Is it not something that has been better told or done  
Have you not imported this, or the spirit of it, in  
 some ship?
Is it a mere tale? a rhyme? a prettiness? Has it never dangled at the heels of the poets, poli- 
 ticians, literats, of enemies' lands?
Does it not assume that what is notoriously gone is  
 still here?
Does it answer universal needs? Will it improve  
  [ begin page 119 ]ppp.01500.127.jpg Can your performance face the open fields and the  
Will it absorb into me as I absorb food, air, nobility,  
 meanness—to appear again in my strength, gait,  
Have real employments contributed to it? original  
 makers—not amanuenses?
Does it meet modern discoveries, calibers, facts, face  
 to face?
Does it respect me? Democracy? the Soul? to-day? What does it mean to me? to American persons,  
 progresses, cities? Chicago, Kanada, Arkansas?  
 the planter, Yankee, Georgian, native, immi- 
 grant, sailors, squatters, old States, new States?
Does it encompass all The States, and the unexcep- 
 tional rights of all the men and women of the  
 earth, the genital impulse of These States?
Does it see behind the apparent custodians, the  
 real custodians, standing, menacing, silent, the  
 mechanics, Manhattanese, western men, south- 
 erners, significant alike in their apathy and in  
 the promptness of their love?
Does it see what befalls and has always befallen  
 each temporizer, patcher, outsider, partialist,  
 alarmist, infidel, who has ever asked anything  
 of America?
What mocking and scornful negligence? The track strewed with the dust of skeletons? By the roadside others disdainfully tossed?
30Rhymes and rhymers pass away—poems distilled  
 from other poems pass away,
The swarms of reflectors and the polite pass, and  
 leave ashes;
  [ begin page 120 ]ppp.01500.128.jpg Admirers, importers, obedient persons, make the soil  
 of literature;
America justifies itself, give it time—no disguise can  
 deceive it, or conceal from it—it is impassive  
Only toward the likes of itself will it advance to meet  
If its poets appear, it will advance to meet them—  
 there is no fear of mistake,
The proof of a poet shall be sternly deferred, till his  
 country absorbs him as affectionately as he has  
 absorbed it.
31He masters whose spirit masters—he tastes sweetest  
 who results sweetest in the long run,
The blood of the brawn beloved of time is uncon- 
In the need of poems, philosophy, politics, manners,  
 engineering, an appropriate native grand-opera,  
 shipcraft, any craft, he or she is greatest who  
 contributes the greatest original practical ex- 
32Already a nonchalant breed, silently emerging, fills  
 the houses and streets,
People's lips salute only doers, lovers, satisfiers,  
 positive knowers;
There will shortly be no more priests—I say their  
 work is done,
Death is without emergencies here, but life is per- 
 petual emergencies here,
Are your body, days, manners, superb? after death  
 you shall be superb;
  [ begin page 121 ]ppp.01500.129.jpg Friendship, self-esteem, justice, health, clear the way  
 with irresistible power;
How dare you place anything before a man?
33Fall behind me, States! A man, before all—myself, typical, before all. 34Give me the pay I have served for! Give me to speak beautiful words! take all the  
I have loved the earth, sun, animals—I have despised  
I have given alms to every one that asked, stood up  
 for the stupid and crazy, devoted my income  
 and labor to others,
I have hated tyrants, argued not concerning God,  
 had patience and indulgence toward the people,  
 taken off my hat to nothing known or unknown,
I have gone freely with powerful uneducated persons,  
 and with the young, and with the mothers of  
I have read these leaves to myself in the open air—  
 I have tried them by trees, stars, rivers,
I have dismissed whatever insulted my own Soul or  
 defiled my body,
I have claimed nothing to myself which I have not  
 carefully claimed for others on the same terms.
I have studied my land, its idioms and men, I am willing to wait to be understood by the growth  
 of the taste of myself,
I reject none, I permit all, Whom I have staid with once I have found longing  
 for me ever afterward.
11   [ begin page 122 ]ppp.01500.130.jpg 34I swear I begin to see the meaning of these things! It is not the earth, it is not America, who is so great, It is I who am great, or to be great—it is you, or  
 any one,
It is to walk rapidly through civilizations, govern- 
 ments, theories, nature, poems, shows, to indi- 
35Underneath all are individuals, I swear nothing is good to me now that ignores  
The American compact is altogether with individuals, The only government is that which makes minute of  
The whole theory of the universe is directed to one  
 single individual—namely, to You.
36Underneath all is nativity, I swear I will stand by my own nativity—pious or  
 impious, so be it;
I swear I am charmed with nothing except nativity, Men, women, cities, nations, are only beautiful from  
37Underneath all is the need of the expression of love  
 for men and women,
I swear I have had enough of mean and impotent  
 modes of expressing love for men and women,
After this day I take my own modes of expressing  
 love for men and women.
38I swear I will have each quality of my race in  
  [ begin page 123 ]ppp.01500.131.jpg Talk as you like, he only suits These States whose  
 manners favor the audacity and sublime turbu- 
 lence of The States.
39Underneath the lessons of things, spirits, nature,  
 governments, ownerships, I swear I perceive  
 other lessons,
Underneath all to me is myself—to you, yourself,  
 (the same monotonous old song,)
If all had not kernels for you and me, what were it  
 to you and me?
40O I see now, flashing, that this America is only you  
 and me,
Its power, weapons, testimony, are you and me, Its roughs, beards, haughtiness, ruggedness, are you  
 and me,
Its ample geography, the sierras, the prairies, Mis- 
 sissippi, Huron, Colorado, Boston, Toronto,  
 Raleigh, Nashville, Havana, are you and me,
Its settlements, wars, the organic compact, peace,  
 Washington, the Federal Constitution, are you  
 and me,
Its young men's manners, speech, dress, friendships,  
 are you and me,
Its crimes, lies, thefts, defections, slavery, are you  
 and me,
Its Congress is you and me—the officers, capitols,  
 armies, ships, are you and me,
Its endless gestations of new States are you and me, Its inventions, science, schools, are you and me, Its deserts, forests, clearings, log-houses, hunters, are  
 you and me,
  [ begin page 124 ]ppp.01500.132.jpg Natural and artificial are you and me, Freedom, language, poems, employments, are you  
 and me,
Failures, successes, births, deaths, are you and me, Past, present, future, are only you and me.
41I swear I dare not shirk any part of myself, Not any part of America, good or bad, Not my body—not friendship, hospitality, pro- 
Not my Soul, nor the last explanation of prudence, Not the similitude that interlocks me with all iden- 
 tities that exist, or ever have existed,
Not faith, sin, defiance, nor any disposition or duty  
 of myself,
Not the promulgation of Liberty—not to cheer up  
 slaves and horrify despots,
Not to build for that which builds for mankind, Not to balance ranks, complexions, creeds, and the  
Not to justify science, nor the march of equality, Nor to feed the arrogant blood of the brawn beloved  
 of time.
42I swear I am for those that have never been  
For men and women whose tempers have never been  
For those whom laws, theories, conventions, can never  
43I swear I am for those who walk abreast with the  
 whole earth!
Who inaugurate one to inaugurate all.
  [ begin page 125 ]ppp.01500.133.jpg 44I swear I will not be outfaced by irrational things! I will penetrate what it is in them that is sarcastic  
 upon me!
I will make cities and civilizations defer to me! (This is what I have learnt from America—it is the  
 amount—and it I teach again.)
45I will confront these shows of the day and night! I will know if I am to be less than they! I will see if I am not as majestic as they! I will see if I am not as subtle and real as they! I will see if I am to be less generous than they! 46I will see if I have no meaning, while the houses and  
 ships have meaning!
I will see if the fishes and birds are to be enough  
 for themselves, and I am not to be enough for  
47I match my spirit against yours, you orbs, growths,  
 mountains, brutes,
Copious as you are, I absorb you all in myself, and  
 become the master myself.
48The Many In One—what is it finally except myself? These States—what are they except myself? 49I have learned why the earth is gross, tantalizing,  
 wicked—it is for my sake,
I take you to be mine, you beautiful, terrible, rude  
11*   [ begin page 126 ]ppp.01500.134.jpg



1BROAD-AXE, shapely, naked, wan! Head from the mother's bowels drawn! Wooded flesh and metal bone! limb only one and  
 lip only one!
Gray-blue leaf by red-heat grown! helve produced  
 from a little seed sown!
Resting the grass amid and upon, To be leaned, and to lean on.
2Strong shapes, and attributes of strong shapes—  
 masculine trades, sights and sounds,
Long varied train of an emblem, dabs of music, Fingers of the organist skipping staccato over the  
 keys of the great organ.
3Welcome are all earth's lands, each for its kind, Welcome are lands of pine and oak, Welcome are lands of the lemon and fig, Welcome are lands of gold, Welcome are lands of wheat and maize—welcome  
 those of the grape,
Welcome are lands of sugar and rice, Welcome the cotton-lands—welcome those of the  
 white potato and sweet potato,
Welcome are mountains, flats, sands, forests, prairies,   [ begin page 127 ]ppp.01500.135.jpg Welcome the rich borders of rivers, table-lands,  
Welcome the measureless grazing lands—welcome  
 the teeming soil of orchards, flax, honey, hemp,
Welcome just as much the other more hard-faced  
Lands rich as lands of gold, or wheat and fruit lands, Lands of mines, lands of the manly and rugged ores, Lands of coal, copper, lead, tin, zinc, LANDS OF IRON! lands of the make of the axe!
4The log at the wood-pile, the axe supported by it, The sylvan hut, the vine over the doorway, the space  
 cleared for a garden,
The irregular tapping of rain down on the leaves,  
 after the storm is lulled,
The wailing and moaning at intervals, the thought of  
 the sea,
The thought of ships struck in the storm, and put on  
 their beam-ends, and the cutting away of masts;
The sentiment of the huge timbers of old-fashioned  
 houses and barns;
The remembered print or narrative, the voyage at a  
 venture of men, families, goods,
The disembarkation, the founding of a new city, The voyage of those who sought a New England and  
 found it—the outset anywhere,
The settlements of the Arkansas, Colorado, Ottawa,  
The slow progress, the scant fare, the axe, rifle,  
The beauty of all adventurous and daring persons, The beauty of wood-boys and wood-men, with their  
 clear untrimmed faces,
  [ begin page 128 ]ppp.01500.136.jpg The beauty of independence, departure, actions that  
 rely on themselves,
The American contempt for statutes and ceremonies,  
 the boundless impatience of restraint,
The loose drift of character, the inkling through  
 random types, the solidification;
The butcher in the slaughter-house, the hands aboard  
 schooners and sloops, the raftsman, the pioneer,
Lumbermen in their winter camp, daybreak in the  
 woods, stripes of snow on the limbs of trees, the  
 occasional snapping,
The glad clear sound of one's own voice, the merry  
 song, the natural life of the woods, the strong  
 day's work,
The blazing fire at night, the sweet taste of supper,  
 the talk, the bed of hemlock boughs, and the  
The house-builder at work in cities or anywhere, The preparatory jointing, squaring, sawing, mor- 
The hoist-up of beams, the push of them in their  
 places, laying them regular,
Setting the studs by their tenons in the mortises,  
 according as they were prepared,
The blows of mallets and hammers, the attitudes of  
 the men, their curved limbs,
Bending, standing, astride the beams, driving in pins,  
 holding on by posts and braces,
The hooked arm over the plate, the other arm  
 wielding the axe,
The floor-men forcing the planks close, to be nailed, Their postures bringing their weapons downward on  
 the bearers,
  [ begin page 129 ]ppp.01500.137.jpg The echoes resounding through the vacant building; The huge store-house carried up in the city, well  
 under way,
The six framing-men, two in the middle and two at  
 each end, carefully bearing on their shoulders a  
 heavy stick for a cross-beam,
The crowded line of masons with trowels in their  
 right hands, rapidly laying the long side-wall,  
 two hundred feet from front to rear,
The flexible rise and fall of backs, the continual click  
 of the trowels striking the bricks,
The bricks, one after another, each laid so workman-  
 like in its place, and set with a knock of the  
The piles of materials, the mortar on the mortar-  
 boards, and the steady replenishing by the hod- 
Spar-makers in the spar-yard, the swarming row of  
 well-grown apprentices,
The swing of their axes on the square-hewed log,  
 shaping it toward the shape of a mast,
The brisk short crackle of the steel driven slantingly  
 into the pine,
The butter-colored chips flying off in great flakes and  
The limber motion of brawny young arms and hips  
 in easy costumes;
The constructor of wharves, bridges, piers, bulk-heads,  
 floats, stays against the sea;
The city fireman—the fire that suddenly bursts forth  
 in the close-packed square,
The arriving engines, the hoarse shouts, the nimble  
 stepping and daring,
  [ begin page 130 ]ppp.01500.138.jpg The strong command through the fire-trumpets, the  
 falling in line, the rise and fall of the arms  
 forcing the water,
The slender, spasmic blue-white jets—the bringing  
 to bear of the hooks and ladders, and their  
The crash and cut away of connecting wood-work, or  
 through floors, if the fire smoulders under them,
The crowd with their lit faces, watching—the glare  
 and dense shadows;
The forger at his forge-furnace, and the user of iron  
 after him,
The maker of the axe large and small, and the  
 welder and temperer,
The chooser breathing his breath on the cold steel,  
 and trying the edge with his thumb,
The one who clean-shapes the handle and sets it  
 firmly in the socket,
The shadowy processions of the portraits of the past  
 users also,
The primal patient mechanics, the architects and  
The far-off Assyrian edifice and Mizra edifice, The Roman lictors preceding the consuls, The antique European warrior with his axe in  
The uplifted arm, the clatter, of blows on the  
 helmeted head,
The death-howl, the limpsey tumbling body, the rush  
 of friend and foe thither,
The siege of revolted lieges determined for liberty, The summons to surrender, the battering at castle  
 gates, the truce and parley,
  [ begin page 131 ]ppp.01500.139.jpg The sack of an old city in its time, The bursting in of mercenaries and bigots tumul- 
 tuously and disorderly,
Roar, flames, blood, drunkenness, madness, Goods freely rifled from houses and temples, screams  
 of women in the gripe of brigands,
Craft and thievery of camp-followers, men running,  
 old persons despairing,
The hell of war, the cruelties of creeds, The list of all executive deeds and words, just or  
The power of personality, just or unjust.
5Muscle and pluck forever! What invigorates life, invigorates death, And the dead advance as much as the living advance, And the future is no more uncertain than the present, And the roughness of the earth and of man encloses  
 as much as the delicatesse of the earth and of  
And nothing endures but personal qualities.
6What do you think endures? Do you think the greatest city endures? Or a teeming manufacturing state? or a prepared  
 constitution? or the best built steamships?
Or hotels of granite and iron? or any chef-d'œuvres  
 of engineering, forts, armaments?
7Away! These are not to be cherished for themselves, They fill their hour, the dancers dance, the musicians  
 play for them,
The show passes, all does well enough of course, All does very well till one flash of defiance.
  [ begin page 132 ]ppp.01500.140.jpg 8The greatest city is that which has the greatest man  
 or woman,
If it be a few ragged huts, it is still the greatest city  
 in the whole world.
9The place where the greatest city stands is not the  
 place of stretched wharves, docks, manufactures,  
 deposits of produce,
Nor the place of ceaseless salutes of new comers, or  
 the anchor-lifters of the departing,
Nor the place of the tallest and costliest buildings,  
 or shops selling goods from the rest of the earth,
Nor the place of the best libraries and schools—nor  
 the place where money is plentiest,
Nor the place of the most numerous population.
10Where the city stands with the brawniest breed of  
 orators and bards,
Where the city stands that is beloved by these, and  
 loves them in return, and understands them,
Where these may be seen going every day in the  
 streets, with their arms familiar to the shoulders  
 of their friends,
Where no monuments exist to heroes, but in the  
 common words and deeds,
Where thrift is in its place, and prudence is in its  
Where behavior is the finest of the fine arts, Where the men and women think lightly of the  
Where the slave ceases, and the master of slaves  
Where the populace rise at once against the never- 
 ending audacity of elected persons,
  [ begin page 133 ]ppp.01500.141.jpg Where fierce men and women pour forth, as the sea  
 to the whistle of death pours its sweeping and  
 unript waves,
Where outside authority enters always after the  
 precedence of inside authority,
Where the citizen is always the head and ideal—and  
 President, Mayor, Governor, and what not, are  
 agents for pay,
Where children are taught from the jump that they  
 are to be laws to themselves, and to depend on  
Where equanimity is illustrated in affairs, Where speculations on the Soul are encouraged, Where women walk in public processions in the  
 streets, the same as the men,
Where they enter the public assembly and take  
 places the same as the men, and are appealed  
 to by the orators, the same as the men,
Where the city of the faithfulest friends stands, Where the city of the cleanliness of the sexes stands, Where the city of the healthiest fathers stands, Where the city of the best-bodied mothers stands, There the greatest city stands.
11How beggarly appear poems, arguments, orations,  
 before an electric deed!
How the floridness of the materials of cities shrivels  
 before a man's or woman's look!
12All waits, or goes by default, till a strong being  
A strong being is the proof of the race, and of the  
 ability of the universe,
12   [ begin page 134 ]ppp.01500.142.jpg When he or she appears, materials are overawed, The dispute on the Soul stops, The old customs and phrases are confronted, turned  
 back, or laid away.
13What is your money-making now? What can it do  
What is your respectability now? What are your theology, tuition, society, traditions,  
 statute-books now?
Where are your jibes of being now? Where are your cavils about the Soul now?
14Was that your best? Were those your vast and  
Riches, opinions, politics, institutions, to part obe- 
 diently from the path of one man or woman!
The centuries, and all authority, to be trod under  
 the foot-soles of one man or woman!
15—A sterile landscape covers the ore—there is as  
 good as the best, for all the forbidding appear- 
There is the mine, there are the miners, The forge-furnace is there, the melt is accomplished,  
 the hammers-men are at hand with their tongs  
 and hammers,
What always served and always serves, is at hand.
16Than this nothing has better served—it has served  
Served the fluent-tongued and subtle-sensed Greek,  
 and long ere the Greek,
  [ begin page 135 ]ppp.01500.143.jpg Served in building the buildings that last longer  
 than any,
Served the Hebrew, the Persian, the most ancient  
Served the mound-raiser on the Mississippi—served  
 those whose relics remain in Central America,
Served Albic temples in woods or on plains, with  
 unhewn pillars, and the druids, and the bloody  
 body laid in the hollow of the great stone,
Served the artificial clefts, vast, high, silent, on the  
 snow-covered hills of Scandinavia,
Served those who, time out of mind, made on the  
 granite walls rough sketches of the sun, moon,  
 stars, ships, ocean-waves,
Served the paths of the irruptions of the Goths—  
 served the pastoral tribes and nomads,
Served the incalculably distant Kelt—served the  
 hardy pirates of the Baltic,
Served before any of those, the venerable and harm- 
 less men of Ethiopia,
Served the making of helms for the galleys of  
 pleasure, and the making of those for war,
Served all great works on land, and all great works  
 on the sea,
For the mediæval ages, and before the mediæval  
Served not the living only, then as now, but served  
 the dead.
17I see the European headsman, He stands masked, clothed in red, with huge legs,  
 and strong naked arms,
And leans on a ponderous axe.
  [ begin page 136 ]ppp.01500.144.jpg 18Whom have you slaughtered lately, European heads- 
Whose is that blood upon you, so wet and sticky?
19I see the clear sunsets of the martyrs, I see from the scaffolds the descending ghosts, Ghosts of dead lords, uncrowned ladies, impeached  
 ministers, rejected kings,
Rivals, traitors, poisoners, disgraced chieftains, and  
 the rest.
20I see those who in any land have died for the good  
The seed is spare, nevertheless the crop shall never  
 run out,
(Mind you, O foreign kings, O priests, the crop shall  
 never run out.)
21I see the blood washed entirely away from the axe, Both blade and helve are clean, They spirt no more the blood of European nobles—  
 they clasp no more the necks of queens.
22I see the headsman withdraw and become useless, I see the scaffold untrodden and mouldy—I see no  
 longer any axe upon it,
I see the mighty and friendly emblem of the power of  
 my own race, the newest largest race.
23America! I do not vaunt my love for you, I have what I have. 24The axe leaps! The solid forest gives fluid utterances,   [ begin page 137 ]ppp.01500.145.jpg They tumble forth, they rise and form, Hut, tent, landing, survey, Flail, plough, pick, crowbar, spade, Shingle, rail, prop, wainscot, jamb, lath, panel, gable, Citadel, ceiling, saloon, academy, organ, exhibition-  
 house, library,
Cornice, trellis, pilaster, balcony, window, shutter,  
 turret, porch,
Hoe, rake, pitch-fork, pencil, wagon, staff, saw, jack- 
 plane, mallet, wedge, rounce,
Chair, tub, hoop, table, wicket, vane, sash, floor, Work-box, chest, stringed instrument, boat, frame,  
 and what not,
Capitols of States, and capitol of the nation of States, Long stately rows in avenues, hospitals for orphans or  
 for the poor or sick,
Manhattan steamboats and clippers, taking the meas- 
 ure of all seas.
25The shapes arise! Shapes of the using of axes anyhow, and the users,  
 and all that neighbors them,
Cutters down of wood, and haulers of it to the Pe- 
 nobscot, or Kennebec,
Dwellers in cabins among the Californian mountains,  
 or by the little lakes, or on the Columbia,
Dwellers south on the banks of the Gila or Rio  
 Grande—friendly gatherings, the characters and  
Dwellers up north in Minnesota and by the Yellow- 
 stone river—dwellers on coasts and off coasts,
Seal-fishers, whalers, arctic seamen breaking passages  
 through the ice.
12*   [ begin page 138 ]ppp.01500.146.jpg 26The shapes arise! Shapes of factories, arsenals, foundries, markets, Shapes of the two-threaded tracks of railroads, Shapes of the sleepers of bridges, vast frameworks,  
 girders, arches,
Shapes of the fleets of barges, tows, lake craft, river  
27The shapes arise! Ship-yards and dry-docks along the Eastern and  
 Western Seas, and in many a bay and by-place,
The live-oak kelsons, the pine planks, the spars, the  
 hackmatack-roots for knees,
The ships themselves on their ways, the tiers of  
 scaffolds, the workmen busy outside and inside,
The tools lying around, the great auger and little  
 auger, the adze, bolt, line, square, gouge, and  
28The shapes arise! The shape measured, sawed, jacked, joined, stained, The coffin-shape for the dead to lie within in his  
The shape got out in posts, in the bedstead posts, in  
 the posts of the bride's bed,
The shape of the little trough, the shape of the  
 rockers beneath, the shape of the babe's cradle,
The shape of the floor-planks, the floor-planks for  
 dancers' feet,
The shape of the planks of the family home, the  
 home of the friendly parents and children,
The shape of the roof of the home of the happy  
 young man and woman, the roof over the well-  
 married young man and woman,
  [ begin page 139 ]ppp.01500.147.jpg The roof over the supper joyously cooked by the  
 chaste wife, and joyously eaten by the chaste  
 husband, content after his day's work.
29The shapes arise! The shape of the prisoner's place in the court-room,  
 and of him or her seated in the place,
The shape of the pill-box, the disgraceful ointment-  
 box, the nauseous application, and him or her  
 applying it,
The shape of the liquor-bar leaned against by the  
 young rum-drinker and the old rum-drinker,
The shape of the shamed and angry stairs, trod by  
 sneaking footsteps,
The shape of the sly settee, and the adulterous  
 unwholesome couple,
The shape of the gambling-board with its devilish  
 winnings and losings,
The shape of the slats of the bed of a corrupted body,  
 the bed of the corruption of gluttony or alcoholic  
The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted and  
 sentenced murderer, the murderer with haggard  
 face and pinioned arms,
The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent and  
 white-lipped crowd, the sickening dangling of  
 the rope.
30The shapes arise! Shapes of doors giving so many exits and en- 
The door passing the dissevered friend, flushed, and  
 in haste,
  [ begin page 140 ]ppp.01500.148.jpg The door that admits good news and bad news, The door whence the son left home, confident and  
 puffed up,
The door he entered again from a long and scan- 
 dalous absence, diseased, broken down, without  
 innocence, without means.
31Their shapes arise, above all the rest—the shapes of  
 full-sized men,
Men taciturn yet loving, used to the open air, and the  
 manners of the open air,
Saying their ardor in native forms, saying the old  
Take what I have then, (saying fain,) take the pay  
 you approached for,
Take the white tears of my blood, if that is what you  
 are after.
32Her shape arises, She, less guarded than ever, yet more guarded than  
The gross and soiled she moves among do not make  
 her gross and soiled,
She knows the thoughts as she passes—nothing is  
 concealed from her,
She is none the less considerate or friendly therefore, She is the best-beloved—it is without exception—  
 she has no reason to fear, and she does not fear,
Oaths, quarrels, hiccupped songs, proposals, smutty  
 expressions, are idle to her as she passes,
She is silent—she is possessed of herself—they do  
 not offend her,
  [ begin page 141 ]ppp.01500.149.jpg She receives them as the laws of nature receive them  
 —she is strong,
She too is a law of nature—there is no law stronger  
 than she is.
33His shape arises, Arrogant, masculine, näive, rowdyish, Laugher, weeper, worker, idler, citizen, countryman, Saunterer of woods, stander upon hills, summer  
 swimmer in rivers or by the sea,
Of pure American breed, of reckless health, his body  
 perfect, free from taint from top to toe, free  
 forever from headache and dyspepsia, clean-  
Ample-limbed, a good feeder, weight a hundred and  
 eighty pounds, full-blooded, six feet high, forty  
 inches round the breast and back,
Countenance sun-burnt, bearded, calm, unrefined, Reminder of animals, meeter of savage and gentleman  
 on equal terms,
Attitudes lithe and erect, costume free, neck gray  
 and open, of slow movement on foot,
Passer of his right arm round the shoulders of his  
 friends, companion of the street,
Persuader always of people to give him their sweetest  
 touches, and never their meanest,
A Manhattanese bred, fond of Brooklyn, fond of  
 Broadway, fond of the life of the wharves and  
 the great ferries,
Enterer everywhere, welcomed everywhere, easily  
 understood after all,
Never offering others, always offering himself, corrob- 
 orating his phrenology,
  [ begin page 142 ]ppp.01500.150.jpg Voluptuous, inhabitive, combative, conscientious,  
 alimentive, intuitive, of copious friendship,  
 sublimity, firmness, self-esteem, comparison,  
 individuality, form, locality, eventuality,
Avowing by life, manners, works, to contribute illus- 
 trations of results of The States,
Teacher of the unquenchable creed, namely, egotism, Inviter of others continually henceforth to try their  
 strength against his.
34The main shapes arise! Shapes of Democracy, final—result of centuries, Shapes of those that do not joke with life, but are  
 in earnest with life,
Shapes, ever projecting other shapes, Shapes of a hundred Free States, begetting another  
 hundred north and south,
Shapes of turbulent manly cities, Shapes of an untamed breed of young men, and  
 natural persons,
Shapes of the women fit for These States, Shapes of the composition of all the varieties of the  
Shapes of the friends and home-givers of the whole  
Shapes bracing the whole earth, and braced with the  
 whole earth.
  [ begin page 143 ]ppp.01500.151.jpg



1COME closer to me, Push closer, my lovers, and take the best I possess, Yield closer and closer, and give me the best you possess. 2This is unfinished business with me—How is it with  
I was chilled with the cold types, cylinder, wet paper  
 between us.
3Male and Female! I pass so poorly with paper and types, I must pass  
 with the contact of bodies and souls.
4American masses! I do not thank you for liking me as I am, and liking  
 the touch of me—I know that it is good for you  
 to do so.
5Workmen and Workwomen! Were all educations, practical and ornamental, well  
 displayed out of me, what would it amount to?
Were I as the head teacher, charitable proprietor,  
 wise statesman, what would it amount to?
  [ begin page 144 ]ppp.01500.152.jpg Were I to you as the boss employing and paying  
 you, would that satisfy you?
6The learned, virtuous, benevolent, and the usual  
A man like me, and never the usual terms.
7Neither a servant nor a master am I, I take no sooner a large price than a small price—  
 I will have my own, whoever enjoys me,
I will be even with you, and you shall be even  
 with me.
8If you stand at work in a shop, I stand as nigh as  
 the nighest in the same shop,
If you bestow gifts on your brother or dearest friend,  
 I demand as good as your brother or dearest  
If your lover, husband, wife, is welcome by day or  
 night, I must be personally as welcome,
If you become degraded, criminal, ill, then I become  
 so for your sake,
If you remember your foolish and outlawed deeds, do  
 you think I cannot remember my own foolish  
 and outlawed deeds? plenty of them;
If you carouse at the table, I carouse at the opposite  
 side of the table,
If you meet some stranger in the streets, and love  
 him or her, do I not often meet strangers in the  
 street, and love them?
If you see a good deal remarkable in me, I see just  
 as much, perhaps more, in you.
  [ begin page 145 ]ppp.01500.153.jpg 9Why, what have you thought of yourself? Is it you then that thought yourself less? Is it you that thought the President greater than  
Or the rich better off than you? or the educated  
 wiser than you?
10Because you are greasy or pimpled, or that you was  
 once drunk, or a thief, or diseased, or rheumatic,  
 or a prostitute, or are so now, or from frivolity or  
 impotence, or that you are no scholar, and never  
 saw your name in print, do you give in that you  
 are any less immortal?
11Souls of men and women! it is not you I call unseen,  
 unheard, untouchable and untouching,
It is not you I go argue pro and con about, and to  
 settle whether you are alive or no,
I own publicly who you are, if nobody else owns—  
 I see and hear you, and what you give and take,
What is there you cannot give and take?
12I see not merely that you are polite or white-faced,  
 married, single, citizens of old States, citizens of  
 new States,
Eminent in some profession, a lady or gentleman in a  
 parlor, or dressed in the jail uniform, or pulpit  
Grown, half-grown, and babe, of this country and  
 every country, indoors and outdoors, one just as  
 much as the other, I see,
And all else is behind or through them.
13   [ begin page 146 ]ppp.01500.154.jpg 13The wife—and she is not one jot less than the  
The daughter—and she is just as good as the son, The mother—and she is every bit as much as the  
14Offspring of those not rich, boys apprenticed to  
Young fellows working on farms, and old fellows  
 working on farms,
The näive, the simple and hardy, he going to the  
 polls to vote, he who has a good time, and he  
 has who a bad time,
Mechanics, southerners, new arrivals, laborers, sailors,  
 man-o'wars-men, merchantmen, coasters,
All these I see—but nigher and farther the same I  
None shall escape me, and none shall wish to escape  
15I bring what you much need, yet always have, Not money, amours, dress, eating, but as good; I send no agent or medium, offer no representative  
 of value, but offer the value itself.
16There is something that comes home to one now and  
It is not what is printed, preached, discussed—it  
 eludes discussion and print,
It is not to be put in a book—it is not in this  
It is for you, whoever you are—it is no farther from  
 you than your hearing and sight are from you,
  [ begin page 147 ]ppp.01500.155.jpg It is hinted by nearest, commonest, readiest—it is  
 not them, though it is endlessly provoked by  
 them, (what is there ready and near you now?)
17You may read in many languages, yet read nothing  
 about it,
You may read the President's Message, and read  
 nothing about it there,
Nothing in the reports from the State department or  
 Treasury department, or in the daily papers or  
 the weekly papers,
Or in the census returns, assessors' returns, prices  
 current, or any accounts of stock.
18The sun and stars that float in the open air—the  
 apple-shaped earth, and we upon it—surely the  
 drift of them is something grand!
I do not know what it is, except that it is grand,  
 and that it is happiness,
And that the enclosing purport of us here is not a  
 speculation, or bon-mot, or reconnoissance,
And that it is not something which by luck may  
 turn out well for us, and without luck must be  
 a failure for us,
And not something which may yet be retracted in  
 a certain contingency.
19The light and shade, the curious sense of body  
 and identity, the greed that with perfect com- 
 plaisance devours all things, the endless pride  
 and out-stretching of man, unspeakable joys and  
The wonder every one sees in every one else he sees,  
 and the wonders that fill each minute of time for- 
 ever, and each acre of surface and space forever,
  [ begin page 148 ]ppp.01500.156.jpg Have you reckoned them for a trade, or farm-work?  
 or for the profits of a store? or to achieve your- 
 self a position? or to fill a gentleman's leisure,  
 or a lady's leisure?
20Have you reckoned the landscape took substance and  
 form that it might be painted in a picture?
Or men and women that they might be written of,  
 and songs sung?
Or the attraction of gravity, and the great laws and  
 harmonious combinations, and the fluids of the  
 air, as subjects for the savans?
Or the brown land and the blue sea for maps and  
Or the stars to be put in constellations and named  
 fancy names?
Or that the growth of seeds is for agricultural tables,  
 or agriculture itself?
21Old institutions—these arts, libraries, legends, col- 
 lections, and the practice handed along in manu- 
 factures—will we rate them so high?
Will we rate our cash and business high? I have  
 no objection,
I rate them high as the highest—then a child born  
 of a woman and man I rate beyond all rate.
22We thought our Union grand, and our Constitution  
I do not say they are not grand and good, for they  
I am this day just as much in love with them as  
  [ begin page 149 ]ppp.01500.157.jpg Then I am in love with you, and with all my fellows  
 upon the earth.
23We consider bibles and religions divine—I do not  
 say they are not divine,
I say they have all grown out of you, and may grow  
 out of you still,
It is not they who give the life—it is you who give  
 the life,
Leaves are not more shed from the trees, or trees  
 from the earth, than they are shed out of you.
24The sum of all known reverence I add up in you,  
 whoever you are,
The President is there in the White House for you—  
 it is not you who are here for him,
The Secretaries act in their bureaus for you—not  
 you here for them,
The Congress convenes every Twelfth Month for  
Laws, courts, the forming of States, the charters of  
 cities, the going and coming of commerce and  
 mails, are all for you.
25All doctrines, all politics and civilization, exurge from  
All sculpture and monuments, and anything inscribed  
 anywhere, are tallied in you,
The gist of histories and statistics as far back as the  
 records reach, is in you this hour, and myths  
 and tales the same,
If you were not breathing and walking here, where  
 would they all be?
13*   [ begin page 150 ]ppp.01500.158.jpg The most renowned poems would be ashes, orations  
 and plays would be vacuums.
26All architecture is what you do to it when you look  
 upon it,
Did you think it was in the white or gray stone?  
 or the lines of the arches and cornices?
27All music is what awakes from you, when you are  
 reminded by the instruments,
It is not the violins and the cornets—it is not the  
 oboe nor the beating drums, nor the score of the  
 baritone singer singing his sweet romanza—nor  
 that of the men's chorus, nor that of the women's  
It is nearer and farther than they.
28Will the whole come back then? Can each see signs of the best by a look in the  
 looking-glass? is there nothing greater or more?
Does all sit there with you, and here with me?
29The old, forever-new things—you foolish child! the  
 closest, simplest things, this moment with you,
Your person, and every particle that relates to your  
The pulses of your brain, waiting their chance and  
 encouragement at every deed or sight,
Anything you do in public by day, and anything  
 you do in secret between-days,
What is called right and what is called wrong—  
 what you behold or touch, or what causes your  
 anger or wonder,
  [ begin page 151 ]ppp.01500.159.jpg The ankle-chain of the slave, the bed of the bed-  
 house, the cards of the gambler, the plates of  
 the forger,
What is seen or learnt in the street, or intuitively  
What is learnt in the public school, spelling, reading,  
 writing, ciphering, the black-board, the teacher's  
The panes of the windows, all that appears through  
 them, the going forth in the morning, the aimless  
 spending of the day,
(What is it that you made money? What is it that you  
 got what you wanted?)
The usual routine, the work-shop, factory, yard, office,  
 store, desk,
The jaunt of hunting or fishing, and the life of hunt- 
 ing or fishing,
Pasture-life, foddering, milking, herding, and all the  
 personnel and usages,
The plum-orchard, apple-orchard, gardening, seed- 
 lings, cuttings, flowers, vines,
Grains, manures, marl, clay, loam, the subsoil  
 plough, the shovel, pick, rake, hoe, irrigation,  
The curry-comb, the horse-cloth, the halter, bridle,  
 bits, the very wisps of straw,
The barn and barn-yard, the bins, mangers, mows,  
Manufactures, commerce, engineering, the building of  
 cities, every trade carried on there, and the  
 implements of every trade,
The anvil, tongs, hammer, the axe and wedge, the  
 square, mitre, jointer, smoothing-plane,
  [ begin page 152 ]ppp.01500.160.jpg The plumbob, trowel, level, the wall-scaffold, the  
 work of walls and ceilings, or any mason-work,
The steam-engine, lever, crank, axle, piston, shaft,  
 air-pump, boiler, beam, pulley, hinge, flange,  
 band, bolt, throttle, governors, up and down  
The ship's compass, the sailor's tarpaulin, the stays  
 and lanyards, the ground tackle for anchoring or  
 mooring, the life-boat for wrecks,
The sloop's tiller, the pilot's wheel and bell, the yacht  
 or fish-smack—the great gay-pennanted three-  
 hundred-foot steamboat, under full headway, with  
 her proud fat breasts, and her delicate swift-  
 flashing paddles,
The trail, line, hooks, sinkers, and the seine, and  
 hauling the seine,
The arsenal, small-arms, rifles, gunpowder, shot, caps,  
 wadding, ordnance for war, and carriages;
Every-day objects, house-chairs, carpet, bed, coun- 
 terpane of the bed, him or her sleeping at night,  
 wind blowing, indefinite noises,
The snow-storm or rain-storm, the tow-trowsers, the  
 lodge-hut in the woods, the still-hunt,
City and country, fire-place, candle, gas-light, heater,  
The message of the Governor, Mayor, Chief of Police  
 —the dishes of breakfast, dinner, supper,
The bunk-room, the fire-engine, the string-team, the  
 car or truck behind,
The paper I write on or you write on, every word we  
 write, every cross and twirl of the pen, and the  
 curious way we write what we think, yet very  
  [ begin page 153 ]ppp.01500.161.jpg The directory, the detector, the ledger, the books in  
 ranks on the book-shelves, the clock attached to  
 the wall,
The ring on your finger, the lady's wristlet, the scent-  
 powder, the druggist's vials and jars, the draught  
 of lager-beer,
The etui of surgical instruments, the etui of oculist's  
 or aurist's instruments, or dentist's instruments,
The permutating lock that can be turned and locked  
 as many different ways as there are minutes in a  
Glass-blowing, nail-making, salt-making, tin-roofing,  
 shingle-dressing, candle-making, lock-making and  
Ship-carpentering, dock-building, fish-curing, ferrying,  
 stone-breaking, flagging of side-walks by flaggers,
The pump, the pile-driver, the great derrick, the coal-  
 kiln and brick-kiln,
Coal-mines, all that is down there, the lamps in the  
 darkness, echoes, songs, what meditations, what  
 vast native thoughts looking through smutch'd  
Iron-works, forge-fires in the mountains, or by river- 
 banks, men around feeling the melt with huge  
 crowbars—lumps of ore, the due combining of  
 ore, limestone, coal—the blast-furnace and the  
 puddling-furnace, the loup-lump at the bottom of  
 the melt at last—the rolling-mill, the stumpy  
 bars of pig-iron, the strong clean-shaped T rail  
 for railroads,
Oil-works, silk-works, white-lead-works, the sugar- 
 house, steam-saws, the great mills and factories,
Lead-mines, and all that is done in lead-mines, or  
 with the lead afterward,
  [ begin page 154 ]ppp.01500.162.jpg Copper-mines, the sheets of copper, and what is  
 formed out of the sheets, and all the work in  
 forming it,
Stone-cutting, shapely trimmings for façades, or win- 
 dow or door lintels—the mallet, the tooth-chisel,  
 the jib to protect the thumb,
Oakum, the oakum-chisel, the caulking-iron—the  
 kettle of boiling vault-cement, and the fire under  
 the kettle,
The cotton-bale, the stevedore's hook, the saw and  
 buck of the sawyer, the screen of the coal-  
 screener, the mould of the moulder, the work- 
 ing-knife of the butcher, the ice-saw, and all the  
 work with ice,
The four-double cylinder press, the hand-press, the  
 frisket and tympan, the compositor's stick and  
 rule, type-setting, making up the forms, all the  
 work of newspaper counters, folders, carriers,  
The implements for daguerreotyping—the tools of  
 the rigger, grappler, sail-maker, block-maker,
Goods of gutta-percha, papier-mache, colors, brushes,  
 brush-making, glazier's implements,
The veneer and glue-pot, the confectioner's orna- 
 ments, the decanter and glasses, the shears and  
The awl and knee-strap, the pint measure and quart  
 measure, the counter and stool, the writing-pen  
 of quill or metal—the making of all sorts of  
 edged tools,
The ladders and hanging-ropes of the gymnasium,  
 manly exercises, the game of base-ball, running,  
 leaping, pitching quoits,
  [ begin page 155 ]ppp.01500.163.jpg The designs for wall-papers, oil-cloths, carpets, the  
 fancies for goods for women, the book-binder's  
The brewery, brewing, the malt, the vats, every  
 thing that is done by brewers, also by wine- 
 makers, also vinegar-makers,
Leather-dressing, coach-making, boiler-making, rope-  
 twisting, distilling, sign-painting, lime-burning,  
 coopering, cotton-picking—electro-plating, elec- 
 trotyping, stereotyping,
Stave-machines, planing-machines, reaping-machines,  
 ploughing-machines, thrashing-machines, steam-  
The cart of the carman, the omnibus, the ponderous  
The wires of the electric telegraph stretched on land,  
 or laid at the bottom of the sea, and then the  
 message in an instant from a thousand miles off,
The snow-plough, and two engines pushing it—the  
 ride in the express-train of only one car, the  
 swift go through a howling storm—the locomo- 
 tive, and all that is done about a locomotive,
The bear-hunt or coon-hunt—the bonfire of shavings  
 in the open lot in the city, and the crowd of  
 children watching,
The blows of the fighting-man, the upper-cut, and  
Pyrotechny, letting off colored fire-works at night,  
 fancy figures and jets,
Shop-windows, coffins in the sexton's ware-room, fruit  
 on the fruit-stand—beef in the butcher's stall,  
 the slaughter-house of the butcher, the butcher  
 in his killing-clothes,
  [ begin page 156 ]ppp.01500.164.jpg The area of pens of live pork, the killing-hammer, the  
 hog-hook, the scalder's tub, gutting, the cutter's  
 cleaver, the packer's maul, and the plenteous  
 winter-work of pork-packing,
Flour-works, grinding of wheat, rye, maize, rice—  
 the barrels and the half and quarter barrels, the  
 loaded barges, the high piles on wharves and  
Bread and cakes in the bakery, the milliner's rib- 
 bons, the dress-maker's patterns, the tea-table,  
 the home-made sweetmeats;
Cheap literature, maps, charts, lithographs, daily and  
 weekly newspapers,
The column of wants in the one-cent paper, the news  
 by telegraph, amusements, operas, shows,
The business parts of a city, the trottoirs of a city  
 when thousands of well-dressed people walk up  
 and down,
The cotton, woollen, linen you wear, the money you  
 make and spend,
Your room and bed-room, your piano-forte, the stove  
 and cook-pans,
The house you live in, the rent, the other tenants, the  
 deposit in the savings-bank, the trade at the  
The pay on Seventh Day night, the going home, and  
 the purchases;
In them the heft of the heaviest—in them far more  
 than you estimated, and far less also,
In them realities for you and me—in them poems for  
 you and me,
In them, not yourself—you and your Soul enclose all  
 things, regardless of estimation,
  [ begin page 157 ]ppp.01500.165.jpg In them themes, hints, provokers—if not, the whole  
 earth has no themes, hints, provokers, and never  
30I do not affirm what you see beyond is futile—I do  
 not advise you to stop,
I do not say leadings you thought great are not great, But I say that none lead to greater, sadder, happier,  
 than those lead to.
31Will you seek afar off? You surely come back at last, In things best known to you, finding the best, or as  
 good as the best,
In folks nearest to you finding also the sweetest,  
 strongest, lovingest,
Happiness, knowledge, not in another place, but this  
 place—not for another hour, but this hour,
Man in the first you see or touch—always in your  
 friend, brother, nighest neighbor—Woman in  
 your mother, lover, wife,
The popular tastes and occupations taking precedence  
 in poems or any where,
You workwomen and workmen of These States having  
 your own divine and strong life,
Looking the President always sternly in the face,  
 unbending, nonchalant,
Understanding that he is to be kept by you to short  
 and sharp account of himself,
And all else thus far giving place to men and women  
 like you.
32O you robust, sacred! I cannot tell you how I love you; 14   [ begin page 158 ]ppp.01500.166.jpg All I love America for, is contained in men and  
 women like you.
33When the psalm sings instead of the singer, When the script preaches instead of the preacher, When the pulpit descends and goes instead of the  
 carver that carved the supporting-desk,
When I can touch the body of books, by night or by  
 day, and when they touch my body back again,
When the holy vessels, or the bits of the eucharist,  
 or the lath and plast, procreate as effectually as  
 the young silver-smiths or bakers, or the masons  
 in their over-alls,
When a university course convinces like a slumbering  
 woman and child convince,
When the minted gold in the vault smiles like the  
 night-watchman's daughter,
When warrantee deeds loafe in chairs opposite, and  
 are my friendly companions,
I intend to reach them my hand, and make as much  
 of them as I do of men and women like you.
  [ begin page 159 ]ppp.01500.167.jpg



AMERICA always! Always me joined with you, whoever you are! Always our own feuillage! Always Florida's green peninsula! Always the price- 
 less delta of Louisiana! Always the cotton-fields  
 of Alabama and Texas!
Always California's golden hills and hollows—and  
 the silver mountains of New Mexico! Always  
 soft-breath'd Cuba!
Always the vast slope drained by the Southern Sea  
 —inseparable with the slopes drained by the  
 Eastern and Western Seas,
The area the Eighty-third year of These States—the  
 three and a half millions of square miles,
The eighteen thousand miles of sea-coast and bay- 
 coast on the main—the thirty thousand miles  
 of river navigation,
The seven millions of distinct families, and the same  
 number of dwellings—Always these and more, 
 branching forth into numberless branches;
Always the free range and diversity! Always the  
 continent of Democracy!
Always the prairies, pastures, forests, vast cities, 
 travellers, Kanada, the snows;
  [ begin page 160 ]ppp.01500.168.jpg Always these compact lands—lands tied at the hips  
 with the belt stringing the huge oval lakes;
Always the West, with strong native persons—the  
 increasing density there—the habitans, friendly, 
 threatening, ironical, scorning invaders;
All sights, South, North, East—all deeds, promis- 
 cuously done at all times,
All characters, movements, growths—a few noticed, 
 myriads unnoticed,
Through Mannahatta's streets I walking, these things  
On interior rivers, by night, in the glare of pine  
 knots, steamboats wooding up;
Sunlight by day on the valley of the Susquehanna, 
 and on the valleys of the Potomac and Rappa- 
 hannock, and the valleys of the Roanoke and  
In their northerly wilds beasts of prey haunting the  
 Adirondacks, the hills—or lapping the Saginaw  
 waters to drink;
In a lonesome inlet, a sheldrake, lost from the flock, 
 sitting on the water, rocking silently;
In farmers' barns, oxen in the stable, their harvest  
 labor done—they rest standing—they are too  
Afar on arctic ice, the she-walrus lying drowsily, 
 while her cubs play around;
The hawk sailing where men have not yet sailed— 
 the farthest polar sea, ripply, crystalline, open, 
 beyond the floes;
White drift spooning ahead, where the ship in the  
 tempest dashes;
On solid land, what is done in cities, as the bells all  
 strike midnight together;
  [ begin page 161 ]ppp.01500.169.jpg In primitive woods, the sounds there also sounding— 
 the howl of the wolf, the scream of the panther, 
 and the hoarse bellow of the elk;
In winter beneath the hard blue ice of Moosehead  
 Lake—in summer visible through the clear  
 waters, the great trout swimming;
In lower latitudes, in warmer air, in the Carolinas, 
 the large black buzzard floating slowly high  
 beyond the tree-tops,
Below, the red cedar, festooned with tylandria—the  
 pines and cypresses, growing out of the white  
 sand that spreads far and flat;
Rude boats descending the big Pedee—climbing  
 plants, parasites, with colored flowers and berries, 
 enveloping huge trees,
The waving drapery on the live oak, trailing long and  
 low, noiselessly waved by the wind;
The camp of Georgia wagoners, just after dark—the  
 supper-fires, and the cooking and eating by  
 whites and negroes,
Thirty or forty great wagons—the mules, cattle, 
 horses, feeding from troughs,
The shadows, gleams, up under the leaves of the old  
 sycamore-trees—the flames—also the black  
 smoke from the pitch-pine, curling and rising;
Southern fishermen fishing—the sounds and inlets  
 of North Carolina's coast—the shad-fishery  
 and the herring-fishery—the large sweep-seines  
 —the windlasses on shore worked by horses— 
 the clearing, curing, and packing houses;
Deep in the forest, in the piney woods, turpentine  
 and tar dropping from the incisions in the trees  
 —There is the turpentine distillery,
14*   [ begin page 162 ]ppp.01500.170.jpg There are the negroes at work, in good health—the  
 ground in all directions is covered with pine  
In Tennessee and Kentucky, slaves busy in the coal- 
 ings, at the forge, by the furnace-blaze, or at the  
In Virginia, the planter's son returning after a long  
 absence, joyfully welcomed and kissed by the  
 aged mulatto nurse;
On rivers, boatmen safely moored at night-fall, in their  
 boats, under the shelter of high banks,
Some of the younger men dance to the sound of the  
 banjo or fiddle—others sit on the gunwale, 
 smoking and talking;
Late in the afternoon, the mocking-bird, the American  
 mimic, singing in the Great Dismal Swamp— 
 there are the greenish waters, the resinous odor, 
 the plenteous moss, the cypress tree, and the  
 juniper tree;
Northward, young men of Mannahatta—the target  
 company from an excursion returning home at  
 evening—the musket-muzzles all bear bunches  
 of flowers presented by women;
Children at play—or on his father's lap a young boy  
 fallen asleep, (how his lips move! how he smiles  
 in his sleep!)
The scout riding on horseback over the plains west of  
 the Mississippi—he ascends a knoll and sweeps  
 his eye around;
California life—the miner, bearded, dressed in his  
 rude costume—the stanch California friendship  
 —the sweet air—the graves one, in passing, 
 meets, solitary, just aside the horse-path;
  [ begin page 163 ]ppp.01500.171.jpg Down in Texas, the cotton-field, the negro-cabins— 
 drivers driving mules or oxen before rude carts  
 —cotton-bales piled on banks and wharves;
Encircling all, vast-darting, up and wide, the Amer- 
 ican Soul, with equal hemispheres—one Love, 
 one Dilation or Pride;
In arriere, the peace-talk with the Iroquois, the  
 aborigines—the calumet, the pipe of good-will  
 arbitration, and indorsement,
The sachem blowing the smoke first toward the sun  
 and then toward the earth,
The drama of the scalp-dance enacted with painted  
 faces and guttural exclamations,
The setting out of the war-party—the long and  
 stealthy march,
The single file—the swinging hatchets—the surprise  
 and slaughter of enemies;
All the acts, scenes, ways, persons, attitudes of These  
 States—reminiscences, all institutions,
All These States, compact—Every square mile of  
 These States, without excepting a particle—you  
 also—me also,
Me pleased, rambling in lanes and country fields, 
 Paumanok's fields,
Me, observing the spiral flight of two little yellow  
 butterflies, shuffling between each other, ascend- 
 ing high in the air;
The darting swallow, the destroyer of insects—the  
 fall traveller southward, but returning northward  
 early in the spring;
The country boy at the close of the day, driving the  
 herd of cows, and shouting to them as they loiter  
 to browse by the road-side;
  [ begin page 164 ]ppp.01500.172.jpg The city wharf—Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, 
 Charleston, New Orleans, San Francisco,
The departing ships, when the sailors heave at the  
Evening—me in my room—the setting sun, The setting summer sun shining in my open window, 
 showing me flies, suspended, balancing in the  
 air in the centre of the room, darting athwart, 
 up and down, casting swift shadows in specks on  
 the opposite wall, where the shine is;
The athletic American matron speaking in public to  
 crowds of listeners;
Males, females, immigrants, combinations—the co- 
 piousness—the individuality and sovereignty  
 of The States, each for itself—the money- 
Factories, machinery, the mechanical forces—the  
 windlass, lever, pulley—All certainties,
The certainty of space, increase, freedom, futurity, In space, the sporades, the scattered islands, the stars  
 —on the firm earth, the lands, my lands,
O lands! all so dear to me—what you are, (what- 
 ever it is,) I become a part of that, whatever  
 it is,
Southward there, I screaming, with wings slow flap- 
 ping, with the myriads of gulls wintering along  
 the coasts of Florida—or in Louisiana, with  
 pelicans breeding,
Otherways, there, atwixt the banks of the Arkansaw, 
 the Rio Grande, the Nueces, the Brazos, the  
 Tombigbee, the Red River, the Saskatchawan, or  
 the Osage, I with the spring waters laughing and  
 skipping and running;
  [ begin page 165 ]ppp.01500.173.jpg Northward, on the sands, on some shallow bay of  
 Paumanok, I, with parties of snowy herons  
 wading in the wet to seek worms and aquatic  
Retreating, triumphantly twittering, the king-bird, 
 from piercing the crow with its bill, for amuse- 
 ment—And I triumphantly twittering;
The migrating flock of wild geese alighting in autumn  
 to refresh themselves—the body of the flock feed  
 —the sentinels outside move around with erect  
 heads watching, and are from time to time re- 
 lieved by other sentinels—And I feeding and  
 taking turns with the rest;
In Kanadian forests, the moose, large as an ox, cor- 
 nered by hunters, rising desperately on his hind- 
 feet, and plunging with his fore-feet, the hoofs  
 as sharp as knives—And I, plunging at the  
 hunters, cornered and desperate;
In the Mannahatta, streets, piers, shipping, store- 
 houses, and the countless workmen working in  
 the shops,
And I too of the Mannahatta, singing thereof—and  
 no less in myself than the whole of the Manna- 
 hatta in itself,
Singing the song of These, my ever united lands  
 —my body no more inevitably united, part to  
 part, and made one identity, any more than  
 my lands are inevitably united, and made ONE  
Nativities, climates, the grass of the great Pastoral  
Cities, labors, death, animals, products, good and evil  
 —these me,
  [ begin page 166 ]ppp.01500.174.jpg These affording, in all their particulars, endless  
 feuillage to me and to America, how can I do  
 less than pass the clew of the union of them, to  
 afford the like to you?
Whoever you are! how can I but offer you divine  
 leaves, that you also be eligible as I am?
How can I but, as here, chanting, invite you for  
 yourself to collect bouquets of the incomparable  
 feuillage of These States?


RESPONDEZ! Respondez! Let every one answer! Let those who sleep be  
 waked! Let none evade—not you, any more  
 than others!
(If it really be as is pretended, how much longer must  
 we go on with our affectations and sneaking?
Let me bring this to a close—I pronounce openly for  
 a new distribution of roles,)
Let that which stood in front go behind! and let  
 that which was behind advance to the front and  
Let murderers, thieves, bigots, fools, unclean persons, 
 offer new propositions!
Let the old propositions be postponed! Let faces and theories be turned inside out! Let  
 meanings be freely criminal, as well as results!
  [ begin page 167 ]ppp.01500.175.jpg Let there be no suggestion above the suggestion of  
Let none be pointed toward his destination! (Say! 
 do you know your destination?)
Let trillions of men and women be mocked with  
 bodies and mocked with Souls!
Let the love that waits in them, wait! Let it die, 
 or pass still-born to other spheres!
Let the sympathy that waits in every man, wait! 
 or let it also pass, a dwarf, to other spheres!
Let contradictions prevail! Let one thing contradict  
 another! and let one line of my poems contradict  
Let the people sprawl with yearning aimless hands! 
 Let their tongues be broken! Let their eyes be  
 discouraged! Let none descend into their hearts  
 with the fresh lusciousness of love!
Let the theory of America be management, caste, 
 comparison! (Say! what other theory would  
Let them that distrust birth and death lead the  
 rest! (Say! why shall they not lead you?)
Let the crust of hell be neared and trod on! Let the  
 days be darker than the nights! Let slumber  
 bring less slumber than waking-time brings!
Let the world never appear to him or her for whom  
 it was all made!
Let the heart of the young man exile itself from the  
 heart of the old man! and let the heart of the  
 old man be exiled from that of the young man!
Let the sun and moon go! Let scenery take the  
 applause of the audience! Let there be apathy  
 under the stars!
  [ begin page 168 ]ppp.01500.176.jpg Let freedom prove no man's inalienable right! Every  
 one who can tyrannize, let him tyrannize to his  
Let none but infidels be countenanced! Let the eminence of meanness, treachery, sarcasm, 
 hate, greed, indecency, impotence, lust, be taken  
 for granted above all! Let writers, judges, gov- 
 ernments, households, religions, philosophies, take  
 such for granted above all!
Let the worst men beget children out of the worst  
Let priests still play at immortality! Let Death be inaugurated! Let nothing remain upon the earth except the ashes of  
 teachers, artists, moralists, lawyers, and learned  
 and polite persons!
Let him who is without my poems be assassinated! Let the cow, the horse, the camel, the garden-bee— 
 Let the mud-fish, the lobster, the mussel, eel, the  
 sting-ray, and the grunting pig-fish—Let these, 
 and the like of these, be put on a perfect equality  
 with man and woman!
Let churches accommodate serpents, vermin, and the  
 corpses of those who have died of the most filthy  
 of diseases!
Let marriage slip down among fools, and be for none  
 but fools!
Let men among themselves talk and think obscenely  
 of women! and let women among themselves  
 talk and think obscenely of men!
Let every man doubt every woman! and let every  
 woman trick every man!
  [ begin page 169 ]ppp.01500.177.jpg Let us all, without missing one, be exposed in public, 
 naked, monthly, at the peril of our lives! Let  
 our bodies be freely handled and examined by  
 whoever chooses!
Let nothing but copies, pictures, statues, reminis- 
 cences, elegant works, be permitted to exist  
 upon the earth!
Let the earth desert God, nor let there ever hence- 
 forth be mentioned the name of God!
Let there be no God! Let there be money, business, imports, exports, cus- 
 tom, authority, precedents, pallor, dyspepsia, 
 smut, ignorance, unbelief!
Let judges and criminals be transposed! Let the  
 prison-keepers be put in prison! Let those that  
 were prisoners take the keys! (Say! why might  
 they not just as well be transposed?)
Let the slaves be masters! Let the masters become  
Let the reformers descend from the stands where  
 they are forever bawling! Let an idiot or insane  
 person appear on each of the stands!
Let the Asiatic, the African, the European, the  
 American and the Australian, go armed against  
 the murderous stealthiness of each other! Let  
 them sleep armed! Let none believe in good-will!
Let there be no unfashionable wisdom! Let such be  
 scorned and derided off from the earth!
Let a floating cloud in the sky—Let a wave of the  
 sea—Let one glimpse of your eye-sight upon the  
 landscape or grass—Let growing mint, spinach, 
 onions, tomatoes—Let these be exhibited as  
 shows at a great price for admission!
15   [ begin page 170 ]ppp.01500.178.jpg Let all the men of These States stand aside for a  
 few smouchers! Let the few seize on what they  
 choose! Let the rest gawk, giggle, starve, obey!
Let shadows be furnished with genitals! Let sub- 
 stances be deprived of their genitals!
Let there be wealthy and immense cities—but  
 through any of them, not a single poet, saviour, 
 knower, lover!
Let the infidels of These States laugh all faith away! 
 If one man be found who has faith, let the rest  
 set upon him! Let them affright faith! Let  
 them destroy the power of breeding faith!
Let the she-harlots and the he-harlots be prudent! 
 Let them dance on, while seeming lasts! (O  
 seeming! seeming! seeming!)
Let the preachers recite creeds! Let them teach only  
 what they have been taught!
Let the preachers of creeds never dare to go meditate  
 candidly upon the hills, alone, by day or by  
 night! (If one ever once dare, he is lost!)
Let insanity have charge of sanity! Let books take the place of trees, animals, rivers, 
Let the daubed portraits of heroes supersede heroes! Let the manhood of man never take steps after itself! 
 Let it take steps after eunuchs, and after con- 
 sumptive and genteel persons!
Let the white person tread the black person under his  
 heel! (Say! which is trodden under heel, after  
 all ?)
Let the reflections of the things of the world be studied  
 in mirrors! Let the things themselves continue  
  [ begin page 171 ]ppp.01500.179.jpg Let a man seek pleasure everywhere except in him- 
 self! Let a woman seek happiness everywhere  
 except in herself! (Say! what real happiness  
 have you had one single time through your whole  
 life ?)
Let the limited years of life do nothing for the limit- 
 less years of death! (Say! what do you suppose  
 death will do, then ?)


1YOU just maturing youth! You male or female! Remember the organic compact of These States, Remember the pledge of the Old Thirteen thence- 
 forward to the rights, life, liberty, equality of  
Remember what was promulged by the founders, rat- 
 ified by The States, signed in black and white by  
 the Commissioners, and read by Washington at  
 the head of the army,
Remember the purpose of the founders,—Remember  
Remember the copious humanity streaming from every  
 direction toward America;
Remember the hospitality that belongs to nations and  
 men; (Cursed be nation, woman, man, without  
Remember, government is to subserve individuals,   [ begin page 172 ]ppp.01500.180.jpg Not any, not the President, is to have one jot more  
 than you or me,
Not any habitan of America is to have one jot less  
 than you or me.
2Anticipate when the thirty or fifty millions, are to be- 
 come the hundred, or two hundred millions, of  
 equal freemen and freewomen, amicably joined.
3Recall ages—One age is but a part—ages are but a  
Recall the angers, bickerings, delusions, superstitions,  
 of the idea of caste,
Recall the bloody cruelties and crimes.
4Anticipate the best women; I say an unnumbered new race of hardy and well- 
 defined women are to spread through all These  
I say a girl fit for These States must be free, capable,  
 dauntless, just the same as a boy.
5Anticipate your own life—retract with merciless  
Shirk nothing—retract in time—Do you see those  
 errors, diseases, weaknesses, lies, thefts?
Do you see that lost character?—Do you see de- 
 cay, consumption, rum-drinking, dropsy, fever,  
 mortal cancer or inflammation?
Do you see death, and the approach of death?
6Think of the Soul; I swear to you that body of yours gives proportions to  
 your Soul somehow to live in other spheres,
I do not know how, but I know it is so.
  [ begin page 173 ]ppp.01500.181.jpg 7Think of loving and being loved; I swear to you, whoever you are, you can interfuse  
 yourself with such things that everybody that sees  
 you shall look longingly upon you.
8Think of the past; I warn you that in a little while, others will find their  
 past in you and your times.
9The race is never separated—nor man nor woman  
All is inextricable—things, spirits, nature, nations,  
 you too—from precedents you come.
10Recall the ever-welcome defiers, (The mothers precede  
Recall the sages, poets, saviours, inventors, lawgivers,  
 of the earth,
Recall Christ, brother of rejected persons—brother  
 of slaves, felons, idiots, and of insane and diseased  
11Think of the time when you was not yet born, Think of times you stood at the side of the dying, Think of the time when your own body will be dying. 12Think of spiritual results, Sure as the earth swims through the heavens, does  
 every one of its objects pass into spiritual results.
13Think of manhood, and you to be a man; Do you count manhood, and the sweet of manhood,  
15*   [ begin page 174 ]ppp.01500.182.jpg 14Think of womanhood, and you to be a woman; The creation is womanhood, Have I not said that womanhood involves all? Have I not told how the universe has nothing better  
 than the best womanhood?


1WITH antecedents, With my fathers and mothers, and the accumulations  
 of past ages,
With all which, had it not been, I would not now be  
 here, as I am,
With Egypt, India, Phenicia, Greece, and Rome, With the Celt, the Scandinavian, the Alb, and the  
With antique maritime ventures—with laws, arti- 
 sanship, wars, and journeys,
With the poet, the skald, the saga, the myth, and the  
With the sale of slaves—with enthusiasts—with  
 the troubadour, the crusader, and the monk,
With those old continents whence we have come to this  
 new continent,
With the fading kingdoms and kings over there, With the fading religions and priests, With the small shores we look back to, from our own  
 large and present shores,
  [ begin page 175 ]ppp.01500.183.jpg With countless years drawing themselves onward, and  
 arrived at these years,
You and Me arrived—America arrived, and making  
 this year,
This year! sending itself ahead countless years to  
2O but it is not the years—it is I—it is You, We touch all laws, and tally all antecedents, We are the skald, the oracle, the monk, and the  
 knight—we easily include them, and more,
We stand amid time, beginningless and endless—we  
 stand amid evil and good,
All swings around us—there is as much darkness as  
The very sun swings itself and its system of planets  
 around us,
Its sun, and its again, all swing around us.
3As for me, I have the idea of all, and an all, and believe in all; I believe materialism is true, and spiritualism is true—  
 I reject no part.
4Have I forgotten any part? Come to me, whoever and whatever, till I give you  
5I respect Assyria, China, Teutonia, and the Hebrews, I adopt each theory, myth, god, and demi-god, I see that the old accounts, bibles, genealogies, are  
 true, without exception,
I assert that all past days were what they should have  
  [ begin page 176 ]ppp.01500.184.jpg And that they could no-how have been better than  
 they were,
And that to-day is what it should be—and that  
 America is,
And that to-day and America could no-how be better  
 than they are.
6In the name of These States, and in your and my  
 name, the Past,
And in the name of These States, and in your and my  
 name, the Present time.
7I know that the past was great, and the future will  
 be great,
And I know that both curiously conjoint in the pres- 
 ent time,
(For the sake of him I typify—for the common  
 average man's sake—your sake, if you are he;)
And that where I am, or you are, this present day,  
 there is the centre of all days, all races,
And there is the meaning, to us, of all that has ever  
 come of races and days, or ever will come.


1SPLENDOR of falling day, floating and filling me, Hour prophetic—hour resuming the past, Inflating my throat—you, divine average! You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.   [ begin page 177 ]ppp.01500.185.jpg 2Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness, Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection, Natural life of me, faithfully praising things, Corroborating forever the triumph of things. 3Illustrious every one! Illustrious what we name space—sphere of unnum- 
 bered spirits,
Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all beings, even  
 the tiniest insect,
Illustrious the attribute of speech—the senses—the  
Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale  
 reflection on the moon in the western sky!
Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch, to the  
4Good in all, In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals, In the annual return of the seasons, In the hilarity of youth, In the strength and flush of manhood, In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age, In the superb vistas of Death. 5Wonderful to depart! Wonderful to be here! The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood, To breathe the air, how delicious! To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand! To prepare for sleep, for bed—to look on my rose-  
 colored flesh,
To be conscious of my body, so amorous, so large,   [ begin page 178 ]ppp.01500.186.jpg To be this incredible God I am, To have gone forth among other Gods—those men  
 and women I love.
6Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself! How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles  
How the clouds pass silently overhead! How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun,  
 moon, stars, dart on and on!
How the water sports and sings! (Surely it is  
How the trees rise and stand up—with strong trunks  
 —with branches and leaves!
(Surely there is something more in each of the trees—  
 some living Soul.)
7O amazement of things! even the least particle! O spirituality of things! O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents  
 —now reaching me and America!
I take your strong chords—I intersperse them, and  
 cheerfully pass them forward.
8I too carol the sun, ushered, or at noon, or setting, I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth, and  
 of all the growths of the earth,
I too have felt the resistless call of myself.
9As I sailed down the Mississippi, As I wandered over the prairies, As I have lived—As I have looked through my  
 windows, my eyes,
  [ begin page 179 ]ppp.01500.187.jpg As I went forth in the morning—As I beheld the  
 light breaking in the east,
As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and  
 again on the beach on the Western Sea,
As I roamed the streets of inland Chicago—whatever  
 streets I have roamed,
Wherever I have been, I have charged myself with  
 contentment and triumph.
10I sing the Equalities, I sing the endless finales of things, I say Nature continues—Glory continues, I praise with electric voice, For I do not see one imperfection in the universe, And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at  
 last in the universe.
11O setting sun! O when the time comes, I still warble under you, if none else does, unmiti- 
 gated adoration!


A THOUGHT of what I am here for, Of these years I sing—how they pass through con- 
 vulsed pains, as through parturitions;
How America illustrates birth, gigantic youth, the  
 promise, the sure fulfilment, despite of people  
 —Illustrates evil as well as good;
  [ begin page 180 ]ppp.01500.188.jpg Of how many hold despairingly yet to the models  
 departed, caste, myths, obedience, compulsion, 
 and to infidelity;
How few see the arrived models, the Athletes, The  
 States—or see freedom or spirituality—or hold  
 any faith in results,
(But I see the Athletes—and I see the results  
 glorious and inevitable—and they again leading  
 to other results;)
How the great cities appear—How the Democratic  
 masses, turbulent, wilful, as I love them,
How the whirl, the contest, the wrestle of evil with  
 good, the sounding and resounding, keep on  
 and on;
How society waits unformed, and is between things  
 ended and things begun;
How America is the continent of glories, and of the  
 triumph of freedom, and of the Democracies, and  
 of the fruits of society, and of all that is begun;
And how The States are complete in themselves— 
 And how all triumphs and glories are complete  
 in themselves, to lead onward,
And how these of mine, and of The States, will in  
 their turn be convulsed, and serve other par- 
 turitions and transitions,
And how all people, sights, combinations, the Demo- 
 cratic masses too, serve—and how every fact  
And how now, or at any time, each serves the  
 exquisite transition of Death.
  [ begin page 181 ]ppp.01500.189.jpg


HISTORIAN! you who celebrate bygones! You have explored the outward, the surface of the  
 races—the life that has exhibited itself,
You have treated man as the creature of politics, 
 aggregates, rulers, and priests;
But now I also, arriving, contribute something: I, an habitué of the Alleghanies, treat man as he is in  
 the influences of Nature, in himself, in his own  
 inalienable rights,
Advancing, to give the spirit and the traits of new  
 Democratic ages, myself, personally,
(Let the future behold them all in me—Me, so  
 puzzling and contradictory—Me, a Manhattan- 
 ese, the most loving and arrogant of men;)
I do not tell the usual facts, proved by records and  
What I tell, (talking to every born American,) 
 requires no further proof than he or she who  
 will hear me, will furnish, by silently meditating  
I press the pulse of the life that has hitherto seldom  
 exhibited itself, but has generally sought con- 
 cealment, (the great pride of man, in himself,)
I illuminate feelings, faults, yearnings, hopes—I  
 have come at last, no more ashamed nor afraid;
Chanter of Personality, outlining a history yet to be, I project the ideal man, the American of the future.
16   [ begin page 182 ]ppp.01500.190.jpg


THE thought of fruitage, Of Death, (the life greater)—of seeds dropping into  
 the ground—of birth,
Of the steady concentration of America, inland, 
 upward, to impregnable and swarming places,
Of what Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and the rest, are  
 to be,
Of what a few years will show there in Missouri, 
 Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the  
Of what the feuillage of America is the preparation  
 for—and of what all the sights, North, South, 
 East and West, are;
Of the temporary use of materials for identity's  
Of departing—of the growth of a mightier race  
 than any yet,
Of myself, soon, perhaps, closing up my songs by  
 these shores,
Of California—of Oregon—and of me journeying  
 hence to live and sing there;
Of the Western Sea—of the spread inland between  
 it and the spinal river,
Of the great pastoral area, athletic and feminine, Of all sloping down there where the fresh free- 
 giver, the mother, the Mississippi flows—and  
 Westward still;
  [ begin page 183 ]ppp.01500.191.jpg Of future men and women there—of happiness in  
 those high plateaus, ranging three thousand  
 miles, warm and cold,
Of cities yet unsurveyed and unsuspected, (as I am  
 also, and as it must be,)
Of the new and good names—of the strong develop- 
 ments—of the inalienable homesteads,
Of a free original life there—of simple diet, and  
 clean and sweet blood,
Of litheness, majestic faces, clear eyes, and perfect  
 physique there,
Of immense spiritual results, future years, inland, 
 spread there each side of the Anahuacs,
Of these Leaves well-understood there, (being made  
 for that area,)
Of the native scorn of grossness and gain there, (O it lurks in me night and day—What is gain, 
 after all, to savageness and freedom?)


1TO oratists—to male or female, Vocalism, breath, measure, concentration, determina- 
 tion, and the divine power to use words.
2Are you eligible? Are you full-lung'd and limber-lipp'd from long trial?  
 from vigorous practice? from physique?
  [ begin page 184 ]ppp.01500.192.jpg Do you move in these broad lands as broad as they? Remembering inland America, the high plateaus,  
 stretching long?
Remembering Kanada—Remembering what edges  
 the vast round edge of the Mexican Sea?
Come duly to the divine power to use words?
3For only at last, after many years—after chastity,  
 friendship, procreation, prudence, and nakedness,
After treading ground and breasting river and lake, After a loosened throat—after absorbing eras, tem- 
 peraments, 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, paint- 
 ings, 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 now I see arise orators fit for inland America, And I see it is as slow to become an orator as to  
 become a man,
And I see that power is folded in a great vocalism.
6Of a great vocalism, when you hear it, the merciless  
 light shall pour, and the storm rage around,
  [ begin page 185 ]ppp.01500.193.jpg Every flash shall be a revelation, an insult, The glaring flame turned on depths, on heights, on  
 suns, on stars,
On the interior and exterior of man or woman, On the laws of Nature—on passive materials, On what you called death—and what to you there- 
 fore was death,
As far as there can be death.


1LAWS for Creations, For strong artists and leaders—for fresh broods of  
 teachers, and perfect literats for America,
For diverse savans, and coming musicians.
2There shall be no subject but it shall be treated with  
 reference to the ensemble of the world, and the  
 compact truth of the world—And no coward or  
 copyist shall be allowed;
There shall be no subject too pronounced—All works  
 shall illustrate the divine law of indirections;
There they stand—I see them already, each poised  
 and in its place,
Statements, models, censuses, poems, dictionaries,  
 biographies, essays, theories—How complete!  
 How relative and interfused! No one super- 
 sedes another;
They do not seem to me like the old specimens, 16*   [ begin page 186 ]ppp.01500.194.jpg They seem to me like Nature at last, (America has  
 given birth to them, and I have also;)
They seem to me at last as perfect as the animals,  
 and as the rocks and weeds—fitted to them,
Fitted to the sky, to float with floating clouds—to  
 rustle among the trees with rustling leaves,
To stretch with stretched and level waters, where  
 ships silently sail in the distance.
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  
And that that is what the oldest and newest myths  
 finally mean?
And that you or any one must approach Creations  
 through such laws?


1POETS to come! Not to-day is to justify me, and Democracy, and  
 what we are for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental,  
 greater than before known,
You must justify me.
  [ begin page 187 ]ppp.01500.195.jpg 2Indeed, if it were not for you, what would I be? What is the little I have done, except to arouse you? 3I depend on being realized, long hence, where the  
 broad fat prairies spread, and thence to Oregon  
 and California inclusive,
I expect that the Texan and the Arizonian, ages  
 hence, will understand me,
I expect that the future Carolinian and Georgian will  
 understand me and love me,
I expect that Kanadians, a hundred, and perhaps  
 many hundred years from now, in winter, in the  
 splendor of the snow and woods, or on the icy  
 lakes, will take me with them, and permanently  
 enjoy themselves with me.
4Of to-day I know I am momentary, untouched—I  
 am the bard of the future,
I but write one or two indicative words for the future, I but advance a moment, only to wheel and hurry  
 back in the darkness.
5I 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.
  [ begin page 188 ]ppp.01500.196.jpg


WHO has gone farthest? For I swear I will go  
And who has been just? For I would be the most  
 just person of the earth;
And who most cautious? For I would be more  
And who has been happiest? O I think it is I! I  
 think no one was ever happier than I;
And who has lavished all? For I lavish constantly  
 the best I have;
And who has been firmest? For I would be firmer; And who proudest? For I think I have reason to be  
 the proudest son alive—for I am the son of the  
 brawny and tall-topt city;
And who has been bold and true? For I would be  
 the boldest and truest being of the universe;
And who benevolent? For I would show more be- 
 nevolence than all the rest;
And who has projected beautiful words through the  
 longest time? By God! I will outvie him! I  
 will say such words, they shall stretch through  
 longer time!
And who has received the love of the most friends? 
 For I know what it is to receive the passionate  
 love of many friends;
And to whom has been given the sweetest from  
 women, and paid them in kind? For I will  
 take the like sweets and pay them in kind;
  [ begin page 189 ]ppp.01500.197.jpg And who possesses a perfect and enamoured body? 
 For I do not believe any one possesses a more  
 perfect or enamoured body than mine;
And who thinks the amplest thoughts? For I will  
 surround those thoughts;
And who has made hymns fit for the earth? For I  
 am mad with devouring extacy to make joyous  
 hymns for the whole earth!


THEY shall arise in the States—mediums shall, They shall report Nature, laws, physiology, and  
They shall illustrate Democracy and the kosmos, They shall be alimentive, amative, perceptive, They shall be complete women and men—their pose  
 brawny and supple, their drink water, their blood  
 clean and clear,
They shall enjoy materialism and the sight of prod- 
 ucts—they shall enjoy the sight of the beef, 
 lumber, bread-stuffs, of Chicago, the great city,
They shall train themselves to go in public to become  
 oratists, (orators and oratresses,)
Strong and sweet shall their tongues be—poems and  
 materials of poems shall come from their lives— 
 they shall be makers and finders,
Of them, and of their works, shall emerge divine  
 conveyers, to convey gospels,
  [ begin page 190 ]ppp.01500.198.jpg Characters, events, retrospections, shall be conveyed  
 in gospels—Trees, animals, waters, shall be  
Death, the future, the invisible faith, shall all be  


1NOW we start hence, I with the rest, on our jour- 
 neys through The States,
We willing learners of all, teachers of all, and lovers  
 of all.
2I have watched the seasons dispensing themselves,  
 and passing on,
And I have said, Why should not a man or woman  
 do as much as the seasons, and effuse as much?
3We dwell a while in every city and town, We pass through Kanada, the north-east, the vast  
 valley of the Mississippi, and the Southern  
We confer on equal terms with each of The States, We make trial of ourselves, and invite men and  
 women to hear,
We say to ourselves, Remember, fear not, be candid,  
 promulge the body and the Soul,
Promulge real things—Never forget the equality of  
 humankind, and never forget immortality;
  [ begin page 191 ]ppp.01500.199.jpg Dwell a while, and pass on—Be copious, temperate,  
 chaste, magnetic,
And what you effuse may then return as the seasons  
And may be just as much as the seasons.


ME imperturbe, Me standing at ease in Nature, Master of all, or mistress of all—aplomb in the  
 midst of irrational things,
Imbued as they—passive, receptive, silent as they, Finding my occupation, poverty, notoriety, foibles, 
 crimes, less important than I thought;
Me private, or public, or menial, or solitary—all  
 these subordinate, (I am eternally equal with  
 the best—I am not subordinate;)
Me toward the Mexican Sea, or in the Mannahatta, 
 or the Tennessee, or far north, or inland,
A river-man, or a man of the woods, or of any farm- 
 life of These States, or of the coast, or the lakes, 
 or Kanada,
Me, wherever my life is to be lived, O to be self-bal- 
 anced for contingencies!
O to confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, acci- 
 dents, rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.
  [ begin page 192 ]ppp.01500.200.jpg


I WAS looking a long while for the history of the  
 past for myself, and for these Chants—and now  
 I have found it,
It is not in those paged fables in the libraries, (them  
 I neither accept nor reject,)
It is no more in the legends than in all else, It is in the present—it is this earth to-day, It is in Democracy—in this America—the old world  
It is the life of one man or one woman to-day, the  
 average man of to-day;
It is languages, social customs, literatures, arts, It is the broad show of artificial things, ships, ma- 
 chinery, politics, creeds, modern improvements, 
 and the interchanges of nations,
All for the average man of to-day.


1AMERICAN mouth-songs! Those of mechanics—each one singing, his, as it  
 should be, blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank  
 or beam,
  [ begin page 193 ]ppp.01500.201.jpg The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work,  
 or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat  
 —the deck-hand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the  
 hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song—the ploughboy's, on his way  
 in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at  
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the  
 young wife at work—or of the girl sewing or  
 washing—Each singing what belongs to her,  
 and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—At night, the  
 party, of young fellows, robust, friendly, clean-  
 blooded, singing with melodious voices, melo- 
 dious thoughts.
2Come! some of you! still be flooding The States  
 with hundreds and thousands of mouth-songs,  
 fit for The States only.


1As I walk, solitary, unattended, Around me I hear that eclat of the world—politics,  
The announcements of recognized things—science, The approved growth of cities, and the spread of  
17   [ begin page 194 ]ppp.01500.202.jpg 2I see the ships, (they will last a few years,) The vast factories with their foremen and workmen, And hear the indorsement of all, and do not object  
 to it.
3But we too announce solid things, Science, ships, politics, cities, factories, are not noth- 
 ing—they serve,
They stand for realities—all is as it should be.
4Then my realities, What else is so real as mine? Libertad, and the divine average—Freedom to every  
 slave on the face of the earth,
The rapt promises and lumine of seers—the spir- 
 itual world—these centuries-lasting songs,
And our visions, the visions of poets, the most solid  
 announcements of any.
5For we support all, After the rest is done and gone, we remain, There is no final reliance but upon us, Democracy rests finally upon us, (I, my brethren,  
 begin it,)
And our visions sweep through eternity.

Table of Contents (1860–1861)

Poems in this cluster

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