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Chants Democratic



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.
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