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Chants Democratic



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.
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