Skip to main content

Leaves of Grass 2

Part of the cluster LEAVES OF GRASS.


1GREAT are the myths—I too delight in them, Great are Adam and Eve—I too look back and  
 accept them,
Great the risen and fallen nations, and their poets,  
 women, sages, inventors, rulers, warriors, and  
  [ begin page 200 ]ppp.01500.208.jpg 2Great is Liberty! great is Equality! I am their fol- 
Helmsmen of nations, choose your craft! where you  
 sail, I sail,
Yours is the muscle of life or death—yours is the  
 perfect science—in you I have absolute faith.
3Great is To-day, and beautiful, It is good to live in this age—there never was any  
4Great are the plunges, throes, triumphs, downfalls of  
Great the reformers, with their lapses and screams, Great the daring and venture of sailors, on new ex- 
5Great are Yourself and Myself, We are just as good and bad as the oldest and young- 
 est or any,
What the best and worst did, we could do, What they felt, do not we feel it in ourselves? What they wished, do we not wish the same?
6Great is Youth—equally great is Old Age—great  
 are the Day and Night,
Great is Wealth—great is Poverty—great is Ex- 
 pression—great is Silence.
7Youth, large, lusty, loving—Youth, full of grace,  
 force, fascination,
Do you know that Old Age may come after you, with  
 equal grace, force, fascination?
  [ begin page 201 ]ppp.01500.209.jpg 8Day, full-blown and splendid—Day of the immense  
 sun, action, ambition, laughter,
The Night follows close, with millions of suns, and  
 sleep, and restoring darkness.
9Wealth with the flush hand, fine clothes, hospitality, But then the Soul's wealth, which is candor, knowl- 
 edge, pride, enfolding love;
(Who goes for men and women showing Poverty  
 richer than wealth?)
10Expression of speech! in what is written or said, for- 
 get not that Silence is also expressive,
That anguish as hot as the hottest, and contempt as  
 cold as the coldest, may be without words,
That the true adoration is likewise without words,  
 and without kneeling.
11Great is the greatest Nation—the nation of clusters  
 of equal nations.
12Great is the Earth, and the way it became what it is; Do you imagine it is stopped at this? the increase  
Understand then that it goes as far onward from  
 this, as this is from the times when it lay in  
 covering waters and gases, before man had ap- 
13Great is the quality of Truth in man, The quality of truth in man supports itself through  
 all changes,
  [ begin page 202 ]ppp.01500.210.jpg It is inevitably in the man—he and it are in love,  
 and never leave each other.
14The truth in man is no dictum, it is vital as eye- 
If there be any Soul, there is truth—if there be man  
 or woman, there is truth—if there be physical  
 or moral, there is truth,
If there be equilibrium or volition, there is truth—  
 if there be things at all upon the earth, there  
 is truth.
15O truth of the earth! O truth of things! I am de- 
 termined to press my way toward you,
Sound your voice! I scale mountains, or dive in the  
 sea after you.
16Great is Language—it is the mightiest of the sci- 
It is the fulness, color, form, diversity of the earth,  
 and of men and women, and of all qualities  
 and processes,
It is greater than wealth—it is greater than build- 
 ings, ships, religions, paintings, music.
17Great is the English speech—what speech is so  
 great as the English?
Great is the English brood—what brood has so vast  
 a destiny as the English?
It is the mother of the brood that must rule the earth  
 with the new rule,
The new rule shall rule as the Soul rules, and as the  
 love, justice, equality in the Soul, rule.
  [ begin page 203 ]ppp.01500.211.jpg 18Great is Law—great are the old few landmarks of  
 the law,
They are the same in all times, and shall not be  
19Great are commerce, newspapers, books, free-trade,  
 railroads, steamers, international mails, tele- 
 graphs, exchanges.
20Great is Justice! Justice is not settled by legislators and laws—it is in  
 the Soul,
It cannot be varied by statues, any more than love,  
 pride, the attraction of gravity, can,
It is immutable—it does not depend on majorities—  
 majorities or what not come at last before the  
 same passionless and exact tribunal.
21For justice are the grand natural lawyers and perfect  
 judges—it is in their Souls,
It is well assorted—they have not studied for noth- 
 ing—the great includes the less,
They rule on the highest grounds—they oversee all  
 eras, states, administrations.
22The perfect judge fears nothing—he could go front  
 to front before God,
Before the perfect judge all shall stand back—life  
 and death shall stand back—heaven and hell  
 shall stand back.
23Great is Goodness! I do not know what it is, any more than I know what  
 health is—but I know it is great.
  [ begin page 204 ]ppp.01500.212.jpg 24Great is Wickedness—I find I often admire it, just as  
 much as I admire goodness,
Do you call that a paradox? It certainly is a paradox.
25The eternal equilibrium of things is great, and the  
 eternal overthrow of things is great,
And there is another paradox.
26Great is Life, real and mystical, wherever and whoever, Great is Death—sure as Life holds all parts together,  
 Death holds all parts together,
Death has just as much purport as Life has, Do you enjoy what Life confers? you shall enjoy what  
 Death confers,
I do not understand the realities of Death, but I know  
 they are great,
I do not understand the least reality of Life—how then  
 can I understand the realities of Death?

Part of the cluster LEAVES OF GRASS.

Back to top