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Our Old Feuillage.


ALWAYS our old feuillage! Always Florida's green peninsula—always the priceless delta of  
 Louisiana—always the cotton-fields of Alabama and Texas,
Always California's golden hills and hollows, and the silver moun- 
 tains of New Mexico—always soft-breath'd Cuba,
Always the vast slope drain'd by the Southern sea, inseparable with  
 the slopes drain'd 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  
Always the prairies, pastures, forests, vast cities, travelers, Kanada,  
 the snows;
Always these compact 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  
All sights, South, North, East—all deeds, promiscuously done at  
 all times,
All characters, movements, growths, a few noticed, myriads unno- 
Through Mannahatta's streets I walking, these things gathering,   [ begin page 139 ]ppp.01663.145.jpg 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 Rappahannock, and the valleys  
 of the Roanoke and Delaware,
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 tired,
Afar on arctic ice the she-walrus lying drowsily while her cubs play  
The hawk sailing where men have not yet sail'd, 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 strike midnight  
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 festoon'd 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 color'd flowers and berries enveloping huge trees,
The waving drapery on the live-oak trailing long and low, noise- 
 lessly 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 with the black smoke from the pitch-pine  
 curling and rising;
Southern fishermen fishing, the sounds and inlets of North Caro- 
 lina's coast, the shad-fishery and the herring-fishery, the  
 large sweep-seines, the windlasses on shore work'd by  
 horses, the clearing, curing, and packing-houses;
Deep in the forest in piney woods turpentine dropping from the  
 incisions in the trees, there are the turpentine works,
  [ begin page 140 ]ppp.01663.146.jpg There are the negroes at work in good health, the ground in all  
 directions is cover'd with pine straw;
In Tennessee and Kentucky slaves busy in the coalings, at the  
 forge, by the furnace-blaze, or at the corn-shucking,
In Virginia, the planter's son returning after a long absence, joy- 
 fully welcom'd and kiss'd by the aged mulatto nurse,
On rivers boatmen safely moor'd at nightfall in their boats under  
 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-muz- 
 zles 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 Missis- 
 sippi, he ascends a knoll and sweeps his eyes around;
California life, the miner, bearded, dress'd in his rude costume,  
 the stanch California friendship, the sweet air, the graves  
 one in passing meets solitary just aside the horse-path;
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 American 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 indorse- 
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, institutions,
All these States compact, every square mile of these States without  
 excepting a particle;
Me pleas'd, rambling in lanes and country fields, Paumanok's  
  [ begin page 141 ]ppp.01663.147.jpg Observing the spiral flight of two little yellow butterflies shuffling  
 between each other, ascending high in the air,
The darting swallow, the destroyer of insects, the fall traveler  
 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- 
The city wharf, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, New  
 Orleans, San Francisco,
The departing ships when the sailors heave at the capstan; Evening—me in my room—the setting sun, The setting summer sun shining in my open window, showing the  
 swarm of 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  
Males, females, immigrants, combinations, the copiousness, the  
 individuality 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 scatter'd islands, the stars—on the  
 firm earth, the lands, my lands,
O lands! all so dear to me—what you are, (whatever it is,) I  
 putting it at random in these songs, become a part of that,  
 whatever it is,
Southward there, I screaming, with wings slow flapping, with the  
 myriads of gulls wintering along the coasts of Florida,
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,
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 plants,
Retreating, triumphantly twittering, the king-bird, from piercing  
 the crow with its bill, for amusement—and I triumphantly  
The migrating flock of wild geese alighting in autumn to refresh  
 themselves, the body of the flock feed, the sentinels out- 
 side move around with erect heads watching, and are from  
 time to time reliev'd by other sentinels—and I feeding  
 and taking turns with the rest,
  [ begin page 142 ]ppp.01663.148.jpg In Kanadian forests the moose, large as an ox, corner'd 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, corner'd 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 Mannahatta in itself,
Singing the song of These, my ever-united lands—my body no  
 more inevitably united, part to part, and made out of a  
 thousand diverse contributions one identity, any more than  
 my lands are inevitably united and made ONE IDENTITY;
Nativities, climates, the grass of the great pastoral Plains, Cities, labors, death, animals, products, war, good and evil—  
 these me,
These affording, in all their particulars, the old 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?
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