In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Song of the Universal

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: June 1874

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00068

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Transcribed from digital images of the original. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: These five leaves make up what is apparently a complete printer's copy of "Song of the Universal," first published simultaneously in the New York Evening Post and the New York Daily Graphic on June 17, 1874. The manuscript is dated June, 1874. Because the pages are mounted images of the versos are unavailable.

Contributors to digital file: Kenneth Price, Brett Barney, Stacey Berry, Peter Henry, Elizabeth Lorang, Lisa Renfro, and Nicole Gray

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Song of the Universal

June, 1874 Camden

# Space



Come, said the Muse,

Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,

Sing me the Universal.


In this broad Earth of ours,

Amid the measureless grossness & the slag,

Enclosed & safe within its central heart,

Nestles the seed Perfection.


By every life a share, or more or less,

None born but it is born—conceal'd or
unconceal'd the seed is waiting.



Lo! keen-eyed, towering science!

As from tall peaks the Modern overlooking,

Successive, absolute fiats issuing.


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Yet again, lo! the Soul—above all science;

For it, the Soul, has entire History gathered
like husks around the globe;

For it, the Soul, the ^entire star myriads roll through
the sky.


In spiral roads, by long detours,

(As a much-tacking ship upon the sea,)

For it, the Rea partial to the permanent flowing,

For it, the Real to the Ideal tends.


For it, the mystic evolution;

Nor the right only justified—what we call evil
also justified.


Forth from their masks, no matter what,

From the huge, festering trunk—from craft and
guile & tears,

Health to emerge, & joy—joy universal.


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Out of the bulk, the morbid & the shallow,

Out of the bad majority—the varied, countless
frauds of men and states,

Electric, antiseptic yet—cleaving, suffusing all,

Only the little Good is universal.



Over the mountain growths of sin, disease & sorrow,

An uncaught bird is ever hovering, hovering,

High in the pure and happy air.


From imperfection's murkiest cloud,

Darts always fl forth one ray of perfect light,

One flash of heaven's glory.


To fashion's, custom's discord,

To the mad Babel-din, the deafening oro orgies,

Soothing each lull a strain is heard, just heard,

From some far shore, the final chorus sounding.

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O the blest eyes! the happy hearts!

That see—that know the guiding thread so fine,

Along the mighty labyrinth!



And thou, America!

For the Scheme's culmination—its Thought, &
its Reality,

For these, (not for thyself,) Thou hast arrived.


Thou too surroundest all;

Embracing, carrying, welcoming all, Thou too, by
pathways broad & new,

To the Ideal tendest.


The measur'd faiths of other lands—the grandeurs
of the past,

Are not for Thee, but grandeurs of Thine own,

Deific faiths & amplitudes, absorbing, comprehending

All eligible to all.


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All, all for Immortality!

Love, like the light, silently wrapping all!

Nature's amelioration blessing all!

The blossoms, fruits of many ages ripening—orchards
divine & certain;

Forms, objects, growths, humanities, to Spiritual Im-
ages ripening.



Give me, O heaven, God, to sing that thought!

Give me—give him or her I love this quenchless

In Thy ensemble—whatever else withheld, withhold
not from us,

Belief in ^universal plan eventual of Thee enclosed in Time
& Space,

Health, peace, salvation universal.


Is it a dream?

Nay, but the lack of it the dream,

And, failing it, life's lore & wealth a dream,

And all the world a dream.


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