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About this Item

Title: Leaves of Grass

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1856

Whitman Archive ID: ppp.00237

Source: Leaves of Grass (Brooklyn: Fowler & Wells, 1856). Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, PS3201 1856, copy 1. The original e-text for this file was prepared by Primary Source Media for Major Authors on CD-ROM: Walt Whitman (1997). The source text for the Primary Source Media edition was Walt Whitman, Complete Poetry and Collected Prose, ed. Justin Kaplan (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1982). After receiving the e-text from Primary Source Media, Whitman Archive staff checked and corrected the transcription against images of the University of Virginia copy. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of editions of Leaves of Grass, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Stacey Berry, Brett Barney, Melody Sunyool Han, Zach Bajaber, Kenneth M. Price, Johnnie A. Wilcox, Ed Folsom, and Nicole Gray

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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by WALT WHITMAN, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

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Leaves of Grass



1. Poem of Walt Whitman, an American . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


2. Poem of Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


3. Poem of Salutation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


4. Poem of The Daily Work of The Workmen and
Workwomen of These States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


5. Broad-Axe Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


6. Poem of A Few Greatnesses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


7. Poem of The Body . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


8. Poem of Many In One . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


9. Poem of Wonder at The Resurrection of The Wheat . . . . . . . .


10. Poem of You, Whoever You Are . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


11. Sun-Down Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


12. Poem of The Road . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


13. Poem of Procreation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


14. Poem of The Poet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


15. Clef Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


16. Poem of The Dead Young Men of Europe, the 72d and 73d
Years of These States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


17. Poem of The Heart of The Son of Manhattan Island . . . . . . . .


18. Poem of The Last Explanation of Prudence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


19. Poem of The Singers, and of The Words of Poems . . . . . . . . .


20. Faith Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


21. Liberty Poem for Asia, Africa, Europe, America, Australia,
Cuba, and the Archipelagoes of The Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


22. Poem of Apparitions in Boston, the 78th Year of These States .


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23. Poem of Remembrances for A Girl or A Boy of These States .


24. Poem of Perfect Miracles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


25. Poem of The Child That Went Forth, and Always Goes
Forth, Forever and Forever . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


26. Night Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


27. Poem of Faces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


28. Bunch Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


29. Lesson Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


30. Poem of The Propositions of Nakedness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


31. Poem of The Sayers of The Words of The Earth . . . . . . . . . . . .


32. Burial Poem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Correspondence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Opinions. 1855-6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


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1 — Poem of Walt Whitman, an American.

And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs
to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of
summer grass.

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes—the
shelves are crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and
like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I
shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste
of the distillation, it is odorless,

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It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood, and become
undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzzed whispers, love-root, silk-
thread, crotch, vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my
heart, the passing of blood and air through
my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of
the shore and dark-colored sea-rocks, and of
hay in the barn,
The sound of the belched words of my voice,
words loosed to the eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching
around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the
supple boughs wag,
The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or
along the fields and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song
of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.

Have you reckoned a thousand acres much?
have you reckoned the earth much?
Have you practiced so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of

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Stop this day and night with me, and you shall
possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun —
there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third
hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead,
nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor
take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides, and filter them from

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the
talk of the beginning and the end,
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there
is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge, and urge, and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.

Out of the dimness opposite equals advance —
always substance and increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction,
always a breed of life.

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To elaborate is no avail—learned and unlearned
feel that it is so.

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the
uprights, well entretied, braced in the
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery here we stand.

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet
is all that is not my soul.

Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved
by the seen,
Till that becomes unseen, and receives proof in its

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst,
age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of
things, while they discuss I am silent, and go
bathe and admire myself.

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and
of any man hearty and clean,
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and
none shall be less familiar than the rest.

I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing;

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As the hugging and loving Bed-fellow sleeps at
my side through the night, and withdraws at
the peep of the day,
And leaves for me baskets covered with white
towels, swelling the house with their plenty,
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization,
and scream at my eyes,
That they turn from gazing after and down the
And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent,
Exactly the contents of one, and exactly the con-
tents of two, and which is ahead?

Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet—the effect upon me of my early
life, of the ward and city I live in, of the
The latest news, discoveries, inventions, societies,
authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, work, compli-
ments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or
woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks, or of myself, or
ill-doing, or loss or lack of money, or depress-
ions or exaltations,
They come to me days and nights and go from
me again,
But they are not the Me myself.

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Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle,
Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an
impalpable certain rest,
Looks with its side-curved head, curious what will
come next,
Both in and out of the game, and watching and
wondering at it.

Backward I see in my own days where I sweated
through fog with linguists and contenders,
I have no mockings or arguments—I witness and

I believe in you, my soul—the other I am must
not abase itself to you,
And you must not be abased to the other.

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from
your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not cus-
tom or lecture, not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how we lay in June, such a transparent
summer morning,
You settled your head athwart my hips, and gently
turned over upon me,

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And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and
plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
And reached till you felt my beard, and reached
till you held my feet.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace
and joy and knowledge that pass all the art
and argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise
of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother
of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my bro-
thers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves, stiff or drooping in the
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worm-fence, heaped stones,
elder, mullen, pokeweed.

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me
with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know
what it is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out
of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,

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A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners,
that we may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced
babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and
narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give
them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair
of graves.

Tenderly will I use you, curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young
It may be if I had known them I would have loved
It may be you are from old people, and from
women, and from offspring taken soon out of
their mothers' laps,
And here you are the mothers' laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads
of old mothers,

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Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs
of mouths for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead
young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the
offspring taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and
old men?
And what do you think has become of the women
and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no
And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does
not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one sup-
posed, and luckier.

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Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
I hasten to inform him or her, it is just as lucky to
die, and I know it.

I pass death with the dying, and birth with the
new-washed babe, and am not contained be-
tween my hat and boots,
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and
every one good,
The earth good, and the stars good, and their ad-
juncts all good.

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just
as immortal and fathomless as myself;
They do not know how immortal, but I know.

Every kind for itself and its own—for me mine,
male and female,
For me those that have been boys and that love
For me the man that is proud, and feels how it
stings to be slighted,
For me the sweetheart and the old maid—for me
mothers and the mothers of mothers,
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed
For me children and the begetters of children.

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Who need be afraid of the merge?
Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale, nor
I see through the broadcloth and gingham, whether
or no,
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless,
and can never be shaken away.

The little one sleeps in its cradle,
I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently
brush away flies with my hand.

The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside
up the bushy hill,
I peeringly view them from the top.

The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the
It is so—I witnessed the corpse—there the
pistol had fallen.

The blab of the pave, the tires of carts, sluff of
boot-soles, talk of the promenaders,
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogat-
ing thumb, the clank of the shod horses on
the granite floor,
The snow-sleighs, the clinking, shouted jokes,
pelts of snow-balls,
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of
roused mobs,

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The flap of the curtained litter, the sick man in-
side, borne to the hospital,
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the
blows and fall,
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star,
quickly working his passage to the centre of
the crowd,
The impassive stones that receive and return so
many echoes,
The souls moving along—are they invisible,
while the least of the stones is visible?
What groans of over-fed or half-starved who fall
sun-struck, or in fits,
What exclamations of women taken suddenly, who
hurry home and give birth to babes,
What living and buried speech is always vibrating
here, what howls restrained by decorum,
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers
made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips,
I mind them or the resonance of them—I come
and I depart.

The big doors of the country-barn stand open and
The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the
slow-drawn wagon,
The clear light plays on the brown gray and green
The armfuls are packed to the sagging mow;

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I am there, I help, I came stretched atop of the
I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other;
I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover
and timothy,
And roll head over heels, and tangle my hair full
of wisps.

Alone, far in the wilds and mountains, I hunt,
Wandering, amazed at my own lightness and glee,
In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass
the night,
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-killed game,
Soundly falling asleep on the gathered leaves, my
dog and gun by my side.

The Yankee clipper is under her three sky-sails,
she cuts the sparkle and scud,
My eyes settle the land—I bend at her prow or
shout joyously from the deck.

The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and
stopped for me,
I tucked my trowser-ends in my boots and went
and had a good time,
You should have been with us that day round the

I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air
in the far-west—the bride was a red girl,

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Her father and his friends sat near, cross-legged
and dumbly smoking—they had moccasins to
their feet and large thick blankets hanging
from their shoulders,
On a bank lounged the trapper, he was dressed
mostly in skins, his luxuriant beard and curls
protected his neck,
One hand rested on his rifle, the other hand held
firmly the wrist of the red girl,
She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her
coarse straight locks descended upon her
voluptuous limbs and reached to her feet.

The runaway slave came to my house and
stopped outside,
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw
him limpsy and weak,
And went where he sat on a log, and led him in
and assured him,
And brought water and filled a tub for his sweated
body and bruised feet,
And gave him a room that entered from my own,
and gave him some coarse clean clothes,
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes
and his awkwardness,
And remember putting plasters on the galls of his
neck and ankles;

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He staid with me a week before he was recuper-
ated and passed north,
I had him sit next me at table—my fire-lock
leaned in the corner.

Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
Twenty-eight young men, and all so friendly,
Twenty-eight years of womanly life, and all so

She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
She hides, handsome and richly drest, aft the
blinds of the window.

Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah, the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock
still in your room.

Dancing and laughing along the beach came the
twenty-ninth bather,
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and
loved them.

The beards of the young men glistened with wet,
it ran from their long hair,
Little streams passed all over their bodies.

An unseen hand also passed over their bodies,

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It descended tremblingly from their temples and

The young men float on their backs, their white
bellies bulge to the sun, they do not ask who
seizes fast to them,
They do not know who puffs and declines with
pendant and bending arch,
They do not think whom they souse with spray.

The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or
sharpens his knife at the stall in the mar-
I loiter, enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and

Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ
the anvil,
Each has his main-sledge—they are all out —
there is a great heat in the fire.

From the cinder-strewed threshold I follow their
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with
their massive arms,
Overhand the hammers roll, overhand so slow,
overhand so sure,
They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.

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The negro holds firmly the reins of his four
horses, the block swags underneath on its
tied-over chain,
The negro that drives the huge dray of the stone-
yard, steady and tall he stands poised on one
leg on the string-piece,
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast,
and loosens over his hip-band,
His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the
slouch of his hat away from his forehead,
The sun falls on his crispy hair and moustache,
falls on the black of his polish'd and perfect

I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and
I do not stop there,
I go with the team also.

In me the caresser of life wherever moving, back-
ward as well as forward slueing,
To niches aside and junior bending.

Oxen that rattle the yoke or halt in the shade!
what is that you express in your eyes?
It seems to me more than all the print I have read
in my life.

My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck,
on my distant and day-long ramble,
They rise together, they slowly circle around;
I believe in those winged purposes,

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And acknowledge, red, yellow, white, playing
within me,
And consider green and violet, and the tufted
crown, intentional,
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because
she is not something else,
And the mocking-bird in the swamp never studied
the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me,
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out
of me.

The wild gander leads his flock through the cool
Ya-honk! he says, and sounds it down to me like
an invitation;
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen
I find its purpose and place up there toward the
November sky.

The sharp-hoofed moose of the north, the cat on
the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog,
The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her
The brood of the turkey-hen, and she with her
half-spread wings,
I see in them and myself the same old law.

The press of my foot to the earth springs a hun-
dred affections,

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They scorn the best I can do to relate them.
I am enamoured of growing outdoors,
Of men that live among cattle, or taste of the
ocean or woods,
Of the builders and steerers of ships, of the wield-
ers of axes and mauls, of the drivers of
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week

What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that
will take me,
Not asking the sky to come down to my good-will,
Scattering it freely forever.

The pure contralto sings in the organ-loft,
The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of
his foreplane whistles its wild ascending lisp,
The married and unmarried children ride home to
their thanksgiving dinner,
The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down
with a strong arm,
The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance
and harpoon are ready,

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The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious
The deacons are ordained with crossed hands at
the altar,
The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the
hum of the big wheel,
The farmer stops by the bars of a Sunday and
looks at the oats and rye,
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a con-
firmed case,
He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot
in his mother's bedroom;
The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws
works at his case,
He turns his quid of tobacco, his eyes get blurred
with the manuscript;
The malformed limbs are tied to the anatomist's
What is removed drops horribly in a pail;
The quadroon girl is sold at the stand—the
drunkard nods by the bar-room stove,
The machinist rolls up his sleeves—the police-
man travels his beat—the gate-keeper marks
who pass,
The young fellow drives the express-wagon —
I love him though I do not know him,
The half-breed straps on his light boots to com-
pete in the race,

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The western turkey-shooting draws old and young
—some lean on their rifles, some sit on logs,
Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes
his position, levels his piece;
The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the
wharf or levee,
The woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the over-
seer views them from his saddle,
The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen
run for their partners, the dancers bow to
each other,
The youth lies awake in the cedar-roofed garret,
and harks to the musical rain,
The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps
fill the Huron,
The reformer ascends the platform, he spouts with
his mouth and nose,
The company returns from its excursion, the
darkey brings up the rear and bears the well-
riddled target,
The squaw, wrapt in her yellow-hemmed cloth,
is offering moccasins and bead-bags for sale,
The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-
gallery with half-shut eyes bent side-ways,
The deck-hands make fast the steamboat, the plank
is thrown for the shore-going passengers,
The young sister holds out the skein, the elder
sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now
and then for the knots,

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The one-year wife is recovering and happy, a
week ago she bore her first child,
The clean-haired Yankee girl works with her sew-
ing-machine, or in the factory or mill,
The nine months' gone is in the parturition cham-
ber, her faintness and pains are advancing,
The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer
—the reporter's lead flies swiftly over the
note-book—the sign-painter is lettering with
red and gold,
The canal-boy trots on the tow-path—the book-
keeper counts at his desk—the shoemaker
waxes his thread,
The conductor beats time for the band, and all the
performers follow him,
The child is baptised—the convert is making the
first professions,
The regatta is spread on the bay—how the white
sails sparkle!
The drover watches his drove, he sings out to
them that would stray,
The pedlar sweats with his pack on his back, the
purchaser higgles about the odd cent,
The camera and plate are prepared, the lady must
sit for her daguerreotype,
The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-
hand of the clock moves slowly,
The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-
opened lips,

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The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet
bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck,
The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the
men jeer and wink to each other,
(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths, nor
jeer you;)
The President holds a cabinet council, he is sur-
rounded by the Great Secretaries,
On the piazza walk five friendly matrons with
twined arms,
The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers
of halibut in the hold,
The Missourian crosses the plains, toting his
wares and his cattle,
The fare-collector goes through the train, he gives
notice by the jingling of loose change,
The floor-men are laying the floor—the tinners
are tinning the roof—the masons are calling
for mortar,
In single file, each shouldering his hod, pass on-
ward the laborers,
Seasons pursuing each other, the indescribable
crowd is gathered—it is the Fourth of July
—what salutes of cannon and small arms!
Seasons pursuing each other, the plougher ploughs,
the mower mows, and the winter-grain falls
in the ground,
Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits
by the hole in the frozen surface,

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The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the
squatter strikes deep with his axe,
Flatboatmen make fast toward dusk near the cot-
ton-wood or pekan-trees,
Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red
river, or through those drained by the Ten-
nessee, or through those of the Arkansaw,
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chat-
tahoochee or Altamahaw,
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons
and great-grandsons around them,
In walls of adobe, in canvass tents, rest hunters
and trappers after their day's sport,
The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep
for their time.
The old husband sleeps by his wife, and the young
husband sleeps by his wife;
And these one and all tend inward to me, and I
tend outward to them,
And such as it is to be of these, more or less, I am.

I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as
the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a
Stuffed with the stuff that is coarse, and stuffed
with the stuff that is fine,

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One of the great nation, the nation of many
nations, the smallest the same, the largest
the same,
A southerner soon as a northerner, a planter non-
chalant and hospitable,
A Yankee bound my own way, ready for trade,
my joints the limberest joints on earth and
the sternest joints on earth,
A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in
my deer-skin leggings,
A boatman over lakes or bays, or along coasts —
a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye,
A Louisianian or Georgian, a Poke-easy from
sand-hills and pines,
At home on Canadian snow-shoes, or up in the
bush, or with fishermen off Newfoundland,
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the
rest, and tacking,
At home on the hills of Vermont, or in the woods
of Maine, or the Texan ranch,
Comrade of Californians, comrade of free north-
westerners, loving their big proportions.
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all
who shake hands and welcome to drink and
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the
A novice beginning, experient of myriads of sea-

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Of every hue, trade, rank, of every caste and re-
Not merely of the New World, but of Africa,
Europe, Asia—a wandering savage,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor,
lover, quaker,
A prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician,

I resist anything better than my own diversity,
And breathe the air, and leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place,
The suns I see, and the suns I cannot see, are
in their place,
The palpable is in its place, and the impalpable
is in its place.

These are the thoughts of all men in all ages
and lands, they are not original with me,
If they are not yours as much as mine, they are
nothing, or next to nothing,
If they do not enclose everything, they are next
to nothing,
If they are not the riddle and the untying of the
riddle, they are nothing,
If they are not just as close as they are distant,
they are nothing.

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This is the grass that grows wherever the land
is and the water is,
This is the common air that bathes the globe.

This is the breath of laws, songs, behaviour,
This is the tasteless water of souls, this is the
true sustenance,
It is for the illiterate, it is for the judges of the
supreme court, it is for the federal capitol
and the state capitols,
It is for the admirable communes of literats,
composers, singers, lecturers, engineers, sa-
It is for the endless races of work-people, farm-
ers, seamen.

These are trills of thousands of clear cornets,
screams of octave flutes, strike of triangles.

I play not a march for victors only, I play great
marches for conquered and slain persons.

Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?
I also say it is good to fall—battles are lost in
the same spirit in which they are won.

I beat triumphal drums for the dead, I blow through
my embouchures my loudest and gayest music
to them,

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Vivas to those who have failed! and to those
whose war-vessels sank in the sea! and
those themselves who sank in the sea!
And to all generals that lost engagements! and all
overcome heroes! and the numberless un-
known heroes, equal to the greatest heroes

This is the meal pleasantly set, this is the meat
and drink for natural hunger,
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous
—I make appointments with all,
I will not have a single person slighted or left
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby in-
vited—the heavy-lipped slave is invited,
the venerealee is invited,
There shall be no difference between them and
the rest.

This is the press of a bashful hand, this is the
float and odor of hair,
This is the touch of my lips to yours, this is the
murmur of yearning,
This is the far-off depth and height reflecting my
own face,
This is the thoughtful merge of myself, and the
outlet again.

Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?

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Well, I have—for the April rain has, and the mica
on the side of a rock has.

Do you take it I would astonish?
Does the daylight astonish? Does the early red-
start, twittering through the woods?
Do I astonish more than they?

This hour I tell things in confidence,
I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.

Who goes there! hankering, gross, mystical, nude?
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?

What is a man anyhow? What am I? What
are you?

All I mark as my own, you shall offset it with
your own,
Else it were time lost listening to me.

I do not snivel that snivel the world over,
That months are vacuums, and the ground but
wallow and filth,
That life is a suck and a sell, and nothing remains
at the end but threadbare crape and tears.

Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for
invalids, conformity goes to the fourth-

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I cock my hat as I please, indoors or out.
Shall I pray? Shall I venerate and be cere-
I have pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair,
Counselled with doctors, calculated close, found no
sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.

In all people I see myself—none more, not one a
barleycorn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of

And I know I am solid and sound,
To me the converging objects of the universe per-
petually flow,
All are written to me, and I must get what the
writing means.

I know I am deathless,
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a
carpenter's compass,
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut
with a burnt stick at night.

I know I am august,
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be

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I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I
plant my house by, after all.

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware, I sit content,
And if each and all be aware, I sit content.

One world is aware, and by far the largest to me,
and that is myself,
And whether I come to my own today, or in ten
thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheer-
fulness I can wait.

My foothold is tenoned and mortised in granite,
I laugh at what you call dissolution,
And I know the amplitude of time.

I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul.

The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the
pains of hell are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the
latter I translate into a new tongue.

I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,
And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a

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And I say there is nothing greater than the mother
of men.

I chant the chant of dilation or pride,
We have had ducking and deprecating about
I show that size is only development.

Have you outstript the rest? are you the
It is a trifle—they will more than arrive there
every one, and still pass on.

I am he that walks with the tender and growing
I call to the earth and sea, half-held by the night.

Press close, bare-bosomed night! press close,
magnetic, nourishing night!
Night of south winds! night of the large few
Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night!

Smile, O voluptuous, cool-breathed earth!
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!
Earth of departed sunset! earth of the moun-
tains, misty-topt!
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon, just
tinged with blue!

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Earth of shine and dark, mottling the tide of the
Earth of the limpid gray of clouds, brighter and
clearer for my sake!
Far-swooping elbowed earth! rich, apple-blos-
somed earth!
Smile, for your lover comes!

Prodigal, you have given me love! therefore I
to you give love!
O unspeakable passionate love!

Thruster holding me tight, and that I hold tight!
We hurt each other as the bridegroom and the
bride hurt each other.

You sea! I resign myself to you also, I guess
what you mean,
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of
We must have a turn together—I undress —
hurry me out of sight of the land,
Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse,
Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you.

Sea of stretched ground-swells!
Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths!

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Sea of the brine of life! sea of unshovelled and
always-ready graves!
Howler and scooper of storms! capricious and
dainty sea!
I am integral with you—I too am of one phase,
and of all phases.

Partaker of influx and efflux, extoller of hate and
Extoller of amies, and those that sleep in each
others' arms.

I am he attesting sympathy,
Shall I make my list of things in the house, and
skip the house that supports them?

I am the poet of commonsense, and of the demon-
strable, and of immortality,
And am not the poet of goodness only—I do not
decline to be the poet of wickedness also.

Washes and razors for foofoos—for me freckles
and a bristling beard.

What blurt is this about virtue and about vice?
Evil propels me, and reform of evil propels me —
I stand indifferent,
My gait is no fault-finder's or rejecter's gait,
I moisten the roots of all that has grown.

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Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging
Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be
worked over and rectified?

I step up to say that what we do is right, and
what we affirm is right, and some is only the
ore of right,
Witnesses of us, one side a balance, and the anti-
podal side a balance,
Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine,
Thoughts and deeds of the present, our rouse and
early start.

This minute that comes to me over the past de-
There is no better than it and now.

What behaved well in the past, or behaves well
today, is not such a wonder,
The wonder is always and always how can there
be a mean man or an infidel.

Endless unfolding of words of ages!
And mine a word of the modern—a word en-
A word of the faith that never balks,
One time as good as another time—here or
henceforward it is all the same to me,

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A word of reality, materialism first and last im-

Hurrah for positive science! long live exact
Fetch stonecrop, mix it with cedar and branches
of lilac,
This is the lexicographer, this the chemist, this
made a grammar of the old cartouches,
These mariners put the ship through dangerous
unknown seas,
This is the geologist, this works with the scalpel,
and this is a mathematician.

Gentlemen, I receive you and attach and clasp
hands with you,
The facts are useful and real—they are not my
dwelling—I enter by them to an area of the

I am less the reminder of property or qualities,
and more the reminder of life,
And go on the square for my own sake and for
others' sakes,
And make short account of neuters and geldings,
and favor men and women fully equipped,
And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugi-
tives and them that plot and conspire.

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Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs,
a kosmos,
Disorderly, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking, breed-
No sentimentalist, no stander above men and wo-
men, or apart from them—no more modest
than immodest.

Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

Whoever degrades another degrades me, and
whatever is done or said returns at last to
And whatever I do or say, I also return.

Through me the afflatus surging and surging —
through me the current and index.

I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign
of democracy,
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot
have their counterpart of on the same terms.

Through me many long dumb voices,
Voices of the interminable generations of slaves,
Voices of prostitutes, and of deformed persons,
Voices of the diseased and despairing, and of
thieves and dwarfs,
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,

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And of the threads that connect the stars, and of
wombs, and of the fatherstuff,
And of the rights of them the others are down
Of the trivial, flat, foolish, despised,
Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.

Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts—voices veiled, and I
remove the veil,
Voices indecent, by me clarified and transfigured.

I do not press my finger across my mouth,
I keep as delicate around the bowels as around
the head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each
part and tag of me is a miracle.

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy
whatever I touch or am touched from,
The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than
This head is more than churches, bibles, creeds.

If I worship any particular thing, it shall be some
of the spread of my own body,

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Translucent mould of me, it shall be you!
Shaded ledges and rests, firm masculine coulter, it
shall be you!
Whatever goes to the tilth of me, it shall be you!
You my rich blood! your milky stream, pale strip-
pings of my life!
Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall
be you!
My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions!
Root of washed sweet-flag, timorous pond-snipe,
nest of guarded duplicate eggs, it shall be
Mixed tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall
be you!
Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it
shall be you!
Sun so generous, it shall be you!
Vapors lighting and shading my face, it shall be
You sweaty brooks and dews, it shall be you!
Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against
me, it shall be you!
Broad muscular fields, branches of live-oak, loving
lounger in my winding paths, it shall be you!
Hands I have taken, face I have kissed, mortal I
have ever touched, it shall be you!

I dote on myself, there is that lot of me, and all so

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Each moment, and whatever happens, thrills me
with joy.

I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the
cause of my faintest wish,
Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the
cause of the friendship I take again.

To walk up my stoop is unaccountable, I pause to
consider if it really be,
That I eat and drink is spectacle enough for the
great authors and schools,
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more
than the metaphysics of books.

To behold the day-break!
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous
The air tastes good to my palate.

Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols,
silently rising, freshly exuding,
Scooting obliquely high and low.

Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.

The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close
of their junction,

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The heaved challenge from the east that moment
over my head,
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall
be master!

Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sun-rise
would kill me,
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out
of me.

We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the
We found our own, my soul, in the calm and cool
of the day-break.

My voice goes after what my eyes cannot
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds,
and volumes of worlds.

Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to
measure itself.

It provokes me forever,
It says sarcastically, Walt, you understand
enough, why don't you let it out then?

Come now, I will not be tantalized, you conceive
too much of articulation.

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Do you not know how the buds beneath are
Waiting in gloom, protected by frost,
The dirt receding before my prophetical screams,
I underlying causes, to balance them at last,
My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with
the meaning of things,
Happiness, which, whoever hears me, let him or
her set out in search of this day.

My final merit I refuse you—I refuse putting
from me the best I am.

Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass
I crowd your noisiest talk by looking toward you.

Writing and talk do not prove me,
I carry the plenum of proof, and every thing else,
in my face,
With the hush of my lips I confound the topmost

I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen,
To accrue what I hear into myself, to let sounds
contribute toward me.

I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat,
gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my

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I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human
I hear all sounds as they are tuned to their uses,
sounds of the city and sounds out of the city,
sounds of the day and night,
Talkative young ones to those that like them, the
recitative of fish-pedlars and fruit-pedlars, the
loud laugh of work-people at their meals,
The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint
tones of the sick,
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his
shaky lips pronouncing a death-sentence,
The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the
wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters,
The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the
whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-
carts, with premonitory tinkles and colored
The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of
approaching cars,
The slow-march played at night at the head of the
They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are
draped with black muslin.

I hear the violincello or man's heart's complaint,
I hear the keyed cornet, it glides quickly in
through my ears, it shakes mad-sweet pangs
through my belly and breast.

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I hear the chorus, it is a grand-opera—this in-
deed is music!

A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me,
The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling
me full.

I hear the trained soprano, she convulses me like
the climax of my love-grip,
The orchestra wrenches such ardors from me, I
did not know I possessed them,
It throbs me to gulps of the farthest down horror,
It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are licked
by the indolent waves,
I am exposed, cut by bitter and poisoned hail,
Steeped amid honeyed morphine, my windpipe
squeezed in the fakes of death,
Let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,
And that we call Being.

To be in any form, what is that?
If nothing lay more developed, the quahaug in its
callous shell were enough.

Mine is no callous shell,
I have instant conductors all over me, whether I
pass or stop,
They seize every object and lead it harmlessly
through me.

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I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am
To touch my person to some one else's is about
as much as I can stand.

Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,
Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to
help them,
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike
what is hardly different from myself,
On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my
Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld
Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial,
Depriving me of my best, as for a purpose,
Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare
Deluding my confusion with the calm of the
sun-light and pasture-fields,
Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away,
They bribed to swap off with touch, and go and
graze at the edges of me,
No consideration, no regard for my draining
strength or my anger,
Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them

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Then all uniting to stand on a head-land and
worry me.

The sentries desert every other part of me,
They have left me helpless to a red marauder,
They all come to the head-land, to witness and
assist against me.

I am given up by traitors!
I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody
else am the greatest traitor,
I went myself first to the head-land, my own hands
carried me there.

You villain touch! what are you doing? my
breath is tight in its throat,
Unclench your floodgates! you are too much for

Blind, loving, wrestling touch! sheathed, hooded,
sharp-toothed touch!
Did it make you ache so, leaving me?

Parting, tracked by arriving—perpetual payment
of the perpetual loan,
Rich showering rain, and recompense richer after-

Sprouts take and accumulate—stand by the curb
prolific and vital,
Landscapes, projected, masculine, full-sized, golden.

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All truths wait in all things,
They neither hasten their own delivery, nor resist
They do not need the obstetric forceps of the
The insignificant is as big to me as any,
What is less or more than a touch?

Logic and sermons never convince,
The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.

Only what proves itself to every man and woman
is so,
Only what nobody denies is so.

A minute and a drop of me settle my brain,
I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and
And a compend of compends is the meat of a man
or woman,
And a summit and flower there is the feeling they
have for each other,
And they are to branch boundlessly out of that
lesson until it becomes omnific,
And until every one shall delight us, and we

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-
work of the stars,

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And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of
sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'ouvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the
parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn
all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depressed head sur-
passes any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sex-
tillions of infidels,
And I could come every afternoon of my life to
look at the farmer's girl boiling her iron tea-
kettle and baking short-cake.

I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded
moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots,
And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over,
And have distanced what is behind me for good
And call any thing close again, when I desire it.

In vain the speeding or shyness,
In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat
against my approach,
In vain the mastadon retreats beneath its own
powdered bones,
In vain objects stand leagues off, and assume
manifold shapes,

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In vain the ocean settling in hollows, and the great
monsters lying low,
In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky,
In vain the snake slides through the creepers and
In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the
In vain the razor-billed auk sails far north to
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure
of the cliff.

I think I could turn and live with animals, they
are so placid and self-contained,
I stand and look at them sometimes half the day

They do not sweat and whine about their condi-
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for
their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty
to God,
No one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with
the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that
lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or industrious over the
whole earth.

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So they show their relations to me, and I accept
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them
plainly in their possession.

I do not know where they got those tokens,
I may have passed that way untold times ago and
negligently dropt them,
Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
Gathering and showing more always and with
Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these
among them,
Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my re-
Picking out here one that I love, choosing to go
with him on brotherly terms.

A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and respon-
sive to my caresses,
Head high in the forehead, wide between the
Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
Eyes well apart, full of sparkling wickedness, ears
finely cut, flexibly moving.

His nostrils dilate, my heels embrace him, his
well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, we
speed around and return.

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I but use you a moment, then I resign you stal-
lion, do not need your paces, out-gallop them,
Myself, as I stand or sit, passing faster than you.

Swift wind! space! my soul! now I know it is
true, what I guessed at,
What I guessed when I loafed on the grass,
What I guessed while I lay alone in my bed, and
again as I walked the beach under the paling
stars of the morning.

My ties and ballasts leave me—I travel, I sail,
my elbows rest in the sea-gaps,
I skirt the sierras, my palms cover continents,
I am afoot with my vision.

By the city's quadrangular houses, in log-huts,
camping with lumber-men,
Along the ruts of the turnpike, along the dry gulch
and rivulet bed,
Weeding my onion-patch, hoeing rows of carrots
and parsnips, crossing savannas, trailing in
Prospecting, gold-digging, girdling the trees of a
new purchase,
Scorched ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my
boat down the shallow river,
Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb
overhead, where the buck turns furiously at
the hunter,

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Where the rattle-snake suns his flabby length on
a rock, where the otter is feeding on fish,
Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps
by the bayou,
Where the black bear is searching for roots or
honey, where the beaver pats the mud with
his paddle-tail,
Over the growing sugar, over the cotton-plant,
over the rice in its low moist field,
Over the sharp-peaked farm-house, with its scal-
loped scum and slender shoots from the gut-
Over the western persimmon, over the long-leaved
corn, over the delicate blue-flowered flax,
Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer
and buzzer there with the rest,
Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and
shades in the breeze,
Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up,
holding on by low scragged limbs,
Walking the path worn in the grass and beat
through the leaves of the brush,
Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods
and the wheat-lot,
Where the bat flies in the July eve, where the
great gold-bug drops through the dark,
Where the flails keep time on the barn floor,
Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old
tree and flows to the meadow,

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Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the
tremulous shuddering of their hides,
Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where
andirons straddle the hearth-slab, where cob-
webs fall in festoons from the rafters,
Where trip-hammers crash, where the press is
whirling its cylinders,
Wherever the human heart beats with terrible
throes out of its ribs,
Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft,
floating in it myself and looking composedly
Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose,
where the heat hatches pale-green eggs in
the dented sand,
Where the she-whale swims with her calves and
never forsakes them,
Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long
pennant of smoke,
Where the ground-shark's fin cuts like a black
chip out of the water,
Where the half-burned brig is riding on unknown
Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the
dead are corrupting below,
Where the striped and starred flag is borne at the
head of the regiments,
Approaching Manhattan, up by the long-stretching

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Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil
over my countenance,
Upon a door-step, upon the horse-block of hard
wood outside,
Upon the race-course, or enjoying pic-nics or jigs,
or a good game of base-ball,
At he-festivals, with blackguard jibes, ironical li-
cense, bull-dances, drinking, laughter,
At the cider-mill, tasting the sweet of the brown
sqush, sucking the juice through a straw,
At apple-peelings, wanting kisses for all the red
fruit I find,
At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings,
Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gur-
gles, cackles, screams, weeps,
Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard, where
the dry-stalks are scattered, where the brood
cow waits in the hovel,
Where the bull advances to do his masculine
work, where the stud to the mare, where the
cock is treading the hen,
Where heifers browse, where geese nip their food
with short jerks,
Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limit-
less and lonesome prairie,
Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread
of the square miles far and near,

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Where the humming-bird shimmers, where the
neck of the long-lived swan is curving and
Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore,
where she laughs her near-human laugh,
Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the
garden, half-hid by the high weeds,
Where band-necked partridges roost in a ring on
the ground with their heads out,
Where burial coaches enter the arched gates of a
Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow
and icicled trees,
Where the yellow-crowned heron comes to the
edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon
small crabs,
Where the splash of swimmers and divers cool
the warm noon,
Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on
the walnut-tree over the well,
Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with
silver-wired leaves,
Through the salt-lick or orange glade, under coni-
cal firs,
Through the gymnasium, through the curtained
saloon, through the office or public hall,
Pleased with the native, pleased with the foreign,
pleased with the new and old,

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Pleased with women, the homely as well as the
Pleased with the quakeress as she puts off her
bonnet and talks melodiously,
Pleased with the tunes of the choir of the white-
washed church,
Pleased with the earnest words of the sweating
Methodist preacher, or any preacher—look-
ing seriously at the camp-meeting,
Looking in at the shop-windows in Broadway the
whole forenoon, pressing the flesh of my nose
to the thick plate-glass,
Wandering the same afternoon with my face
turned up to the clouds,
My right and left arms round the sides of two
friends, and I in the middle;
Coming home with the bearded and dark-cheeked
bush-boy, riding behind him at the drape of
the day,
Far from the settlements, studying the print of
animals' feet, or the moccasin print,
By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a
feverish patient,
By the coffined corpse when all is still examin-
ing with a candle,
Voyaging to every port to dicker and adven-
Hurrying with the modern crowd, as eager and
fickle as any,

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Hot toward one I hate ready in my madness to
knife him,
Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts
gone from me a long while,
Walking the old hills of Judea, with the beautiful
gentle god by my side,
Speeding through space, speeding through heaven
and the stars,
Speeding amid the seven satellites, and the broad
ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand
Speeding with tailed meteors, throwing fire-balls
like the rest,
Carrying the crescent child that carries its own
full mother in its belly,
Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning,
Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing,
I tread day and night such roads.

I visit the orchards of spheres and look at the
And look at quintillions ripened, and look at quin-
tillions green.

I fly the flight of the fluid and swallowing soul,
My course runs below the soundings of plummets.

I help myself to material and immaterial,
No guard can shut me off, no law can prevent me.

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I anchor my ship for a little while only,
My messengers continually cruise away, or bring
their returns to me.

I go hunting polar furs and the seal, leaping
chasms with a pike-pointed staff, clinging to
topples of brittle and blue.

I ascend to the fore-truck, I take my place late at
night in the crow's-nest, we sail through the
arctic sea, it is plenty light enough,
Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on
the wonderful beauty,
The enormous masses of ice pass me and I
pass them, the scenery is plain in all direc-
The white-topped mountains show in the dis-
tance, I fling out my fancies toward them,
We are approaching some great battle-field in
which we are soon to be engaged,
We pass the colossal out-posts of the encamp-
ments, we pass with still feet and caution,
Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast
and ruined city, the blocks and fallen archi-
tecture more than all the living cities of the

I am a free companion, I bivouac by invading

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I turn the bridegroom out of bed and stay with
the bride myself,
I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.

My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the
rail of the stairs,
They fetch my man's body up, dripping and

I understand the large hearts of heroes,
The courage of present times and all times,
How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless
wreck of the steam-ship, and death chasing it
up and down the storm,
How he knuckled tight, and gave not back one
inch, and was faithful of days and faithful of
And chalked in large letters, Be of good cheer,
We will not desert you,
How he saved the drifting company at last,
How the lank loose-gowned women looked when
boated from the side of their prepared graves,
How the silent old-faced infants, and the lifted
sick, and the sharp-lipped unshaved men,
All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it
becomes mine,
I am the man, I suffered, I was there.

The disdain and calmness of martyrs,

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The mother, condemned for a witch, burnt with
dry wood, her children gazing on,
The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by
the fence, blowing, covered with sweat,
The twinges that sting like needles his legs and
neck, the murderous buck-shot and the bullets,
All these I feel or am.

I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the
Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again
crack the marksmen,
I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs,
thinned with the ooze of my skin,
I fall on the weeds and stones,
The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close,
Taunt my dizzy ears, beat me violently over the
head with whip-stocks.

Agonies are one of my changes of garments,
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I
myself become the wounded person,
My hurt turns livid upon me as I lean on a cane
and observe.

I am the mashed fireman with breastbone broken,
tumbling walls buried me in their debris,
Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling
shouts of my comrades,

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I heard the distant click of their picks and shov-
They have cleared the beams away, they tenderly
life me forth.

I lie in the night air in my red shirt, the pervading
hush is for my sake.
Painless after all I lie, exhausted but not so un-
White and beautiful are the faces around me, the
heads are bared of their fire-caps,
The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the

Distant and dead resuscitate,
They show as the dial or move as the hands of
me—I am the clock myself.

I am an old artillerist, I tell of my fort's bombard-
ment, I am there again.

Again the reveille of drummers, again the attack-
ing cannon, mortars, howitzers,
Again the attacked send cannon responsive;
I take part, I see and hear the whole,
The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aimed
The ambulanza slowly passing, trailing its red

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Workmen searching after damages, making indis-
pensable repairs,
The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the
fan-shaped explosion,
The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron,
high in the air.

Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general, he
furiously waves with his hand,
He gasps through the clot, Mind not me—mind —
the entrenchments.

I tell not the fall of Alamo, not one escaped to tell
the fall of Alamo,
The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo.

Hear now the tale of a jet-black sunrise,
Hear of the murder in cold-blood of four hundred
and twelve young men.

Retreating, they had formed in a hollow square,
with their baggage for breast-works,
Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's,
nine times their number, was the price they
took in advance,
Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition
They treated for an honorable capitulation, re-
ceived writing and seal, gave up their arms,
marched back prisoners of war.

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They were the glory of the race of rangers,
Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, court-
Large, turbulent, brave, handsome, generous,
proud, affectionate,
Bearded, sunburnt, dressed in the free costume of
Not a single one over thirty years of age.

The second Sunday morning they were brought
out in squads and massacred—it was beauti-
ful early summer,
The work commenced about five o'clock and was
over by eight.

None obeyed the command to kneel,
Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood
stark and straight,
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the
living and dead lay together,
The maimed and mangled dug in the dirt, the
new-comers saw them there,
Some, half-killed, attempted to crawl away,
These were dispatched with bayonets, or battered
with the blunts of muskets,
A youth not seventeen years old seized his assas-
sin, till two more came to release him,
The three were all torn, and covered with the
boy's blood.

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At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies;
That is the tale of the murder of the four hun-
dred and twelve young men,
And that was a jet-black sunrise.

Did you read in the sea-books of the old-fashioned
Did you learn who won by the light of the moon
and stars?

Our foe was no skulk in his ship, I tell you,
His was the English pluck, and there is no tougher
or truer, and never was, and never will be,
Along the lowered eve he came, horribly raking

We closed with him, the yards entangled, the can-
non touched,
My captain lashed fast with his own hands.

We had received some eighteen-pound shots un-
der the water,
On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst
at the first fire, killing all around and blowing
up overhead.

Ten o'clock at night and the full moon shining,
and the leaks on the gain, and five feet of
water reported,

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The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined
in the after-hold, to give them a chance for

The transit to and from the magazine was now
stopped by the sentinels,
They saw so many strange faces that they did not
know whom to trust.

Our frigate was afire, the other asked if we de-
manded quarter? if our colors were struck
and the fighting done?

I laughed content when I heard the voice of my
little captain,
We have not struck, he composedly cried, We
have just begun our part of the fighting.

Only three guns were in use,
One was directed by the captain himself against
the enemy's main-mast,
Two, well served with grape and canister,
silenced his musketry and cleared his

The tops alone seconded the fire of this little bat-
tery, especially the main-top,
They all held out bravely during the whole of the

Not a moment's cease,

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The leaks gained fast on the pumps, the fire eat
toward the powder-magazine,
One of the pumps was shot away, it was generally
thought we were sinking.

Serene stood the little captain,
He was not hurried, his voice was neither high
nor low,
His eyes gave more light to us than our battle-

Toward twelve at night, there in the beams of the
moon they surrendered to us.

Stretched and still lay the midnight,
Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the
Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, prepara-
tions to pass to the one we had conquered,
The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his
orders through a countenance white as a
Near by, the corpse of the child that served in the
The dead face of an old salt with long white hair
and carefully curled whiskers,
The flames, spite of all that could be done, flicker-
ing aloft and below,
The husky voices of the two or three officers yet
fit for duty,

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Formless stacks of bodies, bodies by them-
selves, dabs of flesh upon the masts and
Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of
the soothe of waves,
Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels,
strong scent,
Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass
and fields by the shore, death-messages
given in change to survivors,
The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth
of his saw,
Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild
scream, long dull tapering groan,
These so, these irretrievable.

O Christ! My fit is mastering me!
What the rebel said, gaily adjusting his throat to
the rope-noose,
What the savage at the stump, his eye-sockets
empty, his mouth spirting whoops and defi-
What stills the traveler come to the vault at
Mount Vernon,
What sobers the Brooklyn boy as he looks down
the shores of the Wallabout and remembers
the prison ships,
What burnt the gums of the red-coat at Saratoga
when he surrendered his brigades,

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These become mine and me every one, and they
are but little,
I become as much more as I like.

I become any presence or truth of humanity here,
And see myself in prison shaped like another
And feel the dull unintermitted pain.

For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their
carbines and keep watch,
It is I let out in the morning and barred at night.

Not a mutineer walks hand-cuffed to the jail, but I
am hand-cuffed to him and walk by his side,
I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent
one, with sweat on my twitching lips.

Not a youngster is taken for larceny, but I go up
too, and am tried and sentenced.

Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp, but I
also lie at the last gasp,
My face is ash-colored, my sinews gnarl, away
from me people retreat.

Askers embody themselves in me, and I am em-
bodied in them,
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, beg.

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I rise extatic through all, sweep with the true
The whirling and whirling is elemental within

Somehow I have been stunned. Stand back!
Give me a little time beyond my cuffed head,
slumbers, dreams, gaping,
I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.

That I could forget the mockers and insults!
That I could forget the trickling tears, and the
blows of the bludgeons and hammers!
That I could look with a separate look on my own
crucifixion and bloody crowning!

I remember, I resume the overstaid fraction,
The grave of rock multiplies what has been con-
fided to it, or to any graves,
The corpses rise, the gashes heal, the fastenings
roll away.

I troop forth replenished with supreme power,
one of an average unending procession,
We walk the roads of Ohio, Massachusetts, Vir-
ginia, Wisconsin, Manhattan Island, New
Orleans, Texas, Montreal, San Francisco,
Charleston, Havana, Mexico,
Inland and by the sea-coast and boundary lines,
and we pass all boundary lines.

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Our swift ordinances are on their way over the
whole earth,
The blossoms we wear in our hats are the growth
of two thousand years.

Eleves, I salute you!
I see the approach of your numberless gangs, I
see you understand yourselves and me,
And know that they who have eyes are divine,
and the blind and lame are equally divine,
And that my steps drag behind yours, yet go be-
fore them,
And are aware how I am with you no more than
I am with everybody.

The friendly and flowing savage, Who is he?
Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and mas-
tering it?

Is he some south-westerner, raised out-doors?
Is he Canadian?
Is he from the Mississippi country? from Iowa,
Oregon, California? from the mountains?
prairie-life, bush-life? from the sea?
Wherever he goes men and women accept and
desire him;
They desire he should like them, touch them
speak to them, stay with them.

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Behaviour lawless as snow-flakes, words simple
as grass, uncombed head, laughter, naivete,
Slow-stepping feet, common features, common
modes and emanations,
They descend in new forms from the tips of his
They are wafted with the odor of his body or
breath, they fly out of the glance of his eyes.

Flaunt of the sun-shine, I need not your bask, lie
You light surfaces only, I force surfaces and
depths also.

Earth! you seem to look for something at my
Say old top-knot! what do you want?

Man or woman! I might tell how I like you, but
And might tell what it is in me, and what it is in
you, but cannot,
And might tell the pinings I have, the pulse of my
nights and days.

Behold I do not give lectures or a little charity,
What I give I give out of myself.

You there, impotent, loose in the knees, open your
scarfed chops till I blow grit within you,

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Spread your palms, and lift the flaps of your
I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores
plenty and to spare,
And any thing I have I bestow;
I do not ask who you are, that is not important to
You can do nothing, and be nothing, but what I
will infold you.

To a drudge of the cotton-fields or cleaner of
privies I lean—on his right cheek I put the
family kiss,
And in my soul I swear, I never will deny him.

On women fit for conception I start bigger and
nimbler babes,
This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arro-
gant republics.

To any one dying, thither I speed and twist the
knob of the door,
Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed,
Let the physician and the priest go home.

I seize the descending man, I raise him with re-
sistless will.

O despairer, here is my neck,

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By God! you shall not go down! hang your
whole weight upon me.

I dilate you with tremendous breath, I buoy you
Every room of the house do I fill with an armed
force, lovers of me, bafflers of graves,
Sleep! I and they keep guard all night,
Not doubt, not decease shall dare to lay finger
upon you,
I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you
to myself,
And when you rise in the morning you will find
what I tell you is so.

I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant
on their backs,
And for strong upright men I bring yet more
needed help.

I heard what was said of the universe,
Heard it and heard it of several thousand years;
It is middling well as far as it goes, but is that

Magnifying and applying come I,
Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,
The most they offer for mankind and eternity less
than a spirt of my own seminal wet,

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Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah —
lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, Hercules
his grandson—buying drafts of Osiris, Isis,
Belus, Brahma, Buddha—in my portfolio
placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the
crucifix engraved—with Odin, and the
hideous-faced Mexitli, and every idol and
Taking them all for what they are worth, and not
a cent more,
Admitting they were alive and did the work of
their day,
Admitting they bore mites, as for unfledged birds,
who have now to rise and fly and sing for
Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out bet-
ter in myself—bestowing them freely on
each man and woman I see,
Discovering as much, or more, in a framer framing
a house,
Putting higher claims for him there with his
rolled-up sleeves, driving the mallet and
Not objecting to special revelations, considering a
curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my
hand just as curious as any revelation,
Those ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder
ropes no less to me than the gods of the
antique wars,

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Minding their voices peal through the crash of
Their brawny limbs passing safe over charred
laths, their white foreheads whole and unhurt
out of the flames,
By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her
nipple interceding for every person born,
Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from
three lusty angels with shirts bagged out at
their waists,
The snag-toothed hostler with red hair redeeming
sins past and to come,
Selling all he possesses, travelling on foot to fee
lawyers for his brother, and sit by him while
he is tried for forgery;
What was strewn in the amplest strewing the
square rod about me, and not filling the square
rod then,
The bull and the bug never worshipped half
Dung and dirt more admirable than was dreamed,
The supernatural of no account—myself waiting
my time to be one of the supremes,
The day getting ready for me when I shall do
as much good as the best, and be as pro-
Guessing when I am it will not tickle me much
to receive puffs out of pulpit or print;
By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator!

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Putting myself here and now to the ambushed
womb of the shadows!

A call in the midst of the crowd,
My own voice, orotund, sweeping, final.

Come my children,
Come my boys and girls, my women, household,
Now the performer launches his nerve, he has
passed his prelude on the reeds within.

Easily written, loose-fingered chords! I feel the
thrum of their climax and close.

My head slues round on my neck,
Music rolls, but not from the organ—folks are
around me, but they are no household of mine.

Ever the hard unsunk ground,
Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and
downward sun, ever the air and the ceaseless
Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing,
wicked, real,
Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorned
thumb, that breath of itches and thirsts,
Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where
the sly one hides, and bring him forth;

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Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life,
Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the tressels
of death.

Here and there with dimes on the eyes walking,
To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally
Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast
never once going,
Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then
the chaff for payment receiving,
A few idly owning, and they the wheat continu-
ally claiming.

This is the city, and I am one of the citizens,
Whatever interests the rest interests me—poli-
tics, markets, newspapers, schools, benevolent
societies, improvements, banks, tariffs, steam-
ships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate,
personal estate.

They who piddle and patter here in collars and
tailed coats, I am aware who they are—they
are not worms or fleas,
I acknowledge the duplicates of myself—the weak-
est and shallowest is deathless with me,
What I do and say, the same waits for them;
Every thought that flounders in me, the same
flounders in them.

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I know perfectly well my own egotism,
I know my omnivorous words, and cannot say any
And would fetch you, whoever you are, flush with

My words are words of a questioning, and to in-
dicate reality;
This printed and bound book—but the printer,
and the printing-office boy?
The marriage estate and settlement—but the
body and mind of the bridegroom? also those
of the bride?
The panorama of the sea—but the sea itself?
The well-taken photographs—but your wife or
friend close and solid in your arms?
The fleet of ships of the line, and all the modern
improvements—but the craft and pluck of
the admiral?
The dishes and fare and furniture—but the host
and hostess, and the look out of their
The sky up there—yet here, or next door, or
across the way?
The saints and sages in history—but you your-
Sermons, creeds, theology—but the human brain,
and what is called reason, and what is called
love, and what is called life?

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I do not despise you, priests,
My faith is the greatest of faiths, and the least of
Enclosing all worship ancient and modern, and all
between ancient and modern,
Believing I shall come again upon the earth after
five thousand years,
Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the
gods, saluting the sun,
Making a fetish of the first rock or stump, powow-
ing with sticks in the circle of obis,
Helping the lama or brahmin as he trims the
lamps of the idols,
Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic pro-
cession—rapt and austere in the woods, a
Drinking mead from the skull-cup, to shastas and
vedas admirant, minding the koran,
Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the
stone and knife, beating the serpent-skin drum,
Accepting the gospels, accepting him that was
crucified, knowing assuredly that he is di-
To the mass kneeling, to the puritan's prayer ris-
ing, sitting patiently in a pew,
Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, waiting
dead-like till my spirit arouses me,
Looking forth on pavement and land, and outside
of pavement and land,

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Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.
One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang, I
turn and talk like a man leaving charges be-
fore a journey.

Down-hearted doubters, dull and excluded,
Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dis-
heartened, atheistical,
I know every one of you, I know the unspoken
By experience I know them.

How the flukes splash!
How they contort, rapid as lightning, with spasms
and spouts of blood!

Be at peace, bloody flukes of doubters and sullen
I take my place among you as much as among
The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the
Day and night are for you, me, all,
And what is yet untried and afterward is for you,
me, all, precisely the same.

I do not know what is untried and afterward,
But I know it is sure, alive, sufficient.

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Each who passes is considered, each who stops is
considered, not a single one can it fail.

It cannot fail the young man who died and was
Nor the young woman who died and was put by
his side,
Nor the little child that peeped in at the door,
and then drew back and was never seen
Nor the old man who has lived without purpose,
and feels it with bitterness worse than gall,
Nor him in the poor-house tubercled by rum and
the bad disorder,
Nor the numberless slaughtered and wrecked, nor
the brutish koboo called the ordure of
Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths
for food to slip in,
Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest
graves of the earth,
Nor any thing in the myriads of spheres, nor
one of the myriads of myriads that inhabit
Nor the present, nor the least wisp that is known.

It is time to explain myself—let us stand up.
What is known I strip away, I launch all men and
women forward with me into the unknown.

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The clock indicates the moment, but what does
eternity indicate?

Eternity lies in bottomless reservoirs, its buckets
are rising forever and ever,
They pour, they pour, and exhale away.

We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters
and summers,
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of

Births have brought us richness and variety,
And other births will bring us richness and

I do not call one greater and one smaller,
That which fills its period and place is equal to

Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my
brother, my sister?
I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or
jealous upon me,
All has been gentle with me, I keep no account
with lamentation;
What have I to do with lamentation?

I am an acme of things accomplished, and I an
encloser of things to be.

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My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs,
On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches
between the steps,
All below duly traveled, and still I mount and

Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I
was even there,
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the
lethargic mist,
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fœtid

Long I was hugged close—long and long.

Immense have been the preparations for me,
Faithful and friendly the arms that have helped me.

Cycles ferried my cradle rowing and rowing like
cheerful boatmen,
For room to me stars kept aside in their own
They sent influences to look after what was to
hold me.

Before I was born out of my mother generations
guided me,
My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could
overlay it,

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For it the nebula cohered to an orb, the long slow
strata piled to rest it on, vast vegetables gave
it sustenance,
Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths,
and deposited it with care.

All forces have been steadily employed to com-
plete and delight me,
Now I stand on this spot with my soul.

Span of youth! ever-pushed elasticity! manhood,
balanced, florid, full!

My lovers suffocate me!
Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin,
Jostling me through streets and public halls,
coming naked to me at night,
Crying by day Ahoy! from the rocks of the river,
swinging and chirping over my head,
Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled
Or while I swim in the bath, or drink from the
pump at the corner, or the curtain is down at
the opera, or I glimpse at a woman's face in
the rail-road car,
Lighting on every moment of my life,
Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses,
Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts
and giving them to be mine.

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Old age superbly rising! Ineffable grace of dying

Every condition promulges not only itself, it pro-
mulges what grows after and out of itself,
And the dark hush promulges as much as

I open my scuttle at night and see the far-
sprinkled systems,
And all I see, multiplied as high as I can cipher,
edge but the rim of the farther systems.

Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always
Outward, outward, forever outward.

My sun has his sun, and round him obediently
He joins with his partners a group of superior
And greater sets follow, making specks of the
greatest inside them.

There is no stoppage, and never can be stoppage,
If I, you, the worlds, all beneath or upon their
surfaces, and all the palpable life, were this
moment reduced back to a pallid float, it
would not avail in the long run,

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We should surely bring up again where we now
And as surely go as much farther, and then far-
ther and farther.

A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of
cubic leagues, do not hazard the span, or
make it impatient,
They are but parts, any thing is but a part.

See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of
Count ever so much, there is limitless time around

My rendezvous is appointed,
The Lord will be there and wait till I come on
perfect terms.

I know I have the best of time and space, and
was never measured, and never will be

I tramp a perpetual journey,
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a
staff cut from the woods,
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,

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But each man and each woman of you I lead upon
a knoll,
My left hand hooks you round the waist,
My right hand points to landscapes of continents,
and a plain public road.

Not I, not any one else, can travel that road for
You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born,
and did not know,
Perhaps it is every where on water and on

Shoulder your duds, I will mine, let us hasten
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch
as we go.

If you tire, give me both burdens and rest the
chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same ser-
vice to me,
For after we start we never lie by again.

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and
looked at the crowded heaven,

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And I said to my spirit, When we become the
enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and
knowledge of every thing in them, shall we
be filled and satisfied then?
And my spirit said No, we level that lift to pass
and continue beyond.

You are also asking me questions, and I hear you,
I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out
for yourself.

Sit awhile wayfarer,
Here are biscuits to eat, here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in
sweet clothes, I will certainly kiss you with
my good-bye kiss, and open the gate for your
egress hence.

Long enough have you dreamed contemptible
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light,
and of every moment of your life.

Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by
the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod
to me, shout, laughingly dash with your hair.

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I am the teacher of athletes,
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my
own proves the width of my own,
He most honors my style who learns under it to
destroy the teacher.

The boy I love, the same becomes a man, not
through derived power, but in his own right,
Wicked, rather than virtuous out of conformity of
Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak,
Unrequited love, or a slight, cutting him worse
than a wound cuts,
First rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull's eye,
to sail a skiff, to sing a song, or play on the
Preferring scars, and faces pitted with small-pox,
over all latherers and those that keep out of
the sun.

I teach straying from me, yet who can stray from
I follow you, whoever you are, from the present
My words itch at your ears till you understand

I do not say these things for a dollar, or to fill up
the time while I wait for a boat,

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It is you talking just as much as myself, I act as
the tongue of you,
It was tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be

I swear I will never mention love or death inside
a house,
And I swear I never will translate myself at all,
only to him or her who privately stays with
me in the open air.

If you would understand me, go to the heights or
The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or
motion of waves a key,
The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words.

No shuttered room or school can commune with
But roughs and little children better than they.

The young mechanic is closest to me, he knows
me pretty well,
The wood-man that takes his axe and jug with
him, shall take me with him all day,
The farm-boy ploughing in the field feels good at
the sound of my voice,
In vessels that sail my words sail—I go with
fishermen and seamen, and love them,

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My face rubs to the hunter's face when he lies
down alone in his blanket,
The driver thinking of me does not mind the
jolt of his wagon,
The young mother and old mother comprehend
The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment,
and forget where they are,
They and all would resume what I have told them.

I have said that the soul is not more than the
And I have said that the body is not more than
the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's-
self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy,
walks to his own funeral, dressed in his
And I or you, pocketless of a dime, may pur-
chase the pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye, or show a bean in its
pod, confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the
young man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub
for the wheeled universe,
And any man or woman shall stand cool and
supercilious before a million universes.

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And I call to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I, who am curious about each, am not curious
about God,
No array of terms can say how much I am at
peace about God, and about death.

I hear and behold God in every object, yet I
understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more won-
derful than myself.

Why should I wish to see God better than this
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-
four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and
in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropped in the street, and
every one is signed by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know
that others will punctually come forever and

And as to you death, and you bitter hug of mor-
tality, it is idle to try to alarm me.

To his work without flinching the accoucheur

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I see the elder-hand, pressing, receiving, support-
I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible
doors, mark the outlet, mark the relief and

And as to you corpse, I think you are good
manure, but that does not offend me,
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and grow-
I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polished
breasts of melons.

And as to you life, I reckon you are the leavings
of many deaths,
No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times

I hear you whispering there, O stars of heaven,
O suns, O grass of graves, O perpetual trans-
fers and promotions, if you do not say any-
thing, how can I say anything?

Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest,
Of the moon that descends the steeps of the
soughing twilight,
Toss, sparkles of day and dusk! Toss on the
black stems that decay in the muck!
Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs!

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I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night,
And perceive of the ghastly glimmer the sun-
beams reflected,
And debouch to the steady and central from the
offspring great or small.

There is that in me—I do not know what it is —
but I know it is in me.

Wrenched and sweaty, calm and cool then my
body becomes,
I sleep—I sleep long.

I do not know it—it is without name—it is a
word unsaid,
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.

Something it swings on more than the earth I
swing on,
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing
awakes me.

Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for
my brothers and sisters.

Do you see, O my brothers and sisters?
It is not chaos or death—it is form, union, plan
—it is eternal life—it is happiness.

The past and present wilt—I have filled them,
emptied them,

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And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
Listener up there! here you! what have you to
confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of
Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay
only a minute longer.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I contradict myself,
I am large, I contain multitudes.

I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on
the door-slab.

Who has done his day's work? who will soonest
be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?

Will you speak before I am gone? will you
prove already too late?

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me —
he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untrans-

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I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness, after the rest, and true as
any, on the shadowed wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the
run-away sun,
I effuse my flash in eddies, and drift it in lacy

I bequeath myself to the dirt, to grow from the
grass I love,
If you want me again, look for me under your

You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged,
Missing me one place, search another,
I stop some where waiting for you.

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2 — Poem of Women.

UNFOLDED only out of the folds of the
woman, man comes unfolded, and is always
to come unfolded,
Unfolded only out of the superbest woman of the
earth is to come the superbest man of the
Unfolded out of the friendliest woman is to come
the friendliest man,
Unfolded only out of the perfect body of a
woman, can a man be formed of perfect body,
Unfolded only out of the inimitable poem of
the woman can come the poems of man —
only thence have my poems come,
Unfolded out of the strong and arrogant woman
I love, only thence can appear the strong
and arrogant man I love,
Unfolded by brawny embraces from the well-
muscled woman I love, only thence come the
brawny embraces of the man,
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman's brain,
come all the folds of the man's brain, duly

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Unfolded out of the justice of the woman, all jus-
tice is unfolded,
Unfolded out of the sympathy of the woman is all
A man is a great thing upon the earth, and
through eternity—but every jot of the great-
ness of man is unfolded out of woman,
First the man is shaped in the woman, he can
then be shaped in himself.

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3 — Poem of Salutation.

O TAKE my hand, Walt Whitman!
Such gliding wonders! Such sights and
Such joined unended links, each hooked to the
Each answering all, each sharing the earth
with all.

What widens within you, Walt Whitman?
What waves and soils exuding?
What climes? what persons and lands are
Who are the infants? some playing, some slum-
Who are the girls? Who are the married
Who are the three old men going slowly with
their arms about each others' necks?
What rivers are these? What forests and fruits
are these?
What are the mountains called that rise so high
in the mists?

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What myriads of dwellings are they, filled with

Within me latitude widens, longitude lengthens,
Asia, Africa, Europe, are to the east—America is
provided for in the west,
Banding the bulge of the earth winds the hot
Curiously north and south turn the axis-ends;
Within me is the longest day, the sun wheels in
slanting rings, it does not set for months,
Stretched in due time within me the midnight sun
just rises above the horizon, and sinks again;
Within me zones, seas, cataracts, plains, volca-
noes, groups,
Oceanica, Australasia, Polynesia, and the great
West Indian islands.

What do you hear, Walt Whitman?
I hear the workman singing, and the farmer's wife
I hear in the distance the sounds of children, and
of animals early in the day,
I hear the inimitable music of the voices of
I hear the persuasions of lovers,
I hear quick rifle-cracks from the riflemen of East
Tennessee and Kentucky, hunting on hills,

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I hear emulous shouts of Australians, pursuing the
wild horse,
I hear the Spanish dance with castanets, in
the chestnut shade, to the rebeck and
I hear continual echoes from the Thames,
I hear fierce French liberty songs,
I hear of the Italian boat-sculler the musical reci-
tative of old poems,
I hear the Virginia plantation chorus of negroes,
of a harvest night, in the glare of pine
I hear the strong baritone of the 'long-shore-men
of Manahatta—I hear the stevedores unlad-
ing the cargoes, and singing,
I hear the screams of the water-fowl of solitary
northwest lakes,
I hear the rustling pattering of locusts, as they
strike the grain and grass with the showers
of their terrible clouds,
I hear the Coptic refrain toward sun-down pen-
sively falling on the breast of the black ven-
erable vast mother, the Nile,
I hear the bugles of raft-tenders on the streams
of Canada,
I hear the chirp of the Mexican muleteer, and
the bells of the mule,
I hear the Arab muezzin, calling from the top of
the mosque,

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I hear Christian priests at the altars of their
churches—I hear the responsive base and
I hear the wail of utter despair of the white-
haired Irish grand-parents, when they learn
the death of their grand-son,
I hear the cry of the Cossack, and the sailor's
voice, putting to sea at Okotsk,
I hear the wheeze of the slave-coffle, as the
slaves march on, as the husky gangs pass on
by twos and threes, fastened together with
wrist-chains and ankle-chains,
I hear the entreaties of women tied up for punish-
ment, I hear the sibilant whisk of thongs
through the air,
I hear the appeal of the greatest orator, he that
turns states by the tip of his tongue,
I hear the Hebrew reading his records and
I hear the rhythmic myths of the Greeks, and
the strong legends of the Romans,
I hear the tale of the divine life and bloody death
of the beautiful god, the Christ,
I hear the Hindoo teaching his favorite pupil the
loves, wars, adages, transmitted safely to this
day from poets who wrote three thousand
years ago.

What do you see, Walt Whitman?

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Who are they you salute, and that one after
another salute you?

I see a great round wonder rolling through the
I see diminute farms, hamlets, ruins, grave-yards,
jails, factories, palaces, hovels, huts of barba-
rians, tents of nomads, upon the surface,
I see the shaded part on one side where the
sleepers are sleeping, and the sun-lit part on
the other side,
I see the curious silent change of the light and
I see distant lands, as real and near to the
inhabitants of them as my land is to me.

I see plenteous waters,
I see mountain peaks—I see the sierras of
Andes and Alleghanies, I see where they
I see plainly the Himmalehs, Chian Shahs, Al-
tays, Gauts,
I see the Rocky Mountains, and the Peak of
I see the Styrian Alps and the Karnac Alps,
I see the Pyrenees, Balks, Carpathians, and to
the north the Dofrafields, and off at sea
Mount Hecla,
I see Vesuvius and Etna—I see the Anahuacs,

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I see the Mountains of the Moon, and the Snow
Mountains, and the Red Mountains of Mada-
I see the Vermont hills, and the long string of
I see the vast deserts of Western America,
I see the Libyan, Arabian, and Asiatic deserts;
I see huge dreadful Arctic and Antarctic icebergs,
I see the superior oceans and the inferior ones —
the Atlantic and Pacific, the sea of Mexico,
the Brazilian sea, and the sea of Peru,
The Japan waters, those of Hindostan, the China
Sea, and the Gulf of Guinea,
The spread of the Baltic, Caspian, Bothnia, the
British shores, and the Bay of Biscay,
The clear-sunned Mediterranean, and from one to
another of its islands,
The inland fresh-tasted seas of North America,
The White Sea, and the sea around Greenland.

I behold the mariners of the world,
Some are in storms, some in the night, with
the watch on the look-out, some drifting
helplessly, some with contagious diseases.

I behold the steam-ships of the world,
Some double the Cape of Storms, some Cape
Verde, others Cape Guardafui, Bon, or Baja-

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Others Dondra Head, others pass the Straits of
Sunda, others Cape Lopatka, others Beh-
ring's Straits,
Others Cape Horn, others the Gulf of Mexico, or
along Cuba or Hayti, others Hudson's Bay or
Baffin's Bay,
Others pass the Straits of Dover, others enter the
Wash, others the Firth of Solway, others
round Cape Clear, others the Land's End,
Others traverse the Zuyder Zee or the Scheld,
Others add to the exits and entrances at Sandy
Others to the comers and goers at Gibraltar or the
Others sternly push their way through the north-
ern winter-packs,
Others descend or ascend the Obi or the Lena,
Others the Niger or the Congo, others the Hoang-
ho and Amoor, others the Indus, the Buram-
pooter and Cambodia,
Others wait at the wharves of Manahatta,
steamed up, ready to start,
Wait swift and swarthy in the ports of Australia,
Wait at Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, Marseilles,
Lisbon, Naples, Hamburgh, Bremen, Bor-
deaux, the Hague, Copenhagen,
Wait at Valparaiso, Rio Janeiro, Panama,
Wait at their moorings at Boston, Philadelphia,
Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, Galves-
ton, San Francisco.

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I see the tracks of the rail-roads of the earth,
I see them welding state to state, county to
county, city to city, through North America,
I see them in Great Britain, I see them in Eu-
I see them in Asia and in Africa.

I see the electric telegraphs of the earth,
I see the filaments of the news of the wars,
deaths, losses, gains, passions, of my race.

I see the long thick river-stripes of the earth,
I see where the Mississippi flows, I see where
the Columbia flows,
I see the St. Lawrence and the falls of Niagara,
I see the Amazon and the Paraguay,
I see where the Seine flows, and where the
Loire, the Rhone, and the Guadalquivir
I see the windings of the Volga, the Dnieper,
the Oder,
I see the Tuscan going down the Arno, and the
Venetian along the Po,
I see the Greek seaman sailing out of Egina bay.

I see the site of the great old empire of Assyria,
and that of Persia, and that of India,
I see the falling of the Ganges over the high rim
of Saukara.

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I see the place of the idea of the Deity incarnated
by avatars in human forms,
I see the spots of the successions of priests on the
earth, oracles, sacrificers, brahmins, sabians
lamas, monks, muftis, exhorters,
I see where druids walked the groves of Mona, I
see the misletoe and vervain,
I see the temples of the deaths of the bodies of
gods, I see the old signifiers,
I see Christ once more eating the bread of his last
supper in the midst of youths and old persons,
I see where the strong divine young man, the Her-
cules, toiled faithfully and long, and then died,
I see the place of the innocent rich life and hap-
less fate of the beautiful nocturnal son, the
full-limbed Bacchus,
I see Kneph, blooming, dressed in blue, with the
crown of feathers on his head,
I see Hermes, unsuspected, dying, well-beloved,
saying to the people, Do not weep for me,
this is not my true country, I have lived
banished from my true country, I now go
back there, I return to the celestial sphere
where every one goes in his turn.

I see the battle-fields of the earth—grass grows
upon them, and blossoms and corn,
I see the tracks of ancient and modern expedi-

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I see the nameless masonries, venerable messages
of the unknown events, heroes, records of the

I see the places of the sagas,
I see pine-trees and fir-trees torn by northern
I see granite boulders and cliffs, I see green mea-
dows and lakes,
I see the burial-cairns of Scandinavian warriors,
I see them raised high with stones, by the marge
of restless oceans, that the dead men's spirits,
when they wearied of their quiet graves,
might rise up through the mounds, and gaze
on the tossing billows, and be refreshed by
storms, immensity, liberty, action.

I see the steppes of Asia,
I see the tumuli of Mongolia, I see the tents of
Kalmucks and Baskirs,
I see the nomadic tribes with herds of oxen and
I see the table-lands notched with ravines, I see
the jungles and deserts,
I see the camel, the wild steed, the bustard, the
fat-tailed sheep, the antelope, and the bur-
rowing wolf.

I see the high-lands of Abyssinia,

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I see flocks of goats feeding, I see the fig-tree,
tamarind, date,
I see fields of teff-wheat, I see the places of
verdure and gold.

I see the Brazilian vaquero,
I see the Bolivian ascending Mount Sorata,
I see the Guacho crossing the plains, I see the
incomparable rider of horses with his lasso
on his arm,
I see over the pampas the pursuit of wild cattle
for their hides.

I see the little and large sea-dots, some inhabited,
some uninhabited;
I see two boats with nets, lying off the shore of
Paumanok, quite still,
I see ten fishermen waiting—they discover now
a thick school of mossbonkers, they drop
the joined seine-ends in the water,
The boats separate, they diverge and row off,
each on its rounding course to the beach,
enclosing the mossbonkers,
The net is drawn in by a windlass by those
who stop ashore,
Some of the fishermen lounge in the boats,
others stand negligently ankle-deep in the
water, poised on strong legs,
The boats are partly drawn up, the water slaps
against them,

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On the sand, in heaps and winrows, well out from
the water, lie the green-backed spotted moss-

I see the despondent red man in the west,
lingering about the banks of Moingo, and
about Lake Pepin,
He has beheld the quail and honey-bee, and
sadly prepared to depart.

I see the regions of snow and ice,
I see the sharp-eyed Samoiede and the Finn,
I see the seal-seeker in his boat, poising his
I see the Siberian on his slight-built sledge, drawn
by dogs,
I see the porpoise-hunters, I see the whale-crews
of the South Pacific and the North Atlantic,
I see the cliffs, glaciers, torrents, valleys, of Switz-
erland—I mark the long winters and the

I see the cities of the earth, and make myself a
part of them,
I am a real Londoner, Parisian, Viennese,
I am a habitan of St. Petersburgh, Berlin, Con-
I am of Adelaide, Sidney, Melbourne,
I am of Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Limerick,

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I am of Madrid, Cadiz, Barcelona, Oporto, Lyons,
Brussels, Berne, Frankfort, Stuttgart, Turin,
I belong in Moscow, Cracow, Warsaw—or north-
ward in Christiana or Stockholm—or in
some street in Iceland,
I descend upon all those cities, and rise from them

I see vapors exhaling from unexplored coun-
I see the savage types, the bow and arrow, the
poisoned splint, the fetish and the obi.

I see African and Asiatic towns,
I see Algiers, Tripoli, Derne, Mogadore, Timbuc-
too, Monrovia,
I see the swarms of Pekin, Canton, Benares,
Delhi, Calcutta,
I see the Kruman in his hut, and the Dahoman
and Ashantee-man in their huts,
I see the Turk smoking opium in Aleppo,
I see the picturesque crowds at the fairs of Khiva,
and those of Herat,
I see Teheran, I see Muscat and Medina, and the
intervening sands—I see the caravans toil-
ing onward;
I see Egypt and the Egyptians, I see the pyramids
and obelisks,

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I look on chiselled histories, songs, philosophies,
cut in slabs of sand-stone or granite blocks,
I see at Memphis mummy-pits, containing mum-
mies, embalmed, swathed in linen cloth, lying
there many centuries,
I look on the fall'n Theban, the large-ball'd eyes,
the side-drooping neck, the hands folded
across the breast.

I see the menials of the earth, laboring,
I see the prisoners in the prisons,
I see the defective human bodies of the earth,
I see the blind, the deaf and dumb, idiots, hunch-
backs, lunatics,
I see the pirates, thieves, betrayers, murderers,
slave-makers of the earth,
I see the helpless infants, and the helpless old
men and women.

I see male and female everywhere,
I see the serene brotherhood of philosophs,
I see the constructiveness of my race,
I see the results of the perseverance and industry
of my race,
I see ranks, colors, barbarisms, civilizations—I
go among them, I mix indiscriminately,
And I salute all the inhabitants of the earth.

You, inevitable where you are!
You daughter or son of England!

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You free man of Australia! you of Tasmania! you
of Papua! you free woman of the same!
You of the mighty Slavic tribes and empires! you
Russ in Russia!
You dim-descended, black, divine-souled African,
large, fine-headed, nobly-formed, superbly
destined, on equal terms with me!
You Norwegian! Swede! Dane! Icelander! you
You Spaniard of Spain! you Portuguese!
You Frenchwoman and Frenchman of France!
You Belge! you liberty-lover of the Netherlands!
You sturdy Austrian! you Lombard! Hun! Bohe-
mian! farmer of Styria!
You neighbor of the Danube!
You working-man of the Rhine, the Elbe, or the
Weser! you working-woman too!
You Sardinian! you Bavarian! you Swabian!
Saxon! Wallachian! Bulgarian!
You citizen of Prague! you Roman! Napolitan!
You lithe matador in the arena at Seville!
You mountaineer living lawlessly on the Taurus
or Caucasus!
You Bokh horse-herd watching your mares and
stallions feeding!
You beautiful-bodied Persian, at full speed in the
saddle, shooting arrows to the mark!

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You Chinaman and Chinawoman of China! you
Tartar of Tartary!
You women of the earth, subordinated at your
You Jew journeying in your old age through every
risk to stand once on Syrian ground!
You other Jews waiting in all lands for your
You thoughtful Armenian pondering by some
stream of the Euphrates! you peering amid
the ruins of Nineveh! you ascending Mount
You foot-worn pilgrim welcoming the far-away
sparkle of the minarets of Mecca!
You sheiks along the stretch from Suez to Babel-
mandel, ruling your families and tribes!
You olive-grower tending your fruit on fields off
Nazareth, Damascus, or Lake Tiberias!
You Thibet trader on the wide inland, or bargain-
ing in the shops of Lassa!
You Japanese man or woman! you liver in
Madagascar, Ceylon, Sumatra, Borneo!
All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe,
Australia, indifferent of place!
All you on the numberless islands of the archi-
pelagoes of the sea!
And you of centuries hence, when you listen to me!
And you everywhere whom I specify not, but in-
clude just the same!

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I salute you for myself and for America.
Each of us inevitable,
Each of us limitless—each of us with his or her
right upon the earth,
Each of us allowed the eternal purport of the earth,
Each of us here as divinely as any is here.

You Hottentot with clicking palate!
You woolly-haired hordes! you white or black
owners of slaves!
You owned persons dropping sweat-drops or
You felons, deformed persons, idiots!
You human forms with the fathomless ever-
impressive countenances of brutes!
You poor koboo whom the meanest of the rest
look down upon, for all your glimmering
language and spirituality!
You low expiring aborigines of the hills of Utah,
Oregon, California!
You dwarfed Kamskatkan, Greenlander, Lapp!
You Austral negro, naked, red, sooty, with pro-
trusive lip, grovelling, seeking your food!
You Caffre, Berber, Soudanese!
You haggard, uncouth, untutored Bedowee!
You plague-swarms in Madras, Nankin, Kaubul,
You bather bathing in the Ganges!

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You benighted roamer of Amazonia! you Pat-
agonian! you Fegee-man!
You peon of Mexico! you Russian serf! you
quadroon of Carolina, Texas, Tennessee!
I do not refuse you my hand, or prefer others
before you,
I do not say one word against you.

My spirit has passed in compassion and deter-
mination around the whole earth,
I have looked for brothers, sisters, lovers, and
found them ready for me in all lands.

I think I have risen with you, you vapors, and
moved away to distant continents, and fallen
down there, for reasons,
I think I have blown with you, you winds,
I think, you waters, I have fingered every shore
with you,
I think I have run through what any river or strait
of the globe has run through,
I think I have taken my stand on the bases of
peninsulas, and on imbedded rocks.

What cities the light or warmth penetrates, I
penetrate those cities myself,
All islands to which birds wing their way, I
wing my way myself,
I find my home wherever there are any homes of

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4 — Poem of The Daily Work of The Workmen and Workwomen of These States.

COME closer to me,
Push close, my lovers, and take the best I
Yield closer and closer, and give me the best you

This is unfinished business with me—How is it
with you?
I was chilled with the cold types, cylinder, wet
paper between us.

I pass so poorly with paper and types, I must pass
with the contact of bodies and souls.

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.

Were all educations practical and ornamental well
displayed out of me, what would it amount to?

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Were I as the head teacher, charitable proprietor,
wise statesman, what would it amount to?
Were I to you as the boss employing and paying
you, would that satisfy you?

The learned, virtuous, benevolent, and the usual
A man like me, and never the usual terms.

Neither 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.

If you are a workman or workwoman, I stand as
nigh as the nighest that works in the same
If you bestow gifts on your brother or dearest
friend, I demand as good as your brother or
dearest friend,
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,

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If you meet some stranger in the street, 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.

Why what have you thought of yourself?
Is it you, then, that thought yourself less?
Is it you that thought the President greater than
you? or the rich better off than you? or the
educated wiser than you?

Because 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

Souls of men and women! it is not you I call
unseen, unheard, untouchable and untouch-
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
What is there you cannot give and take?

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I 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 uniform,
Not only the free Utahan, Kansian, Arkansian —
not only the free Cuban, not merely the slave,
not Mexican native, Flatfoot, negro from
Iroquois eating the war-flesh, fish-tearer in his lair
of rocks and sand, Esquimaux in the dark
cold snow-house, Chinese with his transverse
eyes, Bedowee, wandering nomad, taboun-
schik at the head of his droves,
Grown, half-grown, and babe, of this country and
every country, indoors and outdoors, I see —
and all else is behind or through them.

The wife, and she is not one jot less than the
The daughter, and she is just as good as the
The mother, and she is every bit as much as the

Offspring of those not rich, boys apprenticed to
Young fellows working on farms, and old fellows
working on farms,

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The naive, the simple and hardy, he going to the
polls to vote, he who has a good time, and he
who has a bad time,
Mechanics, southerners, new arrivals, laborers
sailors, mano'warsmen, merchantmen, coast-
All these I see, but nigher and farther the same I
None shall escape me, and none shall wish to
escape me.

I 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.

There is something that comes home to one now
and perpetually,
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,
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

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You 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.

The 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 recon-
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.

The light and shade, the curious sense of body
and identity, the greed that with perfect
complaisance devours all things, the endless
pride and out-stretching of man, unspeakable
joys and sorrows,

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The wonder every one sees in every one else he
sees, and the wonders that fill each minute
of time forever, and each acre of surface and
space forever,
Have you reckoned them for a trade or farm-work?
or for the profits of a store? or to achieve
yourself a position? or to fill a gentleman's
leisure, or a lady's leisure?

Have you reckoned the landscape took substance
and form that it might be painted in a
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 ta-
bles, or agriculture itself?

Old institutions, these arts, libraries, legends,
collections, and the practice handed along
in manufactures, will we rate them so high?
Will we rate our cash and business high? I have
no objection,

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I rate them high as the highest, then a child born
of a woman and man I rate beyond all rate.

We 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
Then I am eternally in love with you, and with
all my fellows upon the earth.

We 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

The 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 December for you,

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Laws, courts, the forming of States, the charters
of cities, the going and coming of commerce
and mails, are all for you.

All doctrines, all politics and civilization, exurge
from you,
All sculpture and monuments, and anything in-
scribed 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?
The most renowned poems would be ashes, ora-
tions and plays would be vacuums.

All 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?

All 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 ro-
manza, nor that of the men's chorus, nor that
of the women's chorus,
It is nearer and farther than they.

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Will the whole come back then?
Can each see signs of the best by a look in the
looking-glass? is there nothing greater or
Does all sit there with you, and here with me?

The old, forever-new things—you foolish child!
the closest, simplest things, this moment with
Your person, and every particle that relates to
your person,
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, what causes your
anger or wonder,
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 intui-
tively learnt,
What is learnt in the public school, spelling,
reading, writing, ciphering, the black-board,
the teacher's diagrams,
The panes of the windows, all that appears
through them, the going forth in the morning,
the aimless spending of the day,

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(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, the life of hunt-
ing or fishing,
Pasture-life, foddering, milking, herding, all the
personnel and usages,
The plum-orchard, apple-orchard, gardening,
seedlings, 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 build-
ing of cities, every trade carried on there,
the implements of every trade,
The anvil, tongs, hammer, the axe and wedge,
the square, mitre, jointer, smoothing-plane,
The plumbob, trowel, level, the wall-scaffold, the
work of walls and ceilings, any mason-
The steam-engine, lever, crank, axle, piston, shaft,
air-pump, boiler, beam, pulley, hinge, flange,
band, bolt, throttle, governors, up and down

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The ship's compass, the sailor's tarpaulin, the
stays and lanyards, the ground tackle for
anchoring or mooring, the life-boat for
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 head-
way, with her proud fat breasts and her deli-
cate swift-flashing paddles,
The trail, line, hooks, sinkers, the seine, hauling
the seine,
The arsenal, small-arms, rifles, gunpowder, shot,
caps, wadding, ordnance for war, carriages;
Every-day objects, house-chairs, carpet, bed,
counterpane 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, aqueduct,
The message of the governor, mayor, chief of
police—the dishes of breakfast, dinner, sup-
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 faintly,

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The directory, the detector, the ledger, the books
in ranks on the book-shelves, the clock at-
tached 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 ocu-
list's or aurist's instruments, or dentist's in-
The permutating lock that can be turned and
locked as many different ways as there are
minutes in a year,
Glass-blowing, nail-making, salt-making, tin-roof-
ing, shingle-dressing, candle-making, lock-
making and hanging,
Ship-carpentering, dock-building, fish-curing, ferry-
ing, 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 medita-
tions, what vast native thoughts looking
through smutch'd faces,
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-

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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 rail-
Oil-works, silk-works, white-lead-works, the
sugar-house, steam-saws, the great mills and
Lead-mines, and all that is done in lead-mines, or
with the lead afterward,
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 facades,
or window or door lintels—the mallet,
the tooth-chisel, the jib to protect the
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
working-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, news-men,

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The implements for daguerreotyping—the tools
of the rigger, grappler, sail-maker, block-
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 flat-iron,
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, run-
ning, leaping, pitching quoits,
The designs for wall-papers, oil-cloths, carpets,
the fancies for goods for women, the book-
binder's stamps,
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, stereotyping,
Stave-machines, planing-machines, reaping-ma-
chines, ploughing-machines, thrashing-ma-
chines, steam-wagons,

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The cart of the carman, the omnibus, the ponder-
ous dray,
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 ten
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 shav-
ings in the open lot in the city, 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,
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 levees,

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Bread and cakes in the bakery, the milliner's rib-
bons, the dress-maker's patterns, the tea-table,
the home-made sweetmeats;
Coins and medals, the ancient bronze coin, bust,
inscription, date, ring-money, the copper
cent, the silver dime, the five-dime piece, the
gold dollar, the fifty-dollar piece—Modern
coins, and all the study and reminiscence of
old coins,
Cheap literature, maps, charts, lithographs, daily
and weekly newspapers,
The column of wants in the one-cent paper,
the news by telegraph, amusements, operas,
The business parts of a city, the trottoirs of a
city when thousands of well-dressed people
walk up and down,
The cotton, woolen, 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 deposite in the savings-bank, the trade at
the grocery,
The pay on Saturday 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,

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In them, not yourself—you and your soul enclose
all things, regardless of estimation,
In them your themes, hints, provokers—if not,
the whole earth has no themes, hints, pro-
vokers, and never had.

I 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
But I say that none lead to greater, sadder, hap-
pier, than those lead to.

Will you seek afar off? you surely come back at
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 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 prece-
dence in poems or anywhere,
You workwomen and workmen of These States
having your own divine and strong life —
looking the President always sternly in the

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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

When 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
When the sacred vessels, or the bits of the eucha-
rist, or the lath and plast, procreate as effec-
tually as the young silver-smiths or bakers, or
the masons in their over-alls,
When a university course convinces like a slum-
bering 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.

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5 — Broad-Axe Poem.

BROAD-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.

Strong 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.

Welcome 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,

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Welcome the cotton-lands—welcome those of the
white potato and sweet potato,
Welcome are mountains, flats, sands, forests, prai-
Welcome the rich borders of rivers, table-lands,
Welcome the measureless grazing lands—wel-
come 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 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!

The 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
The sentiment of the huge timbers of old-fashioned
houses and barns;

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The remembered print or narrative, the voyage at
a venture of men, families, goods,
The disembarcation, the founding of a new city,
The voyage of those who sought a New England
and found it,
The Year 1 of These States, the weapons that year
began with, scythe, pitch-fork, club, horse-
The settlements of the Arkansas, Colorado, Ottawa,
The slow progress, the scant fare, the axe, rifle,
The beauty of all adventurous and daring per-
The beauty of wood-boys and wood-men, with
their clear untrimmed faces,
The beauty of independence, departure, actions
that rely on themselves,
The American contempt for statutes and cere-
monies, 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 rafts-man,
the pioneer,
Lumber-men in their winter camp, day-break in the
woods, stripes of snow on the limbs of trees,
the occasional snapping,

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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
Their postures bringing their weapons downward
on the bearers,
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,

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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 and bricks,
The bricks, one after another, each laid so work-
man-like in its place, and set with a knock of
the trowel-handle,
The piles of materials, the mortar on the mortar-
boards, and the steady replenishing by the
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
The brisk short crackle of the steel driven slant-
ingly into the pine,
The butter-colored chips flying off in great flakes
and slivers,
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 fire-man—the fire that suddenly bursts
forth in the close-packed square,
The arriving engines, the hoarse shouts, the
nimble stepping and daring,

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The strong command through the fire-trumpets,
the forming in line, the echoed rise and fall
of the arms forcing the water,
The slender, spasmic blue-white jets—the bring-
ing to bear of the hooks and ladders, and
their execution,
The crash and cut away of connecting wood-work,
or through floors, if the fire smoulders under
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,

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The death-howl, the limpsey tumbling, the
rush of friend and foe thither,
The siege of revolted lieges determined for lib-
The summons to surrender, the battering at castle
gates, the truce and parley,
The sack of an old city in its time,
The bursting in of mercenaries and bigots tumult-
uously 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.

Muscle and pluck forever!
What invigorates life, invigorates death,
And the dead advance as much as the living
And the future is no more uncertain than the
And the roughness of the earth and of man en-
closes as much as the delicatesse of the earth
and of man,
And nothing endures but personal qualities.

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What do you think endures?
Do you think the greatest city endures?
Or a teeming manufacturing state? or a prepared
constitution? or the best built steam-ships?
Or hotels of granite and iron? or any chef-
d'oeuvres of engineering, forts, armaments?

Away! These are not to be cherished for them-
They fill their hour, the dancers dance, the musi-
cians play for them,
The show passes, all does well enough of course,
All does very well till one flash of defiance.

The 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.

The place where the greatest city stands is not
the place of stretched wharves, docks, manu-
factures, deposites 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 build-
ings, 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,

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Nor the place of the most numerous population.
Where 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
Where these may be seen going every day in the
streets, with their arms familiar to the shoul-
ders 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 auda-
city of elected persons,
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,

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Where children are taught from the jump that
they are to be laws to themselves, and to
depend on themselves,
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
Where the city of the healthiest fathers stands,
Where the city of the best-bodied mothers stands,
There the greatest city stands.

How 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!

All 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,
When he or she appears, materials are over-
The dispute on the soul stops,

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The old customs and phrases are confronted,
turned back, or laid away.

What is your money-making now? What can it
do now?
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?

Was 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!

—A sterile landscape covers the ore—there is as good as the best, for all the forbidding
There is the mine, there are the miners,
The forge-furnace is there, the melt is accom-
plished, the hammers-men are at hand with
their tongs and hammers,
What always served and always serves, is at hand.
Than this nothing has better served—it has served

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Served the fluent-tongued and subtle-sensed
Greek, and long ere the Greek,
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
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
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 Celt, served the
hardy pirates of the Baltic,
Served before any of those, the venerable and
harmless men of Ethiopia,
Served the making of helms for the galleys
of pleasure, and the making of those for
Served all great works on land, and all great
works on the sea,

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For the medieval ages, and before the medieval
Served not the living only, then as now, but
served the dead.

I see the European headsman,
He stands masked, clothed in red, with huge legs,
and strong naked arms,
And leans on a ponderous axe.

Whom have you slaughtered lately, European
Whose is that blood upon you, so wet and

I see the clear sun-sets of the martyrs,
I see from the scaffolds the descending
Ghosts of dead princes, uncrowned ladies, im-
peached ministers, rejected kings,
Rivals, traitors, poisoners, disgraced chieftains,
and the rest.

I see those who in any land have died for the
good cause,
The seed is spare, nevertheless the crop shall
never run out,
Mind you, O foreign kings, O priests, the crop
shall never run out.

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I see the blood washed entirely away from the
Both blade and helve are clean,
They spirt no more the blood of European nobles,
—they clasp no more the necks of queens.

I see the headsman withdraw and become use-
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.

America! I do not vaunt my love for you,
I have what I have.

The axe leaps!
The solid forest gives fluid utterances,
They tumble forth, they rise and form,
Hut, tent, landing, survey,
Flail, plough, pick, crowbar, spade,
Shingle, rail, prop, wainscot, jamb, lath, panel,
Citadel, ceiling, saloon, academy, organ, exhibi-
tion-house, library,
Cornice, trellis, pilaster, balcony, window, shutter,
turret, porch,
Hoe, rake, pitch-fork, pencil, wagon, staff, saw,
jackplane, mallet, wedge, rounce,

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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
Long stately rows in avenues, hospitals for or-
phans or for the poor or sick,
Manhattan steamboats and clippers, taking the
measure of all seas.

The 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
Penobscot, or St. John's, or Kennebec,
Dwellers in cabins among the Californian moun-
tains, or by the little lakes,
Dwellers south on the banks of the Gila or Rio
Grande—friendly gatherings, the characters
and fun,
Dwellers up north in Minnesota and by the
Yellowstone river, dwellers on coasts and
off coasts,
Seal-fishers, whalers, arctic seamen breaking pas-
sages through the ice.

The shapes arise!
Shapes of factories, arsenals, foundries, markets,
Shapes of the two-threaded tracks of railroads,

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Shapes of the sleepers of bridges, vast frame-
works, girders, arches,
Shapes of the fleets of barges, tows, lake craft,
river craft.

The shapes arise!
Ship-yards and dry-docks along the Atlantic and
Pacific, and in many a bay and by-place,
The live-oak kelsons, the pine planks, the spars,
the hackmatuck-roots for knees,
The ships themselves on their ways, the tiers of
scaffolds, the workmen busy outside and in-
The tools lying around, the great augur and little
augur, the adze, bolt, line, square, gouge,

The shapes arise!
The shape measured, sawed, jacked, joined,
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
The shape of the floor-planks, the floor-planks for
dancers' feet,

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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,
The roof over the supper joyously cooked by the
chaste wife, and joyously eaten by the chaste
husband, content after his day's work.

The 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 oint-
ment-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 drinks,
The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted
and sentenced murderer, the murderer with
haggard face and pinioned arms,

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The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent
and white-lipped crowd, the sickening dan-
gling of the rope.

The shapes arise!
Shapes of doors giving so many exits and
The door passing the dissevered friend, flushed,
and in haste,
The door that admits good news and bad news,
The door whence the son left home, confident and
puffed up,
The door he entered from a long and scandalous
absence, diseased, broken down, without in-
nocence, without means.

Their shapes arise, 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.

Her shape arises!
She, less guarded than ever, yet more guarded
than ever,

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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 there-
She is the best-beloved, it is without exception,
she has no reason to fear, and she does not
Oaths, quarrels, hiccuped songs, smutty expres-
sions, are idle to her as she passes,
She is silent, she is possessed of herself, they do
not offend her,
She receives them as the laws of nature receive
them, she is strong,
She too is a law of nature, there is no law greater
than she is.

His shape arises!
Arrogant, masculine, naive, rowdyish,
Laugher, weeper, worker, idler, citizen, country-
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,

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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 gen-
tleman on equal terms,
Attitudes lithe and erect, costume free, neck 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, eas-
ily understood after all,
Never offering others, always offering himself,
corroborating his phrenology,
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
illustrations of results of The States,
Teacher of the unquenchable creed, namely,
Inviter of others continually henceforth to try
their strength against his.

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The shapes arise!
Shapes of America, shapes 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 the turbulent manly cities,
Shapes of the untamed breed of young men and
natural persons,
Shapes of women fit for These States,
Shapes of the composition of all the varieties of
the earth,
Shapes of the friends and home-givers of the
whole earth,
Shapes bracing the whole earth, and braced with
the whole earth.

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6 — Poem of a Few Greatnesses.

GREAT 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,

Great is liberty! Great is equality! I am their
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.

Great is today, and beautiful,
It is good to live in this age, there never was any

Great are the plunges, throes, triumphs, falls of
Great the reformers, with their lapses and screams,
Great the daring and venture of sailors on new

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Great are yourself and myself,
We are just as good and bad as the oldest and
youngest 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?

Great is youth, equally great is old age—great are
the day and night,
Great is wealth, great is poverty, great is expres-
sion, great is silence,

Youth, large, lusty, loving—youth, full of grace,
force, fascination,
Do you know that old age may come after you,
with equal grace, force, fascination?

Day, full-blown and splendid—day of the im-
mense sun, action, ambition, laughter,
The night follows close, with millions of suns,
and sleep, and restoring darkness.

Wealth with the flush hand, fine clothes, hospi-
But then the soul's wealth, which is candor,
knowledge, pride, enfolding love;
(Who goes for men and women showing poverty
richer than wealth?)

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Expression of speech! in what is written or said,
forget 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.

Great is the greatest nation! the nation of clus-
ters of equal nations!

Great is the earth, and the way it became what it
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.

Great is the quality of truth in man,
The quality of truth in man supports itself
through all changes,
It is inevitably in the man—he and it are in love,
and never leave each other.

The 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,

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If there be equilibrium or volition, there is truth
—if there be things at all upon the earth,
there is truth.

O truth of the earth! O truth of things! I am
determined to press the whole way toward
Sound your voice! I scale mountains, or dive in
the sea after you.

Great is language—it is the mightiest of the
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
buildings, ships, religions, paintings, music.

Great 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.

Great in the law—great are the old few land-
marks of the law,

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They are the same in all times, and shall not be

Great are marriage, commerce, newspapers,
books, free-trade, rail-roads, steamers, interna-
tional mails, telegraphs, exchanges.

Great is justice!
Justice is not settled by legislators and laws—it
is in the soul,
It cannot be varied by statutes, any more than
love, pride, the attraction of gravity, can,
It is immutable—it does not depend on major-
ities—majorities or what not come at last
before the same passionless and exact tri-

For justice are the grand natural lawyers and per-
fect 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.

The 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.

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Great is goodness!
I do not know what it is any more than I know
what health is, but I know it is great.

Great 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 par-

The eternal equilibrium of things is great, and the
eternal overthrow of things is great,
And there is another paradox.

Great is life, real and mystical, wherever and
Great is death—sure as life holds all parts to-
gether, 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

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7 — Poem of The Body.

THE bodies of men and women engirth me, and
I engirth them,
They will not let me off, nor I them, till I go with
them, respond to them, love them.

Was it doubted if those who corrupt their own live
bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as
they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the

The expression of the body of man or woman
balks account,
The male is perfect, and that of the female is per-

The expression of a well-made man appears not
only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in
the joints of his hips and wrists,

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It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex
of his waist and knees—dress does not
hide him,
The strong, sweet, supple quality he has, strikes
through the cotton and flannel,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best
poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his
neck and shoulder-side.

The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and
heads of women, the folds of their dress,
their style as we pass in the street, the con-
tour of their shape downwards,
The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen
as he swims through the transparent green-
shine, or lies with his face up, and rolls
silently in the heave of the water,
The bending forward and backward of rowers in
row-boats, the horseman in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their per-
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with
their open dinner-kettles, and their wives
The female soothing a child, the farmer's daughter
in the garden or cow-yard,
The young fellow hoeing corn, the sleigh-driver
guiding his six horses through the crowd,

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The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys,
quite grown, lusty, good-natured, native-born,
out on the vacant lot at sun-down, after work,
The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of
love and resistance,
The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled
over and blinding the eyes;
The march of firemen in their own costumes, the
play of masculine muscle through clean-set-
ting trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the
bell strikes suddenly again, the listening on
the alert,
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent
head, the curved neck, the counting,
Such-like I love, I loosen myself, pass freely,
am at the mother's breast with the little
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers,
march in line with the firemen, pause, listen,

I knew a man, he was a common farmer, he was
the father of five sons, and in them were the
fathers of sons, and in them were the fathers
of sons.

This man was of wonderful vigor, calmness,
beauty of person,

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The shape of his head, the richness and breadth
of his manners, the pale yellow and white
of his hair and beard, the immeasurable
meaning of his black eyes,
These I used to go and visit him to see—he was
wise also,
He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years
old—his sons were massive, clean, bearded,
tan-faced, handsome,
They and his daughters loved him, all who saw
him loved him, they did not love him by
allowance, they loved him with personal
He drank water only, the blood showed like scar-
let through the clear brown skin of his face,
He was a frequent gunner and fisher, he sailed his
boat himself, he had a fine one presented to
him by a ship-joiner—he had fowling-pieces,
presented to him by men that loved him,
When he went with his five sons and many grand-
sons to hunt or fish, you would pick him out
as the most beautiful and vigorous of the
You would wish long and long to be with him —
you would wish to sit by him in the boat,
that you and he might touch each other.

I have perceived that to be with those I like is

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To stop in company with the rest at evening is
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breath-
ing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them, to touch any one, to rest
my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck
for a moment—what is this, then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it, as in
a sea.

There is something in staying close to men and
women, and looking on them, and in the con-
tact and odor of them, that pleases the soul
All things please the soul, but these please the
soul well.

This is the female form!
A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot,
It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction,
I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more
than a helpless vapor—all falls aside but
myself and it,
Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth,
the atmosphere and the clouds, what was
expected of heaven or feared of hell, are now
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it,
the response likewise ungovernable,

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Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling
hands, all diffused—mine too diffused,
Ebb stung by the flow, and flow stung by the ebb,
love-flesh swelling and deliciously aching,
Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous,
quivering jelly of love, white-blow and deliri-
ous juice,
Bridegroom-night of love, working surely and
softly into the prostrate dawn,
Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-
fleshed day.

This is the nucleus—after the child is born of
woman, the man is born of woman,
This is the bath of birth—this is the merge of
small and large, and the outlet again.

Be not ashamed, women! your privilege encloses
the rest, it is the exit of the rest,
You are the gates of the body, and you are the
gates of the soul!

The female contains all qualities, and tempers
them—she is in her place, she moves with
perfect balance,
She is all things duly veiled, she is both passive
and active—she is to conceive daughters as
well as sons, and sons as well as daughters.

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As I see my soul reflected in nature, as I see
through a mist, one with inexpressible com-
pleteness and beauty—see the bent head and
arms folded over the breast, the female I
I see the bearer of the great fruit which is im-
mortality—the good thereof is not tasted
by roues, and never can be.

The male is not less the soul, nor more—he too
is in his place,
He too is all qualities, he is action and power, the
flush of the known universe is in him,
Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defi-
ance become him well,
The fiercest largest passions, bliss that is utmost,
sorrow that is utmost, become him well —
pride is for him,
The full-spread pride of man is calming and ex-
cellent to the soul,
Knowledge becomes him, he likes it always, he
brings everything to the test of himself,
Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the
sail, he strikes soundings at last only here,
Where else does he strike soundings, except

The man's body is sacred, and the woman's body
is sacred—it is no matter who,

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Is it a slave? Is it one of the dull-faced immi-
grants just landed on the wharf?
Each belongs here or anywhere, just as much as
the well-off, just as much as you,
Each has his or her place in the procession.

All is a procession!
The universe is a procession, with measured and
beautiful motion!

Do you know so much, that you call the slave or
the dull-face ignorant?
Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight,
and he or she has no right to a sight?
Do you think matter has cohered together from its
diffused float, and the soil is on the surface,
and water runs, and vegetation sprouts, for
you, and not for him and her?

A man's body at auction!
I help the auctioneer—the sloven does not half
know his business.

Gentlemen, look on this wonder!
Whatever the bids of the bidders, they cannot be
high enough for it,
For it the globe lay preparing quintillions of years,
without one animal or plant,
For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily

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In this head the all-baffling brain,
In it and below it the making of the attributes of

Examine these limbs, red, black, or white—they
are so cunning in tendon and nerve,
They shall be stript that you may see them.

Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition,
Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant back-bone and
neck, flesh not flabby, good-sized arms and
And wonders within there yet.

Within there runs blood—the same old blood!
the same red running blood!
There swells and jets a heart—there all passions,
desires, reachings, aspirations,
Do you think they are not there because they are
not expressed in parlors and lecture-rooms?

This is not only one man—this is the father of
those who shall be fathers in their turns,
In him the start of populous states and rich re-
Of him countless immortal lives, with countless
embodiments and enjoyments.

How do you know who shall come from the off-
spring of his offspring through the centuries?

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Who might you find you have come from yourself,
if you could trace back through the cen-

A woman's body at auction!
She too is not only herself, she is the teeming
mother of mothers,
She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be
mates to the mothers.

Her daughters, or their daughters' daughters —
who knows who shall mate with them?
Who knows through the centuries what heroes
may come from them?

In them, and of them, natal love—in them
the divine mystery, the same old beautiful

Have you ever loved the body of a woman?
Have you ever loved the body of a man?
Your father, where is your father?
Your mother, is she living? Have you been
much with her? and has she been much
with you?
Do you not see that these are exactly the same
to all, in all nations and times, all over the

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If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred,
And the glory and sweet of a man is the token of
manhood untainted,
And in man or woman a clean, strong, firm-fibred
body, is beautiful as the most beautiful face.

Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live
body? or the fool that corrupted her own live
For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot
conceal themselves.

O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in
other men and women, nor the likes of the
parts of you!
I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with
the likes of the soul,
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with
my poems—for they are poems,
Man's, woman's, child's, youth's, wife's, husband's,
mother's, father's, young man's, young woman's
Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the
Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eye-brows, and
the waking or sleeping of the lids,
Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth,
jaws, and the jaw-hinges,
Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,

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Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of
the neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-
shoulders, and the ample side-round of the
Upper-arm, arm-pit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-
sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles,
thumb, forefinger, finger-balls, finger-joints,
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast,
breast-bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, back-bone, joints of the back-bone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and out-
ward round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk
Leg-fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel,
All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings
of my or your body, or of any one's body,
male or female,
The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels
sweet and clean,
The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality
Womanhood, and all that is a woman—and the
man that comes from woman,

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The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears,
laughter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturba-
tions and risings,
The voice, articulation, language, whispering,
shouting aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walk-
ing, swimming,
Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing,
arm-curving, and tightening,
The continual changes of the flex of the mouth,
and around the eyes,
The skin, the sun-burnt shade, freckles, hair,
The curious sympathy one feels, when feeling
with the hand the naked meat of his own
body or another person's body,
The circling rivers, the breath, and breathing it in
and out,
The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips,
and thence downward toward the knees,
The thin red jellies within you, or within me —
the bones, and the marrow in the bones,
The exquisite realization of health,
O I think these are not the parts and poems of
the body only, but of the soul,
O I think these are the soul!
If these are not the soul, what is the soul?

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8 — Poem of Many In One.

A NATION announcing itself,
I myself make the only growth by which I
can be appreciated,
I reject none, accept all, reproduce all in my own

A breed whose testimony is behaviour,
What we are, we are—nativity is answer enough
to objections;
We wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded,
We are powerful and tremendous in ourselves,
We are executive in ourselves—we are sufficient
in the variety of ourselves,
We are the most beautiful to ourselves and in our-
Nothing is sinful to us outside of ourselves,
Whatever appears, whatever does not appear, we
are beautiful or sinful in ourselves.

Have you thought there could be but a single

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There can be any number of Supremes—one
does not countervail another any more than
one eye-sight countervails another, or one life
countervails another.

All is eligible to all,
All is for individuals—all is for you,
No condition is prohibited, not God's or any,
If one is lost, you are inevitably lost.

All comes by the body—only health puts you
rapport with the universe.

Produce great persons, the rest follows.
How dare a sick man, or an obedient man, write
Which is the theory or book that is not diseased?

Piety and conformity to them that like!
Peace, obesity, allegiance, to them that like!
I am he who tauntingly compels men, women,
nations, to leap from their seats and contend
for their lives!

I am he who goes through the streets with a
barbed tongue, questioning every one I meet
—questioning you up there now,
Who are you, that wanted only to be told what
you knew before?

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Who are you, that wanted only a book to join you
in your nonsense?

Are you, or would you be, better than all that has
ever been before?
If you would be better than all that has ever been
before, come listen to me, and I will to you.

Fear grace! Fear delicatesse!
Fear the mellow sweet, the sucking of honey-
Beware the advancing mortal ripening of nature!
Beware what precedes the decay of the rugged-
ness of states and men!

Ages, precedents, poems, have long been accumu-
lating undirected materials,
America brings builders, and brings its own styles.

Mighty bards have done their work, and passed to
other spheres,
One work forever remains, the work of surpassing
all they have done.

America, curious toward foreign characters,
stands sternly by its own,
Stands removed, spacious, composite, sound,
Sees itself promulger of men and women, initiates
the true use of precedents,

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Does not repel them or the past, or what they
have produced under their forms, or amid
other politics, or amid the idea of castes, or
the old religions,
Takes the lesson with calmness, perceives the
corpse slowly borne from the eating and
sleeping rooms of the house,
Perceives that it waits a little while in the door,
that it was fittest for its days, that its life has
descended to the stalwart and well-shaped
heir who approaches, and that he shall be fit-
test for his days.

Any period, one nation must lead,
One land must be the promise and reliance of the

These States are the amplest poem,
Here is not merely a nation, but a teeming nation
of nations,
Here the doings of men correspond with the
broadcast doings of the day and night,
Here is what moves in magnificent masses, care-
lessly faithful of particulars,
Here are the roughs, beards, friendliness, com-
bativeness, the soul loves,
Here the flowing trains, here the crowds, equality,
diversity, the soul loves.

Race of races, and bards to corroborate!

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Of them, standing among them, one lifts to the
light his west-bred face,
To him the hereditary countenance bequeathed,
both mother's and father's,
His first parts substances, earth, water, animals, trees,
Built of the common stock, having room for far
and near,
Used to dispense with other lands, incarnating this
Attracting it body and soul to himself, hanging on
its neck with incomparable love,
Plunging his semitic muscle into its merits and
Making its geography, cities, beginnings, events,
glories, defections, diversities, vocal in him,
Making its rivers, lakes, bays, embouchure in him,
Mississippi with yearly freshets and changing
chutes, Missouri, Columbia, Ohio, St. Law-
rence, Hudson, spending themselves lovingly
in him,
The blue breadth over the sea off Massachusetts
and Maine, or over the Virginia and Maryland
sea, or over inland Champlain, Ontario, Erie,
Huron, Michigan, Superior, or over the
Texan, Mexican, Cuban, Floridian seas, or
over the seas off California and Oregon, not
tallying the breadth of the waters below,
more than the breadth of above and below is
tallied in him,

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If the Atlantic coast stretch, or the Pacific coast
stretch, he stretching with them north or south,
Spanning between them east and west, and touch-
ing whatever is between them,
Growths growing from him to offset the growth of
pine, cedar, hemlock, live-oak, locust, chest-
nut, cypress, hickory, lime-tree, cotton-wood,
tulip-tree, cactus, tamarind, orange, magnolia,
Tangles as tangled in him as any cane-brake or
He likening sides and peaks of mountains, forests
coated with transparent ice, and icicles hang-
ing from the boughs,
Off him pasturage sweet and natural as savannah,
upland, prairie,
Through him flights, songs, screams, answering
those of the wild-pigeon, high-hold, orchard-
oriole, coot, surf-duck, red-shouldered-hawk,
fish-hawk, white-ibis, indian-hen, cat-owl,
water-pheasant, qua-bird, pied-sheldrake,
mocking-bird, buzzard, condor, night-heron,
His spirit surrounding his country's spirit, unclosed
to good and evil,
Surrounding the essences of real things, old times
and present times,
Surrounding just found shores, islands, tribes of
red aborigines,

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Weather-beaten vessels, landings, settlements, the
rapid stature and muscle,
The haughty defiance of the Year 1—war, peace,
the formation of the Constitution,
The separate States, the simple, elastic scheme,
the immigrants,
The Union, always swarming with blatherers, and
always calm and impregnable,
The unsurveyed interior, log-houses, clearings,
wild animals, hunters, trappers;
Surrounding the multiform agriculture, mines,
temperature, the gestation of new States,
Congress convening every December, the mem-
bers duly coming up from the uttermost
Surrounding the noble character of mechanics and
farmers, especially the young men,
Responding their manners, speech, dress, friend-
ships—the gait they have of persons who
never knew how it felt to stand in the
presence of superiors,
The freshness and candor of their physiognomy, the
copiousness and decision of their phrenology,
The picturesque looseness of their carriage, their
deathless attachment to freedom, their fierce-
ness when wronged,
The fluency of their speech, their delight in
music, their curiosity, good-temper, open-

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The prevailing ardor and enterprise, the large
The perfect equality of the female with the male,
the fluid movement of the population,
The superior marine, free commerce, fisheries,
whaling, gold-digging,
Wharf-hemm'd cities, railroad and steamboat lines,
intersecting all points,
Factories, mercantile life, labor-saving machinery,
the north-east, north-west, south-west,
Manhattan firemen, the Yankee swap, southern
plantation life,
Slavery, the tremulous spreading of hands to
shelter it—the stern opposition to it, which
ceases only when it ceases.

For these, and the like, their own voices! For
these, space ahead!
Others take finish, but the republic is ever con-
structive, and ever keeps vista;
Others adorn the past—but you, O, days of the
present, I adorn you!
O days of the future, I believe in you!
O America, because you build for mankind, I build
for you!
O well-beloved stone-cutters! I lead them who
plan with decision and science,
I lead the present with friendly hand toward the

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Bravas to states whose semitic impulses send
wholesome children to the next age!
But damn that which spends itself on flaunters and
dallyers, with no thought of the stains, pains,
dismay, feebleness, it is bequeathing!

By great bards only can series of peoples and
States be fused into the compact organism of
one nation.

To hold men together by paper and seal, or by
compulsion, is no account,
That only holds men together which is living
principles, as the hold of the limbs of the
body, or the fibres of plants.

Of all races and eras, These States, with veins full
of poetical stuff, most need poets, and are to
have the greatest, and use them the greatest,
Their Presidents shall not be their common ref-
eree so much as their poets shall.

Of mankind, the poet is the equable man,
Not in him, but off from him, things are grotesque,
eccentric, fail of their full returns,
Nothing out of its place is good, nothing in its
place is bad,
He bestows on every object or quality its fit pro-
portions, neither more nor less,
He is the arbiter of the diverse, he is the key,

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He is the equalizer of his age and land
He supplies what wants supplying—he checks
what wants checking,
In peace, out of him speaks the spirit of peace,
large, rich, thrifty, building populous towns,
encouraging agriculture, arts, commerce,
lighting the study of man, the soul, health,
immortality, government,
In war he is the best backer of the war—he
fetches artillery as good as the engineer's, he
can make every word he speaks draw blood;
The years straying toward infidelity he withholds
by his steady faith,
He is no arguer, he is judgment,
He judges not as the judge judges, but as the sun
falling round a helpless thing,
As he sees the farthest he has the most faith,
His thoughts are the hymns of the praise of things,
In the dispute on God and eternity he is silent,
He sees eternity less like a play with a prologue
and denouement,
He sees eternity in men and women—he does
not see men and women as dreams or dots.

An American literat fills his own place,
He justifies science—did you think the demon-
strable less divine than the mythical?
He stands by liberty according to the compact of
the first day of the first year of These States,

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He concentres in the real body and soul, and in
the pleasure of things,
He possesses the superiority of genuineness over
fiction and romance;
As he emits himself, facts are showered over with
The day-light is lit with more volatile light—the
deep between the setting and rising sun goes
deeper many fold,
Each precise object, condition, combination, pro-
cess, exhibits a beauty—the multiplication-
table its, old age its, the carpenter's trade
its, the grand-opera its,
The huge-hulled clean-shaped Manhattan clipper
at sea, under steam or full sail, gleams with
unmatched beauty,
The national circles and large harmonies of gov-
ernment gleam with theirs,
The commonest definite intentions and actions
with theirs.

Of the idea of perfect individuals, the idea of
These States, their bards walk in advance,
leaders of leaders,
The attitudes of them cheer up slaves and horrify

Without extinction is liberty! Without retrograde
is equality!

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They live in the feelings of young men, and the
best women,
Not for nothing have the indomitable heads of the
earth been always ready to fall for liberty!

Language-using controls the rest;
Wonderful is language!
Wondrous the English language, language of live
Language of ensemble, powerful language of re-
Language of a proud and melancholy stock, and
of all who aspire,
Language of growth, faith, self-esteem, rudeness,
justice, friendliness, amplitude, prudence, de-
cision, exactitude, courage,
Language to well-nigh express the inexpressible,
Language for the modern, language for America.

Who would use language to America may well
prepare himself, body and mind,
He may well survey, ponder, arm, fortify, harden,
make lithe, himself,
He shall surely be questioned beforehand by me
with many and stern questions.

Who are you that would talk to America?
Have you studied out my land, its idioms and

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Have you learned the physiology, phrenology,
politics, geography, pride, freedom, friendship,
of my land? its substratums and objects?
Have you considered the organic compact of the
first day of the first year of the independence
of The States?
Have you possessed yourself of the Federal Con-
Do you acknowledge liberty with audible and
absolute acknowledgment, and set slavery at
naught for life and death?
Do you see who have left described processes and
poems behind them, and assumed new ones?
Are you faithful to things? Do you teach what-
ever the land and sea, the bodies of men,
womanhood, amativeness, angers, excesses,
crimes, teach?
Have you sped through customs, laws, popu-
Can you hold your hand against all seductions,
follies, whirls, fierce contentions?
Are you not of some coterie? some school or
Are you done with reviews and criticisms of life?
animating to life itself?
Have you possessed yourself with the spirit of the
maternity of These States?
Have you sucked the nipples of the breasts of the
mother of many children?

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Have you too the old, ever-fresh, forbearance and
Do you hold the like love for those hardening to
maturity? for the last-born? little and big?
and for the errant?
What is this you bring my America?
Is it uniform with my country?
Is it not something that has been better told or
done before?
Have you imported this, or the spirit of it, in some
Is it a mere tale? a rhyme? a prettiness?
Has it never dangled at the heels of the poets,
politicians, literats, of enemies' lands?
Does it not assume that what is notoriously gone
is still here?
Does it answer universal needs? Will it improve
Can your performance face the open fields and the
Will it absorb into me as I absorb food, air,
nobility, meanness—to appear again in my
strength, gait, face?
Have real employments contributed to it? original
makers, not amanuenses?
Does it meet modern discoveries, calibers, facts,
face to face?
Does it respect me? America? the soul? to-

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What does it mean to me? to American persons, pro-
gresses, cities? Chicago, Canada, Arkansas?
the planter, Yankee, Georgian, native, immi-
grant, sailors, squatters, old States, new States?
Does it encompass all The States, and the
unexceptional rights of all men and women,
the genital impulse of The States?
Does it see behind the apparent custodians, the
real custodians, standing, menacing, silent,
the mechanics, Manhattanese, western men,
southerners, significant alike in their apathy
and in the promptness of their love?
Does it see what befals and has always befallen
each temporiser, patcher, outsider, partialist,
alarmist, infidel, who has ever asked any-
thing of America?
What mocking and scornful negligence?
The track strewed with the dust of skeletons?
By the road-side others disdainfully tossed?

Rhymes and rhymers pass away—poems dis-
tilled from other poems pass away,
The swarms of reflectors and the polite pass, and
leave ashes,
Admirers, importers, obedient persons, make the
soil of literature;
America justifies itself, give it time—no disguise
can deceive it or conceal from it—it is im-
passive enough,

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Only toward the likes of itself will it advance to
meet them,
If its poets appear, it will advance to meet them,
there is no fear of mistake,
The proof of a poet shall be sternly deferred till
his country absorbs him as affectionately as
he has absorbed it.

He masters whose spirit masters—he tastes
sweetest who results sweetest,
The blood of the brawn beloved of time is uncon-
In the need of poems, philosophy, politics,
manners, engineering, an appropriate native
grand-opera, ship-craft, any craft, he or she
is greatest who contributes the greatest
original practical example.

Already a nonchalant breed silently fills the
houses and streets,
People's lips salute only doers, lovers, satisfiers,
positive knowers;
There will shortly be no more priests—their
work is done,
Death is without emergencies here, but life is per-
petual emergencies here,
Are your body, days, manners, superb? after death
you shall be superb,

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Friendship, self-esteem, justice, health, clear the
way with irresistible power.

Give me the pay I have served for!
Give me to speak beautiful words! take all the
I have loved the earth, sun, animals—I have de-
spised riches,
I have given alms to every one that asked, stood
up for the stupid and crazy, devoted my in-
come and labor to others,
I have hated tyrants, argued not concerning God,
had patience and indulgence toward the peo-
ple, taken off my hat to nothing known or
I have gone freely with powerful uneducated per-
sons, and with the young, and with the
mothers of families,
I have read these leaves to myself in the open air,
I have tried them by trees, stars, rivers,
I have dismissed whatever insulted my own soul
or defiled my body,
I have claimed nothing to myself which I have
not carefully claimed for others on the same
I have studied my land, its idioms and men,
I am willing to wait to be understood by the
growth of the taste of myself,
I reject none, I permit all,

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Whom I have staid with once I have found long-
ing for me ever afterwards.

I swear I begin to see the meaning of these
It is not the earth, it is not America who is so
It is I who am great, or to be great—it is you, or
any one,
It is to walk rapidly through civilizations, govern-
ments, theories, nature, poems, shows, to in-

Underneath all are individuals,
I swear nothing is good that ignores individuals!
The American compact is with individuals,
The only government is that which makes minute
of individuals.

Underneath all is nativity,
I swear I will stand by my own nativity—pious
or impious, so be it!
I swear I am charmed with nothing except
Men, women, cities, nations, are only beautiful
from nativity.

Underneath all is the need of the expression of
love for men and women,

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I swear I have had enough of mean and impotent
modes of expressing love for men and
After this day I take my own modes of express-
ing love for men and women.

I swear I will have each quality of my race in
Talk as you like, he only suits These States
whose manners favor the audacity and sub-
lime turbulence of These States.

Underneath the lessons of things, spirits, nature,
governments, ownerships, I swear I perceive
other lessons,
Underneath all to me is myself—to you, your-
If all had not kernels for you and me, what were
it to you and me?

O I see now that this America is only you and
Its power, weapons, testimony, are you and me,
Its roughs, beards, haughtiness, ruggedness, are
you and me,
Its ample geography, the sierras, the prairies,
Mississippi, Huron, Colorado, Boston, To-
ronto, Releigh, Nashville, Havana, are you
and me,

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Its settlements, wars, the organic compact, peace,
Washington, the Federal Constitution, are
you and me,
Its young men's manners, speech, dress, friend-
ships, are you and me,
Its crimes, lies, thefts, defections, slavery, are you
and me,
Its Congress is you and me, the officers, capitols,
armies, ships, are you and me,
Its endless gestations of new States are you and
Its inventions, science, schools, are you and me,
Its deserts, forests, clearings, log-houses, hunters,
are you and me,
The perpetual arrivals of immigrants are you and
Natural and artificial are you and me,
Freedom, language, poems, employments, are you
and me,
Failures, successes, births, deaths, are you and me,
Past, present, future, are only you and me.

I swear I dare not shirk any part of myself,
Not America, nor any part of America,
Not my body, not friendship, hospitality, pro-
Not my soul, not the last explanation of prudence,
Not the similitude that interlocks me with all
identities that exist, or ever have existed,

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Not faith, sin, defiance, nor any disposition or duty
of myself,
Not the promulgation of liberty, not to cheer up
slaves and horrify despots,
Not to build for that which builds for mankind,
Not to balance ranks, complexions, creeds, and
the sexes,
Not to justify science, not the march of equality,
Not to feed the arrogant blood of the brawn
beloved of time.

I swear I am for those that have never been
For men and women whose tempers have never
been mastered,
For those whom laws, theories, conventions, can
never master.

I swear I am for those who walk abreast with
America and with the earth!
Who inaugurate one to inaugurate all.

I swear I will not be outfaced by irrational things!
I will penetrate what it is in them that is sarcastic
upon me!
I will make cities and civilizations defer to me!
I will confront these shows of the day and night!
I will know if I am to be less than they!
I will see if I am not as majestic as they!

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I will see if I am not as subtle and real as they!
I will see if I am to be less generous than they!
I will see if I have no meaning, and the houses
and ships have meaning!
I will see if the fishes and birds are to be enough
for themselves, and I am not to be enough for

I match my spirit against yours, you orbs, growths,
mountains, brutes,
I will learn why the earth is gross, tantalizing,
I take you to be mine, you beautiful, terrible, rude

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9 — Poem of Wonder at The Resurrection of The Wheat.

SOMETHING startles me where I thought I
was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip my clothes from my body to meet
my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth, as to other
flesh, to renew me.

How can the ground not sicken of men?
How can you be alive, you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health, you blood of herbs,
roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distempered
corpses in the earth?
Is not every continent worked over and over with
sour dead?
Where have you disposed of those carcasses of
the drunkards and gluttons of so many gen-

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Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and
I do not see any of it upon you today—or per-
haps I am deceived,
I will run a furrow with my plough—I will press
my spade through the sod, and turn it up
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.

This is the compost of billions of premature
Perhaps every mite has once formed part of a
sick person,
Yet Behold!
The grass covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in
the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale
visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings, while
the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatched

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The new-born of animals appear, the calf is
dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's
dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk;
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful
above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious!
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash
of the sea, which is so amorous after me!
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked
body all over with its tongues!
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that
have deposited themselves in it!
That all is clean, forever and forever!
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good!
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy!
That the fruits of the apple-orchard, and of the
orange-orchard—that melons, grapes, peaches,
plums, will none of them poison me!
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch
any disease!
Though probably every spear of grass rises out
of what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the earth! it is that calm
and patient,

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It grows such sweet things out of such corrup-
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with
such endless successions of diseased corpses,
It distils such exquisite winds out of such infused
It renews with such unwitting looks, its prodigal,
annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts
such leavings from them at last.

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10 — Poem of You, Whoever You Are.

WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking
the walks of dreams,
I fear those realities are to melt from under your
feet and hands;
Even now, your features, joys, speech, house,
trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume,
crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs—out of commerce,
shops, law, science, work, farms, clothes, the
house, medicine, print, buying, selling, eating,
drinking, suffering, begetting, dying,
They receive these in their places, they find these
or the like of these, eternal, for reasons,
They find themselves eternal, they do not find that
the water and soil tend to endure forever —
and they not endure.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you,
that you be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,

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I have loved many women and men, but I love
none better than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb,
I should have made my way straight to you long
I should have blabbed nothing but you, I should
have chanted nothing but you.

I will leave all, and come and make the hymns
of you;
None have understood you, but I understand you,
None have done justice to you, you have not done
justice to yourself,
None but have found you imperfect, I only find no
imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you, I only am he
who will never consent to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master,
owner, better, god, beyond what waits intrin-
sically in yourself.

Painters have painted their swarming groups, and
the centre figure of all,
From the head of the centre figure spreading a
nimbus of gold-colored light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head
without its nimbus of gold-colored light,
From my hand, from the brain of every man and
woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.

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O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about
You have not known what you are—you have
slumbered upon yourself all your life,
Your eye-lids have been as much as closed most
of the time,
What you have done returns already in mock-
Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not
return in mockeries, what is their return?

The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk,
I pursue you where none else has pursued you,
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the
night, the accustomed routine, if these con-
ceal you from others, or from yourself, they
do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure
complexion, if these balk others, they do
not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deformed attitude, drunken-
ness, greed, premature death, all these I part
I track through your windings and turnings—I
come upon you where you thought eye should
never come upon you.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is
not tallied in you,

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There is no virtue, no beauty, in man or woman
but as good is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is
in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal plea-
sure waits for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one, except I
give the like carefully to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God,
sooner than I sing the songs of the glory of

Whoever you are, you are to hold your own at
any hazard,
These shows of the east and west are tame com-
pared to you,
These immense meadows, these interminable riv-
ers—you are immense and interminable as
These furies, elements, storms, motions of nature,
throes of apparent dissolution—you are he
or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over nature,
elements, pain, passion, dissolution.

The hopples fall from your ankles! you find an
unfailing sufficiency!

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Old, young, male, female, rude, low, rejected by
the rest, whatever you are promulges itself,
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are
provided, nothing is scanted,
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance,
ennui, what you are picks its way.

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11 — Sun-Down Poem.

FLOOD-TIDE of the river, flow on! I watch
you, face to face,
Clouds of the west! sun half an hour high! I see
you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual
costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds
that cross are more curious to me than you
And you that shall cross from shore to shore
years hence, are more to me, and more in my
meditations, than you might suppose.

The impalpable sustenance of me from all things
at all hours of the day,
The simple, compact, well-joined scheme—my-
self disintegrated, every one disintegrated,
yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the

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The glories strung like beads on my smallest
sights and hearings—on the walk in the
street, and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming
with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between
me and them,
The certainty of others—the life, love, sight,
hearing of others.

Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross
from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north
and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the
south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small,
Fifty years hence others will see them as they
cross, the sun half an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred
years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sun-set, the pouring in of the flood-
tide, the falling back to the sea of the ebb-

It avails not, neither time or place—distance
avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a genera-
tion, or ever so many generations hence,

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I project myself, also I return—I am with you,
and know how it is.

Just as you feel when you look on the river and
sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was
one of a crowd,
Just as you are refreshed by the gladness
of the river, and the bright flow, I was
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry
with the swift current, I stood, yet was hur-
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships,
and the thick-stemmed pipes of steamboats, I

I too many and many a time crossed the river,
the sun half an hour high,
I watched the December sea-gulls, I saw them
high in the air floating with motionless
wings oscillating their bodies,
I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of
their bodies, and left the rest in strong
I saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual
edging toward the south.

I too saw the reflection of the summer-sky in the

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Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of
Looked at the fine centrifugal spokes of light
round the shape of my head in the sun-lit
Looked on the haze on the hills southward and
Looked on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged
with violet,
Looked toward the lower bay to notice the arriv-
ing ships,
Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were
near me,
Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw
the ships at anchor,
The sailors at work in the rigging or out astride
the spars,
The round masts, the swinging motion of the
hulls, the slender serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pi-
lots in their pilot-houses,
The white wake left by the passage, the quick
tremulous whirl of the wheels,
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the
ladled cups, the frolicsome crests and glisten-

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The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the
gray walls of the granite store-houses by the
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-
tug closely flanked on each side by the
barges—the hay-boat, the belated lighter,
On the neighboring shore the fires from the foun-
dry chimneys burning high and glaringly into
the night,
Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild
red and yellow light, over the tops of houses,
and down into the clefts of streets.

These and all else were to me the same as they
are to you,
I project myself a moment to tell you—also I

I loved well those cities,
I loved well the stately and rapid river,
The men and women I saw were all near to me,
Others the same—others who look back on me,
because I looked forward to them,
The time will come, though I stop here today and

What is it, then, between us? What is the
count of the scores or hundreds of years
between us?

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Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not,
and place avails not.

I too lived,
I too walked the streets of Manhattan Island, and
bathed in the waters around it;
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir with-
in me,
In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes
they came upon me,
In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my
bed, they came upon me.

I too had been struck from the float forever held
in solution,
I too had received identity by my body,
That I was, I knew was of my body, and what I
should be, I knew I should be of my body.

It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw patches down upon me also,
The best I had done seemed to me blank and sus-
My great thoughts, as I supposed them, were they
not in reality meagre? Would not people
laugh at me?

It is not you alone who know what it is to be

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I am he who knew what it was to be evil,
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabbed, blushed, resented, lied, stole, grudged,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, a solitary
committer, a coward, a malignant person,
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adul-
terous wish, not wanting,
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, lazi-
ness, none of these wanting.

But I was a Manhattanese, free, friendly, and
I was called by my nighest name by clear loud
voices of young men as they saw me ap-
proaching or passing,
Felt their arms on my neck as I stood, or the neg-
ligent leaning of their flesh against me as I sat,
Saw many I loved in the street, or ferry-boat, or
public assembly, yet never told them a word,
Lived the same life with the rest, the same old
laughing, gnawing, sleeping,
Played the part that still looks back on the actor
or actress,
The same old role, the role that is what we make
it, as great as we like, or as small as we
like, or both great and small.

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Closer yet I approach you,
What thought you have of me, I had as much of
you—I laid in my stores in advance,
I considered long and seriously of you before you
were born.

Who was to know what should come home to me?
Who knows but I am enjoying this?
Who knows but I am as good as looking at you
now, for all you cannot see me?

It is not you alone, nor I alone,
Not a few races, not a few generations, not a few
It is that each came, or comes, or shall come,
from its due emission, without fail, either
now, or then, or henceforth.

Every thing indicates—the smallest does, and
the largest does,
A necessary film envelops all, and envelops the
soul for a proper time.

Now I am curious what sight can ever be more
stately and admirable to me than my mast-
hemm'd Manhatta, my river and sun-set, and
my scallop-edged waves of flood-tide, the
sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat
in the twilight, and the belated lighter,

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Curious what gods can exceed these that clasp
me by the hand, and with voices I love call
me promptly and loudly by my nighest name
as I approach,
Curious what is more subtle than this which ties
me to the woman or man that looks in my
Which fuses me into you now, and pours my
meaning into you.

We understand, then, do we not?
What I promised without mentioning it, have
you not accepted?
What the study could not teach—what the
preaching could not accomplish is accom-
plished, is it not?
What the push of reading could not start is
started by me personally, is it not?

Flow on, river! Flow with the flood-tide, and
ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edged waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set, drench with your
splendor me, or the men and women genera-
tions after me!
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of
Stand up, tall masts of Manahatta!—stand up,
beautiful hills of Brooklyn!

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Bully for you! you proud, friendly, free Manhat-
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out ques-
tions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of
Blab, blush, lie, steal, you or I or any one after
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house or
street or public assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and mu-
sically call me by my nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the
actor or actress!
Play the old role, the role that is great or small,
according as one makes it!
Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may
not in unknown ways be looking upon you!
Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who
lean idly, yet haste with the hasting cur-
Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large
circles high in the air!
Receive the summer-sky, you water! faithfully
hold it till all downcast eyes have time to
take it from you!
Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of
my head, or any one's head, in the sun-lit

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Come on, ships, from the lower bay! pass up
or down, white-sailed schooners, sloops,
Flaunt away, flags of all nations! be duly lowered
at sun-set!
Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast
black shadows at night-fall! cast red and
yellow light over the tops of the houses!
Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what
you are!
You necessary film, continue to envelop the
About my body for me, and your body for you, be
hung our divinest aromas!
Thrive, cities! Bring your freight, bring your
shows, ample and sufficient rivers!
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps
more spiritual!
Keep your places, objects than which none else is
more lasting!

We descend upon you and all things, we arrest
you all,
We realize the soul only by you, you faithful solids
and fluids,
Through you color, form, location, sublimity,
Through you every proof, comparison, and all the
suggestions and determinations of ourselves.

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You have waited, you always wait, you dumb
beautiful ministers! you novices!
We receive you with free sense at last, and are
insatiate henceforward,
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or with-
hold yourselves from us,
We use you, and do not cast you aside—we
plant you permanently within us,
We fathom you not—we love you—there is
perfection in you also,
You furnish your parts toward eternity,
Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the

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12 — Poem of The Road.

AFOOT and light-hearted I take to the open
Healthy, free, the world before me!
The long brown path before me, leading wherever
I choose!

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I am good-
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more,
need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.

The earth—that is sufficient,
I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are,
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women—I carry them
with me wherever I go,
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am filled with them, and I will fill them in

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You road I travel and look around! I believe you
are not all that is here!
I believe that something unseen is also here.

Here is the profound lesson of reception, neither
preference or denial,
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the
diseased, the illiterate person, are not de-
The birth, the hasting after the physician, the
beggar's tramp, the drunkard's stagger, the
laughing party of mechanics,
The escaped youth, the rich person's carriage, the
fop, the eloping couple,
The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of
furniture into the town, the return back from
the town,
They pass, I also pass, any thing passes, none can
be interdicted,
None but are accepted, none but are dear to me.

You air that serves me with breath to speak!
You objects that call from diffusion my meanings
and give them shape!
You light that wraps me and all things in delicate
equable showers!
You animals moving serenely over the earth!
You birds that wing yourselves through the air!
you insects!

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You sprouting growths from the farmers' fields!
you stalks and weeds by the fences!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the
I think you are latent with curious existences —
you are so dear to me.

You flagged walks of the cities! you strong curbs
at the edges!
You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves!
you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!
You rows of houses! you window-pierced facades!
you roofs!
You porches and entrances! you copings and iron
You windows whose transparent shells might
expose so much!
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you
trodden crossings!
From all that has been near you I believe you
have imparted to yourselves, and now would
impart the same secretly to me,
From the living and the dead I think you have
peopled your impassive surfaces, and the
spirits thereof would be evident and ami-
cable with me.

The earth expanding right hand and left hand,

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The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and
stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay
fresh sentiment of the road.

O highway I travel! O public road! do you say
to me, Do not leave me?
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you
are lost?
Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well-
beaten and undenied—Adhere to me?

O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to
leave you—yet I love you,
You express me better than I can express myself,
You shall be more to me than my poem.

I think heroic deeds were all conceived in the
open air,
I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles,
I think whatever I meet on the road I shall like,
and whatever beholds me shall like me,
I think whoever I see must be happy.

From this hour, freedom!
From this hour, I ordain myself loosed of limits
and imaginary lines!
Going where I list—my own master, total and

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Listening to others, and considering well what
they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently but with undeniable will divesting myself
of the holds that would hold me.

I inhale great draughts of air,
The east and the west are mine, and the north
and the south are mine.

I am larger than I thought!
I did not know I held so much goodness!

All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women, You have
done such good to me, I would do the same
to you.

I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as
I go,
I will toss the new gladness and roughness among
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me,
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed,
and shall bless me.

Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear,
it would not amaze me,

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Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women ap-
peared, it would not astonish me.

Now I see the secret of the making of the best
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and
sleep with the earth.

Here is space—here a great personal deed has
A great deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole
race of men,
Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law,
and mocks all authority and all argument
against it.

Here is the test of wisdom,
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
Wisdom cannot be passed from one having it, to
another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof,
is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and
is content,
Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of
things, and the excellence of things,
Something there is in the float of the sight of
things that provokes it out of the soul.

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Now I re-examine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not
prove at all under the spacious clouds, and
along the landscape and flowing currents.

Here is realization,
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he
has in him,
The animals, the past, the future, light, space,
majesty, love, if they are vacant of you, you
are vacant of them.

Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes
for you and me?

Here is adhesiveness—it is not previously
fashioned, it is apropos;
Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved
by strangers?
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?

Here is the efflux of the soul,
The efflux of the soul comes through beautiful
gates of laws, provoking questions,
These yearnings, why are they? these thoughts
in the darkness, why are they?

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Why are there men and women that while they
are nigh me the sun-light expands my blood?
Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy
sink flat and lank?
Why are there trees I never walk under but large
and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
(I think they hang there winter and summer on
those trees, and always drop fruit as I pass;)
What is it I interchange so suddenly with stran-
What with some driver as I ride on the seat by
his side?
What with some fisherman, drawing his seine by
the shore, as I walk by and pause?
What gives me to be free to a woman's or man's
good-will? What gives them to be free to

The efflux of the soul is happiness—here is
I think it pervades the air, waiting at all times,
Now it flows into us—we are rightly charged.

Here rises the fluid and attaching character;
The fluid and attaching character is the freshness
and sweetness of man and woman,
The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and
sweeter every day out of the roots of them-
selves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet contin-
ually out of itself.

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Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes
the sweat of the love of young and old,
From it falls distilled the charm that mocks beauty
and attainments,
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of

Allons! Whoever you are, come travel with
Traveling with me, you find what never tires.

The earth never tires!
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at
first—nature is rude and incomprehensible
at first,
Be not discouraged—keep on—there are divine
things, well enveloped,
I swear to you there are divine things more beau-
tiful than words can tell!

Allons! We must not stop here!
However sweet these laid-up stores, however
convenient this dwelling, we cannot remain
However sheltered this port, however calm these
waters, we must not anchor here!
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds
us, we are permitted to receive it but a little

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Allons! the inducements shall be great to you,
We will sail pathless and wild seas,
We will go where winds blow, waves dash,
and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full

Allons! With power, liberty, the earth, the
Health, defiance, gaiety, self-esteem, curiosity!

Allons! From all formulas!
From your formulas, O bat-eyed and materialistic

The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the
burial waits no longer.

Allons! Yet take warning!
He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews,
None may come to the trial till he or she bring
courage and health.

Come not here if you have already spent the best
of yourself!
Only those may come who come in sweet and
determined bodies,
No diseased person—no rum-drinker or venereal
taint is permitted here,

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I and mine do not convince by arguments,
similes, rhymes,
We convince by our presence.

Listen! I will be honest with you,
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer
rough new prizes,
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is called riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you
earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were
destined—you hardly settle yourself to satis-
faction, before you are called by an irresistible
call to depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and
mockings of those who remain behind you,
What beckonings of love you receive, you shall
only answer with passionate kisses of parting,
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread
their reached hands toward you.

Allons! After the great companions! and to be-
long to them!
They too are on the road! they are the swift and
majestic men! they are the greatest women!

Over that which hindered them, over that which
retarded, passing impediments large or small,

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Committers of crimes, committers of many beauti-
ful virtues,
Enjoyers of calms of seas, and storms of seas,
Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of
Habitues of many different countries, habitues of
far-distant dwellings,
Trusters of men and women, observers of cities,
solitary toilers,
Pausers and contemplaters of tufts, blossoms, shells
of the shore,
Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides,
tender helpers of children, bearers of children,
Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves,
lowerers down of coffins,
Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the
years—the curious years, each emerging
from that which preceded it,
Journeyers as with companions, namely, their own
diverse phases,
Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-
Journeyers gaily with their own youth—journey-
ers with their bearded and well-grained
Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsur-
passed, content,
Journeyers with their sublime old age of manhood
or womanhood,

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Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty
breadth of the universe,
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by
freedom of death.

Allons! to that which is endless as it was
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights!
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the
days and nights they tend to!
Again to merge them in the start of superior
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach
it and pass it!
To conceive no time, however distant, but what
you may reach it and pass it!
To look up or down no road but it stretches and
waits for you! however long, but it stretches
and waits for you!
To see no being, not God's or any, but you also
go thither!
To see no possession but you may possess it!
enjoying all without labor or purchase —
abstracting the feast, yet not abstracting one
particle of it;
To take the best of the farmer's farm and the rich
man's elegant villa, and the chaste blessings
of the well-married couple, and the fruits of
orchards and flowers of gardens!

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To take to your use out of the compact cities as
you pass through!
To carry buildings and streets with you afterward
wherever you go!
To gather the minds of men out of their brains as
you encounter them! to gather the love out
of their hearts!
To take your own lovers on the road with
you, for all that you leave them behind
To know the universe itself as a road—as many
roads—as roads for traveling souls!

The soul travels,
The body does not travel as much as the soul,
The body has just as great a work as the soul,
and parts away at last for the journeys of the

All parts away for the progress of souls,
All religion, all solid things, arts, governments —
all that was or is apparent upon this globe or
any globe, falls into niches and corners before
the processions of souls along the grand roads
of the universe,
Of the progress of the souls of men and women
along the grand roads of the universe, all
other progress is the needed emblem and

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Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad,
turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men,
rejected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I
know not where they go,
But I know that they go toward the best—
toward something great.

Allons! Whoever you are! come forth!
You must not stay in your house, though you built
it, or though it has been built for you.

Allons! out of the dark confinement!
It is useless to protest—I know all, and expose it.

Behold through you as bad as the rest!
Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of
Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those
washed and trimmed faces,
Behold a secret silent loathing and despair!

No husband, no wife, no friend, no lover, so
trusted as to hear the confession,
Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and
hiding it goes, open and above-board it goes,
Formless and wordless through the streets of the
cities, polite and bland in the parlors,

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In the cars of rail-roads, in steam-boats, in the
public assembly,
Home to the houses of men and women, among
their families, at the table, in the bed-room,
every where,
Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright,
death under the breast-bones, hell under the
Under the broad-cloth and gloves, under the
ribbons and artificial flowers,
Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a
syllable of itself,
Speaking of anything else, but never of itself.

Allons! through struggles and wars!
The goal that was named cannot be counter-
Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? Yourself? Your nation?
Now understand me well—it is provided in the
essence of things, that from any fruition of
success, no matter what, shall come forth
something to make a greater struggle neces-

My call is the call of battle—I nourish active

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He going with me must go well armed,
He going with me goes often with spare diet,
poverty, angry enemies, contentions.

Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have
tried it well.

Allons! be not detained!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and
the book on the shelf unopened!
Let the tools remain in the work-shop! let the
money remain unearned!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the
lawyer plead in the court, and the judge
expound the law!

Mon enfant! I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? Will you come
travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

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13 — Poem of Procreation.

A WOMAN waits for me—she contains all,
nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if
the moisture of the right man were lacking.

Sex contains all,
Bodies, souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delica-
cies, results, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal
mystery, the semitic milk,
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the
All the governments, judges, gods, followed per-
sons of the earth,
These are contained in sex, as parts of itself
and justifications of itself.

Without shame the man I like knows and avows
the deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and
avows hers.

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O I will fetch bully breeds of children yet!
They cannot be fetched, I say, on less terms than
Electric growth from the male, and rich ripe fibre
from the female, are the terms.

I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and
with those women that are warm-blooded and
sufficient for me,
I see that they understand me, and do not deny
I see that they are worthy of me—so I will be
the robust husband of those women!
They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tanned in the face by shining suns and
blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle,
shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, resist,
defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right—they are
calm, clear, well-possessed of themselves.

I draw you close to me, you women!
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our
own sake, but for others' sakes,

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Enveloped in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but

It is I, you women—I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable—but I
love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for
These States—I press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually—I listen to no en-
I dare not withdraw till I deposite what has so
long accumulated within me.

Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of
me and of America,
The drops I distil upon you are drops of fierce
and athletic girls, and of new artists, musi-
cians, singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in
their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others,
as I and you interpenetrate now,

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I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers
of them, as I count on the fruits of the gush-
ing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life,
death, immortality I plant so lovingly now.

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14 — Poem of The Poet.

A YOUNG man came to me with a message
from his brother,
How should the young man know the whether and
when of his brother?
Tell him to send me the signs.

And I stood before the young man face to face,
and took his right hand in my left hand, and
his left hand in my right hand,
And I answered for his brother, and for men, and
I answered for the poet, and sent these signs.

Him all wait for, him all yield up to, his word is
decisive and final,
Him they accept, in him lave, in him perceive
themselves, as amid light,
Him they immerse, and he immerses them.

Beautiful women, the haughtiest nations, laws, the
landscape, people, animals,
The profound earth and its attributes, and the un-
quiet ocean,

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All enjoyments and properties, and money, and
whatever money will buy,
The best farms, others toiling and planting, and
he unavoidably reaps,
The noblest and costliest cities, others grading
and building, and he domiciles there,
Nothing for any one, but what is for him—near
and far are for him,
The ships in the offing, the perpetual shows and
marches on land, are for him, if they are for
any body.

He puts things in their attitudes,
He puts today out of himself, with plasticity and
He places his own city, times, reminiscences,
parents, brothers and sisters, associations,
employment, politics, so that the rest never
shame them afterward, nor assume to com-
mand them.

He is the answerer,
What can be answered he answers, and what
cannot be answered, he shows how it cannot
be answered.

A man is a summons and challenge;
It is vain to skulk—Do you hear that mocking
and laughter? Do you hear the ironical

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Books, friendships, philosophers, priests, action,
pleasure, pride, beat up and down, seeking to
give satisfaction,
He indicates the satisfaction, and indicates them
that beat up and down also.

Whichever the sex, whatever the season or place,
he may go freshly and gently and safely, by
day or by night,
He has the pass-key of hearts—to him the
response of the prying of hands on the

His welcome is universal—the flow of beauty is
not more welcome or universal than he is,
The person he favors by day or sleeps with at
night is blessed.

Every existence has its idiom, every thing has an
idiom and tongue,
He resolves all tongues into his own, and bestows
it upon men, and any man translates, and any
man translates himself also,
One part does not counteract another part—he is
the joiner, he sees how they join.

He says indifferently and alike, How are you,
friend? to the President at his levee,
And he says, Good-day, my brother! to Cudge that
hoes in the sugar-field,

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And both understand him, and know that his
speech is right.

He walks with perfect ease in the capitol,
He walks among the Congress, and one represen-
tative says to another, Here is our equal
appearing and new.

Then the mechanics take him for a mechanic,
And the soldiers suppose him to be a captain, and
the sailors that he has followed the sea,
And the authors take him for an author, and the
artists for an artist,
And the laborers perceive he could labor with
them and love them.
No matter what the work is, that he is the one to
follow it, or has followed it,
No matter what the nation, that he might find his
brothers and sisters there.

The English believe he comes of their English
A Jew to the Jew he seems—a Russ to the Russ
—usual and near, removed from none.

Whoever he looks at in the traveler's coffee-
house claims him,
The Italian or Frenchman is sure, and the
German is sure, and the Spaniard is sure,
and the island Cuban is sure.

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The engineer, the deck-hand on the great lakes,
or on the Mississippi, or St. Lawrence, or
Sacramento, or Hudson, or Delaware, claims

The gentleman of perfect blood acknowledges his
perfect blood,
The insulter, the prostitute, the angry person, the
beggar, see themselves in the ways of him —
he strangely transmutes them,
They are not vile any more—they hardly know
themselves, they are so grown.

Do you think it would be good to be the writer
of melodious verses?
Well, it would be good to be the writer of
melodious verses;
But what are verses beyond the flowing char-
acter you could have? or beyond beautiful
manners and behaviour?
Or beyond one manly or affectionate deed of an
apprentice-boy? or old woman? or man that
has been in prison, or is likely to be in

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15 — Clef Poem.

THIS night I am happy,
As I watch the stars shining, I think a
thought of the clef of the universes, and
of the future.

What can the future bring me more than I have?
Do you suppose I wish to enjoy life in other
I say distinctly I comprehend no better sphere
than this earth,
I comprehend no better life than the life of my
I do not know what follows the death of my body,
But I know well that whatever it is, it is best for
And I know well that what is really Me shall live
just as much as before.

I am not uneasy but I shall have good housing to

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But this is my first—how can I like the rest any
Here I grew up—the studs and rafters are grown
parts of me.

I am not uneasy but I am to be beloved by young
and old men, and to love them the same,
I suppose the pink nipples of the breasts of women
with whom I shall sleep will taste the same
to my lips,
But this is the nipple of a breast of my mother,
always near and always divine to me, her
true child and son.

I suppose I am to be eligible to visit the stars, in
my time,
I suppose I shall have myriads of new experiences
—and that the experience of this earth will
prove only one out of myriads;
But I believe my body and my soul already
indicate those experiences,
And I believe I shall find nothing in the stars
more majestic and beautiful than I have
already found on the earth,
And I believe I have this night a clue through
the universes,
And I believe I have this night thought a thought
of the clef of eternity.

A vast similitude interlocks all,

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All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns,
moons, planets, comets, asteroids,
All the substances of the same, and all that is
spiritual upon the same,
All distances of place, however wide,
All distances of time—all inanimate forms,
All souls—all living bodies, though they be in
different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes,
the fishes, the brutes,
All men and women—me also,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, lan-
All identities that have existed or may exist on
this globe or any globe,
All lives and deaths—all of past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has
spanned, and shall forever span them.

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16 — Poem of The Dead Young Men of Europe, The 72d and 73d Years of These States

SUDDENLY out of its stale and drowsy lair,
the lair of slaves,
Like lightning Europe le'pt forth, half startled at
Its feet upon the ashes and the rags, its hands
tight to the throats of kings.

O hope and faith! O aching close of lives! O
many a sickened heart!
Turn back unto this day, and make yourselves

And you, paid to defile the People! you liars,
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts,
For court thieving in its manifold mean forms,
worming from his simplicity the poor man's
For many a promise sworn by royal lips, and
broken, and laughed at in the breaking,

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Then in their power, not for all these did the
blows strike of personal revenge, or the heads
of the nobles fall,
The People scorned the ferocity of kings.

But the sweetness of mercy brewed bitter destruc-
tion, and the frightened rulers come back,
Each comes in state with his train, hangman,
priest, tax-gatherer, soldier, lawyer, jailer,

Behind all, lo, a Shape,
Vague as the night, draped interminably, head
front and form, in scarlet folds,
Whose face and eyes none may see,
Out of its robes only this—the red robes, lifted
by the arm,
One finger, pointed high over the top, like the
head of a snake appears.

Meanwhile, corpses lie in new-made graves —
bloody corpses of young men;
The rope of the gibbet hangs heavily, the bullets
of princes are flying, the creatures of power
laugh aloud,
And all these things bear fruits, and they are

Those corpses of young men,

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Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets, those
hearts pierced by the gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere
with unslaughter'd vitality.

They live in other young men, O kings!
They live in brothers, again ready to defy you!
They were purified by death—they were taught
and exalted.

Not a grave of the murdered for freedom, but
grows seed for freedom, in its turn to bear
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the
rains and the snows nourish.

Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of
tyrants let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering,
counseling, cautioning.

Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair
of you.

Is the house shut? Is the master away?
Nevertheless be ready—be not weary of watching,
He will soon return—his messengers come anon.

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17 — Poem of The Heart of The Son of Manhattan Island.

WHO has gone farthest? For I swear I will go
And who has been just? For I would be the
most just person of the earth;
And who most cautious? For I would be more
And who has been happiest? O I think it is I!
I think no one was ever happier than I;
And who has lavished all? For I lavish con-
stantly the best I have;
And who has been firmest? For I would be
And who proudest? For I think I have reason to
be the proudest son alive—for I am the son
of the brawny and tall-topt city;
And who has been bold and true? For I would
be the boldest and truest being of the uni-
And who benevolent? For I would show more
benevolence than all the rest;

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And who has projected beautiful words through
the longest time? By God! I will outvie
him! I will say such words, they shall
stretch through longer time!
And who has received the love of the most
friends? For I know what it is to receive
the passionate love of many friends;
And to whom has been given the sweetest from
women, and paid them in kind? For I will
take the like sweets, and pay them in kind;
And who possesses a perfect and enamored body?
For I do not believe any one possesses a
more perfect or enamored body than mine;
And who thinks the amplest thoughts? For I
will surround those thoughts;
And who has made hymns fit for the earth? For
I am mad with devouring ecstasy to make
joyous hymns for the whole earth!

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18 — Poem of The Last Explanation of Prudence.

ALL day I have walked the city and talked with
my friends, and thought of prudence,
Of time, space, reality—of such as these, and
abreast with them, prudence.

After all, the last explanation remains to be made
about prudence,
Little and large alike drop quietly aside from the
prudence that suits immortality.

The soul is of itself,
All verges to it, all has reference to what ensues,
All that a person does, says, thinks, is of conse-
Not a move can a man or woman make, that
affects him or her in a day, month, any part
of the direct life-time, or the hour of death,
but the same affects him or her onward after-
ward through the indirect life-time.

The indirect is more than the direct,

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The spirit receives from the body just as much as
it gives to the body, if not more.

Not one word or deed—not venereal sore, dis-
coloration, privacy of the onanist, putridity of
gluttons or rum-drinkers, peculation, cunning,
betrayal, murder, seduction, prostitution, but
has results beyond death, as really as before

Charity and personal force are the only invest-
ments worth anything.

No specification is necessary—all that a male
or female does, that is vigorous, benevolent,
clean, is so much profit to him or her in the
unshakable order of the universe, and through
the whole scope of it forever.

Who has been wise, receives interest,
Savage, felon, President, judge, prostitute, farmer,
sailor, mechanic, young, old, it is the same,
The interest will come round—all will come

Singly, wholly, to affect now, affected their time,
will forever affect, all of the past, and all of
the present, and all of the future,
All the brave actions of war and peace,

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All help given to relatives, strangers, the poor, old,
sorrowful, young children, widows, the sick,
and to shunned persons,
All furtherance of fugitives, and of the escape of
All self-denial that stood steady and aloof on
wrecks, and saw others fill the seats of the
All offering of substance or life for the good old
cause, or for a friend's sake, or opinion's sake,
All pains of enthusiasts, scoffed at by their neigh-
All the limitless sweet love and precious suffering
of mothers,
All honest men baffled in strifes recorded or unre-
All the grandeur and good of ancient nations
whose fragments we inherit,
All the good of the hundreds of ancient nations
unknown to us by name, date, location,
All that was ever manfully begun, whether it suc-
ceeded or no,
All suggestions of the divine mind of man, or the
divinity of his mouth, or the shaping of his
great hands;
All that is well thought or said this day on any
part of the globe—or on any of the wander-
ing stars, or on any of the fixed stars, by
those there as we are here,

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All that is henceforth to be thought or done by
you, whoever you are, or by any one,
These inure, have inured, shall inure, to the
identities from which they sprang, or shall

Did you guess anything lived only its moment?
The world does not so exist—no parts palpable
or impalpable so exist,
No consummation exists without being from some
long previous consummation, and that from
some other, without the farthest conceivable
one coming a bit nearer the beginning than

Whatever satisfies souls is true,
Prudence satisfies the craving and glut of souls.

Itself finally satisfies the soul,
The soul has that measureless pride which re-
volts from every lesson but its own.

Now I give you an inkling,
Now I breathe the word of the prudence that
walks abreast with time, space, reality,
That answers the pride which refuses every les-
son but its own.

What is prudence, is indivisible,

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Declines to separate one part of life from every
Divides not the righteous from the unrighteous,
or the living from the dead,
Matches every thought or act by its correlative,
Knows no possible forgiveness or deputed atone-
Knows that the young man who composedly
periled his life and lost it, has done exceeding
well for himself, without doubt,
That he who never periled his life, but retains it
to old age in riches and ease, has probably
achieved nothing for himself worth men-
Knows that only the person has learned, who has
learned to prefer results,
Who favors body and soul the same,
Who perceives the indirect assuredly following
the direct,
Who in his spirit in any emergency whatever
neither hurries or avoids death.

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19 — Poem of The Singers, and of The Words of Poems.

PERFECT sanity shows the master among
Time, always without flaw, indicates itself in
What always indicates the poet, is the crowd of
the pleasant company of singers, and their
The words of the singers are the hours or min-
utes of the light or dark—but the words of
the maker of poems are the complete light
and dark,
The maker of poems settles justice, reality, im-
His insight and power encircle things and the
human race,
He is the glory and extract, thus far, of things
and of the human race.

The singers do not beget—only the poet be-

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The singers are welcomed, understood, appear
often enough—but rare has the day been,
likewise the spot, of the birth of the maker
of poems,
Not every century, or every five centuries, has
contained such a day, for all its names.

The singers of successive hours of centuries may
have ostensible names, but the name of each
of them is one of the singers,
The name of each is, a heart-singer, eye-singer,
hymn-singer, law-singer, ear-singer, head-
singer, sweet-singer, wise-singer, droll-
singer, thrift-singer, sea-singer, wit-singer,
echo-singer, parlor-singer, love-singer, pas-
sion-singer, mystic-singer, weeping-singer,
fable-singer, item-singer, or something else.

All this time, and at all times, wait the words of
The greatness of sons is the exuding of the great-
ness of mothers and fathers,
The words of poems are the tuft and final applause
of science.

Divine instinct, breadth of vision, the law of
reason, health, rudeness of body, withdrawn-
ness, gaiety, sun-tan, air-sweetness—such
are the words of poems.

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The sailor and traveler underlie the maker of poems,
The builder, geometer, mathematician, astronomer,
melodist, philosoph, chemist, anatomist,
spiritualist, language-searcher, geologist,
phrenologist, artist—all these underlie the
maker of poems.

The words of poems give you more than poems,
They give you to form for yourself poems,
religions, politics, war, peace, behaviour,
histories, essays, romances, and every thing
They balance ranks, colors, races, creeds, and the
They do not seek beauty, they are sought —
forever touching them, or close upon them,
follows beauty, longing, fain, love-sick;
They are not the finish, but rather the outset,
They bring none to his or her terminus, or to be
content and full,
Whom they take, they take into space, to behold
the birth of stars, to learn one of the
To launch off with absolute faith—to sweep
through the ceaseless rings, and never be
quiet again.

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20 — Faith Poem.

I NEED no assurances—I am a man who is
pre-occupied of his own soul;
I do not doubt that whatever I know at a given
time, there waits for me more which I do not
I do not doubt that from under the feet, and beside
the hands and face I am cognizant of, are
now looking faces I am not cognizant of —
calm and actual faces;
I do not doubt but the majesty and beauty of the
world is latent in any iota of the world;
I do not doubt there are realizations I have
no idea of, waiting for me through time
and through the universes—also upon this
I do not doubt I am limitless, and that the uni-
verses are limitless—in vain I try to think
how limitless;
I do not doubt that the orbs, and the systems of
orbs, play their swift sports through the air

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on purpose—and that I shall one day be
eligible to do as much as they, and more than
I do not doubt there is far more in trivialities,
insects, vulgar persons, slaves, dwarfs, weeds,
rejected refuse, than I have supposed;
I do not doubt there is more in myself than I have
supposed—and more in all men and women
—and more in my poems than I have
I do not doubt that temporary affairs keep on and
on, millions of years;
I do not doubt interiors have their interiors, and
exteriors have their exteriors—and that the
eye-sight has another eye-sight, and the hear-
ing another hearing, and the voice another
I do not doubt that the passionately-wept deaths
of young men are provided for—and that the
deaths of young women, and the deaths of
little children, are provided for;
I do not doubt that wrecks at sea, no matter
what the horrors of them—no matter whose
wife, child, husband, father, lover, has gone
down—are provided for, to the minutest
I do not doubt that shallowness, meanness, malig-
nance, are provided for;

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I do not doubt that cities, you, America, the
remainder of the earth, politics, freedom,
degradations, are carefully provided for;
I do not doubt that whatever can possibly happen,
any where, at any time, is provided for, in
the inherences of things.

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21 — Liberty Poem for Asia, Africa, Europe, America, Australia, Cuba, and The Archipelagoes of the Sea.

COURAGE! my brother or my sister!
Keep on! Liberty is to be subserved, what-
ever occurs;
That is nothing, that is quelled by one or two fail-
ures, or any number of failures,
Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the
Or the show of the tushes of power—soldiers,
cannon, penal statutes.

What we believe in waits latent forever through
Asia, Africa, Europe, America, Australia,
Cuba, and all the islands and archipelagoes
of the sea;
What we believe in invites no one, promises
nothing, sits in calmness and light, is positive
and composed, knows no discouragement,
Waits patiently its time—a year—a century —
a hundred centuries.

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The battle rages with many a loud alarm and
frequent advance and retreat,
The infidel triumphs—or supposes he triumphs,
The prison, scaffold, garrote, hand-cuffs, iron neck-
lace and anklet, lead-balls, do their work,
The named and unnamed heroes pass to other
The great speakers and writers are exiled—they
lie sick in distant lands,
The cause is asleep—the strong throats are
choked with their own blood,
The young men drop their eye-lashes toward the
ground when they meet,
But for all this, liberty has not gone out of the
place, nor the infidel entered into pos-

When liberty goes out of a place, it is not the
first to go, nor the second or third to go,
It waits for all the rest to go—it is the last.

When there are no more memories of the lovers
of the whole of the nations of the world,
The lovers' names scouted in the public gatherings
by the lips of the orators,
Boys not christened after them, but christened
after traitors and murderers instead,
Laws for slaves sweet to the taste of people —
the slave-hunt acknowledged,

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You or I walking abroad upon the earth, elated
at the sight of slaves, no matter who they
And when all life and all the souls of men and
women are discharged from any part of the
Then shall the instinct of liberty be discharged
from that part of the earth,
Then shall the infidel and the tyrant come into

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22 — Poem of Apparitions in Boston, The 78th Year of These States.

CLEAR the way there, Jonathan!
Way for the President's marshal! Way for
the government cannon!
Way for the federal foot and dragoons—and the
apparitions copiously tumbling.

I rose this morning early to get betimes in Boston
Here's a good place at the corner, I must stand
and see the show.

I love to look on the stars and stripes, I hope the
fifes will play Yankee Doodle.

How bright shine the cutlasses of the foremost
Every man holds his revolver, marching stiff
through Boston town.

A fog follows, antiques of the same come

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Some appear wooden-legged and some appear
bandaged and bloodless.

Why this is a show! It has called the dead out
of the earth!
The old grave-yards of the hills have hurried to
Uncountable phantoms gather by flank and rear
of it!
Cocked hats of mothy mould! crutches made of
Arms in slings! old men leaning on young men's

What troubles you, Yankee phantoms? What is
all this chattering of bare gums?
Does the ague convulse your limbs? Do you
mistake your crutches for fire-locks, and
level them?

If you blind your eyes with tears you will not see
the President's marshal,
If you groan such groans you might balk the
government cannon.

For shame, old maniacs! Bring down those
tossed arms and let your white hair be,
Here gape your smart grand-sons—their wives
gaze at them from the windows,

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See how well-dressed—see how orderly they
conduct themselves.

Worse and worse! Can't you stand it? Are you
Is this hour with the living too dead for you?

Retreat then! Pell-mell! Back to the hills, old
I do not think you belong here, anyhow.

But there is one thing that belongs here—shall I
tell you what it is, gentlemen of Boston?

I will whisper it to the Mayor—he shall send a
committee to England,
They shall get a grant from the Parliament, go
with a cart to the royal vault,
Dig out King George's coffin—unwrap him quick
from the grave-clothes—box up his bones for
a journey,
Find a swift Yankee clipper—here is freight for
you, black-bellied clipper!
Up with your anchor! shake out your sails! steer
straight toward Boston bay.

Now call the President's marshal again, bring
out the government cannon,

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Fetch home the roarers from Congress, make
another procession, guard it with foot and

This centre-piece for them:
Look! all orderly citizens—look from the win-
dows, women!

The committee open the box, set up the regal
ribs, glue those that will not stay,
Clap the skull on top of the ribs, and clap a
crown on top of the skull.

You have got your revenge, old buster! The
crown is come to its own, and more than its

Stick your hands in your pockets Jonathan—you
are a made man from this day,
You are mighty cute, and here is one of your

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23 — Poem of Remembrances for A Girl or A Boy of These States.

REMEMBER the organic compact of These
Remember the pledge of the Old Thirteen thence-
forward to the rights, life, liberty, equality, of
Remember what was promulged by the founders,
ratified by The States, signed in black and
white by the Commissioners, read by Wash-
ington at the head of the army!
Remember the purposes of the founders!—Re-
member Washington!
Remember the copious humanity streaming from
every direction toward America!
Remember the hospitality that belongs to nations
and men!—(Cursed be nation, woman, man,
without hospitality!)
Remember, government is to subserve individuals!
Not any, not the President, is to have one jot more
than you or me,
Not any habitan of America is to have one jot less
than you or me.

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Anticipate when the thirty or fifty millions are to
become the hundred, or two hundred, or five
hundred millions, of equal freemen and free-
women, amicably joined.

Recall ages—One age is but a part—ages are
but a part,
Recall the angers, bickerings, delusions, supersti-
tions of the idea of caste,
Recall the bloody cruelties and crimes.

Anticipate the best women!
I say an unnumbered new race of hardy and well-
defined women are to spread through all
These States,
I say a girl fit for These States must be free,
capable, dauntless, just the same as a boy.

Anticipate your own life—retract with merciless
Shirk nothing—retract in time—Do you see those
errors, diseases, weaknesses, lies, thefts?
Do you see that lost character?—Do you see
decay, consumption, rum-drinking, dropsy,
fever, mortal cancer or inflammation?
Do you see death, and the approach of death?

Think of the soul!
I swear to you that body of yours gives proportions
to your soul somehow to live in other spheres,

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I do not know how, but I know it is so.
Think of loving and being loved!
I swear to you, whoever you are, you can interfuse
yourself with such things that everybody that
sees you shall look longingly upon you!

Think of the past!
I warn you that in a little while others will find
their past in you and your times.

The race is never separated—nor man nor woman
All is inextricable—things, spirits, nature, nations,
you too—from precedents you come.

Recall the ever-welcome defiers! (The mothers
precede them;)
Recall the sages, poets, saviours, inventors, law-
givers, of the earth,
Recall Christ, brother of rejected persons —
brother of slaves, felons, idiots, and of insane
and diseased persons.

Think of the time when you was not yet born!
Think of times you stood at the side of the dying!
Think of the time when your own body will be

Think of spiritual results!

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Sure as the earth swims through the heavens,
does every one of its objects pass into
spiritual results!

Think of manhood, and you to be a man!
Do you count manhood, and the sweet of manhood,

Think of womanhood, and you to be a woman!
The creation is womanhood,
Have I not said that womanhood involves all?
Have I not told how the universe has nothing
better than the best womanhood?

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24 — Poem of Perfect Miracles.

REALISM is mine, my miracles,
Take all of the rest—take freely—I keep
but my own—I give only of them,
I offer them without end—I offer them to you
wherever your feet can carry you, or your
eyes reach.

Why! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward
the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in
the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love—or sleep in
the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at the table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of an
August forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,

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Or birds—or the wonderfulness of insects in the
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down—or of
stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new-
moon in May,
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that
like me best—mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savans—or to the soiree—or to
the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements
of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or
the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass,
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me
The whole referring—yet each distinct and in its

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a
Every inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is
spread with the same,

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Every cubic foot of the interior swarms with the
Every spear of grass—the frames, limbs, organs,
of men and women, and all that concerns
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion
of the waves—the ships, with men in them
—what stranger miracles are there?

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25 — Poem of The Child That Went Forth, and Always Goes Forth, Forever and Forever

THERE was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he looked upon and re-
ceived with wonder, pity, love, or dread,
that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day,
or a certain part of the day, or for many
years, or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and
white and red clover, and the song of the
And the March-born lambs, and the sow's pink-
faint litter, and the mare's foal, and the cow's
calf, and the noisy brood of the barn-yard or
by the mire of the pond-side, and the fish
suspending themselves so curiously below
there, and the beautiful curious liquid, and the
water-plants with their graceful flat heads —
all became part of him.

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The field-sprouts of April and May became part
of him—winter-grain sprouts, and those of
the light-yellow corn, and of the esculent
roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees covered with blossoms, and
the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the
commonest weeds by the road,
And the old drunkard staggering home from the
out-house of the tavern whence he had lately
And the school-mistress that passed on her way to
the school, and the friendly boys that passed,
and the quarrelsome boys, and the tidy and
fresh-cheeked girls, and the bare-foot negro
boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country, wherever
he went.

His own parents—he that had propelled the
father-stuff at night and fathered him, and
she that conceived him in her womb and
birthed him—they gave this child more of
themselves than that,
They gave him afterward every day—they and
of them became part of him.

The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on
the supper-table,

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The mother with mild words, clean her cap and
gown, a wholesome odor falling off her per-
son and clothes as she walks by,
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean,
angered, unjust,
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain,
the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the
furniture—the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsayed—the sense
of what is real—the thought if, after all, it
should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-
time, the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all
flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets—if
they are not flashes and specks what are
The streets themselves, and the facades of houses,
the goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the tiered wharves, the huge
crossing at the ferries,
The village on the highland seen from afar at sun-
set, the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, light falling on roofs
and gables of white or brown, three miles off,
The schooner near-by sleepily dropping down the
tide, the little boat slack-towed astern,

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The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests,
The strata of colored clouds, the long bar of ma-
roon-tint away solitary by itself, the spread
of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fra-
grance of salt-marsh and shore-mud;
These became part of that child who went forth
every day, who now goes, and will always
go forth every day,
And these become of him or her that peruses
them now.

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26 — Night Poem.

I WANDER all night in my vision,
Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noise-
lessly stepping and stopping,
Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of
Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-
assorted, contradictory,
Pausing, gazing, bending, stopping.

How solemn they look there, stretched and still!
How quiet they breathe, the little children in their

The wretched features of ennuyees, the white
features of corpses, the livid faces of drunk-
ards, the sick-gray faces of onanists,
The gashed bodies on battle-fields, the insane in
their strong-doored rooms, the sacred idiots,
The new-born emerging from gates, and the dying
emerging from gates,
The night pervades them and enfolds them.

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The married couple sleep calmly in their bed —
he with his palm on the hip of the wife, and
she with her palm on the hip of the husband,
The sisters sleep lovingly side by side in their
The men sleep lovingly side by side in theirs,
And the mother sleeps with her little child care-
fully wrapped.

The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep,
The prisoner sleeps well in the prison, the run-
away son sleeps,
The murderer that is to be hung next day—how
does he sleep?
And the murdered person—how does he sleep?

The female that loves unrequited sleeps,
And the male that loves unrequited sleeps;
The head of the money-maker that plotted all day
And the enraged and treacherous dispositions

I stand with drooping eyes by the worst-suffering
and restless,
I pass my hands soothingly to and fro a few
inches from them,
The restless sink in their beds—they fitfully

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The earth recedes from me into the night,
I saw that it was beautiful, and I see that what is
not the earth is beautiful.

I go from bedside to bedside, I sleep close with
the other sleepers, each in turn,
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other
And I become the other dreamers.

I am a dance—Play up, there! the fit is whirling
me fast!
I am the ever-laughing—it is new moon and
I see the hiding of douceurs, I see nimble ghosts
whichever way I look,
Cache, and cache again, deep in the ground
and sea, and where it is neither ground
or sea.

Well do they do their jobs, those journeymen
Only from me can they hide nothing, and would
not if they could,
I reckon I am their boss, and they make me a pet
And surround me and lead me, and run ahead
when I walk,

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To lift their cunning covers, to signify me with
stretched arms, and resume the way;
Onward we move! a gay gang of blackguards!
with mirth-shouting music and wild-flapping
pennants of joy!

I am the actor, the actress, the voter, the poli-
The emigrant and the exile, the criminal that
stood in the box,
He who has been famous, and he who shall be
famous after today,
The stammerer, the well-formed person, the
wasted or feeble person.

I am she who adorned herself and folded her hair
My truant lover has come, and it is dark.

Double yourself and receive me, darkness!
Receive me and my lover too—he will not let me
go without him.

I roll myself upon you, as upon a bed—I resign
myself to the dusk.

He whom I call answers me and takes the place
of my lover,
He rises with me silently from the bed.

Darkness, you are gentler than my lover! his flesh
was sweaty and panting,

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I feel the hot moisture yet that he left me.
My hands are spread forth, I pass them in all
I would sound up the shadowy shore to which you
are journeying.

Be careful, darkness! already, what was it touched
I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he
are one,
I hear the heart-beat, I follow, I fade away.

O hot-cheeked and blushing! O foolish hectic!
O for pity's sake, no one must see me now! my
clothes were stolen while I was abed,
Now I am thrust forth, where shall I run?

Pier that I saw dimly last night, when I looked
from the windows!
Pier out from the main, let me catch myself with
you and stay! I will not chafe you,
I feel ashamed to go naked about the world.

I am curious to know where my feet stand—and
what this is flooding me, childhood or man-
hood—and the hunger that crosses the bridge

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The cloth laps a first sweet eating and drinking,
Laps life-swelling yolks—laps ear of rose-corn,
milky and just ripened;
The white teeth stay, and the boss-tooth advances
in darkness,
And liquor is spilled on lips and bosoms by touch-
ing glasses, and the best liquor afterward.

I descend my western course, my sinews are
Perfume and youth course through me, and I am
their wake.

It is my face yellow and wrinkled, instead of the
old woman's,
I sit low in a straw-bottom chair, and carefully darn
my grand-son's stockings.

It is I too, the sleepless widow looking out on the
winter midnight,
I see the sparkles of starshine on the icy and pallid

A shroud I see, and I am the shroud—I wrap a
body and lie in the coffin,
It is dark here underground, it is not evil or pain
here, it is blank here, for reasons.

It seems to me that everything in the light and air
ought to be happy,

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Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave,
let him know he has enough.

I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer swimming
naked through the eddies of the sea,
His brown hair lies close and even to his head, he
strikes out with courageous arms, he urges
himself with his legs,
I see his white body, I see his undaunted eyes,
I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash
him head-foremost on the rocks.

What are you doing, you ruffianly red-trickled
Will you kill the courageous giant? Will you kill
him in the prime of his middle age?

Steady and long he struggles,
He is baffled, banged, bruised—he holds out while
his strength holds out,
The slapping eddies are spotted with his blood —
they bear him away, they roll him, swing
him, turn him,
His beautiful body is borne in the circling eddies,
it is continually bruised on rocks,
Swiftly and out of sight is borne the brave corpse.

I turn, but do not extricate myself,
Confused, a past-reading, another, but with dark-
ness yet.

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The beach is cut by the razory ice-wind, the
wreck-guns sound,
The tempest lulls—the moon comes floundering
through the drifts.

I look where the ship helplessly heads end on—I
hear the burst as she strikes—I hear the howls
of dismay—they grow fainter and fainter.

I cannot aid with my wringing fingers,
I can but rush to the surf, and let it drench me
and freeze upon me.

I search with the crowd—not one of the company
is washed to us alive;
In the morning I help pick up the dead and lay
them in rows in a barn.

Now of the old war-days, the defeat at Brooklyn,
Washington stands inside the lines, he stands on
the entrenched hills amid a crowd of officers,
His face is cold and damp, he cannot repress the
weeping drops, he lifts the glass perpetually
to his eyes, the color is blanched from his
He sees the slaughter of the southern braves con-
fided to him by their parents.

The same, at last and at last, when peace is

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He stands in the room of the old tavern—the
well-beloved soldiers all pass through,
The officers speechless and slow draw near in
their turns,
The chief encircles their necks with his arm, and
kisses them on the cheek,
He kisses lightly the wet cheeks one after another
—he shakes hands, and bids good-bye to the

Now I tell what my mother told me today as we
sat at dinner together,
Of when she was a nearly grown girl living home
with her parents on the old homestead.

A red squaw came one breakfast-time to the old
On her back she carried a bundle of rushes for
rush-bottoming chairs,
Her hair, straight, shiny, coarse, black, profuse,
half-enveloped her face,
Her step was free and elastic, her voice sounded
exquisitely as she spoke.

My mother looked in delight and amazement at
the stranger,
She looked at the beauty of her tall-borne face,
and full and pliant limbs,
The more she looked upon her she loved her,

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Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty
and purity,
She made her sit on a bench by the jamb of the
fire-place, she cooked food for her,
She had no work to give her, but she gave her
remembrance and fondness.

The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward
the middle of the afternoon she went away,
O my mother was loth to have her go away!
All the week she thought of her—she watched
for her many a month,
She remembered her many a winter and many a
But the red squaw never came, nor was heard of
there again.

Now Lucifer was not dead—or if he was, I am
his sorrowful terrible heir!
I have been wronged—I am oppressed—I hate
him that oppresses me!
I will either destroy him, or he shall release me.

Damn him! how he does defile me!
How he informs against my brother and sister,
and takes pay for their blood!
How he laughs when I look down the bend, after
the steamboat that carries away my woman!

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Now the vast dusk bulk that is the whale's bulk,
it seems mine,
Warily, sportsman! though I lie so sleepy and
sluggish, my tap is death.

A show of the summer softness! a contact of
something unseen! an amour of the light and
I am jealous, and overwhelmed with friendli-
And will go gallivant with the light and air myself,
And have an unseen something to be in contact
with them also.

O love and summer! you are in the dreams, and
in me,
Autumn and winter are in the dreams—the far-
mer goes with his thrift,
The droves and crops increase, the barns are

Elements merge in the night, ships make tacks in
the dreams, the sailor sails, the exile returns
The fugitive returns unharmed, the immigrant is
back beyond months and years,
The poor Irishman lives in the simple house of
his childhood with the well-known neighbors
and faces,

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They warmly welcome him, he is bare-foot again,
he forgets he is well-off;
The Dutchman voyages home, and the Scotchman
and Welchman voyage home, and the native
of the Mediterranean voyages home,
To every port of England, France, Spain, enter
well-filled ships,
The Swiss foots it toward his hills, the Prussian
goes his way, the Hungarian his way, the
Pole his way,
The Swede returns, and the Dane and Norwegian

The homeward bound, and the outward bound,
The beautiful lost swimmer, the ennuyee, the
onanist, the female that loves unrequited, the
The actor and actress, those through with their
parts, and those waiting to commence,
The affectionate boy, the husband and wife, the
voter, the nominee that is chosen, and the
nominee that has failed,
The great already known, and the great any-time
after today,
The stammerer, the sick, the perfect-formed, the
The criminal that stood in the box, the judge that
sat and sentenced him, the fluent lawyers, the
jury, the audience,

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The laugher and weeper, the dancer, the midnight
widow, the red squaw,
The consumptive, the erysipalite, the idiot, he
that is wronged,
The antipodes, and every one between this and
them in the dark,
I swear they are averaged now—one is no better
than the other,
The night and sleep have likened them and re-
tored them.

I swear they are all beautiful!
Every one that sleeps is beautiful—every thing
in the dim light is beautiful,
The wildest and bloodiest is over, and all is peace.

Peace is always beautiful,
The myth of heaven indicates peace and night.

The myth of heaven indicates the soul;
The soul is always beautiful—it appears more or
it appears less—it comes or it lags behind,
It comes from its embowered garden, and looks
pleasantly on itself, and encloses the world,
Perfect and clean the genitals previously jetting,
and perfect and clean the womb cohering,
The head well-grown, proportioned, plumb, and
the bowels and joints proportioned and

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The soul is always beautiful,
The universe is duly in order, every thing is in its
What is arrived is in its place, and what waits is
in its place;
The twisted skull waits, the watery or rotten blood
The child of the glutton or venerealee waits long,
and the child of the drunkard waits long, and
the drunkard himself waits long,
The sleepers that lived and died wait—the
far advanced are to go on in their turns,
and the far behind are to go on in their
The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall
flow and unite—they unite now.

The sleepers are very beautiful as they lie
They flow hand in hand over the whole earth
from east to west as they lie unclothed,
The Asiatic and African are hand in hand, the
European and American are hand in hand,
Learned and unlearned are hand in hand, and male
and female are hand in hand,
The bare arm of the girl crosses the bare breast
of her lover, they press close without lust, his
lips press her neck,

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The father holds his grown or ungrown son in his
arms with measureless love, and the son holds
the father in his arms with measureless love,
The white hair of the mother shines on the white
wrist of the daughter,
The breath of the boy goes with the breath of the
man, friend is inarmed by friend,
The scholar kisses the teacher, and the teacher
kisses the scholar—the wronged is made
The call of the slave is one with the master's call,
and the master salutes the slave,
The felon steps forth from the prison, the insane
becomes sane, the suffering of sick persons is
The sweatings and fevers stop, the throat that was
unsound is sound, the lungs of the con-
sumptive are resumed, the poor distressed
head is free,
The joints of the rheumatic move as smoothly as
ever, and smoother than ever,
Stiflings and passages open, the paralysed become
The swelled and convulsed and congested awake
to themselves in condition,
They pass the invigoration of the night and the
chemistry of the night, and awake.

I too pass from the night!

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I stay awhile away O night, but I return to you
again, and love you!

Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you?
I am not afraid—I have been well brought forward
by you,
I love the rich running day, but I do not desert
her in whom I lay so long,
I know not how I came of you, and I know not
where I go with you—but I know I came
well, and shall go well.

I will stop only a time with the night, and rise
I will duly pass the day, O my mother, and duly
return to you.

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27 — Poem of Faces.

SAUNTERING the pavement or riding the
country by-road, here then are faces!
Faces of friendship, precision, caution, suavity,
The spiritual prescient face—the always welcome,
common, benevolent face,
The face of the singing of music—the grand faces
of natural lawyers and judges, broad at the
The faces of hunters and fishers, bulged at the
brows—the shaved blanched faces of ortho-
dox citizens,
The pure, extravagant, yearning, questioning artist's
The ugly face of some beautiful soul, the hand-
some detested or despised face,
The sacred faces of infants, the illuminated face
of the mother of many children,
The face of an amour, the face of veneration,
The face as of a dream, the face of an immobile

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The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a cas-
trated face,
A wild hawk, his wings clipped by the clipper,
A stallion that yielded at last to the thongs and
knife of the gelder.

Sauntering the pavement or crossing the ceaseless
ferry, here then are faces!
I see them, and complain not, and am content
with all.

Do you suppose I could be content with all if I
thought them their own finale?

This now is too lamentable a face for a man
Some abject louse asking leave to be, cringing
for it,
Some milk-nosed maggot blessing what lets it
wrig to its hole.

This face is a dog's snout sniffing for garbage;
Snakes nest in that mouth, I hear the sibilant

This face is a haze more chill than the arctic sea,
Its sleepy and wobbling icebergs crunch as they

This is a face of bitter herbs, this an emetic, they
need no label,

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And more of the drug-shelf, laudanum, caoutchouc,
or hog's-lard.

This face is an epilepsy, its wordless tongue gives
out the unearthly cry,
Its veins down the neck distend, its eyes roll till
they show nothing but their whites,
Its teeth grit, the palms of the hands are cut by
the turned-in nails,
The man falls struggling and foaming to the ground
while he speculates well.

This face is bitten by vermin and worms,
And this is some murderer's knife with a half-
pulled scabbard.

This face owes to the sexton his dismalest fee,
An unceasing death-bell tolls there.

Those then are really men, the bosses and tufts
of the great round globe!

Features of my equals, would you trick me with
your creased and cadaverous march?
Well, you cannot trick me.

I see your rounded never-erased flow,
I see neath the rims of your haggard and mean

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Splay and twist as you like—poke with the tan-
gling fores of fishes or rats,
You'll be unmuzzled, you certainly will.

I saw the face of the most smeared and slobbering
idiot they had at the asylum,
And I knew for my consolation what they knew
I knew of the agents that emptied and broke my
The same wait to clear the rubbish from the fallen
And I shall look again in a score or two of
And I shall meet the real landlord perfect
and unharmed, every inch as good as

The Lord advances, and yet advances!
Always the shadow in front! always the reached
hand bringing up the laggards!

Out of this face emerge banners and horses—O
superb! I see what is coming,
I see the high pioneer-caps—I see the staves of
runners clearing the way,
I hear victorious drums.

This face is a life-boat,

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This is the face commanding and bearded, it asks
no odds of the rest,
This face is flavored fruit, ready for eating,
This face of a healthy honest boy is the programme
of all good.

These faces bear testimony slumbering or awake,
They show their descent from the Master

Off the word I have spoken I except not one —
red, white, black, all are deific,
In each house is the ovum, it comes forth after a
thousand years.

Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb
Tall and sufficient stand behind and make signs
to me,
I read the promise and patiently wait.

This is a full-grown lily's face,
She speaks to the limber-hipp'd man near the gar-
den pickets,
Come here, she blushingly cries—Come nigh to
me, limber-hipp'd man, and give me your finger
and thumb,
Stand at my side till I lean as high as I can upon

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Fill me with albescent honey, bend down to me,
Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my
breast and shoulders.

The old face of the mother of many children!
Whist! I am fully content.

Lulled and late is the smoke of the Sabbath
It hangs low over the rows of trees by the
It hangs thin by the sassafras, the wild-cherry,
and the cat-brier under them.

I saw the rich ladies in full dress at the soiree,
I heard what the singers were singing so long,
Heard who sprang in crimson youth from the
white froth and the water-blue.

Behold a woman!
She looks out from her quaker cap—her face is
clearer and more beautiful than the sky.

She sits in an arm-chair, under the shaded porch
of the farm-house,
The sun just shines on her old white head.

Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen,

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Her grand-sons raised the flax, and her grand-
daughters spun it with the distaff and the

The melodious character of the earth!
The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go,
and does not wish to go!
The justified mother of men!

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28 — Bunch Poem.

THE friend I am happy with,
The arm of my friend hanging idly over my
The hill-side whitened with blossoms of the
mountain ash,
The same, late in autumn—the gorgeous hues of
red, yellow, drab, purple, and light and dark
The rich coverlid of the grass—animals and
birds—the private untrimmed bank—the
primitive apples—the pebble-stones,
Beautiful dripping fragments—the negligent list
of one after another, as I happen to call them
to me, or think of them,
The real poems, (what we call poems being merely
The poems of the privacy of the night, and of
men like me,
This poem, drooping shy and unseen, that I al-
ways carry, and that all men carry,
(Know, once for all, avowed on purpose, wherever
are men like me, are our lusty, lurking, mas-
culine poems,)

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Love-thoughts, love-juice, love-odor, love-yielding,
love-climbers, and the climbing sap,
Arms and hands of love—lips of love—phallic
thumb of love—breasts of love—bellies,
pressed and glued together with love,
Earth of chaste love—life that is only life after
The body of my love—the body of the woman I
love—the body of the man—the body of the
Soft forenoon airs that blow from the south-west,
The hairy wild-bee that murmurs and hankers up
and down—that gripes the full-grown lady-
flower, curves upon her with amorous firm
legs, takes his will of her, and holds himself
tremulous and tight upon her till he is satis-
The wet of woods through the early hours,
Two sleepers at night lying close together as they
sleep, one with an arm slanting down across
and below the waist of the other,
The smell of apples, aromas from crushed sage-
plant, mint, birch-bark,
The boy's longings, the glow and pressure as he
confides to me what he was dreaming,
The dead leaf whirling its spiral whirl, and falling
still and content to the ground,
The no-formed stings that sights, people, objects,
sting me with,

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The hubbed sting of myself, stinging me as much
as it ever can any one,
The sensitive, orbic, underlapped brothers, that
only privileged feelers may be intimate where
they are,
The curious roamer, the hand, roaming all over
the body—the bashful withdrawing of flesh
where the fingers soothingly pause and edge
The limpid liquid within the young man,
The vexed corrosion, so pensive and so painful,
The torment—the irritable tide that will not be
at rest,
The like of the same I feel—the like of the same
in others,
The young woman that flushes and flushes, and
the young man that flushes and flushes,
The young man that wakes, deep at night, the hot
hand seeking to repress what would master
him—the strange half-welcome pangs, vis-
ions, sweats—the pulse pounding through
palms and trembling encirling fingers—the
young man all colored, red, ashamed, angry;
The souse upon me of my lover the sea, as I lie
willing and naked,
The merriment of the twin-babes that crawl over
the grass in the sun, the mother never turn-
ing her vigilant eyes from them,

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The walnut-trunk, the walnut-husks, and the ripen-
ing or ripened long-round walnuts,
The continence of vegetables, birds, animals,
The consequent meanness of me should I skulk
or find myself indecent, while birds and
animals never once skulk or find themselves
The great chastity of paternity, to match the great
chastity of maternity,
The oath of procreation I have sworn,
The greed that eats in me day and night with
hungry gnaw, till I saturate what shall pro-
duce boys to fill my place when I am through,
The wholesome relief, repose, content,
And this bunch plucked at random from myself,
It has done its work—I toss it carelessly to fall
where it may.

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29 — Lesson Poem.

WHO learns my lesson complete?
Boss, journeyman, apprentice? churchman
and atheist?
The stupid and the wise thinker? parents and
offspring? merchant, clerk, porter, and cus-
tomer? editor, author, artist, and school-
Draw nigh and commence,
It is no lesson, it lets down the bars to a good
And that to another, and every one to another

The great laws take and effuse without argument,
I am of the same style, for I am their friend,
I love them quits and quits—I do not halt and
make salaams.

I lie abstracted and hear beautiful tales of things
and the reasons of things,
They are so beautiful I nudge myself to listen.

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I cannot say to any person what I hear—I
cannot say it to myself—it is very won-

It is no little matter, this round and delicious globe
moving so exactly in its orbit forever and
ever without one jolt or the untruth of a
single second,
I do not think it was made in six days, nor
in ten thousand years, nor ten decillions of
Nor planned and built one thing after another, as
an architect plans and builds a house.

I do not think seventy years is the time of a man
or woman,
Nor that seventy millions of years is the time of a
man or woman,
Nor that years will ever stop the existence of me
or any one else.

Is it wonderful that I should be immortal? as
every one is immortal,
I know it is wonderful—but my eye-sight is
equally wonderful, and how I was con-
ceived in my mother's womb is equally
And how I was not palpable once, but am now —
and was born on the last day of May in the
Year 43 of America—and passed from a

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babe, in the creeping trance of three summers
and three winters, to articulate and walk —
all this is equally wonderful,
And that I grew six feet high, and that I have
become a man thirty-six years old in the Year
79 of America, and that I am here anyhow,
are all equally wonderful,
And that my soul embraces you this hour, and we
affect each other without ever seeing each
other, and never perhaps to see each other,
is every bit as wonderful,
And that I can think such thoughts as these is
just as wonderful,
And that I can remind you, and you think them and
know them to be true, is just as wonderful,
And that the moon spins round the earth, and on
with the earth, is equally wonderful,
And that they balance themselves with the sun
and stars is equally wonderful.

Come! I should like to hear you tell me what
there is in yourself that is not just as won-
And I should like to hear the name of anything
between Sunday morning and Saturday night
that is not just as wonderful.

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30 — Poem of The Propositions of Nakedness.

RESPONDEZ! Respondez!
Let every one answer! Let all who sleep be
waked! Let none evade—not you, any
more than others!
Let that which stood in front go behind! and let
that which was behind advance to the front
and speak!
Let murderers, thieves, tyrants, bigots, unclean
persons, offer new propositions!
Let the old propositions be postponed!
Let faces and theories be turned inside out! Let
meanings be criminal as well as results!
(Say! can results be criminal, and meanings
not criminal?)
Let there be no suggestion besides the suggestion
of drudgery!
Let none be pointed toward his destination!
(Say! do you know your destination?)
Let trillions of men and women be mocked with
bodies and mocked with souls!

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Let the love that waits in them, wait! Let it die,
or pass still-born to other spheres!
Let the sympathy that waits in every man, wait!
or let it also pass, a dwarf, to other spheres!
Let contradictions prevail! Let one thing con-
tradict another! and let one line of my poem
contradict another!
Let the people sprawl with yearning aimless
hands! Let their tongues be broken! Let their
eyes be discouraged! Let none descend into
their hearts with the fresh lusciousness of
Let the theory of America be management, caste,
comparison! (Say! what other theory would
Let them that distrust birth and death lead the
rest! (Say! why shall they not lead you?)
Let the crust of hell be neared and trod on! Let
the days be darker than the nights! Let
slumber bring less slumber than waking-time
Let the world never appear to him or her for
whom it was all made!
Let the heart of the young man exile itself from the
heart of the old man! and let the heart of the
old man be exiled from that of the young man!
Let the sun and moon go! Let scenery take the
applause of the audience! Let there be
apathy under the stars!

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Let freedom prove no man's inalienable right!
Every one who can tyrannize, let him tyran-
nize to his satisfaction!
Let none but infidels be countenanced!
Let the eminence of meanness, treachery,
sarcasm, hate, greed, indecency, impotence,
lust, be taken for granted above all! Let
poems, judges, governments, households,
religions, philosophies, take such for granted
above all!
Let the worst men beget children out of the worst
Let priests still play at immortality!
Let death be inaugurated!
Let nothing remain upon the earth except
teachers, artists, moralists, lawyers, and
learned and polite persons!
Let him who is without my poems be assas-
Let the cow, the horse, the camel, the garden-bee
—Let the mud-fish, the lobster, the mussel,
eel, the sting-ray and the grunting pig-
fish—Let these, and the like of these, be
put on a perfect equality with man and
Let churches accommodate serpents, vermin, and
the corpses of those who have died of the
most filthy of diseases!

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Let marriage slip down among fools, and be for
none but fools!
Let men among themselves talk obscenely of wo-
men! and let women among themselves talk
obscenely of men!
Let every man doubt every woman! and let every
woman trick every man!
Let us all, without missing one, be exposed in pub-
lic, naked, monthly, at the peril of our lives!
Let our bodies be freely handled and examined
by whoever chooses!
Let nothing but love-songs, pictures, statues, ele-
gant works, be permitted to exist upon the earth!
Let the earth desert God, nor let there ever hence-
forth be mentioned the name of God!
Let there be no God!
Let there be money, business, railroads, imports,
exports, custom, authority, precedents, pallor,
dyspepsia, smut, ignorance, unbelief!
Let judges and criminals be transposed! Let the
prison-keepers be put in prison! Let those
that were prisoners take the keys! (Say!
why might they not just as well be trans-
Let the slaves be masters! Let the masters
become slaves!
Let the reformers descend from the stands where
they are forever bawling! Let an idiot or
insane person appear on each of the stands!

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Let the Asiatic, the African, the European, the
American and the Australian, go armed against
the murderous stealthiness of each other! Let
them sleep armed! Let none believe in good-
Let there be no living wisdom! Let such be
scorned and derided off from the earth!
Let a floating cloud in the sky—Let a wave of
the sea—Let one glimpse of your eye-sight
upon the landscape or grass—Let growing
mint, spinach, onions, tomatoes—Let these
be exhibited as shows at a great price for
Let all the men of These States stand aside for a
few smouchers! Let the few seize on what
they choose! Let the rest gawk, giggle
starve, obey!
Let shadows be furnished with genitals! Let
substances be deprived of their genitals!
Let there be immense cities—but through any of
them, not a single poet, saviour, knower, lover!
Let the infidels of These States laugh all faith
away! If one man be found who has faith,
let the rest set upon him! Let them affright
faith! Let them destroy the power of breed-
ing faith!
Let the she-harlots and the he-harlots be prudent!
Let them dance on, while seeming lasts! (O
seeming! seeming! seeming!)

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Let the preachers recite creeds! Let the preach-
ers of creeds never dare to go meditate upon
the hills, alone, by day or by night! (If one
ever once dare, he is lost!)
Let insanity have charge of sanity!
Let books take the place of trees, animals, rivers,
Let the portraits of heroes supersede heroes!
Let the manhood of man never take steps after
itself! Let it take steps after eunuchs, and
after consumptive and genteel persons!
Let the white person tread the black person under
his heel! (Say! which is trodden under
heel, after all?)
Let the reflections of the things of the world be
studied in mirrors! Let the things them-
selves continue unstudied!
Let a man seek pleasure everywhere except in
himself! Let a woman seek happiness
everywhere except in herself! (Say! what
real happiness have you had one single time
through your whole life?)
Let the limited years of life do nothing for the
limitless years of death! (Say! what do
you suppose death will do, then?)

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31 — Poem of The Sayers of The Words of The Earth.

EARTH, round, rolling, compact—suns, moons,
animals—all these are words,
Watery, vegetable, sauroid advances—beings,
premonitions, lispings of the future—these
are vast words.

Were you thinking that those were the words —
those upright lines? those curves, angles,
No, those are not the words—the substantial
words are in the ground and sea,
They are in the air—they are in you.

Were you thinking that those were the words —
those delicious sounds out of your friends'
No, the real words are more delicious than they.

Human bodies are words, myriads of words,
In the best poems re-appears the body, man's or
woman's, well-shaped, natural, gay,

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Every part able, active, receptive, without shame
or the need of shame

Air, soil, water, fire, these are words,
I myself am a word with them—my qualities
interpenetrate with theirs—my name is noth-
ing to them,
Though it were told in the three thousand lan-
guages, what would air, soil, water, fire,
know of my name?

A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding
gesture, are words, sayings, meanings,
The charms that go with the mere looks of some
men and women are sayings and meanings

The workmanship of souls is by the inaudible
words of the earth,
The great masters, the sayers, know the earth's
words, and use them more than the audible

Syllables are not the earth's words,
Beauty, reality, manhood, time, life—the realities
of such as these are the earth's words.

Amelioration is one of the earth's words,
The earth neither lags nor hastens,

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It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in it-
self from the jump,
It is not half beautiful only—defects and excres-
cences show just as much as perfections

The earth does not withhold, it is generous
The truths of the earth continually wait, they are
not so concealed either,
They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print,
They are imbued through all things, conveying
themselves willingly,
Conveying a sentiment and invitation of the earth
—I utter and utter,
I speak not, yet if you hear me not, of what avail
am I to you?
To bear—to better—lacking these, of what
avail am I?

Accouche! Accouchez!
Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
Will you squat and stifle there?

The earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten,
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable

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Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts
none out.

The earth does not exhibit itself nor refuse to
exhibit itself—possesses still underneath,
Underneath the ostensible sounds, the august
chorus of heroes, the wail of slaves,
Persuasions of lovers, curses, gasps of the dying,
laughter of young people, accents of bar-
Underneath these possessing the words that never

To her children the words of the eloquent dumb
great mother never fail,
The true words do not fail, for motion does not
fail, and reflection does not fail,
Also the day and night do not fail, and the voyage
we pursue does not fail.

Of the interminable sisters,
Of the ceaseless cotillions of sisters,
Of the centripetal and centrifugal sisters, the elder
and younger sisters,
The beautiful sister we know dances on with the

With her ample back toward every beholder,

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With the fascinations of youth and the equal fas-
cinations of age,
Sits she whom I too love like the rest, sits undis-
Holding up in her hand what has the character
of a mirror, her eyes glancing back from
Glancing thence as she sits, inviting none, denying
Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before
her own face.

Seen at hand, or seen at a distance,
Duly the twenty-four appear in public every day,
Duly approach and pass with their companions, or
a companion,
Looking from no countenances of their own, but
from the countenances of those who are with
From the countenances of children or women, or
the manly countenance,
From the open countenances of animals, from in-
animate things,
From the landscape or waters, or from the exqui-
site apparition of the sky,
From our own countenances, mine and yours,
faithfully returning them,
Every day in public appearing without fail, but
never twice with the same companions.

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Embracing man, embracing all, proceed the three
hundred and sixty-five resistlessly round the
Embracing all, soothing, supporting, follow close
three hundred and sixty-five offsets of the
first, sure and necessary as they.

Tumbling on steadily, nothing dreading,
Sunshine, storm, cold, heat, forever withstanding,
passing, carrying,
The soul's realization and determination still in-
The liquid vacuum around and ahead still entering
and dividing,
No balk retarding, no anchor anchoring, on no
rock striking,
Swift, glad, content, unbereaved, nothing losing,
Of all able and ready at any time to give strict
The divine ship sails the divine sea.

Whoever you are! motion and reflection are espe-
cially for you,
The divine ship sails the divine sea for you.

Whoever you are! you are he or she for whom
the earth is solid and liquid,
You are he or she for whom the sun and moon
hang in the sky,

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For none more than you are the present and the
For none more than you is immortality.

Each man to himself, and each woman to herself,
is the word of the past and present, and the
word of immortality,
Not one can acquire for another—not one!
Not one can grow for another—not one!

The song is to the singer, and comes back most to
The teaching is to the teacher, and comes back
most to him,
The murder is to the murderer, and comes back
most to him,
The theft is to the thief, and comes back most to
The love is to the lover, and comes back most to
The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to
him—it cannot fail,
The oration is to the orator, and the acting is to
the actor and actress, not to the audience,
And no man understands any greatness or good-
ness but his own, or the indication of his

I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him
or her who shall be complete!

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I swear the earth remains broken and jagged only
to him or her who remains broken and

I swear there is no greatness or power that does
not emulate those of the earth!
I swear there can be no theory of any account,
unless it corroborate the theory of the earth!
No politics, art, religion, behaviour, or what not, is
of account, unless it compare with the ampli-
tude of the earth,
Unless it face the exactness, vitality, impartiality,
rectitude of the earth.

I swear I begin to see love with sweeter spasms
than that which responds love!
It is that which contains itself, which never in-
vites and never refuses.

I swear I begin to see little or nothing in audible
I swear I think all merges toward the presentation
of the unspoken meanings of the earth!
Toward him who sings the songs of the body, and
of the truths of the earth,
Toward him who makes the dictionaries of the
words that print cannot touch.

I swear I see what is better than to tell the best,
It is always to leave the best untold.

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When I undertake to tell the best, I find I can-
My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots,
My breath will not be obedient to its organs,
I become a dumb man.

The best of the earth cannot be told anyhow—all
or any is best,
It is not what you anticipated, it is cheaper, easier,
Things are not dismissed from the places they
held before,
The earth is just as positive and direct as it was
Facts, religions, improvements, politics, trades, are
as real as before,
But the soul is also real, it too is positive and
No reasoning, no proof has established it,
Undeniable growth has established it.

This is a poem for the sayers of the earth —
these are hints of meanings,
These are they that echo the tones of souls, and
the phrases of souls;
If they did not echo the phrases of souls, what
were they then?
If they had not reference to you in especial, what
were they then?

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I swear I will never henceforth have to do with
the faith that tells the best!
I will have to do with that faith only that leaves
the best untold.

Say on, sayers of the earth!
Delve! mould! pile the substantial words of the
Work on, age after age! nothing is to be lost,
It may have to wait long, but it will certainly come
in use,
When the materials are all prepared, the archi-
tects shall appear,
I swear to you the architects shall appear without
fail! I announce them and lead them!
I swear to you they will understand you and justify
I swear to you the greatest among them shall be
he who best knows you, and encloses all, and
is faithful to all!
I swear to you, he and the rest shall not forget
you! they shall perceive that you are not an
iota less than they!
I swear to you, you shall be glorified in them!

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32 — Burial Poem.

To think of time! to think through the retro-
To think of today, and the ages continued hence-

Have you guessed you yourself would not con-
tinue? Have you dreaded those earth-
Have you feared the future would be nothing to

Is today nothing? Is the beginningless past
If the future is nothing, they are just as surely

To think that the sun rose in the east! that men
and women were flexible, real, alive! that
every thing was alive!
To think that you and I did not see, feel, think,
nor bear our part!

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To think that we are now here, and bear our part!
Not a day passes, not a minute or second, without
an accouchement!
Not a day passes, not a minute or second, without

The dull nights go over, and the dull days also,
The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over,
The physician, after long putting off, gives the
silent and terrible look for an answer,
The children come hurried and weeping, and the
brothers and sisters are sent for,
Medicines stand unused on the shelf—the cam-
phor-smell has pervaded the rooms,
The faithful hand of the living does not desert the
hand of the dying,
The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead
of the dying,
The breath ceases and the pulse of the heart
The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living
look upon it,
It is palpable as the living are palpable.

The living look upon the corpse with their eye-
But without eye-sight lingers a different living,
and looks curiously on the corpse.

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To think that the rivers will come to flow, and the
snow fall, and fruits ripen, and act upon others
as upon us now—yet not act upon us!
To think of all these wonders of city and country,
and others taking great interest in them—and
we taking no interest in them!

To think how eager we are in building our houses!
To think others shall be just as eager, and we
quite indifferent!

I see one building the house that serves him a few
years, or seventy or eighty years at most,
I see one building the house that serves him longer
than that.

Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole
earth—they never cease—they are the
burial lines,
He that was President was buried, and he that is
now President shall surely be buried.

Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf—posh and
ice in the river, half-frozen mud in the streets,
a gray discouraged sky overhead, the short
last daylight of December,
A hearse and stages, other vehicles give place —
the funeral of an old Broadway stage-driver,
the cortege mostly drivers.

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Rapid the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the
death-bell, the gate is passed, the grave is
halted at, the living alight, the hearse
The coffin is lowered and settled, the whip is laid
on the coffin, the earth is swiftly shovelled in
—a minute, no one moves or speaks—it is
He is decently put away—is there anything

He was a good fellow, free-mouthed, quick-tem-
pered, not bad-looking, able to take his own
part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready with
life or death for a friend, fond of women,
played some, ate hearty, drank hearty, had
known what it was to be flush, grew low-
spirited toward the last, sickened, was helped
by a contribution, died aged forty-one years —
and that was his funeral.

Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape,
gloves, strap, wet-weather clothes, whip care-
fully chosen, boss, spotter, starter, hostler,
somebody loafing on you, you loafing on
somebody, head-way, man before and man
behind, good day's work, bad day's work, pet
stock, mean stock, first out, last out, turning
in at night,

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To think that these are so much and so nigh to
other drivers—and he there takes no interest
in them!

The markets, the government, the working-man's
wages—to think what account they are
through our nights and days!
To think that other working-men will make just as
great account of them—yet we make little
or no account!

The vulgar and the refined, what you call sin and
what you call goodness—to think how wide
a difference!
To think the difference will still continue to oth-
ers, yet we lie beyond the difference!

To think how much pleasure there is!
Have you pleasure from looking at the sky?
have you pleasure from poems?
Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in
business? or planning a nomination and elec-
tion? or with your wife and family?
Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly
house-work? or the beautiful maternal cares?
These also flow onward to others—you and I
flow onward,
But in due time you and I shall take less interest
in them.

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Your farm, profits, crops—to think how engrossed
you are!
To think there will still be farms, profits, crops —
yet for you, of what avail?

What will be, will be well—for what is, is well,
To take interest is well, and not to take interest
shall be well.

The sky continues beautiful, the pleasure of men
with women shall never be sated, nor the
pleasure of women with men, nor the pleas-
ure from poems,
The domestic joys, the daily house-work or busi-
ness, the building of houses—these are not
phantasms, they have weight, form, location;
Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government,
are none of them phantasms,
The difference between sin and goodness is no
The earth is not an echo—man and his life, and
all the things of his life, are well-considered.

You are not thrown to the winds—you gather
certainly and safely around yourself,
Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever!

It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your
mother and father—it is to identify you,

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It is not that you should be undecided, but that
you should be decided;
Something long preparing and formless is arrived
and formed in you,
You are thenceforth secure, whatever comes or

The threads that were spun are gathered, the weft
crosses the warp, the pattern is systematic.

The preparations have every one been justified,
The orchestra have tuned their instruments suffi-
ciently, the baton has given the signal.

The guest that was coming—he waited long for
reasons—he is now housed,
He is one of those who are beautiful and happy —
he is one of those that to look upon and be
with is enough.

The law of the past cannot be eluded!
The law of the present and future cannot be
The law of the living cannot be eluded—it is
The law of promotion and transformation cannot
be eluded!
The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be

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The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons,
cannot be eluded!

Slow-moving and black lines go ceaselessly over
the earth,
Northerner goes carried, and southerner goes car-
ried, and they on the Atlantic side, and they
on the Pacific, and they between, and all
through the Mississippi country, and all over
the earth.

The great masters and kosmos are well as they
go—the heroes and good-doers are well,
The known leaders and inventors, and the rich
owners and pious and distinguished, may be
But there is more account than that—there is
strict account of all.

The interminable hordes of the ignorant and
wicked are not nothing,
The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing,
The common people of Europe are not nothing —
the American aborigines are not nothing,
The infected in the immigrant hospital are not
nothing—the murderer or mean person is
not nothing,
The perpetual successions of shallow people are
not nothing as they go,

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The prostitute is not nothing—the mocker of re-
ligion is not nothing as he goes.

I shall go with the rest—we have satisfaction,
I have dreamed that we are not to be changed so
much, nor the law of us changed,
I have dreamed that heroes and good-doers shall
be under the present and past law,
And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be
under the present and past law,
For I have dreamed that the law they are under
now is enough.

And I have dreamed that the satisfaction is not so
much changed, and that there is no life
without satisfaction;
What is the earth? what are body and soul, with-
out satisfaction?

I shall go with the rest,
We cannot be stopped at a given point—that is
no satisfaction,
To show us a good thing, or a few good things,
for a space of time—that is no satisfaction,
We must have the indestructible breed of the best,
regardless of time.

If otherwise, all these things came but to ashes
of dung,

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If maggots and rats ended us, then suspicion,
treachery, death.

Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect
death, I should die now,
Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-
suited toward annihilation?

Pleasantly and well-suited I walk,
Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is
The whole universe indicates that it is good,
The past and the present indicate that it is good.

How beautiful and perfect are the animals! How
perfect is my soul!
How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing
upon it!
What is called good is perfect, and what is called
bad is just as perfect,
The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and
the imponderable fluids are perfect;
Slowly and surely they have passed on to this,
and slowly and surely they yet pass on.

My soul! if I realize you, I have satisfaction,
Animals and vegetables! if I realize you, I have
Laws of the earth and air! if I realize you, I
have satisfaction.

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I cannot define my satisfaction, yet it is so,
I cannot define my life, yet it is so.

O I swear I think now that every thing has an
eternal soul!
The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds
of the sea have! the animals!

I swear I think there is nothing but immortality!
That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebu-
lous float is for it, and the cohering is for it!
And all preparation is for it! and identity is for
it! and life and death are for it!

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I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of "LEAVES OF GRASS." I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed. I am very happy in reading it, as great power makes us happy. It meets the demand I am always making of what seemed the sterile and stingy nature, as if too much handiwork, or too much lymph in the temperament, were making our western wits fat and mean.

I give you joy of your free and brave thought. I have great joy in it. I find incomparable things said incomparably well, as they must be. I find the courage of treatment which so delights us, and which large perception only can inspire.

I greet you at the beginning of a great career, which yet must have had a long foreground somewhere, for such a start. I rubbed my eyes a little, to see if this sunbeam were no illusion; but the solid sense of the book is a sober certainty. It has the best merits, namely, of fortifying and encouraging.

I did not know until I last night saw the book advertised in a newspaper that I could trust the name as real

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and available for a post-office. I wish to see my benefactor, and have felt much like striking my tasks and visiting New York to pay you my respects.



BROOKLYN, August, 1856.

HERE are thirty-two Poems, which I send you, dear Friend and Master, not having found how I could satisfy myself with sending any usual acknowledgment of your letter. The first edition, on which you mailed me that till now unanswered letter, was twelve poems—I printed a thousand copies, and they readily sold; these thirty-two Poems I stereotype, to print several thousand copies of. I much enjoy making poems. Other work I have set for myself to do, to meet people and The States face to face, to confront them with an American rude tongue; but the work of my life is making poems. I keep on till I make a hundred, and then several hundred—perhaps a thousand. The way is clear to me. A few years, and the average annual call for my Poems is ten or twenty thousand copies—more, quite likely. Why should I hurry or compromise? In poems or in speeches I say the word or two that has got to be said, adhere to the body, step with the countless common footsteps, and remind every man and woman of something.

Master, I am a man who has perfect faith. Master, we have not come through centuries, caste, heroisms, fables, to halt in this land today. Or I think it is to collect a ten-fold impetus that any halt is made. As nature, inexorable, onward, resistless, impassive amid the threats and sereams of disputants, so America. Let all defer. Let all

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attend respectfully the leisure of These States, their politics, poems, literature, manners, and their free-handed modes of training their own offspring. Their own comes, just matured, certain, numerous and capable enough, with egotistical tongues, with sinewed wrists, seizing openly what belongs to them. They resume Personality, too long left out of mind. Their shadows are projected in employments, in books, in the cities, in trade; their feet are on the flights of the steps of the Capitol; they dilate, a larger, brawnier, more candid, more democratic, lawless, positive native to The States, sweet-bodied, completer, dauntless, flowing, masterful, beard-faced, new race of men.

Swiftly, on limitless foundations, the United States too are founding a literature. It is all as well done, in my opinion, as could be practicable. Each element here is in condition. Every day I go among the people of Manhattan Island, Brooklyn, and other cities, and among the young men, to discover the spirit of them, and to refresh myself. These are to be attended to; I am myself more drawn here than to those authors, publishers, importations, reprints, and so forth. I pass coolly through those, understanding them perfectly well. and that they do the indispensable service, outside of men like me, which nothing else could do. In poems, the young men of The States shall be represented, for they out-rival the best of the rest of the earth.

The lists of ready-made literature which America inherits by the mighty inheritance of the English language—all the rich repertoire of traditions, poems, historics, metaphysics, plays, classics, translations, have made, and still continue, magnificent preparations for that other plainly signified literature, to be our own, to be electric, fresh, lusty, to express the full-sized body, male and female—to give the modern meanings of things, to grow up beautiful, lasting, commensurate with America, with all the passions of home, with the inimitable sympathies of having been

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boys and girls together, and of parents who were with our parents.

What else can happen The States, even in their own despite? That huge English flow, so sweet, so undeniable, has done incalculable good here, and is to be spoken of for its own sake with generous praise and with gratitude. Yet the price The States have had to lie under for the same has not been a small price. Payment prevails; a nation can never take the issues of the needs of other nations for nothing. America, grandest of lands in the theory of its politics, in popular reading, in hospitality, breadth, animal beauty, cities, ships, machines, money, credit, collapses quick as lightning at the repeated, admonishing, stern words, Where are any mental expressions from you, beyond what you have copied or stolen? Where the born throngs of poets, literats, orators, you promised? Will you but tag after other nations? They struggled long for their literature, painfully working their way, some with deficient languages, some with priest-craft, some in the endeavor just to live—yet achieved for their times, works, poems, perhaps the only solid consolation left to them through ages afterward of shame and decay. You are young, have the perfectest of dialects, a free press, a free government, the world forwarding its best to be with you. As justice has been strictly done to you, from this hour do strict justice to yourself. Strangle the singers who will not sing you loud and strong. Open the doors of The West. Call for new great masters to comprehend new arts, new perfections, new wants. Submit to the most robust bard till he remedy your barrenness. Then you will not need to adopt the heirs of others; you will have true heirs, begotten of yourself, blooded with your own blood.

With composure I see such propositions, seeing more and more every day of the answers that serve. Expressions do

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not yet serve, for sufficient reasons; but that is getting ready, beyond what the earth has hitherto known, to take home the expressions when they come, and to identify them with the populace of The States, which is the schooling cheaply procured by any outlay any number of years. Such schooling The States extract from the swarms of reprints, and from the current authors and editors. Such service and extract are done after enormous, reckless, free modes, characteristic of The States. Here are to be attained results never elsewhere thought possible; the modes are very grand too. The instincts of the American people are all perfect, and tend to make heroes. It is a rare thing in a man here to understand The States.

All current nourishments to literature serve. Of authors and editors I do not know how many there are in The States, but there are thousands, each one building his or her step to the stairs by which giants shall mount. Of the twenty-four modern mammoth two-double, three-double, and four-double cylinder presses now in the world, printing by steam, twenty-one of them are in These States. The twelve thousand large and small shops for dispensing books and newspapers—the same number of public libraries, any one of which has all the reading wanted to equip a man or woman for American reading—the three thousand different newspapers, the nutriment of the imperfect ones coming in just as usefully as any—the story papers, various, full of strong-flavored romances, widely circulated—the onecent and two-cent journals—the political ones, no matter what side—the weeklies in the country—the sporting and pictorial papers—the monthly magazines, with plentiful imported feed—the sentimental novels, numberless copies of them—the low-priced flaring tales, adventures, biographies—all are prophetic; all waft rapidly on. I see that they swell wide, for reasons. I am not troubled at the movement of them, but greatly pleased. I see plying

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shuttles, the active ephemeral myriads of books also, faithfully weaving the garments of a generation of men, and a generation of women, they do not perceive or know. What a progress popular reading and writing has made in fifty years! What a progress fifty years hence! The time is at hand when inherent literature will be a main part of These States, as general and real as steam-power, iron, corn, beef, fish. First-rate American persons are to be supplied. Our perennial materials for fresh thoughts, histories, poems, music, orations, religions, recitations, amusements, will then not be disregarded, any more than our perennial fields, mines, rivers, seas. Certain things are established, and are immovable; in those things millions of years stand justified. The mothers and fathers of whom modern centuries have come, have not existed for nothing; they too had brains and hearts. Of course all literature, in all nations and years, will share marked attributes in common, as we all, of all ages, share the common human attributes. America is to be kept coarse and broad. What is to be done is to withdraw from precedents, and be directed to men and women—also to The States in their federalness; for the union of the parts of the body is not more necessary to their life than the union of These States is to their life.

A profound person can easily know more of the people than they know of themselves. Always waiting untold in the souls of the armies of common people, is stuff better than anything that can possibly appear in the leadership of the same. That gives final verdicts. In every department of These States, he who travels with a coterie, or with selected persons, or with imitators, or with infidels, or with the owners of slaves, or with that which is ashamed of the body of a man, or with that which is ashamed of the body of a woman, or with any thing less than the bravest and the openest, travels straight for the

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slopes of dissolution. The genius of all foreign literature is clipped and cut small, compared to our genius, and is essentially insulting to our usages, and to the organic compacts of These States. Old forms, old poems, majestic and proper in their own lands here in this land are exiles; the air here is very strong. Much that stands well and has a little enough place provided for it in the small scales of European kingdoms, empires, and the like, here stands haggard, dwarfed, ludicrous, or has no place little enough provided for it. Authorities, poems, models, laws, names, imported into America, are useful to America today to destroy them, and so move disencumbered to great works, great days.

Just so long, in our country or any country, as no revolutionists advance, and are backed by the people, sweeping off the swarms of routine representatives, officers in power, book-makers, teachers, ecclesiastics, politicians, just so long, I perceive, do they who are in power fairly represent that country, and remain of use, probably of very great use. To supersede them, when it is the pleasure of These States, full provision is made; and I say the time has arrived to use it with a strong hand. Here also the souls of the armies have not only overtaken the souls of the officer, but passed on, and left the souls of the officers behind out of sight many weeks' journey; and the souls of the armies now go en-masse without officers. Here also formulas, glosses, blanks, minutiæ, are choking the throats of the spokesmen to death. Those things most listened for, certainly those are the things least said. There is not a single History of the World. There is not one of America, or of the organic compacts of These States, or of Washington, or of Jefferson, nor of Language, nor any Dictionary of the English Language. There is no great author; every one has demeaned himself to some etiquette or some impotence. There is no manhood or life-power in poems; there are shoats and

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geldings more like. Or literature will be dressed up, a fine gentleman, distasteful to our instincts, foreign to our soil. Its neck bends right and left wherever it goes. Its costumes and jewelry prove how little it knows Nature. Its flesh is soft; it shows less and less of the indefinable hard something that is Nature. Where is any thing but the shaved Nature of synods and schools? Where is a savage and luxuriant man? Where is an overseer? In lives, in poems, in codes of law, in Congress, in tuitions, theatres, conversations, argumentations, not a single head lifts itself clean out, with proof that it is their master, and has subordinated them to itself, and is ready to try their superiors. None believes in These States, boldly illustrating them in himself. Not a man faces round at the rest with terrible negative voice, refusing all terms to be bought off from his own eye-sight, or from the soul that he is, or from friendship, or from the body that he is, or from the soil and sea. To creeds, literature, art, the army, the navy, the executive, life is hardly proposed, but the sick and dying are proposed to cure the sick and dying. The churches are one vast lie; the people do not believe them, and they do not believe themselves; the priests are continually telling what they know well enough is not so, and keeping back what they know is so. The spectacle is a pitiful one. I think there can never be again upon the festive earth more bad-disordered persons deliberately taking seats, as of late in These States, at the heads of the public tables—such corpses' eyes for judges—such a rascal and thief in the Presidency.

Up to the present, as helps best, the people, like a lot of large boys, have no determined tastes, are quite unaware of the grandeur of themselves, and of their destiny, and of their immense strides—accept with voracity whatever is presented them in novels, histories, newspapers, poems, schools, lectures, every thing. Pretty soon, through these

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and other means, their development makes the fibre that is capable of itself, and will assume determined tastes. The young men will be clear what they want, and will have it. They will follow none except him whose spirit leads them in the like spirit with themselves. Any such man will be welcome as the flowers of May. Others will be put out without ceremony. How much is there anyhow, to the young men of These States, in a parcel of helpless dandies, who can neither fight, work, shoot, ride, run, command—some of them devout, some quite insane, some castrated—all second-hand, or third, fourth, or fifth hand—waited upon by waiters, putting not this land first, but always other lands first, talking of art, doing the most ridiculous things for fear of being called ridiculous, smirking and skipping along, continually taking off their hats—no one behaving, dressing, writing, talking, loving, out of any natural and manly tastes of his own, but each one looking cautiously to see how the rest behave, dress, write, talk, love—pressing the noses of dead books upon themselves and upon their country—favoring no poets, philosophs, literats here, but dog-like danglers at the heels of the poets, philosophs, literats, of enemies' lands—favoring mental expressions, models of gentlemen and ladies, social habitudes in These States, to grow up in sneaking defiance of the popular substratums of The States? Of course they and the likes of them can never justify the strong poems of America. Of course no feed of theirs is to stop and be made welcome to muscle the bodies, male and female, for Manhattan Island, Brooklyn, Boston, Worcester, Hartford, Portland, Montreal, Detroit, Buffalo, Cleaveland, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Chicago, Cincinnati, Iowa City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Releigh, Savannah, Charleston, Mobile, New Orleans, Galveston, Brownsville, San Francisco, Havana, and a thousand equal cities, present and to come. Of course what they and the likes of them have been used for, draws toward its close,

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after which they will all be discharged, and not one of them will ever be heard of any more.

America, having duly conceived, bears out of herself offspring of her own to do the workmanship wanted. To freedom, to strength, to poems, to personal greatness, it is never permitted to rest, not a generation or part of a generation. To be ripe beyond further increase is to prepare to die. The architects of These States laid their foundations, and passed to further, spheres. What they laid is a work done; as much more remains. Now are needed other architects, whose duty is not less difficult, but perhaps more difficult. Each age forever needs architects. America is not finished, perhaps never will be; now America is a divine true sketch. There are Thirty-Two States sketched—the population thirty millions. In a few years there will be Fifty States. Again in a few years there will be A Hundred States, the population hundreds of millions, the freshest and freest of men. Of course such men stand to nothing less than the freshest and freest expression.

Poets here, literats here, are to rest on organic different bases from other countries; not a class set apart, circling only in the circle of themselves, modest and pretty, desperately scratching for rhymes, pallid with white paper, shut off, aware of the old pictures and traditions of the race, but unaware of the actual race around them—not breeding in and in among each other till they all have the scrofula. Lands of ensemble, bards of ensemble! Walking freely out from the old traditions, as our politics has walked out, American poets and literats recognize nothing behind them superior to what is present with them—recognize with joy the sturdy living forms of the men and women of These States, the divinity of sex, the perfect eligibility of the female with the male, all The States, liberty and equality, real articles, the different trades, mechanics, the

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young fellows of Manhattan Island, customs, instincts, slang, Wisconsin, Georgia, the noble Southern heart, the hot blood, the spirit that will be nothing less than master, the filibuster spirit, the Western man, native-born perceptions, the eye for forms, the perfect models of made things, the wild smack of freedom, California, money, electrictelegraphs, free-trade, iron and the iron mines—recognize without demur those splendid resistless black poems, the steam-ships of the sea-board states, and those other resistless splendid poems, the locomotives, followed through the interior states by trains of rail-road cars.

A word remains to be said, as of one ever present, not yet permitted to be acknowledged, discarded or made dumb by literature, and the results apparent. To the lack of an avowed, empowered, unabashed development of sex, (the only salvation for the same,) and to the fact of speakers and writers fraudulently assuming as always dead what every one knows to be always alive, is attributable the remarkable non-personality and indistinctness of modern productions in books, art, talk; also that in the scanned lives of men and women most of them appear to have béen for some time past of the neuter gender; and also the stinging fact that in orthodox society today. if the dresses were changed, the men might easily pass for women and the women for men.

Infidelism usurps most with fœtid polite face; among the rest infidelism about sex. By silence or obedience the pens of savans, poets, historians, biographers, and the rest, have long connived at the filthy law, and books enslaved to it, that what makes the manhood of a man, that sex, womanhood, maternity, desires, lusty animations, organs, acts, are unmentionable and to be ashamed of, to be driven to skulk out of literature with whatever belongs to them. This filthy law has to be repealed—it stands in the way of great reforms. Of women just as much as

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men, it is the interest that there should not be infidelism about sex, but perfect faith. Women in These States approach the day of that organic equality with men, without which, I see, men cannot have organic equality among themselves. This empty dish, gallantry, will then be filled with something. This tepid wash, this diluted deferential love, as in songs, fictions, and so forth, is enough to make a man vomit; as to manly friendship, everywhere observed in The States, there is not the first breath of it to be observed in print. I say that the body of a man or woman, the main matter, is so far quite unexpressed in poems; but that the body is to be expressed, and sex is. Of bards for These States, if it come to a question, it is whether they shall celebrate in poems the eternal decency of the amativeness of Nature, the motherhood of all, or whether they shall be the bards of the fashionable delusion of the inherent nastiness of sex, and of the feeble and querulous modesty of deprivation. This is important in poems, because the whole of the other expressions of a nation are but flanges out of its great poems. To me, henceforth, that theory of any thing, no matter what, stagnates in its vitals, cowardly and rotten, while it cannot publicly accept, and publicly name, with specific words, the things on which all existence, all souls, all realization, all decency, all health, all that is worth being here for, all of woman and of man, all beauty, all purity, all sweetness, all friendship, all strength, all life, all immortality depend. The courageous soul, for a year or two to come, may be proved by faith in sex, and by disdaining concessions.

To poets and literats—to every woman and man, today or any day, the conditions of the present, needs, dangers, prejudices, and the like, are the perfect conditions on which we are here, and the conditions for wording the future with undissuadable words. These States, receivers of

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the stamina of past ages and lands, initiate the outlines of repayment a thousand fold. They fetch the American great masters, waited for by old worlds and new, who accept evil as well as good, ignorance as well as erudition, black as soon as white, foreign-born materials as well as home-born, reject none, force discrepancies into range, surround the whole, concentrate them on present periods and places, show the application to each and any one's body and soul, and show the true use of precedents. Always America will be agitated and turbulent. This day it is taking shape, not to be less so, but to be more so, stormily, capriciously, on native principles, with such vast proportions of parts! As for me, I love screaming, wrestling, boiling-hot days.

Of course, we shall have a national character, an identity. As it ought to be, and as soon as it ought to be, it will be. That, with much else, takes care of itself, is a result, and the cause of greater results. With Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Oregon—with the states around the Mexican sea—with cheerfully welcomed immigrants from Europe, Asia, Africa—with Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island—with all varied interests, facts, beliefs, parties, genesis—there is being fused a determined character, fit for the broadest use for the freewomen and freemen of The States, accomplished and to be accomplished, without any exception whatever—each indeed free, each idiomatic, as becomes live states and men, but each adhering to one enclosing general form of politics, manners, talk, personal style, as the plenteous varieties of the race adhere to one physical form. Such character is the brain and spine to all, including literature, including poems. Such character, strong, limber, just, open-mouthed, American-blooded, full of pride, full of ease, of passionate friendliness, is to stand compact upon that vast basis of the supremacy of Individuality—that new moral

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American continent without which, I see, the physical continent remained incomplete, may-be a carcass, a bloat—that newer America, answering face to face with The States, with ever-satisfying and ever-unsurveyable seas and shores.

Those shores you found. I say you have led The States there—have led Me there. I say that none has ever done, or ever can do, a greater deed for The States, than your deed. Others may line out the lines, build cities, work mines, break up farms; it is yours to have been the original true Captain who put to sea, intuitive, positive, rendering the first report, to be told less by any report, and more by the mariners of a thousand bays, in each tack of their arriving and departing, many years after you.

Receive, dear Master, these statements and assurances through me, for all the young men, and for an earnest that we know none before you, but the best following you; and that we demand to take your name into our keeping, and that we understand what you have indicated, and find the same indicated in ourselves, and that we will stick to it and enlarge upon it through These States.


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Opinions. 1855-6.


From the London Weekly Dispatch. (London, England.)

LEAVES OF GRASS. By Walt Whitman. Horsell, Oxford Street.

WE have before us one of the most extraordinary specimens of Yankee intelligence and American eccentricity in authorship, it is possible to conceive. It is of a genus so peculiar as to embarrass us, and has an air at once so novel, so audacious, and so strange as to verge upon absurdity, and yet it would be an injustice to pronounce it so, as the work is saved from this extreme by a certain mastery over diction not very easy of definition. What Emerson has pronounced to be good must not be lightly treated, and before we pronounce upon the merits of this performance it is but right to examine them. We have, then, a series of pithy prose sentences strung together—forming twelve grand divisions in all, but which, having a rude rhymical cadence about them, admit of the designation poetical being applied. They are destitute of rhyme, measure of feet, and the like, every condition under which poetry is generally understood to exist being absent; but in their strength of expression, their fervor, hearty wholesomeness, their originality, mannerism, and freshness, one finds in them a singular harmony and flow, as if by reading, they gradually formed themselves into melody, and adopted characteristics peculiar and appropriate to themselves alone. If, however, some sentences be fine, there are others altogether laughable; nevertheless, in the bare strength, the unhesitating frankness of a man who "believes in the flesh and the appetites," and who dares to call simplest things by their plainest names, conveying also a large sense of the beautiful, and with an emphasis which gives a clearer conception of what manly modesty really is than any thing we have, in all conventional forms of word, deed, or act so far known of, that we rid ourselves, little by little, of the

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strangeness with which we greet this bluff new-comer, and, beginning to understand him better, appreciate him in proportion as he becomes more known. He will soon make his way into the confidence of his readers, and his poems in time will become a pregnant text-book, out of which quotation as sterling as the minted gold will be taken and applied to every form and phase of the "inner" or the "outer" life; and we express our pleasure in making the acquaintance of Walt Whitman, hoping to know more of him in time to come.


From the Brooklyn Daily Times.

LEAVES OF GRASS. A volume of Poems, just published.

To give judgment on real poems, one needs an account of the poet himself. Very devilish to some, and very divine to some, will appear the poet of these new poems, the "LEAVES OF GRASS;" an attempt, as they are, of a naive, masculine, affectionate, contemplative, sensual, imperious person, to cast into literature not only his own grit and arrogance, but his own flesh and form, undraped, regardless of models, regardless of modesty or law, and ignorant or silently scornful, as at first appears, of all except his own presence and experience, and all outside the fiercely loved land of his birth, and the birth of his parents and their parents for several generations before him. Politeness this man has none, and regulation he has none. A rude child of the people!—No imitation—No foreigner—but a growth and idiom of America. No discontented—a careless slouch, enjoying to-day. No dilletant democrat—a man who is art-and-part with the commonalty, and with immediate life—loves the streets—loves the docks—loves the free rasping talk of men—likes to be called by his given name, and nobody at all need Mr him—can laugh with laughers—likes the cheap ways of laborers—is not prejudiced one mite against the Irish—talks readily with them—talks readily with niggers—does not make a stand on being a gentleman, nor on learning or manners—eats cheap fare, likes the strong-flavored coffee of the coffee-stands in the market, at sunrise—likes a supper of oysters fresh from the oyster-smack—likes to make one at the crowded table among sailors and workpeople—would leave a select soiree of elegant people any time to go with tumultuous men,

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roughs, receive their caresses and welcome, listen to their noise, oaths, smut, fluency, laughter, repartee—and can preserve his presence perfectly among these, and the like of these. The effects he produces in his poems are no effects of artists or the arts, but effects of the original eye or arm, or the actual atmosphere or tree or bird. You may feel the unconscious teaching of a fine brute, but will never feel the teaching of a fine writer or speaker.

Other poets celebrate great events, personages, romances, wars, loves, passions, the victories and power of their country, or some real or imagined incident—and polish their work, and come to conclusions, and satisfy the reader. This poet celebrates himself; and that is the way he celebrates all. He comes to no conclusions, and does not satisfy the reader. He certainly leaves him what the serpent left the woman and the man, the taste of the Paradisaic tree of the knowledge of good and evil, never to be erased again.

What good is it to argue about egotism? There can be no two thoughts on Walt Whitman's egotism. That is avowedly what he steps out of the crowd and turns and faces them for. Mark, critics! Otherwise is not used for you the key that leads to the use of the other keys to this well-enveloped man. His whole work, his life, manners, friendships, writings, all have among their leading purposes an evident purpose to stamp a new type of character, namely his own, and indelibly fix it and publish it, not for a model but an illustration, for the present and future of American letters and American young men, for the south the same as the north, and for the Pacific and Mississippi country, and Wisconsin and Texas and Kansas and Canada and Havana and Nicaragua, just as much as New York and Boston. Whatever is needed toward this achievement he puts his hand to, and lets imputations take their time to die.

First be yourself what you would show in your poem—such seems to be this man's example and inferred rebuke to the schools of poets. He makes no allusions to books or writers; their spirits do not seem to have touched him; he has not a word to say for or against them, or their theories or ways. He never offers others; what he continually offers is the man whom our Brooklynites know so well. Of pure American breed, large and lusty—age thirty-six years, (1855,)—never once using medicine—never dressed in black, always dressed freely and clean in strong clothes —

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neck open, shirt-collar flat and broad, countenance tawny transparent red, beard well-mottled with white, hair like hay after it has been mowed in the field and lies tossed and streaked—his physiology corroborating a rugged phrenology∗ —a spirit that mixes cheerfully with the world—a person singularly beloved and looked toward, especially by young men and the illiterate—one who has firm attachments there, and associates there—one who does not associate with literary people—a man never called upon to make speeches at public dinners, never on platforms amid the crowds of clergymen, or professors, or aldermen, or congressmen—rather down in the bay with pilots in their pilot-boat—or off on a cruise with fishers in a fishing smack—or with a band of loungers over the open grounds of the country—fond of New York and Brooklyn—fond of the life of the great ferries, or along Broadway, observing the endless wonders of that thoroughfare of the world—One whom, if you would meet, you need not expect to meet an extraordinary person—one in whom you will see the singularity which consists in no singularity—whose contact is no dazzle or fascination, nor requires any deference, but has the easy fascination of what is homely and accustomed—of something you knew before, and was waiting for—of natural pleasures, and well-known places, and welcome familiar faces—there you have Walt Whitman, the begetter of a new offspring out of literature, taking with easy nonchalance the chances of

*Phrenological Notes on W. Whitman, by L. N. FOWLER, July, 1849.—Size of head large, 23 inches. Leading traits appear to be Friendship, Sympathy, Sublimity, and Self-Esteem, and markedly among his combinations the dangerous faults of Indolence, a tendency to the pleasures of Voluptuousness and Alimentiveness, and a certain reckless swing of animal will.

Amativeness large, ∗6; Philoprogenitiveness, 6; Adhesiveness, 6; Inhabitiveness, 6; Concentrativeness, 4; Combativeness, 6; Destructiveness, 5 to 6; Alimentiveness, 6; Acquisitiveness, 4; Secretiveness, 3; Cautiousness, 6; Approbativeness, 4; Self-Esteem, 6 to 7; Firmness, 6 to 7; Conscientiousness, 6; Hope, 4; Marvellousness, 3; Veneration, 4; Benevolence, 6 to 7; Constructiveness, 5; Ideality, 5 to 6; Sublimity, 6 to 7; Imitation, 5; Mirthfulness, 5; Individuality, 6; Form, 6; Size, 6; Weight, 6; Color, 3; Order, 5; Calculation, 5; Locality, 6; Eventuality, 6; Time, 3; Tune, 4; Language, 5; Causality, 5 to 6; Comparison, 6; Suavitiveness, 4; Intuitiveness, or Human Nature, 6.

∗ The organs are marked by figures from 1 to 7, indicating their degrees of development, 1 meaning very small, 2 small, 3 moderate, 4 average, 5 full, 6 large, and 7 very large.

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its present reception, and, through all misunderstandings and distrusts, the chances of its future reception—preferring always to speak for himself rather than have others speak for him.


From the Christian Spiritualist.


Carlyle represents a cotemporary reviewer taking leave of the Belles-Lettres department somewhat in this abrupt manner: "The end having come, it is fit that we end—Poetry having ceased to be read, or published, or written, how can it continue to be reviewed? With your Lake Schools, and Border-Thief Schools, and Cockney and Satanic Schools, there has been enough to do; and now, all these Schools having burnt or smouldered themselves out, and left nothing but a wide-spread wreck of ashes, dust, and cinders—or perhaps dying embers, kicked to and fro under the feet of innumerable women and children in the magazines, and at best blown here and there into transient sputters, what remains but to adjust ourselves to circumstances? Urge me not," continues this desperate Literateur, "with considerations that Poetry, as the inward Voice of Life, must be perennial, only dead in one form to become alive in another; that this still abundant deluge of Metre, seeing there must needs be fractions of Poetry floating, scattered in it, ought still to be net-fished, at all events, surveyed and taken note of. The survey of English metre, at this epoch, perhaps transcends the human faculties; to hire out the reading of it by estimate, at a remunerative rate per page, would, in a few quarters, reduce the cashbox of any extant review to the verge of insolvency."

Such is the humorous but essentially truthful picture of the condition and product of the creative faculties during the second quarter of the present century. The great poets, Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Goethe, and Schiller, had fulfilled their tasks and gone to other spheres; and all that remained, with few exceptions, were weak and feeble echoes of their dying strains, caught up and repeated by numerous imitators and pretenders. And so has it ever been; the visions and perceptions of one man become the creed and superficial life-element of other minds. Swedenborg is worthy to be enrolled among the master-minds of the world, because he entered for himself into the Arca-

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na of the profoundest mysteries that can concern human intelligences; his great thoughts are revolved, quoted, and represented in all "New Church" publications, but very rarely digested and assimilated by those who claim to be his followers. Still more rare is it to find any receiver of "the heavenly doctrines" determined to enter for himself into the very interiors of all that Swedenborg taught—to see, not the mighty reflections that Swedenborg was able to give of interior realities, but their originals, as they stand constellated in the heavens!

But Divine Providence, leading forth the race, as a father the tottering steps of his children, causes the outward form on which all men are prone to rely, to be forever changing and passing away before their eyes. The seeds of death are ever found lurking in the fairest external appearances, till those externals become the mere correspondences and representatives of interior realities, and then, though enduring as the fadeless garments of the blest, they are ever-varying, as those robes of light change with each changing state. The Coming Age will recognize the profoundest truths in the internal thought of the Swedish sage, while his most tenacious adherents will be forced to admit that, in externals, he often erred, and was not unfrequently deceived. But the discovered error will not only wean them from a blind and bigoted reliance upon frail man, but confirm the sincere lovers of truth in loyalty to her standard. So, also, the Spiritualists are being taught a severe but salutary lesson, that if they will penetrate into the heavenly Arcana of the Inner Life, they must do so by purifying and elevating their own minds, and not by "sitting in circles" or ransacking town and country to find the most "reliable Mediums." Still no step in human progress and development is in vain; even the falls of the child are essential to its discipline. The mistakes and errors of men are needful while in their present imperfect state. They are to the seekers of truth what trials and losses are to those in the pursuit of wealth; they but enhance the value of the prize, and confirm the devotion of the true aspirant, as frowns rekindle the ardor of lovers.

Moreover, as man must ever enter into the kingdom of a new unfolding truth with the simplicity and teachableness of little children, it is well that the outer form of the old disappear, that the new may stand alone in its place. It seems also to be a Law that when a change entire and uni-

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versal is to be outwrought, the means preparatory to its introduction shall be equally wide-spreads, and ultimated to the lowest possible plane. Hence the Spiritual manifestations meet the most external minds; and allow even the unregenerate to know by experience the fact and process of Spiritual inspiration; so that skepticism becomes impossible to the candid and living mind. The second step will be, after such have been convinced that Spiritual intercourse is possible, that they learn that it is worse than useless for the purpose of attaining any thing desirable, beyond this conviction—except so far as is orderly and directed, not by the will of man, but of God. But as the old form of poetic inspiration died out with Byron and Shelley, Wordsworth and Goethe, and as the miscellaneous Spirit-intercourse itself, also as quickly passes away, there will, we apprehend, spring up forms of mediatorial inspiration, of which there will be two permanent types. The first and highest, as it seems to us, will be the opening of the interiors to direct influx to the inspiring sources of love and wisdom. The heavens will flow down into the hearts and lives, into the thought and speech of harmonic natures, as the silent dews impregnate the patient earth. Men will live in heaven, hence they must be inspired by that breath of life that fills its ethereal expanse. A second class of Media will be used for the ultimation, for ends of use and in accordance with Laws of Order, of the creative thoughts and hymns, the Epics and Lyrics, of individual Spirits and societies of Spirits. These will be to the former Media as the youthful artist who copies the work of a master to the Angelos and Raphaels, who both design and execute their plans, though they themselves, in their deepest interiors, are instructed and sustained from above.

But in the transition period in which we now are, many varieties of Mediumship must be expected. There are those who stand in rapport with the diseased mentalities of the past and present, and pour forth as Divine Revelations the froth and scum of a receding age; they are the sponges who absorb the waste and impurities of humanity. They are also like running sores that gather the corrupt humors and drain the body of its most noxious fluids. There are others who come in contact with the outmost portion of the Spirit-life. These give crude, and in themselves, false notions of the state of man after death; yet they prepare the way for more truthful disclosures; if in no other way

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by stimulating the appetite for more substantial nourishment. There are those also who are lifted by genial inspirations to receive influxes from the upper mind-sphere of the age. They stand, as it were, on clear mountains of intellectual elevation, and with keenest perception discern the purer forms of new unfolding truths ere they become sufficiently embodied to be manifest to the grosser minds of the race. Of these, Ralph Waldo Emerson is the highest type. He sees the future of truths as our Spirit-seers discern the future of man; he welcomes those impalpable forms, as Spiritualists receive with gladdened minds the returning hosts of Spirit-friends.

There are other mediatorial natures who are in mental and heart-sympathy with man, as he now is, struggling to free himself from the tyranny of the old and effete, and to grasp and retain the new life flowing down from the heavens. And as the kindling rays at first produce more smoke than fire, so their lay is one of promise rather than performance. Such we conceive to be the interior condition of the author of "LEAVES OF GRASS." He accepts man as he is as to his whole nature, and all men as his own brothers. The lambent flame of his genius encircles the world—nor does he clearly discern between that which is to be preserved and that which is but as fuel for the purification of the ore from its dross. There is a wild strength, a Spartan simplicity about the man, and he stalks among the dapper gentlemen of this generation, like a drunken Hercules amid the dainty dancers. That his song is highly mediatorial, he himself asserts, though probably he is unacquainted with the Spiritual developments of the age.

"Through me," he sings, "many long dumb voices,
Voices of the interminable generations of slaves,
Voices of the diseased and despairing,
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,
And of threads that connect the stars,
And of the rights of them the others are down upon.

Through me forbidden voices—voices veiled,
Voices indecent, by me clarified and transfigured."

We omit much even in this short extract, for the book abounds in passages that can not be quoted in drawing-rooms, and expressions that fall upon the tympanums of ears polite, with a terrible dissonance. His very gait, as he walks through the world, makes dainty people nervous, and conservatives regard him as a social revolution. His

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style is everywhere graphic and strong, and he sings many things before untouched in prose or rhyme, in an idiom that is neither prose nor rhyme, nor yet orthodox blank verse. But it serves his purpose well. He wears his strange garb, cut and made by himself, as gracefully as a South American cavalier his poncho. We will continue our quotations.

(Extract of several pages)

Such are the graphic pictures which this new world-painter flings from his easel and dashes upon the moving panorama of life. His night-thoughts are not less striking, as, borne by the Muse, he looks into every chamber, and hears the quiet breathing of slumbering humanity.

As the volume advances toward its conclusion, the Spirit of the poet becomes calmer and more serenely elevated. But everywhere his sympathy is with man, and not with conventionalisms.

                ∗                ∗                ∗                ∗                ∗                ∗                ∗                ∗                ∗            

We can not take leave of this remarkable volume without advising our friends, who are not too delicately nerved, to study the work as a sign of the times, written, as we perceive, under powerful influxes; a prophecy and promise of much that awaits all who are entering with us into the opening doors of a new Era. A portion of that thought, which broods over the American nation, is here seized and bodied forth by a son of the people, rudely, wildly, and with some perversions, yet strongly and genuinely, according to the perception of this bold writer. He is the young Hercules who has seized the serpents that would make him and us their prey; but instead of strangling, he would change them to winged and beautiful forms, who shall become the servants of mankind.


From Putnam's Monthly, September, 1855.

WALT WHITMAN'S LEAVES OF GRASS.—Our account of the last month's literature would be incomplete without some notice of a curious and lawless collection of poems, called "LEAVES OF GRASS," and issued in a thin quarto, without the name of publisher or author. The poems, twelve in number, are neither in rhyme nor blank verse, but in a sort of excited prose broken into lines without any attempt at measure or regularity, and, as many readers will perhaps think, without any idea of sense or reason. The writ-

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er's scorn for the wonted usages of good writing, extends to the vocabulary he adopts; words usually banished from polite society are here employed without reserve and with perfect indifference as to their effect on the reader's mind; and not only is the book one not to be read aloud to a mixed audience, but the introduction of terms, never before heard or seen, and of slang expressions, often renders an otherwise striking passage altogether laughable. But, as the writer is a new light in poetry, it is only fair to let him state his theory for himself. We extract from the preface:


The application of these principles, and of many others equally peculiar, which are expounded in a style equally oracular throughout the long preface—is made passim, and often with comical success, in the poems themselves, which may briefly be described as a compound of the New England transcendentalist and New York rowdy. A fireman or omnibus driver, who had intelligence enough to absorb the speculations of that school of thought which culminated at Boston some fifteen or eighteen years ago, and resources of expression to put them forth again in a form of his own, with sufficient self-conceit and contempt for public taste to affront all usual propriety of diction, might have written this gross yet elevated, this superficial yet profound, this preposterous yet somehow fascinating book. As we say, it is a mixture of Yankee transcendentalism and New York rowdyism, and, what must be surprising to both these elements, they here seem to fuse and combine with the most perfect harmony. The vast and vague conceptions of the one, lose nothing of their quality in passing through the coarse and odd intellectual medium of the other; while there is an original perception of nature, a manly brawn, and an epic directness in our new poet, which belong to no other adept of the transcendental school. But we have no intention of regularly criticizing this very irregular production; our aim is rather to cull, from the rough and ragged thicket of its pages, a few passages equally remarkable in point of thought and expression. Of course we do not select those which are the most transcendental or the most bold.


As seems very proper in a book of transcendental poetry, the author withholds his name from the title-page, and

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presents his portrait, neatly engraved on steel, instead. This no doubt, is upon the principle that the name is merely accidental; while the portrait affords an idea of the essential being from whom these utterances proceed. We must add, however, that this significant reticence does not prevail throughout the volume, for we learn on p. 29, that our poet is "Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos." That he was an American, we knew before, for, aside from America, there is no quarter of the universe where such a production could have had a genesis. That he was one of the roughs was also tolerably plain; but that he was a kosmos, is a piece of news we were hardly prepared for. Precisely what a kosmos is, we hope Walt Whitman will take early occasion to inform the impatient public.


From the American Phrenological Journal.


LEAVES OF GRASS. Poems by WALT WHITMAN. Brooklyn, 1855. MAUD, and other Poems. By ALFRED TENNYSON. London, 1855.

It is always reserved for second-rate poems immediately to gratify. As first-rate or natural objects, in their perfect simplicity and proportion, do not startle or strike, but appear no more than matters of course, so probably natural poetry does not, for all its being the rarest, and telling of the longest and largest work. The artist or writer whose talent is to please the connoisseurs of his time, may obey the laws of his time, and achieve the intense and elaborated beauty of parts. The perfect poet cannot afford any special beauty of parts, or to limit himself by any laws less than those universal ones of the great masters, which include all times, and all men and women, and the living and the dead. For from the study of the universe is drawn this irrefragable truth, that the law of the requisites of a grand poem, or any other complete workmanship, is originality, and the average and superb beauty of the ensemble. Possessed with this law, the fitness of aim, time, persons, places, surely follows. Possessed with this law, and doing justice to it, no poet or any one else will make anything ungraceful or mean, any more than any emanation of nature is.

The poetry of England, by the many rich geniuses of

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that wonderful little island, has grown out of the facts of the English race, the monarchy and aristocracy prominent over the rest, and conforms to the spirit of them. No nation ever did or ever will receive with national affection any poets except those born of its national blood. Of these, the writings express the finest infusions of government, traditions, faith, and the dependence or independence of a people, and even the good or bad physiognomy, and the ample or small geography. Thus what very properly fits a subject of the British crown may fit very ill an American freeman. No fine romance, no inimitable delineation of character, no grace of delicate illustrations, no rare picture of shore or mountain or sky, no deep thought of the intellect, is so important to a man as his opinion of himself is; every thing receives its tinge from that. In the verse of all those undoubtedly great writers, Shakspeare just as much as the rest, there is the air which to America is the air of death. The mass of the people, the laborers and all who serve, are slag, refuse. The countenances of kings and great lords are beautiful; the countenances of mechanics are ridiculous and deformed. What play of Shakspeare, represented in America, is not an insult to America, to the marrow in its bones? How can the tone never silent in their plots and characters be applauded, unless Washington should have been caught and hung, and Jefferson was the most enormous of liars, and common persons north and south should bow low to their betters, and to organic superiority of blood? Sure as the heavens envelop the earth, if the Americans want a race of bards worthy of 1855, and of the stern reality of this republic, they must cast around for men essentially different from the old poets, and from the modern successions of jinglers and snivellers and fops.

English versification is full of these danglers, and America follows after them. Every body writes poetry, and yet there is not a single poet. An age greater than the proudest of the past is swiftly slipping away, without one lyric voice to seize its greatness and speak it as an encouragement and onward lesson. We have heard, by many grand announcements, that he was to come; but will he come?

A mighty Poet whom this age shall choose
To be its spokesman to all coming times.
In the ripe full-blown season of his soul,
He shall go forward in his spirit's strength,

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And grapple with the questions of all time,
And wring from them their meanings. As King Saul
Called up the buried prophet from his grave
To speak his doom, so shall this Poet-king
Call up the dread past from its awful grave
To tell him of our future. As the air
Doth sphere the world, so shall his heart of love—
Loving mankind, not peoples. As the lake
Reflects the flower, tree, rock, and bending heaven,
Shall he reflect our great humanity;
And as the young Spring breathes with living breath
On a dead branch, till it sprouts fragrantly
Green leaves and sunny flowers, shall he breathe life
Through every theme he touch, making all Beauty
And Poetry forever like the stars. (Alexander Smith.)

The best of the school of poets at present received in Great Britain and America is Alfred Tennyson. He is the bard of ennui and of the aristocracy and their combination into love. This love is the old stock love of playwrights and romancers, Shakspeare the same as the rest. It is possessed of the same unnatural and shocking passion for some girl or woman, that wrenches it from its manhood, emasculated and impotent, without strength to hold the rest of the objects and goods of life in their proper positions. It seeks nature for sickly uses. It goes screaming and weeping after the facts of the universe, in their calm beauty and equanimity, to note the occurrence of itself, and to sound the news, in connection with the charms of the neck, hair, or complexion of a particular female.

Poetry, to Tennyson and his British and American eleves, is a gentleman of the first degree, boating, fishing, and shooting genteelly through nature, admiring the ladies, and talking to them in company with that elaborate halfchoked deference that is to be made up by the terrible license of men among themselves. The spirit of the burnished society of upper-class England fills this writer and his effusions from top to toe. Like that, he does not ignore courage and the superior qualities of men, but all is to show forth through dandified forms. He meets the nobility and gentry half-way. The models are the same both to the poet and the parlors. Both have the same supercilious elegance, both love the reminiscences which extol caste, both agree on the topics proper for mention and discussion, both hold the same undertone of church and state, both have the same languishing melancholy and irony, both indulge largely in persiflage, both are marked by the contour of high blood and a constitutional a version to anything cowardly

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and mean, both accept the love depicted in romances as the great business of a life or a poem, both seem unconscious of the mighty truths of eternity and immortality, both are silent on the presumptions of liberty and equality, and both devour themselves in solitary lassitude. Whatever may be said of all this, it harmonizes and represents facts. The present phases of high-life in Great Britain are as natural a growth there as Tennyson and his poems are a natural growth of those phases. It remains to be distinctly admitted that this man is a real poet, notwithstanding his ennui and his aristocracy.

Meanwhile a strange voice parts others aside and demands for its owner that position that is only allowed after the seal of many returning years has stamped with approving stamp the claims of the loftiest leading genius. Do you think the best honors of the earth are won so easily, Walt Whitman? Do you think city and country are to fall before the vehement egotism of your recitative of yourself?

I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul.

The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of hell are with
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a
new tongue.

I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,
And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,
And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.

I chant a new chant of dilation or pride,
We have had ducking and deprecating about enough,
I show that size is only development.

It is indeed a strange voice! Critics and lovers and readers of poetry as hitherto written, may well be excused the chilly and unpleasant shudders which will assuredly run through them, to their very blood and bones, when they first read Walt Whitman's poems. If this is poetry, where must its foregoers stand! And what is at once to become of the ranks of rhymsters, melancholy and swallow-tailed, and of all the confectioners and upholsterers of verse, if the tan-faced man here advancing and claiming to speak for America and the nineteenth hundred of the Christian list of years, typifies indeed the natural and proper bard?

The theory and practice of poets have hitherto been to select certain ideas or events or personages, and then

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describe them in the best manner they could, always with as much ornament as the case allowed. Such are not the theory and practice of the new poet. He never presents for perusal a poem ready-made on the old models, and ending when you come to the end of it; but every sentence and every passage tells of an interior not always seen, and exudes an impalpable something which sticks to him that reads, and pervades and provokes him to tread the half-invisible road where the poet, like an apparition, is striding fearlessly before. If Walt Whitman's premises are true, then there is a subtler range of poetry than that of the grandeur and life of events, as in Homer, or of characters, as in Shakspeare—poetry to which all other writing is subservient, and which confronts the very meanings of the works of nature and competes with them. It is the direct bringing of occurrences and persons and things to bear on the listener or beholder, to re-appear through him or her; and it offers the best way of making them a part of him and her as the right aim of the greatest poet.

Of the spirit of life in visible forms—of the spirit of the seed growing out of the ground—of the spirit of the resistless motion of the globe passing unsuspected but quick as lightning along its orbit—of them is the spirit of this man's poetry. Like them it eludes and mocks criticism, and appears unerringly in results. Things, facts, events, persons, days, ages, qualities, tumble pell-mell, exhaustless and copious, with what appear to be the same disregard of parts and the same absence of special purpose, as in nature. But the voice of the few rare and controlling critics, and the voice of more than one generation of men or two generations of men, must speak for the inexpressible purposes of nature, and for this haughtiest of writers that has ever yet written and printed a book. His is to prove either the most lamentable of failures or the most glorious of triumphs, in the known history of literature. And after all we have written we confess our brain-felt and heart-felt inability to decide which we think it is likely to be.


From the Critic. (London, England.)

LEAVES OF GRASS. New York, 1855. London: Horsell.

We had ceased, we imagined to be surprised at anything that America could produce. We had become stoically indifferent

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to her Woolly Horses, her Mermaids, her Sea Serpents, her Barnums, and her Fanny Ferns; but the last monstrous importation from Brooklyn, New York, has scattered our indifference to the winds. Here is a thin quarto volume without an author's name on the title-page; but to atone for which we have a portrait engraved on steel of the notorious individual who is the poet presumptive. This portrait expresses all the features of the hard democrat, and none of the flexile delicacy of the civilized poet. The damaged hat, the rough beard, the naked throat, the shirt exposed to the waist, are each and all presented to show that the man to whom these articles belong scorns the delicate arts of civilization. The man is the true impersonation of his book—rough, uncouth, vulgar. It was by the merest accident that we discovered the name of this erratic and newest wonder; but at page 29 we find that he is —

Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos,
Disorderly, fleshly, and sensual.

The words "an American" are a surplusage, "one of the roughs" too painfully apparent; but what is intended to be conveyed by "a kosmos" we cannot tell, unless it means a man who thinks that the fine essence of poetry consists in writing a book which an American reviewer is compelled to declare is "not to be read aloud to a mixed audience." We should have passed over this book, "LEAVES OF GRASS," with indignant contempt, had not some few Transatlantic critics attempted to "fix" this Walt Whitman as the poet who shall give a new and independent literature to America—who shall form a race of poets as Banquo's issue formed a line of kings. Is it possible that the most prudish nation in the world will adopt a poet whose indecencies stink in the nostrils? We hope not; and yet there is a probability, and we will show why, that this Walt Whitman will not meet with the stern rebuke which he so richly deserves. America has felt, oftener perhaps than we have declared, that she has no national poet—that each one of her children of song has relied too much on European inspiration, and clung too fervently to the old conventionalities. It is therefore not unlikely that she may believe in the dawn of a thoroughly original literature, now there has arisen a man who scorns the Hellenic deities, who has no belief in, perhaps because he has no knowledge of, Homer and

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Shakspeare; who relies on his own rugged nature, and trusts to his own rugged language, being himself what he shows in his poems. Once transfix him as the genesis of a new era, and the manner of the man may be forgiven or forgotten. But what claim has this Walt Whitman to be thus considered, or to be considered a poet at all? We grant freely enough that he has a strong relish for nature and freedom, just as an animal has; may, further, that his crude mind is capable of appreciating some of nature's beauties; but it by no means follows that, because nature is excellent, therefore art is contemptible. Walt Whitman is as unacquainted with art, as a hog is with mathematics. His poems—we must call them so for convenience—twelve in number, are innocent of rhythm. and resemble nothing so much as the war-cry of the Red Indians. Indeed, Walt Whitman has had near and ample opportunities of studying the vociferations of a few amiable savages. Or rather, perhaps, this Walt Whitman reminds us of Caliban flinging down his logs, and setting himself to write a poem. In fact, Caliban, and not Walt Whitman, might have written this:

I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

Is this man with the "barbaric yawp" to push Longfellow into the shade, and he meanwhile to stand and "make mouths" at the sun? The chance of this might be formidable were it not ridiculous. That object or that act which most develops the ridiculous element carries in its bosom the seeds of decay, and is wholly powerless to trample out of God's universe one spark of the beautiful. We do not, then, fear this Walt Whitman, who gives us slang in the place of melody, and rowdyism in the place of regularity. The depth of his indecencies will be the grave of his fame, or ought to be if all proper feeling is not extinct. The very nature of this man's compositions excludes us from proving by extracts the truth of our remarks; but we, who are not prudish, emphatically declare that the man who wrote page 79 of the "LEAVES OF GRASS" deserves nothing so richly as the public executioner's whip. Walt Whitman libels the highest type of humanity, and calls his free speech the true utterance of a man: we, who may have been misdirected by civilization, call it the expression of a beast.

The leading idea of Walt Whitman's poems is as old as

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the hills. It is the doctrine of universal sympathy which the first poet maintained, and which the last on earth will maintain also. He says:

Not a mutineer walks handcuffed to the jail but I am handcuffed to
him and walk by his side,
Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the last

To show this sympathy he instances a thousand paltry, frivolous, and obscene circumstances. Herein we may behold the difference between a great and a contemptible poet. What Shakspeare—mighty shade of the mightiest bard, forgive us the comparison!—expressed in a single line,

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,

this Walt Whitman has tortured into scores of pages. A single extract will show what we mean. This miserable spinner of words declares that the earth has "no themes, or hints, or provokers," and never had, if you cannot find such themes, or hints, or provokers in—


Can it be possible that its author intended this as a portion of a poem? Is it not more reasonable to suppose that Walt Whitman has been learning to write, and that the compositor has got hold of his copy-book? The American critics are, in the main, pleased with this man because he is self-reliant, and because he assumes all the attributes of his country. If Walt Whitman has really assumed those attributes, America should hasten to repudiate them, be they what they may. The critics are pleased also because he talks like a man unaware that there was ever such a production as a book, or ever such a being as a writer. This in the present day is a qualification exceedingly rare, and may be valuable, so we wish those gentlemen joy of their GREAT UNTAMED.

We must not neglect to quote an unusual passage, which may be suggestive to writers of the Old World. To silence our incredulous readers, we assure them that the passage may be found at page 92.


The transformation and the ethereal nature of Walt Whitman is marvellous to us, but perhaps not so to a nation from which the spirit-rappers sprung.

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I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun;
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags;
I bequeath myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.

Here is also a sample of the man's slang and vulgarity:


And here a spice of his republican insolence, his rank Yankeedom, and his audacious trifling with death:

Dig out King George's coffin, unwrap him quick from the grave-
clothes, box up his bones for a journey,
Find a swift Yankee clipper: here is freight for you, black-bellied
Up with your anchor! shake out your sails, steer straight toward
Boston Bay.

The committee open the box and set up the regal ribs, and glue those
that will not stay,
And clap the skull on top of the ribs, and clap a crown on top of the

We will neither weary nor insult our readers with more extracts from this notable book. Emerson has praised it, and called it the "most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom America has yet contributed." Because Emerson has grasped substantial fame, he can afford to be generous; but Emerson's generosity must not be mistaken for justice. If this work is really a work of genius—if the principles of those poems, their free language, their amazing and audacious egotism, their animal vigor, be real poetry and the divinest evidence of the true poet—then our studies have been in vain, and vainer still the homage which we have paid the monarchs of Saxon intellect, Shakspeare, and Milton, and Byron. This Walt Whitman holds that his claim to be a poet lies in his robust and rude health. He is, in fact, as he declares, "the poet of the body." Adopt this theory, and Walt Whitman is a Titan; Shelley and Keats the merest pigmies. If we had commenced a notice of "LEAVES OF GRASS" in anger, we could not but dismiss it in grief, for its author, we have just discovered, is conscious of his affliction. He says, at page 33,

I am given up by traitors;
I talk wildly, I am mad.

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From the Examiner. (London, England.)

LEAVES OF GRASS. Brooklyn, New York.

We have too long overlooked in this country the great poet who has recently arisen in America, of whom some of his countrymen speak in connection with Bacon and Shakspeare, whom others compare with Tennyson—much to the disadvantage of our excellent laureate—and to whom Mr. Emerson writes that he finds in his book "incomparable things, said incomparably well." The book he pronounces "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed;" at which, indeed, says Mr. Emerson in the printed letter sent to us—"I rubbed my eyes a little, to see if this sunbeam were no illusion."

No illusion truly is Walt Whitman, the new American prodigy, who, as he is himself candid enough to intimate, sounds his barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. He is described by one of his own local papers as "a tenderly, affectionate, rowdyish, contemplative, sensual, moral, susceptible, and imperious person," who aspires to cast some of his own grit, whatever that may be, into literature. We have ourselves been disposed to think there is in literature grit enough, according to the ordinary sense, but decidedly Walt Whitman tosses in some more. The author describes himself as "one of the roughs, a kosmos;" indeed, he seems to be very much impressed with the fact that he is a kosmos, and repeats it frequently. A kosmos we may define, from the portrait of it on the front of the book, as a gentleman in his shirt-sleeves, with one hand in a pocket of his pantaloons, and his wide-awake cocked with a dammee-sir air over his forehead.

On the other hand, according to an American review that flatters Walt Whitman, this kosmos is "a compound of the New England transcendentalist and New York rowdy."

But as such terms of compliment may not be quite clear to English readers, we must be content, in simpler fashion, to describe to them this Brooklyn boy as a wild Tupper of the West. We can describe him perfectly by a few suppositions. Suppose that Mr. Tupper had been brought up to the business of an auctioneer, then banished to the backwoods, compelled to live for a long time as a backwoodsman, and thus contracting a passion for the reading of Emerson and Carlyle? Suppose him maddened by this course of

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reading, and fancying himself not only an Emerson but a Carlyle and an American Shakspeare to boot when the fits come on, and putting forth his notion of that combination in his own self-satisfied way, and in his own wonderful cadences? In that state he would write a book exactly like Walt Whitman's "LEAVES OF GRASS."

(Extracts and Interlineated remarks.)

We must be just to Walt Whitman in allowing that he has one positive merit. His verse has a purpose. He desires to assert the pleasure that a man has in himself, his body and its sympathies, his mind (in a lesser degree, however) and its sympathies. He asserts man's right to express his delight in animal enjoyment, and the harmony in which he should stand, body and soul, with fellow-men and the whole universe. To express this, and to declare that the poet is the highest manifestation of this, generally also to suppress shams, is the purport of these "LEAVES OF GRASS." Perhaps it might have been done as well, however, without being always so purposely obscene, and intentionally foulmouthed, as Walt Whitman is.

(Extracts and Interlineations.)

In the construction of our artificial Whitman, we began with the requirement that a certain philosopher should have been bred to the business of an auctioneer. We must add now, to complete the imitation of Walt Whitman, that the wild philosopher and poet, as conceived by us, should be perpetually haunted by the delusion that he has a catalogue to make. Three-fourths of Walt Whitman's book is poetry as catalogues of auctioneers are poems. Whenever any general term is used, off the mind wanders on this fatal track, and an attempt is made to specify all lots included under it. Does Walt Whitman speak of a town, he is at once ready with pages of town lots. Does he mention the American country, he feels bound thereupon to draw up a list of barns, waggons, wilds, mountains, animals, trees, people, "a Hoosier, a Badger, a Buckeye, a Louisianian, or Georgian, a poke-easy from sand-hills and pines," &c., &c. We will give an illustration of this form of lunacy. The subject from which the patient starts off is equivalent to things in general, and we can spare room only for half the catalogue. It will be enough, however, to show how there

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arises catalogue within catalogue, and how sorely the paroxysm is aggravated by the incidental mention of any one particular that is itself again capable of subdivision into lots.

The usual routine, the workshop, factory, yard, office, store, or desk;
The jaunt of hunting or fishing, or the life of hunting or fishing.
Pasture-life, foddering, milking and herding, and all the personnel and
The plum-orchard and apple-orchard, gardening, seedlings, cuttings,
flowers and vines,
Grains and manures, marl, clay, loam, the subsoil plough, the shovel
and pick and rake and hoe, irrigation and draining;
The currycomb, the horse-cloth, the halter and bridle and bits, the
very wisps of straw,
The barn and barn-yard, the bins and mangers, the mows and racks;
Manufactures, commerce, engineering, the building of cities, and
every trade carried on there, and the implements of every trade.

(Extract continued.)

Now let us compare with this a real auctioneer's catalogue. We will take that of Goldsmith's chambers, by way of departing as little as we can from the poetical. For, as Walt Whitman would say (and here we quote quite literally, prefixing only a verse of our own, from "A Catalogue of the Household Furniture with the select collection of scarce, curious, and valuable books of Dr. Goldsmith, deceased, which, by order of the admr, will be sold by auction, &c., &c.)

(The Examiner's burlesque of Walt Whitman.)

Surely the house of a poet is a poem, and behold a poet in the
auctioneer who tells you the whole lot of it—
The bath stone, compass front, open border, fender, shovel, tongs,
and poker,
The blue moreen festoon window-curtain, the mahogany dining-table
on the floor,
The six ditto hollow seat chairs covered with blue moreen,
Covered with blue moreen and finished with a double row of brass
nails and check cases,
The Wilton carpet, sun shade, line and pulleys, the deal sideboard
The teapot, five coffee cups, sugar basin and cover, four saucers and
six cups,
Two quart decanters and stoppers, one plain ditto, eleven glasses, one
wine and water glass,
A pair of bellows and a brush, a footman, copper tea-kettle and coal-
Two pairs of plated candlesticks.
A mahogany teaboard, a pet bordered ditto, a large round japanned
ditto and two waiters.
The Tragic Muse in a gold frame.

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After all, we are not sure whether the poetry of that excellent Mr. Good, the auctioneer who, at his Great Room, No. 121 Fleet Street, sold the household furniture of Oliver Goldsmith in the summer of 1774, does not transcend in wisdom and in wit "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that" (according to Mr. Emerson) "America has yet contributed."


From the London Leader.


LEAVES OF GRASS. Brooklyn, New York, 1855. London: Horsell.

"Latter-day poetry" in America is of a very different character from the same manifestation in the old country. Here, it is occupied for the most part with dreams of the middle ages, of the old knightly and religious times; in America it is employed chiefly with the present, except when it travels out into the undiscovered future. Here our latter-day poets are apt to whine over the times, as if heaven were perpetually betraying the earth with a show of progress that is in fact retrogression, like the backward advance of crabs; there, the minstrels of the stars and stripes blow a loud note of exultation before the grand new epoch, and think the Greeks and Romans, the early Oriental races, and the later men of the middle centuries, of small account before the onward tramping of these present generations. Of this latter sect is a certain phenomenon who has recently started up in Brooklyn, New York—one Walt Whitman, author of "LEAVES OF GRASS," who has been received by a section of his countrymen as a sort of prophet, and by Englishmen as a kind of fool. For ourselves, we are not disposed to accept him as the one, having less faith in latter-day prophets than in latter-day poets; but assuredly we cannot regard him as the other. Walt is one of the most amazing, one of the most startling, one of the most perplexing creations of the modern American mind; but he is no fool, though abundantly eccentric, nor is his book mere food for laughter, though undoubtedly containing much that may easily and fairly be turned into ridicule.

The singularity of the author's mind—his utter disregard of ordinary forms and modes—appears in the very title-page and frontispiece of his work. Not only is there

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no author's name, (which in itself would not be singular) but there is no publisher's name—that of the English bookseller being a London addition. Fronting the title is the portrait of a bearded gentleman in his shirt-sleeves and a Spanish hat, with an all-pervading atmosphere of Yankeedoodle about him; but again there is no patronymic, and we can only infer that this roystering blade is the author of the book. Then follows a long prose treatise by way of preface (and here once more the anonymous system is carried out, the treatise having no heading whatever); and after that we have the poem, in the course of which a short autobiographical discourse reveals to us the name of the author.

A passage from the Preface, if it may be so called, will give some insight into the character and objects of the work.

Other states indicate themselves in their deputies—but the genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures nor in its ambassadors, or authors, or colleges, or churches, or pariors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors; but always most in the common people. Their manners, speech, dress, friendships; the freshness and candor of their physiognomy, the picturesque looseness of their carriage, their deathless attachment to freedom, their aversion to any thing indecorous, or soft, or mean—the practical acknowledgment of the citizens of one state by the citizens of all other states, the fierceness of their roused resentment, their curiosity and welcome of novelty, their self-esteem and wonderful sympathy, their susceptibility to a slight, the air they have of persons who never knew how it felt to stand in the presence of superiors, the fluency of their speech, their delight in music, (the sure symptom of manly tenderness and native elegance of soul,) their good temper and open-handedness, the terrible significance of their elections, the President's taking off his hat to them, not they to him—these too are unrhymed poetry. It awaits the gigantic and generous treatment worthy of it.

This "gigantic and generous treatment," we presume, is offered in the pages which ensue. The poem is written in wild, irregular, unrhymed, almost unmetrical "lengths," like the measured prose of Mr. Martin Farquhar Tupper's Proverbial Philosophy, or some of the Oriental writings. The external form, therefore, is startling, and by no means seductive, to English ears, accustomed to the sumptuous music of ordinary metre; and the central principle of the poem is equally staggering. It seems to resolve itself into an all-attracting egotism—an eternal presence of the individual soul of Walt Whitman in all things, yet in such wise that this one soul shall be presented as a type of all human souls whatsoever. He goes forth into the world, this rough,

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devil-may-care Yankee; passionately identifies himself with all forms of being, sentient or inanimate; sympathizes deeply with humanity; riots with a kind of Bacchanal fury in the force and fervor of his own sensations; will not have the most vicious or abandoned shut out from final comfort and reconciliation; is delighted with Broadway, New York, and equally in love with the desolate back-woods, and the long stretch of the uninhabited prairie, where the wild beasts wallow in the reeds, and the wilder birds start upward from their nests among the grass; perceives a divine mystery wherever his feet conduct or his thoughts transport him; and beholds all things tending toward the central and sovereign Me. Such, as we conceive, is the key to this strange, grotesque, and bewildering book; yet we are far from saying that the key will unlock all the quirks and oddities of the volume. Much remains of which we confess we can make nothing; much that seems to us purely fantastical and preposterous; much that appears to our muddy vision gratuitously prosaic, needlessly plain-speaking, disgusting without purpose, and singular without result. There are so many evidences of a noble soul in Whitman's pages that we regret these aberrations, which only have the effect of discrediting what is genuine by the show of something false; and especially do we deplore the unnecessary openness with which Walt reveals to us matters which ought rather to remain in sacred silence. It is good not to be ashamed of Nature; it is good to have an all-inclusive charity; but it is also good, sometimes, to leave the veil across the Temple.


From the Boston Intelligencer, May 3d, 1856

LEAVES OF GRASS. Brooklyn, New York, 1855.

We were attracted by the very singular title of the work, to seek the work itself, and what we thought ridiculous in the title is eclipsed in the pages of this heterogeneous mass of bombast, egotism, vulgarity, and nonsense. The beastliness of the author is set forth in his own description of himself, and we can conceive no better reward than the lash for such a violation of decency as we have before us. Speaking of "this mass of stupid filth," the Criterion says: "It is impossible to imagine how any man's fancy

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could have conceived it, unless he were possessed of the soul of a sentimental donkey that had died of disappointed love."

This book should find no place where humanity urges any claim to respect, and the author should be kicked from all decent society as below the level of the brute. There is neither wit nor method in his disjointed babbling, and it seems to us he must be some escaped lunatic, raving in pitiable delirium.

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☞ The Poems of
May be ordered at any Book-Store or Newspaper Depot, or especially of
FOWLER & WELLS, 308 Broadway, New York.

Their place of business is the principal Agency for the Work, wholesale and retail. A note written to them, giving the writer's address, and enclosing $1 00, will procure a bound copy, post-paid, by return mail.

They supply Booksellers at a liberal discount.

'LEAVES OF GRASS' may also be purchased or ordered by mail, or the country-trade supplied, from the following Agencies:

BOSTON, . . .

Fowler, Wells & Co., 142 Washington St.


Fowler, Wells & Co., 231 Arch street.


J. W. Bond & Co.


Maclear & Co.

BUFFALO, . . .

T. S. Hawks.

BUFFALO, . . .

A. Burke, Jr.


F. Bly.

CHICAGO, . . .

R. Blanchard.

ST. LOUIS . . .

E. K. Woodward.


J. C. Morgan.


George M. Bourne, M.D.


LONDON, . . .

Horsell & Co., Oxford St.

PARIS, . . . . .

H. Bailliere & Co.


William Good, Antwerp.

☞ Any communication by mail, for the author of Leaves of Grass, can be directed to him, namely,
FOWLER & WELLS, 308 Broadway, New York.

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