Published Works

Books by Whitman

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1BROAD-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.

2Strong 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.

3Welcome 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,
Welcome the cotton-lands—welcome those of the
white potato and sweet potato,
Welcome are mountains, flats, sands, forests, prairies,

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Welcome the rich borders of rivers, table-lands,
Welcome the measureless grazing lands—welcome
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,
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!

4The 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 masts;
The sentiment of the huge timbers of old-fashioned
houses and barns;
The remembered print or narrative, the voyage at a
venture of men, families, goods,
The disembarkation, the founding of a new city,
The voyage of those who sought a New England and
found it—the outset anywhere,
The settlements of the Arkansas, Colorado, Ottawa,
The slow progress, the scant fare, the axe, rifle,
The beauty of all adventurous and daring persons,
The beauty of wood-boys and wood-men, with their
clear untrimmed faces,

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The beauty of independence, departure, actions that
rely on themselves,
The American contempt for statutes and ceremonies,
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 raftsman, the pioneer,
Lumbermen in their winter camp, daybreak in the
woods, stripes of snow on the limbs of trees, the
occasional snapping,
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 nailed,
Their postures bringing their weapons downward on
the bearers,

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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,
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 striking the bricks,
The bricks, one after another, each laid so workman-
like in its place, and set with a knock of the
The piles of materials, the mortar on the mortar-
boards, and the steady replenishing by the hod-
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 mast,
The brisk short crackle of the steel driven slantingly
into the pine,
The butter-colored chips flying off in great flakes and
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 fireman—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
falling in line, the rise and fall of the arms
forcing the water,
The slender, spasmic blue-white jets—the bringing
to bear of the hooks and ladders, and their
The crash and cut away of connecting wood-work, or
through floors, if the fire smoulders under them,
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,
The death-howl, the limpsey tumbling body, the rush
of friend and foe thither,
The siege of revolted lieges determined for liberty,
The summons to surrender, the battering at castle
gates, the truce and parley,

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The sack of an old city in its time,
The bursting in of mercenaries and bigots tumul-
tuously 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.

5Muscle and pluck forever!
What invigorates life, invigorates death,
And the dead advance as much as the living advance,
And the future is no more uncertain than the present,
And the roughness of the earth and of man encloses
as much as the delicatesse of the earth and of
And nothing endures but personal qualities.

6What do you think endures?
Do you think the greatest city endures?
Or a teeming manufacturing state? or a prepared
constitution? or the best built steamships?
Or hotels of granite and iron? or any chef-d'œuvres
of engineering, forts, armaments?

7Away! These are not to be cherished for themselves,
They fill their hour, the dancers dance, the musicians
play for them,
The show passes, all does well enough of course,
All does very well till one flash of defiance.

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8The 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.

9The place where the greatest city stands is not the
place of stretched wharves, docks, manufactures,
deposits 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 buildings,
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,
Nor the place of the most numerous population.

10Where 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 them,
Where these may be seen going every day in the
streets, with their arms familiar to the shoulders
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 never-
ending audacity of elected persons,

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

11How 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!

12All 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,

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When he or she appears, materials are overawed,
The dispute on the Soul stops,
The old customs and phrases are confronted, turned
back, or laid away.

13What is your money-making now? What can it do
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?

14Was 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!

15—A sterile landscape covers the ore—there is as
good as the best, for all the forbidding appear-
There is the mine, there are the miners,
The forge-furnace is there, the melt is accomplished,
the hammers-men are at hand with their tongs
and hammers,
What always served and always serves, is at hand.

16Than this nothing has better served—it has served
Served the fluent-tongued and subtle-sensed Greek,
and long ere the Greek,

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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 America,
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 stone,
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 Kelt—served the
hardy pirates of the Baltic,
Served before any of those, the venerable and harm-
less men of Ethiopia,
Served the making of helms for the galleys of
pleasure, and the making of those for war,
Served all great works on land, and all great works
on the sea,
For the mediæval ages, and before the mediæval
Served not the living only, then as now, but served
the dead.

17I see the European headsman,
He stands masked, clothed in red, with huge legs,
and strong naked arms,
And leans on a ponderous axe.

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18Whom have you slaughtered lately, European heads-
Whose is that blood upon you, so wet and sticky?

19I see the clear sunsets of the martyrs,
I see from the scaffolds the descending ghosts,
Ghosts of dead lords, uncrowned ladies, impeached
ministers, rejected kings,
Rivals, traitors, poisoners, disgraced chieftains, and
the rest.

20I see those who in any land have died for the good
The seed is spare, nevertheless the crop shall never
run out,
(Mind you, O foreign kings, O priests, the crop shall
never run out.)

21I see the blood washed entirely away from the axe,
Both blade and helve are clean,
They spirt no more the blood of European nobles—
they clasp no more the necks of queens.

22I see the headsman withdraw and become useless,
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.

23America! I do not vaunt my love for you,
I have what I have.

24The axe leaps!
The solid forest gives fluid utterances,

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They tumble forth, they rise and form,
Hut, tent, landing, survey,
Flail, plough, pick, crowbar, spade,
Shingle, rail, prop, wainscot, jamb, lath, panel, gable,
Citadel, ceiling, saloon, academy, organ, exhibition-
house, library,
Cornice, trellis, pilaster, balcony, window, shutter,
turret, porch,
Hoe, rake, pitch-fork, pencil, wagon, staff, saw, jack-
plane, mallet, wedge, rounce,
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 States,
Long stately rows in avenues, hospitals for orphans or
for the poor or sick,
Manhattan steamboats and clippers, taking the meas-
ure of all seas.

25The 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 Pe-
nobscot, or Kennebec,
Dwellers in cabins among the Californian mountains,
or by the little lakes, or on the Columbia,
Dwellers south on the banks of the Gila or Rio
Grande—friendly gatherings, the characters and
Dwellers up north in Minnesota and by the Yellow-
stone river—dwellers on coasts and off coasts,
Seal-fishers, whalers, arctic seamen breaking passages
through the ice.

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26The shapes arise!
Shapes of factories, arsenals, foundries, markets,
Shapes of the two-threaded tracks of railroads,
Shapes of the sleepers of bridges, vast frameworks,
girders, arches,
Shapes of the fleets of barges, tows, lake craft, river

27The shapes arise!
Ship-yards and dry-docks along the Eastern and
Western Seas, and in many a bay and by-place,
The live-oak kelsons, the pine planks, the spars, the
hackmatack-roots for knees,
The ships themselves on their ways, the tiers of
scaffolds, the workmen busy outside and inside,
The tools lying around, the great auger and little
auger, the adze, bolt, line, square, gouge, and

28The shapes arise!
The shape measured, sawed, jacked, joined, stained,
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 cradle,
The shape of the floor-planks, the floor-planks for
dancers' feet,
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,

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

29The 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 ointment-
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
The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted and
sentenced murderer, the murderer with haggard
face and pinioned arms,
The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent and
white-lipped crowd, the sickening dangling of
the rope.

30The shapes arise!
Shapes of doors giving so many exits and en-
The door passing the dissevered friend, flushed, and
in haste,

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The door that admits good news and bad news,
The door whence the son left home, confident and
puffed up,
The door he entered again from a long and scan-
dalous absence, diseased, broken down, without
innocence, without means.

31Their shapes arise, above all the rest—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.

32Her shape arises,
She, less guarded than ever, yet more guarded than
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 therefore,
She is the best-beloved—it is without exception—
she has no reason to fear, and she does not fear,
Oaths, quarrels, hiccupped songs, proposals, smutty
expressions, are idle to her as she passes,
She is silent—she is possessed of herself—they do
not offend her,

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She receives them as the laws of nature receive them
—she is strong,
She too is a law of nature—there is no law stronger
than she is.

33His shape arises,
Arrogant, masculine, näive, rowdyish,
Laugher, weeper, worker, idler, citizen, countryman,
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, clean-
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 gentleman
on equal terms,
Attitudes lithe and erect, costume free, neck gray
and 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, easily
understood after all,
Never offering others, always offering himself, corrob-
orating his phrenology,

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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 illus-
trations of results of The States,
Teacher of the unquenchable creed, namely, egotism,
Inviter of others continually henceforth to try their
strength against his.

34The main shapes arise!
Shapes of Democracy, final—result 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 turbulent manly cities,
Shapes of an untamed breed of young men, and
natural persons,
Shapes of the women fit for These States,
Shapes of the composition of all the varieties of the
Shapes of the friends and home-givers of the whole
Shapes bracing the whole earth, and braced with the
whole earth.


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