Published Works

Books by Whitman

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 271] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -




1 O TO make the most jubilant poems!
O full of music! Full of manhood, womanhood, in-
O full of common employments! Full of grain and

2O for the voices of animals! O for the swiftness
and balance of fishes!
O for the dropping of rain-drops in a poem!
O for the sunshine, and motion of waves in a poem.

3O to be on the sea! the wind, the wide waters
O to sail in a ship under full sail at sea.

4O the joy of my spirit! It is uncaged! It darts
like lightning!
It is not enough to have this globe, or a certain time
—I will have thousands of globes, and all time.


5O the engineer's joys
To go with a locomotive!
To hear the hiss of steam—the merry shriek—the
steam-whistle—the laughing locomotive!
To push with resistless way, and speed off in the dis-

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 272] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

6O the horseman's and horsewoman's joys!
The saddle—the gallop—the pressure upon the seat
—the cool gurgling by the ears and hair.


7O the fireman's joys!
I hear the alarm at dead of night,
I hear bells—shouts!—I pass the crowd—I run!
The sight of the flames maddens me with pleasure.

8O the joy of the strong-brawn'd fighter, towering
in the arena, in perfect condition, conscious of
power, thirsting to meet his opponent.

9O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which
only the human Soul is capable of generating
and emitting in steady and limitless floods.


10O the mother's joys!
The watching—the endurance—the precious love—
the anguish—the patiently yielded life.

11O the joy of increase, growth, recuperation,
The joy of soothing and pacifying—the joy of con-
cord and harmony.

12O to go back to the place where I was born!
To hear the birds sing once more!
To ramble about the house and barn, and over the
fields, once more,
And through the orchard and along the old lanes
once more.


13O male and female!
O the presence of women! (I swear there is nothing
more exquisite than the presence of women;)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 273] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

O for the girl, my mate! O for the happiness with
my mate!
O the young man as I pass! O I am sick after
the friendship of him who, I fear, is indifferent
to me.

14O the streets of cities!
The flitting faces—the expressions, eyes, feet, cos-
tumes! O I cannot tell how welcome they are
to me;
O, of the men—of women toward me as I pass—The
memory of only one look—the boy lingering
and waiting.


15O to have been brought up on bays, lagoons, creeks
or along the coast!
O to continue and be employ'd there all my life!
O the briny and damp smell—the shore—the salt
weeds exposed at low water,
The work of fishermen—the work of the eel-fisher
and clam-fisher.

16O it is I!
I come with my clam-rake and spade! I come with
my eel-spear;
Is the tide out? I join the group of clam-diggers on
the flats,
I laugh and work with them—I joke at my work, like
a mettlesome young man.

17In winter I take my eel-basket and eel-spear and
travel out on foot on the ice—I have a small
axe to cut holes in the ice;
Behold me, well-clothed, going gaily, or returning in
the afternoon—my brood of tough boys accom-
panying me,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 274] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

My brood of grown and part-grown boys, who love
to be with no one else so well as they love to
be with me,
By day to work with me, and by night to sleep with

18Or, another time, in warm weather, out in a boat,
to lift the lobster-pots, where they are sunk
with heavy stones, (I know the buoys;)
O the sweetness of the Fifth-month morning upon
the water, as I row, just before sunrise, toward
the buoys;
I pull the wicker pots up slantingly—the dark green
lobsters are desperate with their claws, as I
take them out—I insert wooden pegs in the
joints of their pincers,
I go to all the places, one after another, and then row
back to the shore,
There, in a huge kettle of boiling water, the lobsters
shall be boil'd till their color becomes scarlet.

19Or, another time, mackerel-taking,
Voracious, mad for the hook, near the surface, they
seem to fill the water for miles;
Or, another time, fishing for rock-fish in Chesapeake
Bay—I one of the brown-faced crew;
Or, another time, trailing for blue-fish off Paumanok,
I stand with braced body,
My left foot is on the gunwale—my right arm throws
the coils of slender rope,
In sight around me the quick veering and darting of
fifty skiffs, my companions.


20O boating on the rivers!
The voyage down the Niagara, (the St. Lawrence,)—
the superb scenery—the steamers,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 275] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The ships sailing—the Thousand Islands—the occa-
sional timber-raft, and the raftsmen with long-
reaching sweep-oars,
The little huts on the rafts, and the stream of smoke
when they cook supper at evening.

21O something pernicious and dread!
Something far away from a puny and pious life!
Something unproved! Something in a trance!
Something escaped from the anchorage, and driving

22O to work in mines, or forging iron!
Foundry casting—the foundry itself—the rude high
roof—the ample and shadow'd space,
The furnace—the hot liquid pour'd out and running.


23O the joys of the soldier!
To feel the presence of a brave general! to feel his
To behold his calmness! to be warm'd in the rays of
his smile!
To go to battle! to hear the bugles play, and the
drums beat!
To hear the crash of artillery! to see the glittering of
the bayonets and musket-barrels in the sun!
To see men fall and die and not complain!
To taste the savage taste of blood! to be so devilish!
To gloat so over the wounds and deaths of the enemy.


24O the whaleman's joys! O I cruise my old cruise
I feel the ship's motion under me—I feel the Atlan-
tic breezes fanning me,
I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-head,
There she blows,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 276] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Again I spring up the rigging, to look with the rest—
We see—we descend, wild with excitement,
I leap in the lower'd boat—We row toward our prey,
where he lies,
We approach, stealthy and silent—I see the moun-
tainous mass, lethargic, basking,
I see the harpooner standing up—I see the weapon
dart from his vigorous arm;
O swift, again, now, far out in the ocean, the wounded
whale, settling, running to windward, tows me,
Again I see him rise to breathe—We row close again,
I see a lance driven through his side, press'd deep,
turn'd in the wound,
Again we back off—I see him settle again—the life is
leaving him fast,
As he rises, he spouts blood—I see him swim in circles
narrower and narrower, swiftly cutting the
water—I see him die,
He gives one convulsive leap in the centre of the cir-
cle, and then falls flat and still in the bloody


25O the old manhood of me, my joy!
My children and grand-children—my white hair and
My largeness, calmness, majesty, out of the long
stretch of my life.

26O the ripen'd joy of womanhood!
O perfect happiness at last!
I am more than eighty years of age—my hair, too, is
pure white—I am the most venerable mother;
How clear is my mind! how all people draw nigh to
What attractions are these, beyond any before? what
bloom, more than the bloom of youth?
What beauty is this that descends upon me, and rises
out of me?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 277] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

27O the joy of my soul leaning poised on itself—re-
ceiving identity through materials, and loving
them—observing characters, and absorbing
O my soul, vibrated back to me, from them—from
facts, sight, hearing, touch, my phrenology,
reason, articulation, comparison, memory, and
the like;
O the real life of my senses and flesh, transcending
my senses and flesh;
O my body, done with materials—my sight, done with
my material eyes;
O what is proved to me this day, beyond cavil, that it
is not my material eyes which finally see,
Nor my material body which finally loves, walks,
laughs, shouts, embraces, procreates.


28O the farmer's joys!
Ohioan's, Illinoisian's, Wisconsinese', Kanadian's, Io-
wan, Kansian's, Missourian's, Oregonese' joys,
To rise at peep of day, and pass forth nimbly to work,
To plow land in the fall for winter-sown crops,
To plough land in the spring for maize,
To train orchards—to graft the trees—to gather ap-
ples in the fall.

29O the pleasure with trees!
The orchard—the forest—the oak, cedar, pine, pekan-
The honey-locust, black-walnut, cottonwood, and mag-


30O Death!
O the beautiful touch of Death, soothing and be-
numbing a few moments, for reasons;

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 278] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

O that of myself, discharging my excrementitious
body, to be burn'd, or render'd to powder, or
My real body doubtless left to me for other spheres,
My voided body, nothing more to me, returning to
the purifications, further offices, eternal uses of
the earth.


31O to bathe in the swimming-bath, or in a good
place along shore!
To splash the water! to walk ankle-deep—to race
naked along the shore.

32O to realize space!
The plenteousness of all—that there are no bounds;
To emerge, and be of the sky—of the sun and moon,
and the flying clouds, as one with them.


33O, while I live, to be the ruler of life—not a slave,
To meet life as a powerful conquerer,
No fumes—no ennui—no more complaints or scornful

34O me repellent and ugly!
To these proud laws of the air, the water, and the
ground, proving my interior Soul impregnable,
And nothing exterior shall ever take command of me.

35O to attract by more than attraction!
How it is I know not—yet behold! the something
which obeys none of the rest,
It is offensive, never defensive—yet how magnetic it


36O the joy of suffering!
To struggle against great odds! to meet enemies un-

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 279] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

To be entirely alone with them! to find how much one
can stand!
To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, death,
face to face!
To mount the scaffold! to advance to the muzzles of
guns with perfect nonchalance!
To be indeed a God!

37O the gleesome saunter over fields and hill-sides!
The leaves and flowers of the commonest weeds—the
moist fresh stillness of the woods,
The exquisite smell of the earth at day-break, and all
through the forenoon.

38O love-branches! love-root! love-apples!
O chaste and electric torrents! O mad-sweet drops.

39O the orator's joys!
To inflate the chest—to roll the thunder of the voice
out from the ribs and throat,
To make the people rage, weep, hate, desire, with
To lead America—to quell America with a great

40O the joy of a manly self-hood!
Personality—to be servile to none—to defer to none
—not to any tyrant, known or unknown,
To walk with erect carriage, a step springy and
To look with calm gaze, or with a flashing eye,
To speak with a full and sonorous voice, out of a
broad chest,
To confront with your personality all the other per-
sonalities of the earth.

41O to have my life henceforth my poem of joys!
To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on,
float on,
An athlete—full of rich words—full of joys.


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.