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Books by Whitman

About this Item

Title: Leaves of Grass

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1867

Whitman Archive ID: ppp.00473

Source: Leaves of Grass (New York: W.E. Chapin & Co., Printers, 1867). University of Iowa Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives, PS3201 1867, 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 Iowa 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: Said Fallaha, Elizabeth Lorang, Joshua Ware, Stacey Berry, Brett Barney, Zach Bajaber, Elizabeth Styron, Nicole Gray, Ed Folsom, and Kenneth M. Price

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ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by WALT WHITMAN, in the Clerk's Office of the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York.


WM. E. CHAPIN & CO, Printers, 24 Beekman Street, New York.

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Inscription . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Starting from Paumanok . . . . . . . .


Walt Whitman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



To the Garden, the World . . . . . . .


From Pent-Up Aching Rivers . . .

I Sing the Body Electric . . . . . . . .


A Woman Waits for Me . . . . . . . . .


Spontaneous Me . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


One Hour to Madness and Joy . .


We Two, how long we were fool'd


Native Moments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Once I Pass'd through a Populous
City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Facing West from California's
Shores . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Ages and Ages, Returning at In-
tervals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

O Hymen! O Hymenee! . . . . . . . .


I am He that Aches with Love . .

As Adam, Early in the Morning .

Excelsior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



In Paths Untrodden . . . . . . . . . . . .


Scented Herbage of my Breast . . .


Whoever you are Holding Me
now in Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


These, I, Singing in Spring . . . . .


A Song . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Not Heaving from my Ribb'd
Breast only . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Of the Terrible Doubt of Appear-
ances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Recorders Ages Hence . . . . . . . . . .


When I Heard at the Close of the
day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Are you the New Person Drawn
Toward me? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Roots and Leaves Themselves
Alone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Not Heat Flames up and Con-
sumes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Trickle, Drops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Of Him I love Day and Night . . .


City of Orgies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Behold this Swarthy Face . . . . . . .

I saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak
Growing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


That Music Always Round Me . .

To a Stranger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


This Moment, Yearning and
Thoughtful . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


I Hear it was Charged Against Me


The Prairie-Grass Dividing . . . . .


We Two Boys Together Clinging

O Living Always—Always Dying


When I Peruse the Conquer'd
Fame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A Glimpse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A Promise to California . . . . . . . . .


Here, Sailor! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Here the Frailest Leaves of Me . .


What Think you, I take my Pen
in Hand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

No Labor-Saving Machine . . . . . .

I Dream'd in a Dream . . . . . . . . . . .


To the East and to the West . . . .

Earth, my Likeness . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A Leaf for Hand in Hand . . . . . . .


Fast Anchor'd, Eternal . . . . . . . . .

Sometimes, with One I Love . . . .

That Shadow, my Likeness . . . . .


Among the Multitude . . . . . . . . . . .

To a Western Boy . . . . . . . . . . . . .

O You whom I often and Silently
Come . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Full of Life, Now . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Salut au Monde . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


What Place is Besieged? . . . . . . . .



"There was a child went forth" .


"Myself and mine gymnastic
ever" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


"Who learns my lesson com-
plete!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


"Whoever you are, I fear," &c . .


Beginners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Tests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Perfections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Song of the Broad-Axe . . . . . . . . . .


With Antecedents . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Savantism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Crossing Brooklyn Ferry . . . . . . . .


To a Foil'd Revolter or Revoltress


To get Betimes in Boston Town .


To a Common Prostitute . . . . . . . .


To a Pupil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


To Rich Givers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A Word Out of the Sea . . . . . . . . . .


A Leaf of Faces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Stronger Lessons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Europe, the 72d and 73d years of
These States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


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The Runner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


To the Sayers of Words . . . . . . . . .


Longings for Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


To a President . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Walt Whitman's Caution . . . . . . .

To Other Lands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Song of the Open Road . . . . . . . . . .


To the States, to Identify the
16th,17th, or 18th Presiden-
tiad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


To a Certain Cantatrice . . . . . . . . .

To Workingmen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Debris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



"O hastening light!" . . . . . . . . . .


"Tears! tears! tears!" . . . . . . . . .

"Aboard at a ship's helm," . . . . .


American Feuillage . . . . . . . . . . . .


Mannahatta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


To You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


France, the 18th Year of These
States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


A Hand-Mirror . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



"Of the visages of things" . . . .


"Of waters, forests, hills" . . . . . .

"Of persons arrived at high po-
sitions," . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


"Of ownership." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"As I sit with others, at a great
feast" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Of what I write from myself" .


"Of obedience, faith, adhesive-
ness" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

To Him that was Crucified . . . . . .


To Old Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

To One Shortly to Die . . . . . . . . . .


To You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Unnamed Lands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Kosmos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


When I read the Book . . . . . . . . .


Says . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Despairing Cries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Picture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Poems of Joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Respondez! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


The City Dead-House . . . . . . . . . .


Leaflets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


"Think of the Soul" . . . . . . . . . . .


"Unfolded out of the folds of
the woman" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


"Night on the prairies" . . . . . . . .


"The world below the brine" . . .


"I sit and look out upon all the
sorrows of the world" . . . . . .


Visor'd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Not the Pilot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


As if a Phantom Caress'd Me . . .

Great are the Myths . . . . . . . . . . . .


Morning Romanza . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Burial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


This Compost! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


I hear America Singing . . . . . . . . .


Manhattan's streets I saunter'd .


I was Looking a Long While . . . .


The Indications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



"On the beach at night alone" .


"To oratists—to male and fe-
male" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Laws for Creations" . . . . . . . . . . .


"Poets to come!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Me Imperturbe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Sleep-Chasings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Elemental Drifts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Miracles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


You Felons on Trial in Courts . .


Mediums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Now Lift me Close . . . . . . . . . . . . .




See Table of Contents prefixed.



See Table of Contents prefixed.

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SMALL is the theme of the following Chant, yet the
greatest—namely, ONE'S-SELFthat wondrous
thing, a simple, separate person. That, for the
use of the New World, I sing.
Man's physiology complete, from top to toe, I sing. Not
physiognomy alone, nor brain alone, is worthy for
the muse;—I say the Form complete is worthier
far. The female equally with the male, I sing.
Nor cease at the theme of One's-Self. I speak the word
of the modern, the word EN-MASSE.
My Days I sing, and the Lands—with interstice I knew
of hapless War.
O friend, whoe'er you are, at last arriving hither to com-
mence, I feel through every leaf the pressure of

your hand, which I return. And thus upon our
journey link'd together let us go.

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1STARTING from fish-shape Paumanok, where I was
Well-begotten, and rais'd by a perfect mother;
After roaming many lands—lover of populous pave-
Dweller in Mannahatta, city of ships, my city—or on
southern savannas;
Or a soldier camp'd, or carrying my knapsack and gun
—or a miner in California;
Or rude in my home in Dakotah's woods, my diet
meat, my drink from the spring;
Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep
Far from the clank of crowds, intervals passing, rapt
and happy;
Aware of the fresh free giver, the flowing Missouri—
aware of mighty Niagara;
Aware of the buffalo herds, grazing the plains—the
hirsute and strong-breasted bull;
Of earths, rocks, Fifth-month flowers, experienced—
stars, rain, snow, my amaze;
Having studied the mocking-bird's tones, and the
mountain hawk's,
And heard at dusk the unrival'd one, the hermit
thrush from the swamp-cedars,
Solitary, singing in the West, I strike up for a New

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2Victory, union, faith, identity, time,
Yourself, the present and future lands, the indissolu-
ble compacts, riches, mystery,
Eternal progress, the kosmos, and the modern reports.

3This, then, is life;
Here is what has come to the surface after so many
throes and convulsions.

4How curious! how real!
Under foot the divine soil—over head the sun.

5See, revolving, the globe;
The ancestor-continents, away, group'd together;
The present and future continents, north and south,
with the isthmus between.

6See, vast, trackless spaces;
As in a dream, they change, they swiftly fill;
Countless masses debouch upon them;
They are now cover'd with the foremost people, arts,
institutions, known.

7See, projected, through time,
For me, an audience interminable.

8With firm and regular step they wend—they never
Successions of men, Americanos, a hundred millions;
One generation playing its part, and passing on,
Another generation playing its part, and passing on in
its turn,
With faces turn'd sideways or backward towards me,
to listen,
With eyes retrospective towards me.

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9Americanos! Conquerors! marches humanitarian;
Foremost! century marches! Libertad! masses!
For you a programme of chants.

10Chants of the prairies;
Chants of the long-running Mississippi, and down to
the Mexican sea;
Chants of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and
Chants going forth from the centre, from Kansas, and
thence, equi-distant,
Shooting in pulses of fire, ceaseless, to vivify all.


11In the Year 80 of The States,
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this
soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here, from parents the same,
and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-six years old, in perfect health, begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

12Creeds and schools in abeyance,
(Retiring back a while, sufficed at what they are, but
never forgotten,)
I harbor, for good or bad—I permit to speak, at every
Nature now without check, with original energy.


13Take my leaves, America! take them South, and
take them North!
Make welcome for them everywhere, for they are your
own offspring;
Surround them, East and West! for they would sur-
round you;
And you precedents! connect lovingly with them, for
they connect lovingly with you.

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14I conn'd old times;
I sat studying at the feet of the great masters:
Now, if eligible, O that the great masters might re-
turn and study me!

15In the name of These States, shall I scorn the
Why these are the children of the antique, to jus-
tify it.


16Dead poets, philosophs, priests,
Martyrs, artists, inventors, governments long since,
Language-shapers, on other shores,
Nations once powerful, now reduced, withdrawn, or
I dare not proceed till I respectfully credit what you
have left, wafted hither :
I have perused it—own it is admirable, (moving
awhile among it;)
Think nothing can ever be greater—nothing can ever
deserve more than it deserves;
Regarding it all intently a long while, then dismiss-
ing it,
I stand in my place, with my own day, here.

17Here lands female and male;
Here the heirship and heiress-ship of the world—here
the flame of materials;
Here Spirituality, the translatress, the openly-avow'd,
The ever-tending, the finale of visible forms;
The satisfier, after due long-waiting, now advancing,
Yes, here comes my mistress, the Soul.


18The SOUL!
Forever and forever—longer than soil is brown and
solid—longer than water ebbs and flows.

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19I will make the poems of materials, for I think they
are to be the most spiritual poems;
And I will make the poems of my body and of mor-
For I think I shall then supply myself with the poems
of my Soul, and of immortality.

20I will make a song for These States, that no one
State may under any circumstances be sub-
jected to another State;
And I will make a song that there shall be comity by
day and by night between all The States, and
between any two of them;
And I will make a song for the ears of the President,
full of weapons with menacing points,
And behind the weapons countless dissatisfied faces :
And a song make I, of the One form'd out of all;
The fang'd and glittering One whose head is over all;
Resolute, warlike One, including and over all;
(However high the head of any else, that head is over all.)

21I will acknowledge contemporary lands;
I will trail the whole geography of the globe, and sa-
lute courteously every city large and small;
And employments! I will put in my poems, that with
you is heroism, upon land and sea—And I will
report all heroism from an American point of
And sexual organs and acts! do you concentrate in
me—for I am determin'd to tell you with cour-
ageous clear voice, to prove you illustrious.

22I will sing the song of companionship;
I will show what alone must finally compact These;
I believe These are to found their own ideal of
manly love, indicating it in me;
I will therefore let flame from me the burning fires
that were threatening to consume me;

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I will lift what has too long kept down those smoul-
dering fires;
I will give them complete abandonment;
I will write the evangel-poem of comrades and of
(For who but I should understand love, with all its
sorrow and joy?
And who but I should be the poet of comrades?)


23I am the credulous man of qualities, ages, races;
I advance from the people en-masse in their own
Here is what sings unrestricted faith.

24Omnes! Omnes! let others ignore what they may;
I make the poem of evil also—I commemorate that
part also;
I am myself just as much evil as good, and my nation
is—And I say there is in fact no evil,
(Or if there is, I say it is just as important to you, to
the land, or to me, as anything else.)

25I too, following many, and follow'd by many, inau-
gurate a Religion—I too go to the wars;
(It may be I am destin'd to utter the loudest cries
thereof, the winner's pealing shouts;
Who knows? they may rise from me yet, and soar
above every thing.)

26Each is not for its own sake;
I say the whole earth, and all the stars in the sky, are
for Religion's sake.

27I say no man has ever yet been half devout enough
None has ever yet adored or worship'd half enough;

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None has begun to think how divine he himself is, and
how certain the future is.

28I say that the real and permanent grandeur of
These States must be their religion;
Otherwise there is no real and permanent grandeur;
(Nor character, nor life worthy the name, without Re-
Nor land, nor man or woman, without Religion.)


29What are you doing, young man?
Are you so earnest—so given up to literature, science,
art, amours?
These ostensible realities, politics, points?
Your ambition or business, whatever it may be?

30It is well—Against such I say not a word—I am
their poet also;
But behold! such swiftly subside—burnt up for Re-
ligion sake;
For not all matter is fuel to heat, impalpable flame,
the essential life of the earth,
Any more than such are to Religion.


31What do you seek, so pensive and silent?
What do you need, Camerado?
Dear son! do you think it is love?

32Listen, dear son—listen, America, daughter or son!
It is a painful thing to love a man or woman to ex-
cess—and yet it satisfies—it is great;
But there is something else very great—it makes the
whole coincide;
It, magnificent, beyond materials, with continuous
hands, sweeps and provides for all.

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33Know you! to drop in the earth the germs of a
greater Religion,
The following chants, each for its kind, I sing.

34My comrade!
For you, to share with me, two greatnesses—and a
third one, rising inclusive and more resplen-
The greatness of Love and Democracy—and the
greatness of Religion.

35Melange mine own! the unseen and the seen;
Mysterious ocean where the streams empty;
Prophetic spirit of materials shifting and flickering
around me;
Living beings, identities, now doubtless near us, in
the air, that we know not of;
Contact daily and hourly that will not release me;
These selecting—these, in hints, demanded of me.

36Not he, with a daily kiss, onward from childhood
kissing me,
Has winded and twisted around me that which holds
me to him,
Any more than I am held to the heavens, to the spir-
itual world,
And to the identities of the Gods, my lovers, faithful
and true,
After what they have done to me, suggesting themes.

37O such themes! Equalities!
O amazement of things! O divine average!
O warblings under the sun—usher'd, as now, or at
noon, or setting!
O strain, musical, flowing through ages—now reach-
ing hither,
I take to your reckless and composite chords—I add
to them, and cheerfully pass them forward.

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38As I have walk'd in Alabama my morning walk,
I have seen where the she-bird, the mocking-bird
on her nest in the briers, hatching her brood.

39I have seen the he-bird also;
I have paused to hear him, near at hand, inflating his
throat, and joyfully singing.

40And while I paused, it came to me that what he
really sang for was not there only,
Nor for his mate nor himself only, nor all sent back
by the echoes;
But subtle, clandestine, away beyond,
A charge transmitted, and gift occult, for those being


Near at hand to you a throat is now inflating itself
and joyfully singing.

42Ma femme!
For the brood beyond us and of us,
For those who belong here, and those to come,
I, exultant, to be ready for them, will now shake out
carols stronger and haughtier than have ever
yet been heard upon earth.

43I will make the songs of passion, to give them their
And your songs, outlaw'd offenders—for I scan you
with kindred eyes, and carry you with me the
same as any.

44I will make the true poem of riches,
To earn for the body and the mind, whatever adheres,
and goes forward, and is not dropt by death.

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45I will effuse egotism, and show it underlying all—
and I will be the bard of personality;
And I will show of male and female that either is but
the equal of the other;
And I will show that there is no imperfection in the
present—and can be none in the future;
And I will show that whatever happens to anybody, it
may be turn'd to beautiful results—and I will
show that nothing can happen more beautiful
than death;
And I will thread a thread through my poems that
time and events are compact,
And that all the things of the universe are perfect
miracles, each as profound as any.

46I will not make poems with reference to parts;
But I will make leaves, poems, poemets, songs, says,
thoughts, with reference to ensemble:
And I will not sing with reference to a day, but with
reference to all days;
And I will not make a poem, nor the least part of a
poem, but has reference to the Soul;
(Because, having look'd at the objects of the universe,
I find there is no one, nor any particle of one,
but has reference to the Soul.)


47Was somebody asking to see the Soul?
See! your own shape and countenance—persons, sub-
stances, beasts, the trees, the running rivers, the
rocks and sands. All hold spiritual joys, and afterwards loosen them:
How can the real body ever die, and be buried?

49Of your real body, and any man's or woman's real
Item for item, it will elude the hands of the corpse-
cleaners, and pass to fitting spheres,

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Carrying what has accrued to it from the moment of
birth to the moment of death.

50Not the types set up by the printer return their im-
pression, the meaning, the main concern,
Any more than a man's substance and life, or a wo-
man substance and life, return in the body
and the Soul,
Indifferently before death and after death.

51Behold! the body includes and is the meaning, the
main concern—and includes and is the Soul;
Whoever you are! how superb and how divine is your
body, or any part of it.


52Whoever you are! to you endless announcements.

53Daughter of the lands, did you wait for your poet?
Did you wait for one with a flowing mouth and in-
dicative hand?

54Toward the male of The States, and toward the
female of The States,
Live words—words to the lands.

55O the lands! interlink'd, food-yielding lands!
Land of coal and iron! Land of gold! Lands of
cotton, sugar, rice!
Land of wheat, beef, pork! Land of wool and hemp!
Land of the apple and grape!
Land of the pastoral plains, the grass-fields of the
world! Land of those sweet-air'd interminable
Land of the herd, the garden, the healthy house of
Lands where the northwest Columbia winds, and
where the southwest Colorado winds!

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Land of the eastern Chesapeake! Land of the Dela-
Land of Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan!
Land of the Old Thirteen! Massachusetts land! Land
of Vermont and Connecticut!
Land of the ocean shores! Land of sierras and peaks!
Land of boatmen and sailors! Fishermen's land!
Inextricable lands! the clutch'd together! the passion-
ate ones!
The side by side! the elder and younger brothers!
the bony-limb'd!
The great women's land! the feminine! the ex-
perienced sisters and the inexperienced sisters!
Far breath'd land! Arctic braced! Mexican breez'd!
the diverse! the compact!
The Pennsylvanian! the Virginian! the double Caro-
O all and each well-loved by me! my intrepid nations!
O I at any rate include you all with perfect love!
I cannot be discharged from you! not from one, any
sooner than another!
O Death! O for all that, I am yet of you, unseen, this
hour, with irrepressible love,
Walking New England, a friend, a traveler,
Splashing my bare feet in the edge of the summer
ripples, on Paumanok's sands,
Crossing the prairies—dwelling again in Chicago—
dwelling in every town,
Observing shows, births, improvements, structures,
Listening to the orators and the oratresses in public
Of and through The States, as during life—each man
and woman my neighbor,
The Louisianian, the Georgian, as near to me, and I
as near to him and her,
The Mississippian and Arkansian yet with me—and
I yet with any of them;

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Yet upon the plains west of the spinal river—yet in
my house of adobie,
Yet returning eastward—yet in the Sea-Side State, or
in Maryland,
Yet Kanadian, cheerily braving the winter—the snow
and ice welcome to me,
Yet a true son either of Maine, or of the Granite State,
or of the Narragansett Bay State, or of the
Empire State;
Yet sailing to other shores to annex the same—yet
welcoming every new brother;
Hereby applying these leaves to the new ones, from
the hour they unite with the old ones;
Coming among the new ones myself, to be their com-
panion and equal—coming personally to you
Enjoining you to acts, characters, spectacles, with


56With me, with firm holding—yet haste, haste on.

57For your life, adhere tome;
Of all the men of the earth, I only can unloose you
and toughen you;
I may have to be persuaded many times before I
consent to give myself to you—but what of
Must not Nature be persuaded many times?

58No dainty dolce affettuoso I;
Bearded, sunburnt, gray-neck'd, forbidding, I have
To be wrestled with as I pass, for the solid prizes of
the universe;
For such I afford whoever can persevere to win them.

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59On my way a moment I pause;
Here for you! and here for America!
Still the Present I raise aloft—Still the Future of
The States I harbinge, glad and sublime;
And for the Past, I pronounce what the air holds of

60The red aborigines!
Leaving natural breaths, sounds of rain and winds,
calls as of birds and animals in the woods,
syllabled to us for names;
Okonee, Koosa, Ottawa, Monongahela, Sauk, Natchez,
Chattahoochee, Kaqueta, Oronoco,
Wabash, Miami, Saginaw, Chippewa, Oshkosh, Walla-
Leaving such to The States, they melt, they depart,
charging the water and the land with names.


61O expanding and swift! O henceforth,
Elements, breeds, adjustments, turbulent, quick, and
A world primal again—Vistas of glory, incessant and
A new race, dominating previous ones, and grander
far, with new contests,
New politics, new literatures and religions, new in-
ventions and arts.

62These! my voice announcing—I will sleep no more,
but arise;
You oceans that have been calm within me! how I
feel you, fathomless, stirring, preparing un-
precedented waves and storms.

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63See! steamers steaming through my poems!
See, in my poems immigrants continually coming and
See, in arriere, the wigwam, the trail, the hunter's
hut, the flat-boat, the maize-leaf, the claim, the
rude fence, and the backwoods village;
See, on the one side the Western Sea, and on the
other the Eastern Sea, how they advance and
retreat upon my poems, as upon their own
See, pastures and forests in my poems—See, animals,
wild and tame—See, beyond the Kanzas, count-
less herds of buffalo, feeding on short curly
See, in my poems, cities, solid, vast, inland, with
paved streets, with iron and stone edifices,
ceaseless vehicles, and commerce;
See, the many-cylinder'd steam printing-press—See,
the electric telegraph, stretching across the
Continent, from the Western Sea to Man-
See, through Atlantica's depths, pulses American,
Europe reaching—pulses of Europe, duly re-
See, the strong and quick locomotive, as it departs,
panting, blowing the steam-whistle;
See, ploughmen, ploughing farms—See, miners, dig-
ging mines—See, the numberless factories;
See, mechanics, busy at their benches, with tools—
See from among them, superior judges, philo-
sophs, Presidents, emerge, drest in working
See, lounging through the shops and fields of The
States, me, well-beloved, close-held by day and
Hear the loud echoes of my songs there! Read the
hints come at last.

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64O Camerado close!
O you and me at last—and us two only.

65O a word to clear one's path ahead endlessly!
O something extatic and undemonstrable! O music
O now I triumph—and you shall also;
O hand in hand—O wholesome pleasure—O one more
desirer and lover!
O to haste, firm holding—to haste, haste on, with me.

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1 I CELEBRATE myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to

2I loafe and invite my Soul;
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of sum-
mer grass.

3Houses 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.

4The atmosphere is not a perfume—it has no taste of
the distillation—it is odorless;
It is for my mouth forever—I am in love with it;
I will go to the bank by the wood, and become undis-
guised and naked;
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.


5The smoke of my own breath;
Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread,
crotch and vine;
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my
heart, the passing of blood and air through my

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The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the
shore, and dark-color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in
the barn;
The sound of the belch'd words of my voice, words
loos'd 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.

6Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you
reckon'd the earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of

7Stop this day and night with me, and you shall pos-
sess 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 your-


8I 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.

9There was never any more inception than there is
Nor any more youth or age than there is now;

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And will never be any more perfection than there
is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

10Urge, and urge, and urge;
Always the procreant urge of the world.

11Out of the dimness opposite equals advance—always
substance and increase, always sex;
Always a knit of identity—always distinction—always
a breed of life.

12To elaborate is no avail—learn'd and unlearn'd feel
that it is so.

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

14Clear and sweet is my Soul, and clear and sweet is
all that is not my Soul.

15Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by
the seen,
Till that becomes unseen, and receives proof in its

16Showing 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.

17Welcome 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.

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18I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing;
As the hugging and loving Bed-fellow sleeps at my
side through the night, and withdraws at the
peep of the day, with stealthy tread,
Leaving me baskets cover'd with white towels, swell-
ing 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 road,
And forthwith cipher and show me a cent,
Exactly the contents of one, and exactly the contents
of two, and which is ahead?


19Trippers and askers surround me;
People I meet—the effect upon me of my early life, or
the ward and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies,
authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, 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 depressions
or exaltations;
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of
doubtful news, the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights, and go from me
But they are not the Me myself.

20Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle,
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpa-
ble certain rest,

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Looking with side-curved head, curious what will come
Both in and out of the game, and watching and won-
dering at it.

21Backward I see in my own days where I sweated
through fog with linguists and contenders;
I have no mockings or arguments—I witness and wait.


22I believe in you, my Soul—the other I am must
not abase itself to you;
And you must not be abased to the other.

23Loafe with me on the grass—loose the stop from
your throat;
Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or
lecture, not even the best;
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

24I mind how once we lay, such a transparent sum-
mer morning;
How you settled your head athwart my hips, and gently
turn'd over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged
your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
And reach'd till you felt my beard, and reach'd till you
held my feet.

25Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and
knowledge that pass all the argument of the
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of
my own;
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers,
and the women my sisters and lovers;
And that a kelson of the creation is love;

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And limitless are leaves, stiff or drooping in the fields;
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them;
And mossy scabs of the worm-fence, and heap'd stones,
elder, mullen and pokeweed.


26A 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.

27I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of
hopeful green stuff woven.

28Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners,
that we may see and remark, and say, Whose?

29Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced
babe of the vegetation.

30Or 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.

31And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of

32Tenderly 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

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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.

33This grass is very dark to be from the white heads
of old mothers;
Darker than the colorless beards of old men;
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of

34O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of
mouths for nothing.

35I 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.

36What do you think has become of the young and
old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and

37They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death;
And if ever there was, it led forward life, and does
not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

38All goes onward and outward—nothing collapses;
And to die is different from what any one supposed,
and luckier.

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39Has 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.

40I pass death with the dying, and birth with the new
wash'd babe, and am not contain'd between my-
hat and boots;
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every
one good;
The earth good, and the stars good, and their
adjuncts all good.

41I 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.)

42Every 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.

43Undrape! 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
cannot be shaken away.

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44The little one sleeps in its cradle;
I lift the gauze, and look a long time, and silently
brush away flies with my hand.

45The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up
the bushy hill;
I peeringly view them from the top.

46The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the
I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair—I note
where the pistol has fallen.

47The blab of the pave, the tires of carts, sluff of
boot-soles, talk of the promenaders;
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating
thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the
granite floor;
The snow-sleighs, the clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd
The flap of the curtain'd litter, a sick man inside,
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
What groans of over-fed or half-starv'd 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 restrain'd by decorum,

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Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made,
acceptances, rejections with convex lips;
I mind them or the show or resonance of them—I
come, and I depart.


48The 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 in-
ter tinged;
The armfuls are packt to the sagging mow.

49I am there—I help—I came stretcht 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
And roll head over heels, and tangle my hair full of


50Alone, 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
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh kill'd game;
Falling asleep on the gather'd leaves, with my dog and
gun by my side.

51The 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.

52The boatman and clam-diggers arose early and stopt
for me;

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I tuck'd my trowser-ends in my boots, and went and
had a good time:
You should have been with us that day round the

53I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in
the far-west—the bride was a red girl;
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
On a bank lounged the trapper—he was drest mostly
in skins—his luxuriant beard and curls pro-
tected his neck—he held his bride by the hand;
She had long eye-lashes—her head was bare—her
coarse straight locks descended upon her volup-
tuous limbs and reach'd to her feet.

54The runaway slave came to my house and stopt out-
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the wood-
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 fill'd a tub for his sweated
body and bruis'd feet,
And gave him a room that enter'd 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;
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated
and pass'd north;
(I had him sit next me at table—my fire-lock lean'd
in the corner.)

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55Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore;
Twenty-eight young men, and all so friendly:
Twenty-eight years of womanly life, and all so lone-

56She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank;
She hides, handsome and richly drest, aft the blinds
of the window.

57Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah, the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

58Where are you off to, lady?for I see you;
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in
your room.

59Dancing and laughing along the beach came the
twenty-ninth bather;
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved

60The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it
ran from their long hair;
Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.

61An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies;
It descended tremblingly from their temples and

62The 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 pen-
dant and bending arch;
They do not think whom they souse with spray.

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63The butcher-boy puts off his killing clothes, or
sharpens his knife at the stall in the market;
I loiter, enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and

64Blacksmiths 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.)

65From the cinder-strew'd threshold I follow their
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their
massive arms;
Overhand the hammers swing—overhand so slow—
overhand so sure:
They do not hasten—each man hits in his place.


66The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses
—the block swags underneath on its tied-over
The negro that drives the 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 limbs.

67I behold the picturesque giant, and love him—and I
do not stop there;
I go with the team also.

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69In 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 and chain, or halt in the
leafy shade! what is that you express in your
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in
my life.

70My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck, on
my distant and day-long ramble;

71I believe in those wing'd purposes,
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within
And consider green and violet, and the tufted crown,
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is
not something else;
And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut,
yet trills pretty well to me;
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of


72The wild gander leads his flock through the cool
Ya-honk! he says, and sounds it down to me like an
(The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen
I find its purpose and place up there toward the
wintry sky.)

73The sharp hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the
house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog,

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The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats,
The brood of the turkey-hen, and she with her half-
spread wings;
I see in them and myself the same old law.

74The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred
They scorn the best I can do to relate them.

75I am enamour'd of growing outdoors,
Of men that live among cattle, or taste of the ocean
or woods,
Of the builders and steerers of ships, and the wielders
of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses;
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.

76What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns;
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.


77The 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;
The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious
The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the

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The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of
the big wheel;
The farmer stops by the bars, as he walks on a First-
day loafe, and looks at the oats and rye;
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum, a confirm'd
(He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in
his mother's bed-room;)
The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works
at his case,
He turns his quid of tobacco, while his eyes blurr with
the manuscript;
The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table,
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 policeman
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 compete in
the race;
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;
As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer
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-roof'd garret, and
harks to the musical rain;
The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the
The squaw, wrapt in her yellow-hemm'd cloth, is
offering moccasins and bead-bags for sale;

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The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with
half-shut eyes bent side-ways;
As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat, the plank
is thrown for the shore-going passengers;
The young sister holds out the skein, while the elder
sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now and
then for the knots;
The one-year wife is recovering and happy, having a
week ago borne her first child;
The clean-hair'd Yankee girl works with her sewing-
machine, or in the factory or mill;
The nine months' gone is in the parturition chamber,
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 bookkeeper
counts at his desk, the shoemaker waxes his
The conductor beats time for the band, and all the
performers follow him;
The child is baptized—the convert is making his first
The regatta is spread on the bay—the race is begun
—how the white sails sparkle!
The drover, watching his drove, sings out to them that
would stray;
The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the pur-
chaser higgling 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-
open lips;
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;

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(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths, nor jeer you;)
The President, holding a cabinet council, is surrounded
by the Great Secretaries;
On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly
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;
As 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
In single file, each shouldering his hod, pass onward
the laborers;
Seasons pursuing each other, the indescribable crowd
is gather'd—it is the Fourth of Seventh-month
—(What salutes of cannon and small arms!)
Seasons pursuing each other, the plougher ploughs, the
mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the
Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by
the hole in the frozen surface;
The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter
strikes deep with his axe;
Flatboatmen make fast, towards dusk, near the cotton-
wood or pekan-trees;
Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river,
or through those drain'd by the Tennessee, or
through those of the Arkansaw;
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chatta-
hooche or Altamahaw;
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and
great-grandsons around them;
In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and
trappers after their day's sport;
The city sleeps, and the country sleeps;

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The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their
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.


78I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse, and stuff'd with
the stuff that is fine;
One of the great nation, the nation of many nations,
the smallest the same, and the largest the same;
A southerner soon as a northerner—a planter non-
chalant and hospitable, down by the Oconee I
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 Louisianian or Georgian;
A boatman over lakes or bays, or along coasts—a
Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;
At home on Kanadian 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-west-
erners, (loving their big proportions;)
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen—comrade of all who
shake hands and welcome to drink and meat;
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thought-

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A novice beginning, yet experient of myriads of sea-
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and re-
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker;
A prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician,

79I resist anything better than my own diversity;
I breathe the air, but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

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


81These 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 are not the riddle and the untying of the rid-
dle, they are nothing;
If they are not just as close as they are distant, they
are nothing.

82This is the grass that grows wherever the land is,
and the water is;
This is the common air that bathes the globe.


83With music strong I come—with my cornets and
my drums,
I play not marches for accepted victors only—I play
great marches for conquer'd and slain persons.

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84Have 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.

85I beat and pound for the dead;
I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gay-
est for them.

86Vivas to those who have fail'd!
And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea!
And to those themselves who sank in the sea!
And to all generals that lost engagements! and all
overcome heroes!
And the numberless unknown heroes, equal to the
greatest heroes known.


87This is the meal pleasantly set—this is the meat 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 away;
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited;
The heavy-lipp'd slave is invited—the venerealee is
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.

88This 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 mur-
mur of yearning;
This is the far-off depth and height reflecting my own
This is the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet <

89Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?
Well, I have—for the Fourth-month showers have,
and the mica on the side of a rock has.

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90Do you take it I would astonish?
Does the daylight astonish? Does the early redstart,
twittering through the woods?
Do I astonish more than they?

91This hour I tell things in confidence;
I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.


92Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude;
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?

93What is a man, anyhow? What am I? What are you?

94All I mark as my own, you shall offset it with your
Else it were time lost listening to me.

95I do not snivel that snivel the world over,
That months are vacuums, and the ground but wal-
low and filth;
That life is a suck and a sell, and nothing remains at
the end but threadbare crape, and tears.

96Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for
invalids—conformity goes to the fourth-remov'd;
I wear my hat as I please, indoors or out.

97Why should I pray? Why should I venerate and
be ceremonious?

98Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair,
counsell'd with doctors, and calculated close,
I find no sweeter fat then sticks to my own bones.

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99In all people I see myself—none more, and not one
a barley-corn less;
And the good or bad I say of myself, I say of them.

100And I know I am solid and sound;
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetu-
ally flow;
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing

101I know I am deathless;
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by the car-
penter compass;
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with
a burnt stick at night.

102I know I am august;
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be
I see that the elementary laws never apologize;
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant
my house by, after all.)

103I 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.

104One world is aware, and by far the largest to me,
and that is myself;
And whether I come to my own to-day, or in ten
thousand or ten million years,
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerful-
ness I can wait.

105My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite;
I laugh at what you call dissolution;
And I know the amplitude of time.

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106I am the poet of the Body;
And I am the poet of the Soul.

107The 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.

108I 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

109I chant the chant of dilation or pride;
We have had ducking and deprecating about enough;
I show that size is only development.

110Have you outstript the rest? Are you the Presi-
It is a trifle—they will more than arrive there, every
one, and still pass on.

111I am he that walks with the tender and growing
I call to the earth and sea, half-held by the night.

112Press close, bare-bosom'd night! Press close, mag-
netic, nourishing night!
Night of south winds! night of the large few stars!
Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night.

113Smile, O voluptuous, cool-breath'd earth!
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees;
Earth of departed sunset! earth of the mountains,
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 elbow'd earth! rich, apple-blossom'd
Smile, for your lover comes!

114Prodigal, you have given me love! Therefore I to
you give love!
O unspeakable, passionate love!


115You sea! I resign myself to you also—I guess
what you mean;
I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers;
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me;
We must have a turn together—I undress—hurry me
out of sight of the land;
Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse;

116Sea of stretch'd ground-swells!
Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths!
Sea of the brine of life! sea of unshovell'd yet 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.

117Partaker of influx and efflux I—extoller of hate and
Extoller of amies, and those that sleep in each others'

118I am he attesting sympathy;
(Shall I make my list of things in the house, and skip
the house that supports them?)

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119I am not the poet of goodness only—I do not de-
cline to be the poet of wickedness also.

120Washes and razors for foofoos—for me freckles and
a bristling beard.

121What 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.

122Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging
Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work'd
over and rectified?

123I find one side a balance, and the antipodal side a
Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine;
Thoughts and deeds of the present, our rouse and
early start.

124This minute that comes to me over the past decil-
There is no better than it and now.

125What behaved well in the past, or behaves well
to-day, is not such a wonder;
The wonder is, always and always, how there can be
a mean man or an infidel.


126Endless unfolding of words of ages!
And mine a word of the modern—the word En-

127A word of the faith that never balks;
Here or henceforward, it is all the same to me—
I accept time, absolutely.

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128It alone is without flaw—it rounds and completes all;
That mystic, baffling wonder I love, alone completes all.

129I accept reality, and dare not question it;
Materialism first and last imbuing.

130Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demon-
Fetch stonecrop, mixt with cedar and branches of
This is the lexicographer—this the chemist—this
made a grammar of the old cartouches;
These mariners put the ship through dangerous un-
known seas;
This is the geologist—this works with the scalpel—
and this is a mathematician.

131Gentlemen! to you the first honors always:
Your facts are useful and real—and yet they are not
my dwelling;
(I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.)

132Less the reminders of properties told, my words;
And more the reminders, they, of life untold, and of
freedom and extrication,
And make short account of neuters and geldings, and
favor men and women fully equipt,
And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives,
and them that plot and conspire.


133Walt Whitman am I, of mighty Manhattan the son,
Turbulent, fleshy and sensual, eating, drinking and
No sentimentalist—no stander above men and women,
or apart from them;
No more modest than immodest.

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134Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

135Whoever degrades another degrades me;
And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.

136Through me the afflatus surging and surging—
through me the current and index.

137I speak the pass-word primeval—I give the sign of
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have
their counterpart of on the same terms.

138Through me many long dumb voices;
Voices of the interminable generations of slaves;
Voices of prostitutes, and of deform'd persons;
Voices of the diseas'd and despairing, and of thieves
and dwarfs;
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,
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 upon;
Of the trivial, flat, foolish, despised,
Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.

139Through me forbidden voices;
Voices of sexes and lusts—voices veil'd, and I remove
the veil;
Voices indecent, by me clarified and transfigur'd.

140I do not press my fingers 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.

141I believe in the flesh and the appetites;
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part
and tag of me is a miracle.

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142Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy what-
ever I touch or am touch'd from;
The scent of these arm-pits, aroma finer than prayer;
This head more than churches, bibles, and all the

143If I worship one thing more than another, it shall
be the spread of my own body, or any part of it.

144Translucent mould of me, it shall be you!
Shaded ledges and rests, it shall be you!
Firm masculine colter, it shall be you.

145Whatever goes to the tilth of me, it shall be you!
You my rich blood! Your milky stream, pale strip-
pings of my life.

146Breast that presses against other breasts, it shall be
My brain, it shall be your occult convolutions.

147Root of wash't sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe!
nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you!
Mix't tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be
Trickling sap of maple! fibre of manly wheat! it shall
be you!

148Sun so generous, it shall be you!
Vapors lighting and shading my face, it shall be you!
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! lov-
ing lounger in my winding paths! it shall be
Hands I have taken—face I have kiss'd—mortal I
have ever touch'd! it shall be you.

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149I dote on myself—there is that lot of me, and all so
Each moment, and whatever happens, thrills me with

150O I am wonderful!
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.

151That I walk up my stoop! I pause to consider if it
really be;
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than
the metaphysics of books.

152To behold the day-break!
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous
The air tastes good to my palate.

153Hefts of the moving world, at innocent gambols
silently rising, freshly exuding,
Scooting obliquely high and low.

154Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.

155The earth by the sky staid with—the daily close of
their junction;
The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over
my head;
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be

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156Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sun-rise
would kill me,
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of

157We also ascend, dazzling and tremendous as the
We found our own, O my Soul, in the calm and cool
of the day-break.

158My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach;
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds, and
volumes of worlds.

159Speech is the twin of my vision—it is unequal to
measure itself;
It provokes me forever;
It says sarcastically, Walt, you contain enough—why
don't you let it out then?

160Come now, I will not be tantalized—you conceive
too much of articulation.

161Do you not know, O speech, how the buds beneath
you are folded?
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.

162My final merit I refuse you—I refuse putting from
me what I really am;
Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me;
I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking to-
ward you.

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163Writing and talk do not prove me;
I carry the plenum of proof, and everything else, in
my face;
With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skep-


164I think I will do nothing now but listen,
To accrue what I hear into myself—to let sounds con-
tribute toward me.

165I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat,
gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my
I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused
or following;
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
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 pallid 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 color'd lights;
The steam-whistle—the solid roll of the train of ap-
proaching cars;
The slow-march play'd at the head of the association,
marching two and two;
(They go to guard some corpse—the flag-tops are
draped with black muslin.)

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166I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man's heart's
I hear the key'd cornet—it glides quickly in through
my ears;
It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and

167I hear the chorus—it is a grand opera;
Ah, this indeed is music! This suits me.

168A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me;
The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me

169I hear the train'd soprano—(what work, with hers,
is this?)
The orchestra wrenches such ardors from me, I did
not know I possess'd them;
It sails me—I dab with bare feet—they are lick'd by
the indolent waves;
I am exposed, cut by bitter and angry hail—I lose my
Steep'd amid honey'd morphine, my windpipe throt-
tled in fakes of death;
At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,
And that we call BEING.


170To be, in any form—what is that?
(Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come
back thither;)
If nothing lay more develop't, the quahaug in its cal-
lous shell were enough.

171Mine is no callous shell;
I have instant conductors all over me, whether I pass
or stop;

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They seize every object, and lead it harmlessly through

172I 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.


173Is 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
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike
what is hardly different from myself;
On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs,
Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip,
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 sunlight
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 a
Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry

174The sentries desert every other part of me;
They have left me helpless to a red marauder;
They all come to the headland, to witness and assist
against me.

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175I 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 headland—my own hands
carried me there.

176You villain touch! what are you doing? My breath
is tight in its throat;
Unclench your floodgates! you are too much for me.


177Blind, loving, wrestling touch! sheath'd, hooded,
sharp-tooth'd touch!
Did it make you ache so, leaving me?

178Parting, track't by arriving—perpetual payment of
perpetual loan;
Rich, showering rain, and recompense richer after-

179Sprouts take and accumulate—stand by the curb
prolific and vital;
Landscapes, projected, masculine, full-sized, and


180All truths wait in all things;
They neither hasten their own delivery, nor resist it;
They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon;
The insignificant is as big to me as any;
(What is less or more than a touch?)

181Logic and sermons never convince;
The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.

182Only what proves itself to every man and woman
is so;
Only what nobody denies is so.

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183A 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
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 them.


184I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-
work of the stars,
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'oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors
of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all
And the cow crunching with depres't head surpasses
any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions
of infidels,
And I could come every afternoon of my life to look
at the farmer's girl boiling her iron ten-kettle
and baking short-cake.

185I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss,
fruits, grains, esculent roots,
And am stuccoed with quadrupeds and birds all over,
And have distanced what is behind me for good
And call anything close again, when I desire it.

186In vain the speeding or shyness;

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In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against
my approach;
In vain the mastadon retreats beneath its own pow-
der bones;
In vain objects stand leagues off, and assume manifold
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 woods;
In vain the razor-bill'd auk sails far north to Labrador;
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of
the cliff.


187I think I could turn and live with animals, they are
so placid and self-contain'd;
I stand and look at them long and long.

188They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to
Not 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

189So they show their relations to me, and I accept
They bring me tokens of myself—they evince them
plainly in their possession.

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190I wonder where they get those tokens:
Did I pass that way huge times ago, and negligently
drop them?
Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among
Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remem-
Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him
on brotherly terms.

191A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive
to my caresses,
Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears,
Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
Eyes well apart, full of sparkling wickedness—ears
finely cut, flexibly moving.

192His nostrils dilate, as my heels embrace him;
His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, as we speed
around and return.

193I but use you a moment, then I resign you, stallion;
Why do I need your paces, when I myself out-gallop
Even, as I stand or sit, passing faster than you.


194O swift wind! O space and time! now I see it is
true, what I guess'd at;
What I guess'd when I loaf'd on the grass;
What I guess'd while I lay alone in my bed,
And again as I walk'd the beach under the paling
stars of the morning.

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195My 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.

196By the city's quadrangular houses—in log huts—
camping with lumbermen;
Along the ruts of the turnpike—along the dry gulch
and rivulet bed;
Weeding my onion-patch, or hoeing rows of carrots
and parsnips—crossing savannas—trailing in
Prospecting—gold-digging—girdling the trees of a
new purchase;
Scorch'd ankle-deep by the hot sand—hauling my boat
down the shallow river;
Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb over-
head—where the buck turns furiously at the
Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock
—where the otter is feeding on fish;
Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the
Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey
—where the beaver pats the mud with his
paddle-shaped tail;
Over the growing sugar—over the yellow-flower'd cot-
ton plant—over the rice in its low moist field;
Over the sharp-peak'd farm house, with its scallop'd
scum and slender shoots from the gutters;
Over the western persimmon—over the long-leav'd
corn—over the delicate blue-flower 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;

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Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, hold-
ing 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 Seventh-month 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;
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
webs fall in festoons from the rafters;
Where trip-hammers crash—where the press is whirl-
ing its cylinders;
Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes
out of its ribs;
Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, float-
ing in it myself, and looking composedly down;
Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose—where
the heat hatches pale-green eggs in the dented
Where the she-whale swims with her calf, and never
forsakes it;
Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long pennant
of smoke;
Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out
of the water;
Where the half-burn'd brig is riding on unknown cur-
Where shells grow to her slimy deck—where the dead
are corrupting below;
Where the dense-starr'd flag is borne at the head of the
Approaching Manhattan, up by the long-stretching

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Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my
Upon a doorblock of hard wood
Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs, or a
good game of base-ball;
At he-festivals, with blackguard gibes, ironical license,
bull-dances, drinking, laughter;
At the cider-mill, tasting the sweets of the brown
mash, 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 gurgles,
cackles, screams, weeps;
Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard—where
the dry-stalks are scatter'd—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 the 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;
Where the humming-bird shimmers—where the neck
of the long-lived swan is curving and winding;
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-neck'd partridges roost in a ring on the
ground with their heads out;
Where burial coaches enter the arch'd gates of a

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Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and
icicled trees;
Where the yellow-crown'd heron comes to the edge of
the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs;
Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools 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, or under con-
ical firs;
Through the gymnasium—through the curtain'd saloon
—through the office or public hall;
Pleas'd with the native, and pleas'd with the foreign
—pleas'd with the new and old;
Pleas'd with women, the homely as well as the hand-
Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet
and talks melodiously;
Pleas'd with the tune of the choir of the white-washt
Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Meth-
odist preacher, or any preacher—imprest seri-
ously at the camp-meeting:
Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the
whole forenoon—flatting the flesh of my nose
on the thick plate-glass;
Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn'd up
to the clouds,
My right and left arms round the sides of two friends,
and I in the middle:
Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek'd bush-
boy—behind me he rides at the drape of the
Far from the settlements, studying the print of ani-
mals' feet, or the moccasin print;
By the cot in the hospital, reaching lemonade to a
feverish patient;

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Nigh the coffin'd corpse when all is still, examining
with a candle:
Voyaging to every port, to dicker and adventure;
Hurrying with the modern crowd, as eager and fickle
as any;
Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife
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 tail'd 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.

197I visit the orchards of spheres, and look at the
And look at quintillions ripen'd, and look at quintil-
lions green.

198I fly the flight of the fluid and swallowing soul;
My course runs below the soundings of plummets.

199I help myself to material and immaterial;
No guard can shut me off, nor law prevent me.

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200I anchor my ship for a little while only;
My messengers continually cruise away, or bring their
returns to me.

201I go hunting polar furs and the seal—leaping
chasms with a pike-pointed staff—clinging to
topples of brittle and blue.

202I ascend to the foretruck;
I take my place late at night in the crow's-nest;
We sail 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 directions;
The white-topt mountains show in the distance—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 encampment—
we pass with still feet and caution;
Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and
ruin'd city;
The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the
living cities of the globe.)

203I am a free companion—I bivouac by invading

204I turn the bridegroom out of bed, and stay with the
bride myself;
I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.

205My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the rail
of the stairs;
They fetch my man's body up, dripping and drown'd.

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206I 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 nights,
And chalk'd in large letters, on a board, Be of good
cheer, we will not desert you:
How he follow'd with them, and tack'd with them—
and would not give it up;
How he saved the drifting company at last:
How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when
boated from the side of their prepared graves;
How the silent old-faced infants, and the lifted sick,
and the sharp-lipp'd unshaved men:
All this I swallow—it tastes good—I like it well—it
becomes mine;
I am the man—I suffer'd—I was there.

207The disdain and calmness of martyrs;
The mother, condemn'd for a witch, burnt with dry
wood, her children gazing on;
The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the
fence, blowing, cover'd with sweat;
The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck
—the murderous buckshot and the bullets;
All these I feel or am.

208I 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, thinn'd
with the ooze of my skin;
I fall on the weeds and stones;
The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close,

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Taunt my dizzy ears, and beat me violently over the
head with whip-stocks.

209Agonies are one of my changes of garments;
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels—I my-
self become the wounded person;
My hurts turns livid upon me as I lean on a cane and

210I am the mash'd fireman with breastbone broken:
Tumbling walls buried me in their debris;
Heat and smoke I inspired—I heard the yelling shouts
of my comrades;
I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels;
They have clear'd the beams away—they tenderly lift
me forth.

211I 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 unhappy;
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

212Distant and dead resuscitate;
They show as the dial or move as the hands of me—
I am the clock myself.

213I am an old artillerist—I tell of my fort's bombard-
I am there again.

214Again the long roll of the drummers;
Again the attacking cannon, mortars;
Again the cannon responsive.

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215I take part—I see and hear the whole;
The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aim'd
The ambulanza slowly passing, trailing its red drip;
Workmen searching after damages, making indispen-
sable 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.

216Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general—he
furiously waves with his hand;
He gasps through the clot, Mind not me—mind—the


217Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth;
(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;)
Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hun-
dred and twelve young men.

218Retreating, they had form'd in a hollow square, with
their baggage for breastworks;
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, receiv'd
writing and seal, gave up their arms, and
march'd back prisoners of war.

219They were the glory of the race of rangers;
Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship,

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Large, turbulent, generous, brave, handsome, proud,
and affectionate,
Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of
Not a single one over thirty years of age.

220The second First-day morning they were brought
out in squads, and massacred—it was beautiful
early summer;
The work commenced about five o'clock, and was over
by eight.

221None obey'd 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 maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt—the new-
comers saw them there;
Some, half-kill'd, attempted to crawl away;
These were despatch'd with bayonets, or batter'd with
the blunts of muskets;
A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till
two more came to release him;
The three were all torn, and cover'd with the boy's

222At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies:
That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred
and twelve young men.


223Would you hear of an old-fashion'd sea-fight?
Would you learn who won by the light of the moon
and stars?
List to the story as my grandmother's father, the
sailor, told it to me.

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224Our foe was no skulk in his ship, I tell you, (said he;)
His was the surly English pluck—and there is no
tougher or truer, and never was, and never will
Along the lower'd eve he came, horribly raking us.

225We closed with him—the yards entangled—the
cannon touch'd;
My captain lash'd fast with his own hands.

226We had receiv'd some eighteen-pound shots under
the water;
On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at
the first fire, killing all around, and blowing up

227Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark;
Ten o'clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks
on the gain, and five feet of water reported;
The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in
the after-hold, to give them a chance for them-

228The transit to and from the magazine is now
stopt by the sentinels,
They see so many strange faces, they do not know
whom to trust.

229Our frigate takes fire;
The other asks if we demand quarter?
If our colors are struck, and the fighting is done?

230Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my
little captain,(says my grandmother's father;)
We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just
begun our part of the fighting.

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231Only three guns are in use;
One is directed by the captain himself against the
enemy's main-mast;
Two, well served with grape and canister, silence his
musketry and clear his decks.

232The tops alone second the fire of this little battery,
especially the main-top;
They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.

233Not a moment's cease;
The leaks gain fast on the pumps—the fire eats toward
the powder-magazine;
One of the pumps has been shot away—it is generally
thought we are sinking.

234Serene stands the little captain;
He is not hurried—his voice is neither high nor low;
His eyes give more light to us than our battle-

235Toward twelve at night, there in the beams of the
moon, they surrender to us.


236O now it is not my grandmother's father there in
the fight;
I feel it is I myself.

237Stretch'd and still lies the midnight;
Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the
Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking—preparations
to pass to the one we have conquer'd;
The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his
orders through a countenance white as a sheet;
Near by, the corpse of the child that serv'd in the

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The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and
carefully curl'd whiskers;
The flames, spite of all that can be done, flickering
aloft and below;
The husky voices of the two or three officer yet fit
for duty; Formless stacks of bodies, and bodies by themselves—
dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars,
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
charge to survivors,
The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth of
his saw,
Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild
scream, and long, dull, tapering groan;
These so—these irretrievable.


238O Christ! This is mastering me!
Through the conquer'd doors they crowd. I am

239I embody all presences outlaw'd or suffering;
See myself in prison shaped like another man,
And feel the dull unintermitted pain.

240For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their car-
bines and keep watch;
It is I let out in the morning, and barr'd at night.

241Not a mutineer walks handcuff'd to jail, but I am
handcuff'd 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.)

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242Not a youngster is taken for larceny, but I go up too,
and am tried and sentenced.

243Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp, but I also
lie at the last gasp;
My face is ash-color'd—my sinews gnarl—away from
me people retreat.

244Askers embody themselves in me, and I am embo-
died in them;
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg.


245Enough! enough! enough!
Somehow I have been stunn'd. Stand back!
Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers,
dreams, gaping;
I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.

246That 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.

247I remember now;
I resume the overstaid fraction;
The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided
to it, or to any graves;
Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me.

248I troop forth replenish't with supreme power, one of
an average unending procession;
Inland and sea-coast we go, and we pass all boundary

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Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole
The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thous-
ands of years.

249Eleves, I salute you! come forward!
Continue your annotations, continue your question-


250The friendly and flowing savage, Who is he?
Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and master-
ing it?

251Is he some south-westerner, rais'd out-doors? Is
he Kanadian?
Is he from the Mississippi country? Iowa, Oregon,
California? the mountains? prairie-life, bush-
life? or from the sea?

252Wherever he goes, men and women accept and de-
sire him;
They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to
them, stay with them.

253Behavior lawless as snow-flakes, words simple as
grass, uncomb'd head, laughter, and naiveté,
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.


254Flaunt of the sunshine, I need not your bask,—lie
You light surface only—I force surfaces and depths

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255Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands;
Say, old Top-knot! what do you want?

256Man 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 that pining I have—that pulse of my
nights and days.

257Behold! I do not give lectures or a little charity;
What I give, I give out of myself.

258You there, impotent, loose in the knees!
Open your scarf'd chops till I blow grit within you;
Spread your palms, and lift the flaps of your pockets;
I am not to be denied—I compel—I have stores
plenty and to spare;
And anything I have I bestow.

259I do not ask who you are—that is not so important
to me;
You can do nothing, and be nothing, but what I will
infold you.

260To cotton-field drudge or cleaner of privies I lean;
On his right cheek I put the family kiss,
And deep in my soul I swear, I never will deny him.

261On women fit for conception I start bigger and nim-
bler babes;
This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arrogant

262To 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.

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263I seize the descending man, and raise him with re-
sistless will.

264O despairer, here is my neck;
By God! you shall not go down! Hang your whole
weight upon me.

265I dilate you with tremendous breath—I buoy you
Every room of the house do I fill with an arm'd force,
Lovers of me, bafflers of graves.

266Sleep! I and they keep guard all night;
Not doubt—not decease shall dare to lay finger upon
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.


267I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on
their backs;
And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed

268I 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 all?

269Magnifying and applying come I,
Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,
Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah,
Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and 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 image;

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Taking them all for what they are worth, and not a
cent more;
Admitting they were alive and did the work of their
They bore mites, as for unfledg'd birds, who have now
to rise and fly and sing for themselves;
Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better
in myself—bestowing them freely on each man
and woman I see;
Discovering as much, or more, in a framer framing a
Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd up
sleeves, driving the mallet and chisel;
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;
Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes
no less to me than the Gods of the antique wars;
Minding their voices peal through the crash of de-
Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd 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 bagg'd out at their
The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins
past and to come,
Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee law-
yers 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
The bull and the bug never worship'd half enough;
Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd;

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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 prodigious:
By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator;
Putting myself here and now to the ambush't womb
of the shadows.


270A call in the midst of the crowd;
My own voice, orotund, sweeping, and final.

271Come my children;
Come my boys and girls, my women, household, and
Now the performer launches his nerve—he has pass'd
his prelude on the reeds within.

272Easily written, loose-finger'd chords! I feel the
thrum of your climax and close.

273My head slues round on my neck;
Music rolls, but not from the organ;
Folks are around me, but they are no household of

274Ever 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,
Ever the old inexplicable query—ever that thorn'd
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;
Ever love—ever the sobbing liquid of life;
Ever the bandage under the chin—ever the tressels of

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275Here 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 continually

276This is the city, and I am one of the citizens;
Whatever interests the rest interests me—politics,
markets, newspapers, schools,
Benevolent societies, improvements, banks, tariffs,
steamships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate,
and personal estate.

277The little plentiful mannikins, skipping around in
collars and tail'd coats,
I am aware who they are—(they are actually not worms
or fleas.)

278I acknowledge the duplicates of myself—the weakest
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.

279I know perfectly well my own egotism;
I know my omnivorous lines, and cannot write any less;
And would fetch you, whoever you are, flush with my-

280No words of routine are mine,
But abruptly to question, to leap beyond, yet nearer
This printed and bound book—but the printer, and the
printing-office boy?

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The well-taken photographs—but your wife or friend
close and solid in your arms?
The black ship mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in
her turrets—but the pluck of the captain and
In the houses, 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
The saints and sages in history—but you yourself?
Sermons, creeds, theology—but the fathomless human
And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?


281I do not despise you, priests;
My faith is the greatest of faiths, and the least of
Enclosing 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, powwowing
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 proces-
sion—rapt and austere in the woods, a gymno-
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 cruci-
fied, knowing assuredly that he is divine,

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To the mass kneeling, or the puritan's prayer rising,
or sitting patiently in a pew,
Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting
dead-like till my spirit arouses me,
Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of
pavement and land,
Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.

282One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang, I turn
and talk like a man leaving charges before a

283Down-hearted doubters, dull and excluded,
Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, disheart-
en, atheistical;
I know every one of you—I know the sea of torment,
despair and unbelief.

284How the flukes splash!
How they contort, rapid as lightning, with spasms,
and spouts of blood!

285Be at peace, bloody flukes of doubters and sullen
I take my place among you as much as among any;
The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the
And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me,
all, precisely the same.

286I do not know what is untried and afterward;
But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and can-
not fail.

287Each who passes is consider'd—each who stops is
consider'd—not a single one can it fail.

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288It cannot fail the young man who died and was
Nor the young woman who died and was put by his
Nor the little child that peep'd in at the door, and
then drew back, and was never seen again,
Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and
feels it with bitterness worse than gall,
Nor him in the poor house, turbercled by rum and the
bad disorder,
Nor the numberless slaughter'd and wreck'd—nor the
brutish koboo call'd the ordure of humanity,
Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths for
food to slip in,
Nor anything in the earth, or down in the oldest
graves of the earth,
Nor anything in the myriads of spheres—nor one of
the myriads of myriads that inhabit them,
Nor the present—nor the least wisp that is known.


289It is time to explain myself—Let us stand up.

290What is known I strip away;
I launch all men and women forward with me into

291The clock indicates the moment—but what does
eternity indicate?

292We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.

293Births have brought us richness and variety,
And other births will bring us richness and variety.

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294I do not call one greater and one smaller;
That which fills its period and place is equal to any.

295Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my
brother, my sister?
I am sorry for you—they are not murderous or jeal-
ous upon me;
All has been gentle with me—I keep no account with
(What have I to do with lamentation?)

296I am an acme of things accomplish'd, and I an
encloser of things to be.

297My 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 travel'd, and still I mount and mount.

298Rise 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 fetid

299Long I was hugg'd close—long and long.

300Immense have been the preparations for me,
Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me.

301Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like
cheerful boatmen;
For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings;
They sent influences to look after what was to hold

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302Before I was born out of my mother, generations
guided me;
My embryo has never been torpid—nothing could
overlay it.

303For 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 months,
and deposited it with care.

304All forces have been steadily employ'd to complete
and delight me;
Now on this spot I stand with my robust Soul.


305O span of youth! Ever-push't elasticity!
O manhood, balanced, florid, and full.

306My 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
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.

307Old age superbly rising! O welcome, ineffable grace
of dying days!

308Every condition promulges not only itself—it pro-
mulges what grows after and out of itself,
And the dark hush promulges as much as any.

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309I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled
And all I see, multiplied as high as I can cipher, edge
but the rim of the farther systems.

310Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always
Outward and outward, and forever outward.

311My sun has his sun, and round him obediently
He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit,
And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest
inside them.

312There is no stoppage, and never can be stoppage;
If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon
their surfaces, were this moment reduced back
to a pallid float, it would not avail in the long run;
We should surely bring up again where we now
And as surely go as much farther—and then farther
and farther.

313A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic
leagues, do not hazard the span, or make it
They are but parts—anything is but a part.

314See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of
Count ever so much, there is limitless time around

315My rendezvous is appointed—it is certain;
The Lord will be there, and wait till I come, on perfect
(The great Camerado, the lover true for whom I pine,
will be there.)

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316I know I have the best of time and space, and was
never measured, and never will be measured.

317I tramp a perpetual journey—(come listen all!)
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, or exchange;
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents,
and a plain public road.

318Not I—not any one else, can travel that road for
You must travel it for yourself.

319It 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 land.

320Shoulder your duds, dear son, and I will mine, and
let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as
we go.

321If 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 service to
For after we start, we never lie by again.

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322This day before dawn I ascended a hill, and look'd
at the crowded heaven,
And I said to my Spirit, When we become the enfolders
of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of
everything in them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied
And my Spirit said No, we but level that lift, to pass and
continue beyond.

323You are also asking me questions, and I hear you;
I answer that I cannot answer—you must find out for

324Sit a while, dear son;
Here are biscuits to eat, and here is milk to drink;
But as soon as you sleep, and renew yourself in sweet
clothes, I kiss you with a good-bye kiss, and
open the gate for your egress hence.

325Long enough have you dream'd 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.

326Long 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, and laughingly dash with your


327I 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.

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328The boy I love, the same becomes a man, not
through derived power, but in his own right,
Wicked, rather than virtuous out of conformity or
Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak,
Unrequited love, or a slight, cutting him worse than
sharp steel 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 banjo,
Preferring scars, and the beard, and faces pitted with
small-pox, over all latherers,
And those well tann'd to those that keep out of the sun.

329I 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 them.

330I do not say these things for a dollar, or to fill up
the time while I wait for a boat;
It is you talking just as much as myself—I act as the
tongue of you;
Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen'd.

331I swear I will never again mention love or death in-
side a house,
And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only
to him or her who privately stays with me in
the open air.

332If you would understand me, go to the heights or
The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or mo-
tion of waves a key;
The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words.

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333No shutter'd room or school can commune with me,
But roughs and little children better than they.

334The young mechanic is closest to me—he knows me
The woodman, 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 fisher-
men and seamen, and love them.

335The soldier camp'd, or upon the march, is mine;
On the night ere the pending battle, many seek me,
and I do not fail them;
On the solemn night (it may be their last,) those that
know me, seek me.

336My 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 me;
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.


337I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
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, drest in his shroud,
And I or you, pocketless of a dime, may purchase the
pick of the earth,

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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 wheel'd universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand
cool and composed before a million universes.

338And I say 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.)

339I hear and behold God in every object, yet under-
stand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonder-
ful than myself.

340Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
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 drop't in the street—and every
one is sign'd by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that
wheresoe'er I go,
Others will punctually come forever and ever.


341And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mor-
tality, it is idle to try to alarm me.

342To his work without flinching the accoucheur
I see the elder hand, pressing, receiving, supporting;
I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors,
And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape.

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343And as to you, Corpse, I think you are good man-
nure—but that does not offend me;
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing,
I reach to the leafy lips—I reach to the polish't breasts
of melons.

344And as to you Life, I reckon you are the leavings of
many deaths;
(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times

345I hear you whispering there, O stars of heaven;
O suns! O grass of graves! O perpetual transfers and
If you do not say anything, how can I say anything.

346Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest,
Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing
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.

347I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night;
I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sun-
beams reflected;
And debouch to the steady and central from the off-
spring great or small.


348There is that in me—I do not know what it is—but
I know it is in me.

349Wrench't and sweaty—calm and cool then my body
I sleep—I sleep long.

350I do not know it—it is without name—it is a word
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.

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351Something it swings on more than the earth I swing
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes

352Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for
my brothers and sisters.

353Do 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.

354The past and present wilt—I have fill'd them, emp-
tied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.


355Listener up there! Here you! What have you to
confide to me?
Look in my face, while I snuff the sidle of evening;
Talk honestly—no one else hears you, and I stay only
a minute longer.

356Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself;
I am large—I contain multitudes.

357I concentrate toward them that are nigh—I wait on
the door-slab.

358Who has done his day's work? Who will soonest be
through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?

359Will you speak before I am gone? Will you prove
already too late?


360The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he
complains of my gab and my loitering.

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361I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable;
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

362The last scud of day holds back for me;
It flings my likeness after the rest, and true as any, on
the shadow'd wilds;
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

363I depart as air—I shake my white locks at the run-
away sun;
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

364I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the
grass I love;
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.

365You 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.

366Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged;
Missing me one place, search another;
I stop somewhere, waiting for you.

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To THE garden, the world, anew ascending,
Potent mates, daughters, sons, preluding,
The love, the life of their bodies, meaning and being,
Curious, here behold my resurrection, after slumber;
The revolving cycles, in their wide sweep, having
brought me again,
Amorous, mature—all beautiful to me—all wondrous;
My limbs, and the quivering fire that ever plays through
them, for reasons, most wondrous;
Existing, I peer and penetrate still,
Content with the present—content with the past,
By my side, or back of me, Eve following,
Or in front, and I following her just the same.



FROM pent-up, aching rivers;
From that of myself, without which I were nothing;
From what I am determin'd to make illustrious, even
if I stand sole among men;
From my own voice resonant—singing the phallus,
Singing the song of procreation,

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Singing the need of superb children, and therein superb
grown people,
Singing the muscular urge and the blending,
Singing the bedfellow's song, (O resistless yearning!
O for any and each, the body correlative attracting!
O for you, whoever you are, your correlative body! O
it, more than all else, you delighting!)
—From the hungry gnaw that eats me night and day;
From native moments—from bashful pains—singing
Singing something yet unfound, though I have dili-
gently sought it, many a long year;
Singing the true song of the Soul, fitful, at random;
Singing what, to the Soul, entirely redeem'd her, the
faithful one, even the prostitute, who detain'd
me when I went to the city;
Singing the song of prostitutes;
Renascent with grossest Nature, or among animals;
Of that—of them, and what goes with them, my poems
Of the smell of apples and lemons—of the pairing of
Of the wet of woods—of the lapping of waves,
Of the mad pushes of waves upon the land—I them
The overture lightly sounding—the strain anticipat-
The welcome nearness—the sight of the perfect body;
The swimmer swimming naked in the bath, or motion-
less on his back lying and floating;
The female form approaching—I, pensive, love-flesh
tremulous, aching;
—The slave's body for sale,—I, sternly, with harsh
voice, auctioneering;
The divine list, for myself or you, or for any one, mak-
The face—the limbs—the index from head to foot, and
what it arouses;

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The mystic deliria—the madness amorous—the utter
(Hark close, and still, what I now whisper to you,
I love you—O you entirely possess me,
O I wish that you and I escape from the rest, and go
utterly off—O free and lawless,
Two hawks in the air—two fishes swimming in the sea
not more lawless than we;)
—The furious storm through me careering—I passion-
ately trembling;
The oath of the inseparableness of two together—of
the woman that loves me, and whom I love more
than my life—that oath swearing;
(O I willingly stake all, for you!
O let me be lost, if it must be so!
O you and I—what is it to us what the rest do or
What is all else to us? only that we enjoy each other,
and exhaust each other, if it must be so;)
—From the master—the pilot I yield the vessel to;
The general commanding me, commanding all—from
him permission taking;
From time the programme hastening, (I have loiter'd
too long, as to is;)
From sex—From the warp and from the woof;
(To talk to the perfect girl who understands me,
To waft to her these from my own lips—to effuse them
from my own body;)
From privacy—from frequent repinings alone;
From plenty of persons near, and yet the right person
not near;
From the soft sliding of hands over me, and thrusting
of fingers through my hair and beard;
From the long sustain'd kiss upon the mouth or bosom;
From the close pressure that makes me or any man
drunk, fainting with excess;
From what the divine husband knows—from the work
of fatherhood;

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From exultation, victory, and relief—from the bedfel-
low embrace in the night;
From the act-poems of eyes, hands, hips, and bosoms,
From the cling of the trembling arm,
From the bending curve and the clinch,
From side by side, the pliant coverlid off-throwing,
From the one so unwilling to have me leave—and me
just as unwilling to leave,
(Yet a moment, O tender waiter, and I return;)
—From the hour of shining stars and dropping dews,
From the night, a moment, I, emerging, flitting out,
Celebrate you, act divine—and you, children prepared
And you, stalwart loins.




1 I SING the Body electric;
The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond
to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the
charge of the Soul.

2Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own
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 Soul?

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3The love of the Body of man or woman balks ac-
count—the body itself balks account;
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is

4The expression of the face balks account;
But 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;
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.

5The 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 contour 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 to and
fro 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 perform-
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their
open dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting,
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-setting
trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell
strikes suddenly again, and the listening on the
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes—the bent head,
the curv'd neck, and the counting;
Such-like I love—I loosen myself, pass freely, am at
the mother's breast with the little child,
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march
in line with the firemen, and pause, listen,
and count.


6I knew a man, a common farmer—the father of
five sons;
And in them were the fathers of sons—and in them
were the fathers of sons.

7This man was of wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty
of person;
The shape of his head, the richness and breadth of
his manners, the pale yellow and white of his
hair and beard, and the immeasurable meaning
of his black eyes,
These I used to go and visit him to see—he was wise
He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old—his
sons were massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced,

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They and his daughters loved him—all who saw him
loved him;
They did not love him by allowance—they loved him
with personal love;
He drank water only—the blood show'd like scarlet
through the clear-brown skin of his face;
He was a frequent gunner and fisher—he sail'd 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 gang,
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.


8I have perceiv'd that to be with those I like is
To stop in company with the rest at evening is
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing,
laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them, or touch any one, or 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

9There is something in staying close to men and wo-
men, and looking on them, and in the contact
and odor of them, that pleases the soul well;
All things please the soul—but these please the soul


10This is the female form;
A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot;

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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, and what was
expected of heaven or fear'd of hell, are now
Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the
response likewise ungovernable!
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-flesh'd

11This 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.

12Be not ashamed, women—your privilege encloses
the rest, and is the exit of the rest,
You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates
of the soul.

13The female contains all qualities, and tempers them
—she is in her place, and moves with perfect
She is all things duly veil'd—she is both passive and
She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons
as well as daughters.

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14As 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 see.


15The 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 defiance
become him well;
The wildest largest passions, bliss that is utmost, sor-
row that is utmost, become him well—pride is
for him;
The full-spread pride of man is calming and excellent
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 here?

16The man's body is sacred, and the woman's body is
No matter who it is, it is sacred;
Is it a slave? Is it one of the dull-faced immigrants
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.

17All is a procession;
The universe is a procession, with measured and beau-
tiful motion.

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18Do you know so much yourself, 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
diffuse float—and the soil is on the surface,
and water runs, and vegetation sprouts,
For you only, and not for him and her?


19A man's Body at auction;
I help the auctioneer—the sloven does not half know
his business.

20Gentlemen, 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 roll'd.

21In this head the all-baffling brain;
In it and below it, the makings of heroes.

22Examine these limbs, red, black, or white—they are
so cunning in tendon and nerve;
They shall be stript, that you may see them.

23Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition,
Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant back-bone and neck,
flesh not flabby, good sized arms and legs,
And wonders within there yet.

24Within there runs blood,
The same old blood!
The same red-running blood!
There swells and jets a heart—there all passions, de-
sires, reachings, aspirations;
Do you think they are not there because they are not
express'd in parlors and lecture—rooms?

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25This 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 republics;
Of him countless immortal lives, with countless em-
bodiments and enjoyments.

26How do you know who shall come from the off-
spring of his offspring through the centuries?
Who might you find you have come from yourself, if
you could trace back through the centuries?


27A 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.

28Have 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 earth?

29If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred,
And the glory and sweet of a man, is the token of man-
hood untainted;
And in man or woman, a clean, strong, firm-fibred
body, is beautiful as the most beautiful face.

30Have 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 con-
ceal themselves.

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31O 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, (and that they are the Soul;)
I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my
poems—and that 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 ears,
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,
Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the
neck, neck-slue,
Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoul-
ders, and the ample side-round of the chest,
Upper-arm, arm-pit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-
sinews, arm-bones,
Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb,
fore-finger, finger-balls, finger-joints, finger-
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-
bone, breast-side,
Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the back-bone,
Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward
round, man-balls, man-root,
Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
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

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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, ma-
Womanhood, and all that is a woman—and the man
that comes from woman,
The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laugh-
ter, weeping, love-looks, love-perturbations and
The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shout-
ing aloud,
Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking,
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 the 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 say, these are not the parts and poems of the Body
only, but of the Soul,
O I say now these are the Soul!

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1 A WOMAN waits for me—she contains all, nothing is
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the
moisture of the right man were lacking.

2Sex contains all,
Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies,
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, follow'd persons of
the earth,
These are contain'd in sex, as parts of itself, and jus-
tifications of itself.

3Without shame the man I like knows and avows the
deliciousness of his sex,
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows

4Now 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 suffi-
cient for me:
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me:
I see that they are worthy of me—I will be the robust
husband of those women.

5They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and
blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,

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They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run,
strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend them-
They are ultimate in their own right—they are calm,
clear, well-possess'd of themselves.

6I 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;
Evelop'd in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me:

7It 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 you,
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 entreaties,
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long
accumulated within me.

8Through 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 America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and ath-
letic girls, new artists, musicians, and 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,
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of
them, as I count on the fruits of the gushing
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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The loving day, the mounting sun, the friend I am
happy with,
The arm of my friend hanging idly over my shoulder,
The hill-side whiten'd with blossoms of the mountain
The same, late in autumn—the hues of red, yellow,
drab, purple, and light and dark green,
The rich coverlid of the grass—animals and birds—
the private untrimm'd 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 always
carry, and that all men carry,
(Know, once for all, avow'd on purpose, wherever are
men like me, are our lusty, lurking, masculine
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 press'd and
glued together with love,
Earth of chaste love—life that is only life after love,
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,

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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 till he is satisfied,
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 crush'd sage-plant,
mint, birch-bark,
The boy's longings, the glow and pressure as he con-
fides to me what he was dreaming,
The dead leaf whirling its spiral whirl, and falling
still and content to the ground,
The no-form'd stings that sights, people, objects, sting
me with,
The hubb'd sting of myself, stinging me as much as it
ever can any one,
The sensitive, orbic, underlapp'd brothers, that only
privileged feelers may be intimate where they
The curious roamer, the hand, roaming all over the
body—the bashful withdrawing of flesh where
the fingers soothingly pause and edge them-
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
The young man that flushes and flushes, and the
young woman that flushes and flushes,
The young man that wakes, deep at night, the hot
hand seeking to repress what would master
The mystic amorous night—the strange half-welcome
pangs, visions, sweats,

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The pulse pounding through palms and trembling
encircling fingers—the young man all color'd,
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 turning her
vigilant eyes from them,
The walnut-trunk, the walnut-husks, and the ripening
or ripen'd 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 indecent;
The great chastity of paternity, to match the great
chastity of maternity,
The oath of procreation I have sworn—my Adamic
and fresh daughters,
The greed that eats me day and night with hungry
gnaw, till I saturate what shall produce boys to
fill my place when I am through,
The wholesome relief, repose, content;
And this bunch, pluck'd at random from myself;
It has done its work—I toss it carelessly to fall where
it may.



1 ONE hour to madness and joy!
O furious! O confine me not!
(What is this that frees me so in storms?
What do my shouts amid lightnings and raging winds

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2O to drink the mystic deliria deeper than any
other man!
O savage and tender achings!
(I bequeath them to you, my children,
I tell them to you, for reasons, O bridegroom and

3O to be yielded to you, whoever you are, and you to
be yielded to me, in defiance of the world!
O to return to Paradise! O bashful and feminine!
O to draw you to me—to plant on you for the first
time the lips of a determin'd man!

4O the puzzle—the thrice-tied knot—the deep and
dark pool! O all untied and illumin'd!
O to speed where there is space enough and air
enough at last!
O to be absolv'd from previous ties and conventions—
I from mine, and you from yours!
O to find a new unthought-of nonchalance with the
best of nature!
O to have the gag remov'd from one's mouth!
O to have the feeling, to-day or any day, I am suffi-
cient as I am!

5O something unprov'd! something in a trance!
O madness amorous! O trembling!
O to escape utterly from others' anchors and holds!
To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dan-
To court destruction with taunts—with invitations!
To ascend—to leap to the heavens of the love indicated
to me!
To rise thither with my inebriate Soul!
To be lost, if it must be so!
To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness
and freedom!
With one brief hour of madness and joy.

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WE two—how long we were fool'd!
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape, as Nature escapes;
We are Nature—long have we been absent, but now
we return;
We become plants, leaves, foliage, roots, bark;
We are bedded in the ground—we are rocks;
We are oaks—we grow in the openings side by side;
We browse—we are two among the wild herds, spon-
taneous as any;
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together;
We are what the locust blossoms are—we drop scent
around the lanes, mornings and evenings;
We are also the coarse smut of beats, vegetables,
We are two predatory hawks—we soar above, and look
We are two resplendent suns—we it is who balance
ourselves, orbic and stellar—we are as two
We prowl fang'd and four-footed in the woods—we
spring on prey;
We are two clouds, forenoons and afternoons, driving
We are seas mingling—we are two of those cheerful
waves, rolling over each other, and interwetting
each other;
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive,
pervious, impervious;
We are snow, rain, cold, darkness—we are each pro-
duct and influence of the globe;
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home
again—we two have;
We have voided all but freedom, and all but our own

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NATIVE moments! when you come upon me—Ah you
are here now!
Give me now libidinous joys only!
Give me the drench of my passions! Give me life
coarse and rank!
To-day, I go consort with nature's darlings—to-night too;
I am for those who believe in loose delights—I share
the midnight orgies of young men;
I dance with the dancers, and drink with the drinkers;
The echoes ring with our indecent calls;
I take for my love some prostitute—I pick out some
low person for my dearest friend,
He shall be lawless, rude, illiterate—he shall be one
condemn'd by others for deeds done;
I will play a part no longer—Why should I exile my-
self from my companions?
O you shunn'd persons! I at least do not shun you,
I come forthwith in your midst—I will be your poet,
I will be more to you than to any of the rest.



ONCE I pass'd through a populous city, imprinting my
brain, for future use, with its shows, architec-
ture, customs, and traditions;
Yet now, of all that city, I remember only a woman I
casually met there, who detain'd me for love of
Day by day and night by night we were together,—All
else has long been forgotten by me;
I remember, I say, only that woman who passionately
clung to me;
Again we wander—we love—we separate again;
Again she holds me by the hand—I must not go!
I see her close beside me, with silent lips, sad and

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FACING west, from California's shores,
Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound,
I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of
maternity, the land of migrations, look afar,
Look off the shores of my Western Sea—the circle
almost circled;
For, starting westward from Hindustan, from the vales
of Kashmere,
From Asia—from the north—from the God, the sage,
and the hero,
From the south—from the flowery peninsulas, and the
spice islands;
Long having wander'd since—round the earth having
Now I face home again—very pleas'd and joyous;
(But where is what I started for, so long ago?
And why is it yet unfound?)



AGES and ages, returning at intervals,
Undestroy'd, wandering immortal,
Lusty, phallic, with the potent original loins, perfectly
I, chanter of Adamic songs,
Through the new garden, the West, the great cities
Deliriate, thus prelude what is generated, offering these,
offering myself,
Bathing myself, bathing my songs in Sex,
Offspring of my loins.

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O HYMEN! O Hymenee!
Why do you tantalize me thus?
O why sting me for a swift moment only?
Why can you not continue? O why do you now cease?
Is it because, if you continued beyond the swift mo-
ment, you would soon certainly kill me?



I AM he that aches with amorous love;
Does the earth gravitate? Does not all matter,
aching, attract all matter?
So the Body of me, to all I meet, or know.



AS Adam, early in the morning,
Walking forth from the bower, refresh'd with sleep;
Behold me where I pass—hear my voice—approach,
Touch me—touch the palm of your hand to my Body
as I pass;
Be not afraid of my Body.

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WHO has gone farthest? For I swear I will go farther;
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 lavish'd all? For I lavish constantly the
best I have;
And who has been firmest? For I would be firmer;
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 universe;
And who benevolent? For I would show more be-
nevolence than all the rest;
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 receiv'd 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 enamour'd body?
For I do not believe any one possesses a more
perfect or enamour'd 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 extacy to make joyous
hymns for the whole earth!

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IN paths untrodden,
In the growth by margins of pond-waters,
Escaped from the life that exhibits itself,
From all the standards hitherto publish'd—from the
pleasures, profits, conformities,
Which too long I was offering to feed my Soul;
Clear to me, now, standards not yet publish'd—clear
to me that my Soul,
That the Soul of the man I speak for, feeds, rejoices
in comrades;
Here, by myself, away from the clank of the world,
Tallying and talk'd to here by tongues aromatic,
No longer abash'd—for in this secluded spot I can
respond as I would not dare elsewhere,
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself,
yet contains all the rest,
Resolv'd to sing no songs to-day but those of manly
Projecting them along that substantial life,
Bequeathing, hence, types of athletic love,
Afternoon, this delicious Ninth-month, in my forty-
first year,
I proceed, for all who are, or have been, young men,
To tell the secret of my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades.

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SCENTED herbage of my breast,
Leaves from you I yield, I write, to be perused best
Tomb-leaves, growing up above me, above
Perennial roots, tall leaves—O the winter shall not
freeze you, delicate leaves,
Every year shall you bloom again—Out from where
you retired, you shall emerge again;
O I do not know whether many, passing by, will dis-
cover you, or inhale your faint odor—but I
believe a few will;
O slender leaves! O blossoms of my blood! I permit
you to tell, in your own way, of the heart that
is under you;
O burning and throbbing—surely all will one day be
O I do not know what you mean, there underneath
yourselves—you are not happiness,
You are often more bitter than I can bear—you burn
and sting me,
Yet you are very beautiful to me, you faint-tinged
roots—you make me think of Death,
Death is beautiful from you—(what indeed is beauti-
ful, except Death and Love?)
O I think it is not for life I am chanting here my
chant of lovers—I think it must be for Death,
For how calm, how solemn it grows, to ascend to the
atmosphere of lovers,
Death or life I am then indifferent—my Soul declines
to prefer,
I am not sure but the high Soul of lovers welcomes
death most;
Indeed, O Death, I think now these leaves mean pre-
cisely the same as you mean;

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Grow up taller, sweet leaves, that I may see! grow
up out of my breast!
Spring away from the conceal'd heart there!
Do not fold yourself so in your pink-tinged roots,
timid leaves!
Do not remain down there so ashamed, herbage of my
Come, I am determin'd to unbare this broad breast of
mine—I have long enough stifled and choked:
Emblematic and capricious blades, I leave you—now
you serve me not;
Away! I will say what I have to say, by itself,
I will escape from the sham that was proposed to
I will sound myself and comrades only—I will never
again utter a call, only their call,
I will raise with it, immortal reverberations through
The States,
I will give an example to lovers, to take permanent
shape and will through The States;
Through me shall the words be said to make death
Give me your tone therefore, O Death, that I may
accord with it,
Give me yourself—for I see that you belong to me
now above all, and are folded inseparably to-
gether—you Love and Death are;
Nor will I allow you to balk me any more with what I
was calling life,
For now it is convey'd to me that you are the pur-
ports essential,
That you hide in these shifting forms of life, for reasons
—and that they are mainly for you,
That you, beyond them, come forth, to remain, the
real reality,
That behind the mask of materials you patiently wait,
no matter how long,
That you will one day, perhaps take control of all,

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That you will perhaps dissipate this entire show of
That may be you are what it is all for—but it does not
last so very long,
But you will last very long.


Whoever you are, Holding me now in Hand.

1 WHOEVER you are, holding me now in hand,
Without one thing, all will be useless,
I give you fair warning, before you attempt me
I am not what you supposed, but far different.

2Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?

3The way is suspicious—the result uncertain, perhaps
You would have to give up all else—I alone would ex-
pect to be your God, sole and exclusive,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhaust-
The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity
to the lives around you, would have to be aban-
Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself
any further—Let go your hand from my
Put me down, and depart on your way.

4Or else, by stealth, in some wood, for trial,
Or back of a rock, in the open air,
(For in any roof'd room of a house I emerge not—nor
in company,

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And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn,
or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill—first watch-
ing lest any person, for miles around, ap-
proach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of
the sea, or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss, or the new
husband's kiss,
For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade.

5Or, if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart, or rest
upon your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus, merely touching you, is enough—is best,
And thus, touching you, would I silently sleep and be
carried eternally.

6But these leaves conning, you con at peril,
For these leaves, and me, you will not understand,
They will elude you at first, and still more afterward
—I will certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably
caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.

7For it is not for what I have put into it that I have
written this book,
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,
Nor do those know me best who admire me, and
vauntingly praise me,
Nor will the candidates for my love, (unless at most a
very few,) prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only—they will do just as
much evil, perhaps more;
For all is useless without that which you may guess at
many times and not hit—that which I hinted at;
Therefore release me, and depart on your way.

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THESE, I, singing in spring, collect for lovers,
(For who but I should understand lovers, and all their
sorrow and joy?
And who but I should be the poet of comrades?)
Collecting, I traverse the garden, the world—but soon
I pass the gates,
Now along the pond-side—now wading in a little,
fearing not the wet,
Now by the post-and-rail fences, where the old stones
thrown there, pick'd from the fields, have accu-
Wild-flowers and vines and weeds come up through
the stones, and partly cover them—Beyond
these I pass,
Far, far in the forest, before I think where I go,
Solitary, smelling the earthy smell, stopping now and
then in the silence,
Alone I had thought—yet soon a silent troop gathers
around me,
Some walk by my side, and some behind, and some
embrace my arms or neck,
They, the spirits of friends, dead or alive—thicker
they come, a great crowd, and I in the middle,
Collecting, dispensing, singing in spring, there I wan-
der with them,
Plucking something for tokens—tossing toward who-
ever is near me;
Here! lilac, with a branch of pine,
Here out of my pocket, some moss which I pull'd off
a live-oak in Florida, as it hung trailing down,
Here, some pinks and laurel leaves, and a handful of
And here what I now draw from the water, wading in
the pond-side,
(O here I last saw him that tenderly loves me—and
returns again, never to separate from me,

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And this, O this shall henceforth be the token of com-
rades—this Calamus-root shall,
Interchange it, youths, with each other! Let none
render it back!)
And twigs of maple, and a bunch of wild orange, and
And stems of currants, and plum-blows, and the aro-
matic cedar:
These, I, compass'd around by a thick cloud of spirits,
Wandering, point to, or touch as I pass, or throw them
loosely from me,
Indicating to each one what he shall have—giving
something to each;
But what I drew from the water by the pond-side,
that I reserve,
I will give of it—but only to them that love, as I my-
self am capable of loving.




1COME, I will make the continent indissoluble;
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever yet
shone upon;
I will make divine magnetic lands,
With the love of comrades,
With the life-long love of comrades.


2I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the
rivers of America, and along the shores of the
great lakes, and all over the prairies;
I will make inseparable cities, with their arms about
each other's necks;
By the love of comrades,
By the manly love of comrades.

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3 For you these, from me, O Democracy, to serve you,
ma femme!
For you! for you, I am trilling these songs,
In the love of comrades,
In the high-towering love of comrades.


Not Heaving from my Ribb'd Breast only.

NOT heaving from my ribb'd breast only;
Not in sighs at night, in rage, dissatisfied with myself;
Not in those long-drawn, ill-supprest sighs;
Not in many an oath and promise broken;
Not in my wilful and savage soul's volition;
Not in the subtle nourishment of the air;
Not in this beating and pounding at my temples and
Not in the curious systole and diastole within, which
will one day cease;
Not in many a hungry wish, told to the skies only;
Not in cries, laughter, defiances, thrown from me when
alone, far in the wilds;
Not in husky pantings through clench'd teeth;
Not in sounded and resounded words—chattering
words, echoes, dead words;
Not in the murmurs of my dreams while I sleep,
Nor the other murmurs of these incredible dreams of
every day;
Nor in the limbs and senses of my body, that take you
and dismiss you continually—Not there;
Not in any or all of them, O adhesiveness! O pulse
of my life!
Need I that you exist and show yourself, any more
than in these songs.

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Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances.

OF the terrible doubt of appearances,
Of the uncertainty after all—that we may be deluded,
That may-be reliance and hope are but speculations
after all,
That may-be identity beyond the grave is a beautiful
fable only,
May-be the things I perceive—the animals, plants, men,
hills, shining and flowing waters,
The skies of day and night—colors, densities, forms—
May-be these are, (as doubtless they are,) only
apparitions, and the real something has yet to be
(How often they dart out of themselves, as if to con-
found me and mock me!
How often I think neither I know, nor any man knows,
aught of them;)
May-be seeming to me what they are, (as doubtless
they indeed but seem,) as from my present point
of view—And might prove, (as of course they
would,) naught of what they appear, or naught
anyhow, from entirely changed points of view;
—To me, these, and the like of these, are curiously
answer'd by my lovers, my dear friends;
When he whom I love travels with me, or sits a long
while holding me by the hand,
When the subtle air, the impalpable, the sense that
words and reason hold not, surround us and
pervade us,
Then I am charged with untold and untellable wisdom
—I am silent—I require nothing further,
I cannot answer the question of appearances, or that
of identity beyond the grave;
But I walk or sit indifferent—I am satisfied,
He ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.

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RECORDERS ages hence!
Come, I will take you down underneath this impassive
exterior—I will tell you what to say of me;
Publish my name and hang up my picture as that of
the tenderest lover,
The friend, the lover's portrait, of whom his friend,
his lover, was fondest,
Who was not proud of his songs, but of the measure-
less ocean of love within him—and freely
pour'd it forth,
Who often walk'd lonesome walks, thinking of his
dear friends, his lovers,
Who pensive, away from one he lov'd, often lay sleep-
less and dissatisfied at night,
Who knew too well the sick, sick dread lest the one
he lov'd might secretly be indifferent to him,
Whose happiest days were far away, through fields,
in woods, on hills, he and another, wandering
hand in hand, they twain, apart from other
Who oft as he saunter'd the streets, curved with his
arm the shoulder of his friend—while the arm
of his friend rested upon him also.


When I Heard at the Close of the Day.

WHEN I heard at the close of the day how my name
had been receiv'd with plaudits in the capitol,
still it was not a happy night for me that fol-
And else, when I carous'd, or when my plans were
accomplish'd, still I was not happy;
But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of
perfect health, refresh'd, singing, inhaling the
ripe breath of autumn,

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When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and
disappear in the morning light,
When I wander'd alone over the beach, and undress-
ing, bathed, laughing with the cool waters, and
saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my dear friend, my lover,
was on his way coming, O then I was happy;
O then each breath tasted sweeter—and all that day
my food nourish'd me more—and the beautiful
day pass'd well,
And the next came with equal joy—and with the next,
at evening, came my friend;
And that night, while all was still, I heard the waters
roll slowly continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands, as
directed to me, whispering, to congratulate me,
For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the
same cover in the cool night,
In the stillness, in the autumn moonbeams, his face
was inclined toward me,
And his arm lay lightly around my breast—and that
night I was happy.


Are you the New Person Drawn Toward me?

ARE you the new person drawn toward me?
To begin with, take warning—I am surely far differ-
ent from what you suppose;
Do you suppose you will find in me your ideal?
Do you think it so easy to have me become your
Do you think the friendship of me would be unalloy'd
Do you think I am trusty and faithful?

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Do you see no further than this façade—this smooth
and tolerant manner of me?
Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground
toward a real heroic man?
Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all
maya, illusion?


Roots and Leaves Themselves Alone.

ROOTS and leaves themselves alone are these;
Scents brought to men and women from the wild
woods, and from the pond-side,
Breast-sorrel and pinks of love—fingers that wind
around tighter than vines,
Gushes from the throats of birds, hid in the foliage
of trees, as the sun is risen;
Breezes of land and love—breezes set from living
shores out to you on the living sea—to you,
O sailors!
Frost-mellow'd berries, and Third-month twigs,
offer'd fresh to young persons wandering out
in the fields when the winter breaks up,
Love-buds, put before you and within you, whoever
you are,
Buds to be unfolded on the old terms;
If you bring the warmth of the sun to them, they
will open, and bring form, color, perfume, to
If you become the aliment and the wet, they will
become flowers, fruits, tall branches and trees.

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Not Heat Flames up and Consumes.

NOT heat flames up and consumes,
Not sea-waves hurry in and out,
Not the air, delicious and dry, the air of the ripe
summer, bears lightly along white down-balls
of myriads of seeds,
Wafted, sailing gracefully, to drop where they may;
Not these—O none of these, more than the flames of
me, consuming, burning for his love whom I
O none, more than I, hurrying in and out;
Does the tide hurry, seeking something, and never
give up? O I the same;
O nor down-balls, nor perfumes, nor the high, rain-
emitting clouds, are borne through the open
Any more than my Soul is borne through the open
Wafted in all directions, O love, for friendship, for



TRICKLE, drops! my blue veins leaving!
O drops of me! trickle, slow drops,
Candid, from me falling—drip, bleeding drops,
From wounds made to free you whence you were
From my face—from my forehead and lips,
From my breast—from within where I was conceal'd
—press forth, red drops—confession drops;
Stain every page—stain every song I sing, every word
I say, bloody drops;

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Let them know your scarlet heat—let them glisten;
Saturate them with yourself, all ashamed and wet;
Glow upon all I have written or shall write, bleeding
Let it all be seen in your light, blushing drops.


Of Him I Love Day and Night.

OF him I love day and night, I dream'd I heard he was
And I dream'd I went where they had buried him I love
—but he was not in that place;
And I dream'd I wander'd, searching among burial-
places, to find him;
And I found that every place was a burial-place;
The houses full of life were equally full of death, (this
house is now;)
The streets, the shipping, the places of amusement,
the Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, the Manna-
hatta, were as full of the dead as of the living,
And fuller, O vastly fuller, of the dead than of the
—And what I dream'd I will henceforth tell to every
person and age,
And I stand henceforth bound to what I dream'd;
And now I am willing to disregard burial-places, and
dispense with them;
And if the memorials of the dead were put up indif-
ferently everywhere, even in the room where I
eat or sleep, I should be satisfied;
And if the corpse of any one I love, or if my own
corpse, be duly render'd to powder, and pour'd
in the sea, I shall be satisfied;
Or if it be distributed to the winds, I shall be sat-

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CITY of orgies, walks and joys!
City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst
will one day make you illustrious,
Not the pageants of you—not your shifting tableaux,
your spectacles, repay me;
Not the interminable rows of your houses—nor the
ships at the wharves,
Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright win-
dows, with goods in them;
Nor to converse with learn'd persons, or bear my share
in the soiree or feast;
Not those—but, as I pass, O Manhattan! your fre-
quent and swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering response to my own—these repay me;
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.



BEHOLD this swarthy face, this unrefined face—these
gray eyes,
This beard—the white wool, unclipt upon my neck,
My brown hands, and the silent manner of me, with-
out charm;
Yet comes one, a Manhattanese, and ever at parting,
kisses me lightly on the lips with robust love,
And I, in the public room, or on the crossing of the
street, or on the ship's deck, kiss him in return;
We observe that salute of American comrades, land
and sea,
We are those two natural and nonchalant persons.

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I saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing.

I SAW in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it, and the moss hung down from the
Without any companion it grew there, uttering joyous
leaves of dark green,
And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think
of myself;
But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves,
standing alone there, without its friend, its
lover near—for I knew I could not;
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of
leaves upon it, and twined around it a little
And brought it away—and I have placed it in sight in
my room;
It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of
Yet it remains to me a curious token—it makes me
think of manly love;
—For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there
in Louisiana, solitary, in a wide flat space,
Uttering joyous leaves all its life, without a friend, a
lover, near,
I know very well I could not.


That Music Always Round Me.

THAT music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning
—yet long untaught I did not hear;
But now the chorus I hear, and am elated;
A tenor, strong, ascending, with power and health,
with glad notes of day-break I hear,

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A soprano, at intervals, sailing buoyantly over the
tops of immense waves,
A transparent base, shuddering lusciously under and
through the universe,
The triumphant tutti—the funeral wailings, with
sweet flutes and violins—all these I fill myself
I hear not the volumes of sound merely—I am moved
by the exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out,
striving, contending with fiery vehemence to
excel each other in emotion,
I do not think the peformers know themselves—but
now I think I begin to know them.



PASSING stranger! you do not know how longingly I
look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking,
(it comes to me, as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affection-
ate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl
with me,
I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has
become not yours only, nor left my body mine
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as
we pass—you take of my beard, breast, hands,
in return,
I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when
I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

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This Moment, Yearning and Thoughtful.

THIS moment yearning and thoughtful, sitting alone,
It seems to me there are other men in other lands,
yearning and thoughtful;
It seems to me I can look over and behold them, in
Prussia, Italy, France, Spain—or far, far away,
in China, or in Russia or India—talking other
And it seems to me if I could know those men, I
should become attached to them, as I do to men
in my own lands;
O I know we should be brethren and lovers,
I know I should be happy with them.


I Hear it was Charged Against Me.

I HEAR it was charged against me that I sought to
destroy institutions;
But really I am neither for nor against institutions;
(What indeed have I in common with them?—Or
what with the destruction of them?)
Only I will establish in the Mannahatta, and in every
city of These States, inland and seaboard,
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel
little or large, that dents the water,
Without edifices, or rules, or trustees, or any argu-
The institution of the dear love of comrades.

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The Prairie-Grass Dividing.

THE prairie-grass dividing—its special odor breathing,
I demand of it the spiritual corresponding,
Demand the most copious and close companionship
of men,
Demand the blades to rise of words, acts, beings,
Those of the open atmosphere, coarse, sunlit, fresh,
Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with
freedom and command—leading, not following,
Those with a never-quell'd audacity—those with sweet
and lusty flesh, clear of taint,
Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents
and Governors, as to say, Who are you?
Those of earth-born passion, simple, never constrain'd'
never obedient,
Those of inland America.


We Two Boys Together Clinging.

WE two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going—North and South
excursions making,
Power enjoying—elbows stretching—fingers clutch-
Armed and fearless—eating, drinking, sleeping, lov-
No law less than ourselves owning—sailing, soldiering,
thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials, priests alarming—air breathing, water
drinking, on the turf of the sea-beach dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking,
feebleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.

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O Living Always—Always Dying!

O LIVING always—always dying!
O the burials of me, past and present!
O me, while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperi-
ous as ever!
O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not
—I am content;)
O to disengage myself from those corpses of me,
which I turn and look at, where I cast them!
To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the
corpses behind!


When I Peruse the Conquer'd Fame.

WHEN I peruse the conquer'd fame of heroes, and the
victories of mighty generals, I do not envy the
Nor the President in his Presidency, nor the rich in
his great house;
But when I read of the brotherhood of lovers, how it
was with them,
How through life, through dangers, odium, unchang-
ing, long and long,
Through youth, and through middle and old age, how
unfaltering, how affectionate and faithful they
Then I am pensive—I hastily put down the book, and
walk away, fill'd with the bitterest envy.



A GLIMPSE, through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room,
around the stove, late of a winter night—And I
unremark'd, seated in a corner;

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Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, silently
approaching, and seating himself near, that he
may hold me by the hand;
A long while, amid the noises of coming and going—
of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together,
speaking little, perhaps not a word.



A PROMISE to California,
Also to the great Pastoral Plains, and for Oregon:
Sojourning east a while longer, soon I travel toward
you, to remain, to teach robust American love;
For I know very well that I and robust love belong
among you, inland, and along the Western
For These States tend inland, and toward the Western
Sea—and I will also.



WHAT ship, puzzled at sea, cons for the true reckon-
Or, coming in, to avoid the bars, and follow the chan-
nel, a perfect pilot needs?
Here, sailor! Here, ship! take aboard the most perfect
Whom, in a little boat, putting off, and rowing, I,
hailing you, offer.

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HERE the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-
Here I shade down and hide my thoughts—I do not
expose them,
And yet they expose me more than all my other



WHAT think you I take my pen in hand to record?
The battle-ship, perfect-model'd, majestic, that I saw
pass the offing to-day under full sail?
The splendors of the past day? Or the splendor of the
night that envelops me?
Or the vaunted glory and growth of the great city
spread around me?—No;
But I record of two simple men I saw to-day, on the
pier, in the midst of the crowd, parting the part-
ing of dear friends;
The one to remain hung on the other's neck, and pas-
sionately kiss'd him,
While the one to depart, tightly prest the one to
remain in his arms.



No labor-saving machine,
Nor discovery have I made;
Nor will I be able to leave behind me any wealthy
bequest to found a hospital or library,
Nor reminiscence of any deed of courage, for America,
Nor literary success, nor intellect—nor book for the
Only a few carols, vibrating through the air, I leave,
For comrades and lovers.

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I DREAM'D in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the
attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;
I dream'd that was the new City of Friends;
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust
love—it led the rest;
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of
that city,
And in all their looks and words.



To the East and to the West;
To the man of the Seaside State, and of Pennsylvania,
To the Kanadian of the North—to the Southerner I
These, with perfect trust, to depict you as myself—the
germs are in all men;
I believe the main purport of These States is to found
a superb friendship, exalté, previously unknown,
Because I perceive it waits, and has been always wait-
ing, latent in all men.



EARTH! my likeness!
Though you look so impassive, ample and spheric
I now suspect that is not all;
I now suspect there is something fierce in you, eligible
to burst forth;
For an athlete is enamour'd of me—and I of him,
But toward him there is something fierce and terrible
in me, eligible to burst forth,
I dare not tell it in words—not even in these songs.

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A LEAF for hand in hand!
You natural persons old and young!
You on the Mississippi, and on all the branches and
bayous of the Mississippi!
You friendly boatmen and mechanics! You roughs!
You twain! And all processions moving along the
I wish to infuse myself among you till I see it com-
mon for you to walk hand in hand!



FAST-ANCHOR'D, eternal, O love! O woman I love;
O bride! O wife! more resistless than I can tell, the
thought of you!
Then separate, as disembodied, or another born,
Ethereal, the last athletic reality, my consolation;
I ascend—I float in the regions of your love, O man,
O sharer of my roving life.



SOMETIMES with one I love, I fill myself with rage, for
fear I effuse unreturn'd love;
But now I think there is no unreturn'd love—the pay
is certain, one way or another;
(I loved a certain person ardently, and my love was
not return'd;
Yet out of that, I have written these songs.)

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THAT shadow, my likeness, that goes to and fro, seek-
ing a livelihood, chattering, chaffering;
How often I find myself standing and looking at it
where it flits;
How often I question and doubt whether that is really
But in these, and among my lovers, and carolling my
O I never doubt whether that is really me.



1 AMONG the men and women, the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine
Acknowledging none else—not parent, wife, husband,
brother, child, any nearer than I am;
Some are baffled—But that one is not—that one knows

2Ah, lover and perfect equal!
I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint
And I, when I meet you, mean to discover you by the
like in you.



O BOY of the West!
To you many things to absorb, I teach, to help you
become eleve of mine:
Yet if blood like mine circle not in your veins;
If you be not silently selected by lovers, and do not
silently select lovers,
Of what use is it that you seek to become eleve of

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O YOU whom I often and silently come where you are,
that I may be with you;
As I walk by your side, or sit near, or remain in the
same room with you,
Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your
sake is playing within me.



1 FULL of life, now, compact, visible,
I, forty years old the Eighty-third Year of The States,
To one a century hence, or any number of centuries
To you, yet unborn, these seeking you.

2When you read these, I, that was visible, am become
Now it is you, compact, visible, realizing my poems,
seeking me;
Fancying how happy you were, if I could be with you,
and become your loving comrade;
Be it as if I were with you. Be not too certain but I
am now with you.

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1O TAKE my hand, Walt Whitman!
Such gliding wonders! such sights and sounds!
Such join'd unended links, each hook'd to the next!
Each answering all—each sharing the earth with all.

2What widens within you, Walt Whitman?
What waves and soils exuding?
What climes? what persons and lands are here?
Who are the infants? some playing, some slumbering?
Who are the girls? who are the married women?
Who are the three old men going slowly with their
arms about each others' necks?
What rivers are these? what forests and fruits are
What are the mountains call'd that rise so high in the
What myriads of dwellings are they, fill'd with


3Within me latitude widens, longitude lengthens;
Asia, Africa, Europe, are to the east—America is pro-
vided for in the west;
Banding the bulge of the earth winds the hot equator,
Curiously north and south turn the axis-ends;
Within me is the longest day—the sun wheels in slant-
ing rings—it does not set for months?

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Stretch'd in due time within me the midnight sun just
rises above the horizon, and sinks again;
Within me zones, seas, cataracts, plants, volcanoes,
Malaysia, Polynesia, and the great West Indian


4What do you hear, Walt Whitman?

5I 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 quick rifle-cracks from the riflemen of East
Tennessee and Kentucky, hunting on hills;
I hear emulous shouts of Australians, pursuing the
wild horse;
I hear the Spanish dance, with castanets, in the chest-
nut shade, to the rebeck and guitar;
I hear continual echoes from the Thames;
I hear fierce French liberty songs;
I hear of the Italian boat-sculler the musical recita-
tive of old poems;
I hear the Virginia plantation chorus of negroes, of a
harvest night, in the glare of pine knots;
I hear the strong baritone of the 'long-shore-men of
I hear the stevedores unlading the cargoes, and sing-
I hear the screams of the water-fowl of solitary north-
west 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 sundown, pensively
falling on the breast of the black venerable vast
mother, the Nile;

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I hear the bugles of raft-tenders on the streams of
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
I hear the Christian priests at the altars of their
churches—I hear the responsive base and
I hear the wail of utter despair of the white-hair'd
Irish grand-parents, when they learn the death
of their grandson;
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, fasten'd together with wrist-chains
and ankle-chains;
I hear the entreaties of women tied up for punishment
—I hear the sibilant whisk of thongs through
the air;
I hear the Hebrew reading his records and psalms;
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


6What do you see, Walt Whitman?
Who are they you salute, and that one after another
salute you?

7I see a great round wonder rolling through the air;
I see diminute farms, hamlets, ruins, grave-yards,
jails, factories, palaces, hovels, huts of barba-
rians, tents of nomads, upon the surface;

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I see the shaded part on one side, where the sleepers
are sleeping—and the sun-lit part on the other
I see the curious silent change of the light and shade,
I see distant lands, as real and near to the inhabitants
of them, as my land is to me,

8I see plenteous waters;
I see mountain peaks—I see the sierras of Andes and
Alleghanies, where they range;
I see plainly the Himalayas, Chian Shahs, Altays,
I see the Rocky Mountains, and the Peak of Winds;
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
I see Vesuvius and Etna—I see the Anahuacs;
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 Cor-
I see the vast deserts of Western America;
I see the Lybian, Arabian, and Asiatic deserts;
I see huge dreadful Arctic and Antartic 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-sunn'd Mediterranean, and from one to an-
other of its islands,
The inland fresh-tasted seas of North America,
The White Sea, and the sea around Greenland.

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9I behold the mariners of the world;
Some are in storms—some in the night, with the
watch on the lookout;
Some drifting helplessly—some with contagious dis-

10I behold the sail and steamships of the world, some
in clusters in port, some on their voyages;
Some double the Cape of Storms—some Cape Verde,
—others Cape Guardafui, Bon, or Bajadore;
Others Dondra Head—others pass the Straits of Sun-
da—others Cape Lopatka—others Behring's
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 Hook;
Others to the comers and goers at Gibraltar, or the
Others sternly push their way through the northern
Others descend or ascend the Obi or the Lena:
Others the Niger or the Congo—others the Indus, the
Burampooter and Cambodia;
Others wait at the wharves of Manhattan, steam'd up,
ready to start;
Wait, swift and swarthy, in the ports of Australia;
Wait at Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, Marseilles, Lis-
bon, Naples, Hamburg, Bremen, Bordeaux, the
Hague, Copenhagen;
Wait at Valparaiso, Rio Janeiro, Panama;
Wait at their moorings at Boston, Philadelphia, Balti-
more, Charleston, New Orleans, Galveston, San

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11I see the tracks of the rail-roads of the earth;
I see them welding State to State, city to city, through
North America;
I see them in Great Britain, I see them in Europe;
I see them in Asia and in Africa.

12I see the electric telegraphs of the earth;
I see the filaments of the news of the wars, deaths,
losses, gains, passions, of my race.

13I see the long river-stripes of the earth;
I see where the Mississippi flows—I see where the
Columbia flows;
I see the Great River, and the Falls of Niagara;
I see the Amazon and the Paraguay;
I see the four great rivers of China, the Amour, the
Yellow River, the Yiang-tse, and the Pearl;
I see where the Seine flows, and where the Loire, the
Rhone, and the Guadalquiver flow;
I see the windings of the Volga, the Dnieper, the
I see the Tuscan going down the Arno, and the Vene-
tian along the Po;
I see the Greek seaman sailing out of Egina bay.


14I see the site of the old empire of Assyria, and that
of Persia, and that of India;
I see the falling of the Ganges over the high rim of

15I 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;

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I see where druids walked the groves of Mona—I see
the mistletoe and vervain;
I see the temples of the deaths of the bodies of Gods
—I see the old signifiers.

16I 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 Hercu-
les, toil'd faithfully and long, and then died;
I see the place of the innocent rich life and hapless
fate of the beautiful nocturnal son, the full-
limb Bacchus;
I see Kneph, blooming, drest 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 banish'd from
my true country—I now go back there,
I return to the celestial sphere, where every one goes in
his turn.


17I see the battle-fields of the earth—grass grows up-
on them, and blossoms and corn;
I see the tracks of ancient and modern expeditions.

18I see the nameless masonries, venerable messages of
the unknown events, heroes, records of the earth.

19I see the places of the sagas;
I see pine-trees and fir-trees torn by northern blasts;
I see granite boulders and cliffs—I see green meadows
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 refresh'd by storms, im-
mensity, liberty, action.

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20I see the steppes of Asia;
I see the tumuli of Mongolia—I see the tents of Kal-
mucks and Baskirs;
I see the nomadic tribes, with herds of oxen and cows;
I see the table-lands notch'd with ravines—I see the
jungles and deserts;
I see the camel, the wild steed, the bustard, the fat-
tail sheep, the antelope, and the burrowing

21I see the high-lands of Abyssinia;
I see flocks of goats feeding, and see the fig-tree,
tamarind, date,
And see fields of teff-wheat, and see the places of
verdure and gold.

22I see the Brazilian vaquero;
I see the Bolivian ascending Mount Sorata;
I see the Wacho crossing the plains—I see the incom-
parable rider of horses with his lasso on his
I see over the pampas the pursuit of wild cattle for
their hides.


23I see little and large sea-dots, some inhabited, some
I see two boats with nets, lying off the shore of Pau-
manok, quite still;
I see ten fishermen waiting—they discover now a
thick school of mossbonkers—they drop the
join'd sein-ends in the water,
The boats separate—they diverge and row off, each on
its rounding course to the beach, enclosing the
The net is drawn in by a windlass by those who stop
Some of the fishermen lounge in their boats—others
stand negligently ankle-deep in the water,
poised on strong legs;

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The boats are partly drawn up—the water slaps
against them;
On the sand, in heaps and winrows, well out from the
water, lie the green-back'd spotted mossbonkers.


24I see the despondent red man in the west, lingering
about the banks of Moingo, and about Lake
He has heard the quail and beheld the honey-bee, and
sadly prepared to depart.

25I 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 lance;
I see the Siberian on his slight-built sledge, drawn by
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 Switzer-
land—I mark the long winters, and the iso-

26I see the cities of the earth, and make myself at
random a part of them;
I am a real Parisian;
I am a habitan of Vienna, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Con-
I am of Adelaide, Sidney, Melbourne;
I am of London, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh,
I am of Madrid, Cadiz, Barcelona, Oporto, Lyons,
Brussels, Berne, Frankfort, Stuttgart, Turin,
I belong in Moscow, Cracow, Warsaw—or northward
in Christiania or Stockholm—or in Siberian
Irkutsk—or in some street in Iceland;
I descend upon all those cities, and rise from them

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27I see vapors exhaling from unexplored countries;
I see the savage types, the bow and arrow, the pois-
on splint, the fetish, and the obi.

28I see African and Asiatic towns;
I see Algiers, Tripoli, Derne, Mogadore, Timbuctoo,
I see the swarms of Pekin, Canton, Benares, Delhi,
Calcutta, Yedo;
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 toiling
I see Egypt and the Egyptians—I see the pyramids
and obelisks;
I look on chisel'd histories, songs, philosophies, cut
in slabs of sand-stone, or on granite blocks;
I see at Memphis mummy-pits, containing mummies.
embalm'd, 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

29I 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.

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30I 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.


31You, where you are!
You daughter or son of England!
You of the mighty Slavic tribes and empires! you
Russ in Russia!
You dim-descended, black, divine-soul'd African, large,
fine-headed, nobly-form'd, superbly destin'd, 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! Swabian! Saxon!
Wallachian! Bulgarian!
You citizen of Prague! Roman! Neapolitan! Greek!
You lithe matador in the arena at Seville!
You mountaineer living lawlessly on the Taurus or
You Bokh horse-herd, watching your mares and stal-
lions feeding!
You beautiful-bodied Persian, at full speed in the sad-
dle, shooting arrows to the mark!
You Chinaman and Chinawoman of China! you Tar-
tar of Tartary!

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You women of the earth subordinated at your tasks!
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 Messiah!
You thoughtful Armenian, pondering by some stream
of the Euphrates! you peering amid the ruins
of Nineveh! you ascending Mount Ararat!
You foot-worn pilgrim welcoming the far-away sparkle
of the minarets of Mecca!
You sheiks along the stretch from Suez to Babelman-
deb, ruling your families and tribes!
You olive-grower tending your fruit on fields of Naz-
areth, Damascus, or Lake Tiberias!
You Thibet trader on the wide inland, or bargaining
in the shops of Lassa!
You Japanese man or woman! you liver in Madagas-
car, Ceylon, Sumatra, Borneo!
All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe, Austra-
lia, indifferent of place!
All you on the numberless islands of the archipela-
goes of the sea!
And you of centuries hence, when you listen to me!
And you, each and everywhere, whom I specify not,
but include just the same!
Health to you! Good will to you all—from me and
America sent.

32Each of us inevitable;
Each of us limitless—each of us with his or her right
upon the earth;
Each of us allow'd the eternal purports of the earth;
Each of us here as divinely as any is here.


33You Hottentot with clicking palate! You wolly-
hair hordes!
You own'd persons, dropping sweat-drops or blood-

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You human forms with the fathomless ever-impressive
countenances of brutes!
I dare not refuse you—the scope of the world, and of
time and space, are upon me.

34You 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 dwarf'd Kamtschatkan, Greenlander, Lapp!
You Austral negro, naked, red, sooty, with protrusive
lip, grovelling, seeking your food!
You Caffre, Berber, Soudanese!
You haggard, uncouth, untutor'd Bedowee!
You plague-swarms in Madras, Nankin, Kaubul, Cairo!
You bather bathing in the Ganges!
You benighted roamer of Amazonia! you Patagonian!
you Fejee-man!
You peon of Mexico! you slave of Carolina, Texas,
I do not prefer others so very much before you either;
I do not say one word against you, away back there,
where you stand;
(You will come forward in due time to my side.)

35My spirit has pass'd in compassion and determina-
tion around the whole earth;
I have look'd for equals and lovers, and found them
ready for me in all lands;
I think some divine rapport has equalized me with


36O vapors! I think I have risen with you, and moved
away to distant continents, and fallen down there,
for reasons;
I think I have blown with you, O winds;
O waters, I have finger'd every shore with you.

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37I have run through what any river or strait of the
globe has run through;
I have taken my stand on the bases of peninsulas, and
on the highest embedded rocks, to cry thence.

38 Salut au Monde!
What cities the light or warmth penetrates, I pen-
etrate those cities myself;
All islands to which birds wing their way, I wing my
way myself.

39Toward all,
I raise high the perpendicular hand—I make the
To remain after me in sight forever,
For all the haunts and homes of men.



WHAT place is besieged, and vainly tries to raise the
Lo! I send to that place a commander, swift, brave,
And with him horse and foot—and parks of artillery,
And artillerymen, the deadliest that ever fired gun.

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1 THERE was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he be-
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.

2The 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 phoebe-
And the Third-month 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.

3The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month
became part of him;
Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow
corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover'd with blossoms, and the
fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the com-
monest weeds by the road;

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And the old drunkard staggering home from the out-
house of the tavern, whence he had lately risen,
And the school-mistress that pass'd on her way to the
And the friendly boys that pass'd—and the quarrel-
some boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek'd girls—and the bare-
foot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country, wherever he

4His own parents;
He that had father'd him, and she that had conceiv'd
him in her womb, and birth'd him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that;
They gave him afterward every day—they became part
of him.

5The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on
the supper-table;
The mother with mild words—clean her cap and gown.
a wholesome odor falling off her person and
clothes as she walks by;
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger'd.
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the
crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the fur-
niture—the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay'd—the sense of what
is real—the thought if, after all, it should prove
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 they?

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The streets themselves, and the façades of houses, and
goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank'd 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-tow'd astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests,
The strata of color'd clouds, the long bar of maroon-
tint, away solitary by itself—the spread of pur-
ity it lies motionless in,
The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance
of salt-marsh and shore-mud;
These became part of that child who went forth every
day, and who now goes, and will always go forth
every day.



1 MYSELF and mine gymnastic ever,
To stand the cold or heat—to take good aim with a
gun—to sail a boat—to manage horses—to be-
get superb children,
To speak readily and clearly—to feel at home among
common people,
And to hold our own in terrible positions, on land
and sea.

2Not for an embroiderer;
(There will always be plenty of embroiderers—I wel-
come them also;)
But for the fibre of things, and for inherent men and

3Not to chisel ornaments,

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But to chisel with free stroke the heads and limbs of
plenteous Supreme Gods, that The States may
realize them, walking and talking.

4Let me have my own way;
Let others promulge the laws—I will make no account
of the laws;
Let others praise eminent men and hold up peace—
I hold up agitation and conflict;
I praise no eminent man—I rebuke to his face the one
that was thought most worthy.

5(Who are you? you mean devil! And what are you
secretly guilty of, all your life?
Will you turn aside all your life? Will you grub and
chatter all your life?)

6(And who are you—blabbing by rote, years, pages,
languages, reminiscences,
Unwitting to-day that you do not know how to speak
a single word?)

7Let others finish specimens—I never finish speci-
I shower them by exhaustless laws, as nature does,
fresh and modern continually.

8I give nothing as duties;
What others give as duties, I give as living impulses;
(Shall I give the heart's action as a duty?)

9Let others dispose of questions—I dispose of noth-
ing—I arouse unanswerable questions;
Who are they I see and touch, and what about them?
What about these likes of myself, that draw me so close
by tender directions and indirections?

10I call to the world to distrust the accounts of my
friends, but listen to my enemies—as I myself do;

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I charge you, too, forever, reject those who would ex-
pound me—for I cannot expound myself;
I charge that there be no theory or school founded out
of me;
I charge you to leave all free, as I have left all free.

11After me, vista!
O, I see life is not short, but immeasurably long;
I henceforth tread the world, chaste, temperate, an
early riser, a steady grower,
Every hour the semen of centuries—and still of cen-

12I will follow up these continual lessons of the air,
water, earth;
I perceive I have no time to lose.



1 WHO learns my lesson complete?
Boss, journeyman, apprentice—churchman and athe-
The stupid and the wise thinker—parents and off-
spring—merchant, clerk, porter, and customer,
Editor, author, artist, and schoolboy—Draw nigh and
It is no lesson—it lets down the bars to a good lesson,
And that to another, and every one to another still.

2The 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

3I 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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4I cannot say to any person what I hear—I cannot
say it to myself—it is very wonderful.

5It is no small matter, this round and delicious globe.
moving so exactly in its orbit forever and ever,
without one jolt, or the untruth of a single
I do not think it was made in six days, nor in ten
thousand years, nor ten billions of years,
Nor plann'd and built one thing after another, as an
architect plans and builds a house.

6I do not think seventy years is the time of a man or
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.

7Is 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 conceived in my
mother's womb is equally wonderful;
And pass'd from a babe, in the creeping trance of
a couple of summers and winters, to articulate
and walk—All this is equally wonderful.

8And 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.

9And 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.

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10And 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.



1 WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking the walks of
I fear those supposed 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, dying.

2Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you,
that you be my poem;
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none
better than you.

3O I have been dilatory and dumb;
I should have made my way straight to you long ago;
I should have blabb'd nothing but you, I should have
chanted nothing but you.

4I will leave all, and come and make the hymns of
None have understood you, but I understand you;
None have done justice to you—you have not done
justice to yourself;

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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 intrinsically in

5Painters have painted their swarming groups, and
the centre figure of all;
From the head of the centre figure spreading a nim-
bus of gold-color'd light;
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head with-
out its nimbus of gold-color'd light;
From my hand, from the brain of every man and
woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.

6O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about
You have not known what you are—you have slum-
ber upon yourself all your life;
Your eye-lids have been the same as closed most of
the time;
What you have done returns already in mockeries;
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return
in mockeries, what is their return?)

7The 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 accustom'd routine, if these conceal you from
others, or from yourself, they do not conceal you
from me;
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure com-
plexion, if these balk others, they do not balk
The pert apparel, the deform'd attitude, drunkenness,
greed, premature death, all these I part aside.

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8There is no endowment in man or woman that is
not tallied in you;
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
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure
waits for you.

9As 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 you.

10Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the east and west are tame compared
to you;
These immense meadows—these interminable rivers—
you are immense and interminable as they;
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.

11The hopples fall from your ankles—you find an un-
failing sufficiency;
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by
the rest, whatever you are promulges itself;
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are pro-
vided, nothing is scanted;
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui,
what you are picks it way.

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HOW they are provided for upon the earth, (appearing
at intervals;)
How dear and dreadful they are to the earth;
How they inure to themselves as much as to any—
What a paradox appears, their age;
How people respond to them, yet know them not;
How there is something relentless in their fate, all
How all times mischoose the objects of their adulation
and reward,
And how the same inexorable price must still be paid
for the same great purchase.



ALL submit to them, where they sit, inner, secure,
unapproachable to analysis, in the Soul;
Not traditions—not the outer authorities are the
judges—they are the judges of outer authori-
ties, and of all traditions;
They corroborate as they go, only whatever corrobo-
rates themselves, and touches themselves;
For all that, they have it forever in themselves to
corroborate far and near, without one excep-



ONLY themselves understand themselves, and the like
of themselves,
As Souls only understand Souls.

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1 WEAPON, 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 lean'd, 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;
Welcome the rich borders of rivers, table-lands,

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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
clear'd for a garden,
The irregular tapping of rain down on the leaves,
after the storm is lull'd,
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-fashion'd
houses and barns;
The remember'd 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, saddle-
The beauty of all adventurous and daring persons,
The beauty of wood-boys and wood-men, with their
clear untrimm'd faces,
The beauty of independence, departure, actions that
rely on themselves,
The American contempt for statutes and ceremonies,
the boundless impatience of restraint,

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The loose drift of character, the inkling through ran-
dom types, the solidification;
The butcher in the slaughter-house, the hands aboard
schooners and sloops, the raftsman, the pioneer,
Lumbermen in their winter camp, day-break 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, mortising,
The hoist-up of beams, the push of them in their
places, laying them regular,
Setting the studs by their tenons in the mortises, ac-
cording as they were prepared,
The blows of mallets and hammers, the attitudes of
the men, their curv'd limbs,
Bending, standing, astride the beams, driving in pins,
holding on by posts and braces,
The hook'd arm over the plate, the other arm wielding
the axe,
The floor-men forcing the planks close, to be nail'd,
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,
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,

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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-hew'd log,
shaping it toward the shape of a mast,
The brisk short crackle of the steel driven slantingly
into the pine,
The butter-color'd 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-pack'd square,
The arriving engines, the hoarse shouts, the nimble
stepping and daring,
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
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,

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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 combat,
The uplifted arm, the clatter of blows on the helmeted
The death-howl, the limpsey tumbling body, the rush
of friend and foe thither,
The seige of revolted lieges determin'd for liberty,
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 tumultuously
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 un-
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.

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

7Away! These are not to be cherish'd 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.

8The great city is that which has the greatest man or
If it be a few ragged huts, it is still the greatest city in
the whole world.


9The place where the great city stands is not the
place of stretch'd 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 no monuments exist to heroes, but in the
common words and deeds;
Where thrift is in its place, and prudence is in its

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Where the men and women think lightly of the laws;
Where the slave ceases, and the master of slaves ceases;
Where the populace rise at once against the never-
ending audacity 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 pre-
cedence 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 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;
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 great city stands.


11How beggarly appear arguments, before a defiant
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 ap-
A strong being is the proof of the race, and of the
ability of the universe;
When he or she appears, materials are overaw'd,
The dispute on the Soul stops,

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The old customs and phrases are confronted, turn'd
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 obedi-
ently 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!


15A sterile landscape covers the ore—there is as good
as the best, for all the forbidding appearance;
There is the mine, there are the miners;
The forge-furnace is there, the melt is accomplish'd;
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:
Served in building the buildings that last longer than
Served the Hebrew, the Persian, the most ancient
Served the mound-raiser on the Mississippi—served
those whose relics remain in Central America;

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Served Albic temples in woods or on plains, with un-
hewn pillars, and the druids;
Served the artificial clefts, vast, high, silent, on the
snow-cover'd 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 long, long 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 plea-
sure, 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 ages;
Served not the living only, then as now, but served the


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

18Whom have you slaughter'd 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, uncrown'd ladies, impeach'd
ministers, rejected kings,
Rivals, traitors, poisoners, disgraced chieftains, and
the rest.

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

21I see the blood wash'd 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.


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

24The 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, gable,
Citadel, ceiling, saloon, academy, organ, exhibition-
house, library,
Cornice, trellis, pilaster, balcony, window, shutter, tur-
ret, 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, string'd instrument, boat, frame, and
what not,
Capitols of States, and capitol of the nation of States,

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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 Penob-
scot 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 fun,
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.

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 West-
ern 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 scaf-
folds, the workmen busy outside and inside,
The tools lying around, the great auger and little au-
ger, the adze, bolt, line, square, gouge, and bead-

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28The shapes arise!
The shape measur'd, saw'd, jack'd, join'd, stain'd,
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,
The roof over the supper joyously cook'd 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 liquor-bar lean'd 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 un-
wholesome couple;
The shape of the gambling-board with its devilish
winnings and losings;
The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted and
sentenced murderer, the murderer with hag-
gard face and pinion'd arms,
The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent and
white-lipp'd crowd, the sickening dangling of
the rope.

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30The shapes arise!
Shapes of doors giving many exits and entrances;
The door passing the dissever'd friend, flush'd and in
The door that admits good news and bad news;
The door whence the son left home, confident and
puff'd up;
The door he enter'd again from a long and scandalous
absence, diseas'd, broken down, without inno-
cence, without means.


31Her shape arises,
She, less guarded than ever, yet more guarded than
The gross and soil'd she moves among do not make
her gross and soil'd;
She knows the thoughts as she passes—nothing is con-
ceal from her;
She is none the less considerate or friendly therefor;
She is the best-beloved—it is without exception—she
has no reason to fear, and she does not fear;
Oaths, quarrels, hiccupp'd songs, smutty expressions,
are idle to her as she passes;
She is silent—she is possess'd 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 stronger
than she is.


32The main shapes arise!
Shapes of Democracy, total—result of centuries;
Shapes, ever projecting other shapes;
Shapes of a hundred Free States, begetting another
Shapes of turbulent manly cities;
Shapes of the women fit for These States,

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Shapes of the friends and home-givers of the whole
Shapes bracing the earth, and braced with the whole




1 WITH antecedents;
With my fathers and mothers, and the accumulations
of past ages;
With all which, had it not been, I would not now be
here, as I am:
With Egypt, India, Phenicia, Greece and Rome;
With the Kelt, the Scandinavian, the Alb, and the
With antique maritime ventures,—with laws, artizan-
ship, wars and journeys;
With the poet, the skald, the saga, the myth, and the
With the sale of slaves—with enthusiasts—with the
troubadour, the crusader, and the monk;
With those old continents whence we have come to this
new continent;
With the fading kingdoms and kings over there;
With the fading religions and priests;
With the small shores we look back to from our own
large and present shores;
With countless years drawing themselves onward, and
arrived at these years;
You and Me arrived—America arrived, and making
this year;
This year! sending itself ahead countless years to

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2O but it is not the years—it is I—it is You;
We touch all laws, and tally all antecedents;
We are the skald, the oracle, the monk, and the
knight—we easily include them, and more;
We stand amid time, beginningless and endless—we
stand amid evil and good;
All swings around us—there is as much darkness as
The very sun swings itself and its system of planets
around us:
Its sun, and its again, all swing around us.

3As for me, (torn, stormy, even as I, amid these ve-
hement days;)
I have the idea of all, and am all, and believe in all;
I believe materialism is true, and spiritualism is true—
I reject no part.

4Have I forgotten any part?
Come to me, whoever and whatever, till I give you

5I respect Assyria, China, Teutonia, and the He-
I adopt each theory, myth, god, and demi-god;
I see that the old accounts, bibles, genealogies, are
true, without exception;
I assert that all past days were what they should have
And that they could no-how have been better than
they were,
And that to-day is what it should be—and that
America is,
And that to-day and America could no-how be better
than they are.

6In the name of These States, and in your and my
name, the Past,

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And in the name of These States, and in your and my
name, the Present time.

7I know that the past was great, and the future will
be great,
And I know that both curiously conjoint in the pres-
ent time,
(For the sake of him I typify—for the common aver-
age man's sake—your sake, if you are he;)
And that where I am, or you are, this present day,
there is the centre of all days, all races,
And there is the meaning, to us, of all that has ever
come of races and days, or ever will come.



THITHER, as I look, I see each result and glory re-
tracing itself and nestling close, always obli-
Thither hours, months, years—thither trades, com-
pacts, establishments, even the most minute;
Thither every-day life, speech, utensils, politics, per-
sons, estates;
Thither we also, I with my leaves and songs, trustful,
As a father, to his father going, takes his children
along with him.

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1 FLOOD-TIDE below me! I watch you face to face;
Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see
you also face to face.

2Crowds of men and women attired in the usual cos-
tumes! how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that
cross, returning home, are more curious to me
than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence,
are more to me, and more in my meditations,
than you might suppose.

3The impalpable sustenance of me from all things, at
all hours of the day;
The simple, compact, well-join'd scheme—myself dis-
integrated, every one disintegrated, yet part of
the scheme;
The similitudes of the past, and those of the future;
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.

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4Others 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 sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide,
the falling back to the sea of the ebb-tide.

5It avails not, neither time or place—distance avails
I am with you, you men and women of a generation,
or ever so many generations hence;
I project myself—also I return—I am with you, and
know how it is.

6Just 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 refresh'd by the gladness of the river
and the bright flow, I was refresh'd;
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with
the swift current, I stood, yet was hurried;
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and
the thick-stem'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.

7I too many and many a time cross'd the river, the
sun half an hour high;
I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls—I saw them
high in the air, floating with motionless wings,
oscillating their bodies,

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I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their
bodies, and left the rest in strong shadow,
I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging
toward the south.

8I too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of
Look'd at the fine centrifugal spokes of light round the
shape of my head in the sun-lit water,
Look'd on the haze on the hills southward and south-
Look'd on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with
Look'd toward the lower bay to notice the arriving
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
The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the
slender serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in
their pilot-houses,
The white wake left by the passage, the quick trem-
ulous whirl of the wheels,
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sun-set,
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled
cups, the frolicsome crests and glistening,
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray
walls of the granite store-houses by the docks,
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug
closely flank'd on each side by the barges—the
hay-boat, the belated lighter,
On the neighboring shore, the fires from the foundry
chimneys burning high and glaringly into the

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Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild red
and yellow light, over the tops of houses, and
down into the clefts of streets.

9These, and all else, were to me the same as they are
to you;
I project myself a moment to tell you—also I return.

10I 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 look'd forward to them;
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and

11What is it, then, between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years
between us?

12Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not,
and place avails not.

13I too lived—Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine;
I too walked the streets of Manhattan Island, and
bathed in the waters around it;
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within
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.

14I too had been struck from the float forever held in
I too had receiv'd 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.

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15It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw patches down upon me also;
The best I had done seem'd to me blank and sus-
My great thoughts, as I supposed them, were they not
in reality meagre? would not people laugh at

16It is not you alone who know what it is to be evil;
I am he who knew what it was to be evil;
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabb'd, blush'd, resented, lied, stole, grudg'd,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly,
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous
wish, not wanting,
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness,
none of these wanting.

17But I was Manhattanese, friendly and proud!
I was call'd by my nighest name by clear loud voices
of young men as they saw me approaching or
Felt their arms on my neck as I stood, or the negligent
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 laugh-
ing, gnawing, sleeping,
Play'd the part that still looks back on the actor or
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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18Closer yet I approach you;
What thought you have of me, I had as much of you
—I laid in my stores in advance;
I consider'd long and seriously of you before you were

19Who 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?

20It is not you alone, nor I alone;
Not a few races, nor a few generations, nor a few
It is that each came, or comes, or shall come, from its
due emission, without fail, either now, or then,
or henceforth.

21Every thing indicates—the smallest does, and the
largest does;
A necessary film envelops all, and envelops the Soul
for a proper time.

22Now I am curious what sight can ever be more stately
and admirable to me than my mast-hemm'd
My river and sun-set, and my scallop-edg'd waves of
The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in
the twilight, and the belated lighter;
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 face,
Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning
into you.

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23We understand, then, do we not?
What I promis'd without mentioning it, have you not
What the study could not teach—what the preaching
could not accomplish, is accomplish'd, is it not?
What the push of reading could not start, is started
by me personally, is it not?

24Flow 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 generations
after me;
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of pas-
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta!—stand up, beauti-
ful hills of Brooklyn!
Bully for you! you proud, friendly, free Manhat-
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions
and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solu-
Blab, blush, lie, steal, you or I or any one after us!
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house, or street,
or public assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically
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 current;
Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large cir-
cles high in the air;

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Receive the summer sky, you water! and 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 water;
Come on, ships from the lower bay! pass up or down,
white-sail'd schooners, sloops, lighters!
Flaunt away, flags of all nations! be duly lower'd at
Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast black
shadows at nightfall! cast red and yellow light
over the tops of the houses;
Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you
You necessary film, continue to envelop the soul;
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
Keep your places, objects than which none else is more

25We descend upon you and all things—we arrest you
We realize the soul only by you, you faithful solids
and fluids;
Through you color, form, location, sublimity, ideality;
Through you every proof, comparison, and all the sug-
gestions and determinations of ourselves.

26You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beau-
tiful ministers! you novices!
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insati-
ate henceforward;
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or with-
hold yourselves from us;

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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



1 COURAGE! my brother or my sister!
Keep on! Liberty is to be subserved, whatever occurs;
That is nothing, that is quell'd by one or two failures,
or any number of failures,
Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the people, or
by any unfaithfulness,
Or the show of the tushes of power, soldiers, cannon,
penal statutes.

2What we believe in waits latent forever through all
the continents, and all the islands and archi-
pelagos of the sea.

3What we believe in invites no one, promises nothing,
sits in calmness and light, is positive and com-
posed, knows no discouragement,
Waiting patiently, waiting its time.

4The battle rages with many a loud alarm, and fre-
quent advance and retreat,
The infidel triumphs—or supposes he triumphs,
The prison, scaffold, garrote, hand-cuffs, iron necklace
and anklet, lead-balls, do their work,
The named and unnamed heroes pass to other spheres,
The great speakers and writers are exiled—they lie sick
in distant lands,

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The cause is asleep—the strongest throats are still,
choked with their own blood,
The young men drop their eyelashes toward the ground
when they meet;
But for all this, liberty has not gone out of the place,
nor the infidel enter'd into possession.

5When 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.

6When there are no more memories of heroes and
And when all life, and all the souls of men and women
are discharged from any part of the earth,
Then only shall liberty be discharged from that part of
the earth,
And the infidel and the tyrant come into possession.

7Then courage! revolter! revoltress!
For till all ceases, neither must you cease.

8I do not know what you are for, (I do not know what
I am for myself, nor what anything is for,)
But I will search carefully for it even in being foil'd,
In defeat, poverty, imprisonment—for they too are

9Did we think victory great?
So it is—But now it seems to me, when it cannot be
help'd, that defeat is great,
And that death and dismay are great.

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1TO get betimes in Boston town, I rose this morning
Here's a good place at the corner—I must stand and
see the show.

2Clear the way there, Jonathan!
Way for the President's marshal! Way for the gov-
ernment cannon!
Way for the Federal foot and dragoons—and the appa-
ritions copiously tumbling.

3I love to look on the stars and stripes—I hope the fifes
will play Yankee Doodle.

4How bright shine the cutlasses of the foremost
Every man holds his revolver, marching stiff through
Boston town.

5A fog follows—antiques of the same come limping,
Some appear wooden-legged, and some appear ban-
daged and bloodless.

6Why this is indeed a show! It has call'd the dead
out of the earth!
The old grave-yards of the hills have hurried to see!
Phantoms! phantoms countless by flank and rear!
Cock'd hats of mothy mould! crutches made of mist!
Arms in slings! old men leaning on young men's

7What 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?

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8If you blind your eyes with tears, you will not see
the President's marshal;
If you groan such groans you might balk the govern-
ment cannon.

9For shame, old maniacs! Bring down those toss'd
arms, and let your white hair be;
Here gape your great grand-sons—their wives gaze at
them from the windows,
See how well-dress'd—see how orderly they conduct

10Worse and worse! Can't you stand it? Are you
Is this hour with the living too dead for you?

11Retreat then! Pell-mell!
To your graves! Back! back to the hills, old limpers!
I do not think you belong here, anyhow.

12But there is one thing that belongs here—shall I
tell you what it is, gentlemen of Boston?

13I 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—haste!
Dig out King George's coffin, unwrap him quick from
the grave-clothes, box up his bones for a
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.

14Now call for the President's marshal again, bring
out the government cannon,
Fetch home the roarers from Congress, make another
procession, guard it with foot and dragoons.

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15This centre-piece for them:
Look! all orderly citizens—look from the windows,

16The 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.

17You have got your revenge, old buster! The crown
is come to its own, and more than its own.

18Stick your hands in your pockets, Jonathan—you
are a made man from this day;
You are mighty cute—and here is one of your



1BE composed—be at ease with me—I am Walt
Whitman, liberal and lusty as Nature;
Not till the sun excludes you, do I exclude you;
Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you, and the
leaves to rustle for you, do my words refuse to
glisten and rustle for you.

2My girl, I appoint with you an appointment—and I
charge you that you make preparation to be
worthy to meet me,
And I charge you that you be patient and perfect till
I come.

3Till then, I salute you with a significant look, that
you do not forget me.

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1IS reform needed? Is it through you?
The greater the reform needed, the greater PER-
you need to accomplish it.

2You! do you not see how it would serve to have
eyes, blood, complexion, clean and sweet?
Do you not see how it would serve to have such a Body
and Soul, that when you enter the crowd, an
atmosphere of desire and command enters with
you, and every one is impress'd with your per-

3O the magnet! the flesh over and over!
Go, dear friend! if need be, give up all else, and com-
mence to-day to inure yourself to pluck, reality,
self-esteem, definiteness, elevatedness;
Rest not, till you rivet and publish yourself of your
own personality.



WHAT you give me, I cheerfully accept,
A little sustenance, a hut and garden, a little money—
these, as I rendezvous with my poems,
A traveler's lodging and breakfast as I journey through
The States—Why should I be ashamed to own
such gifts? Why to advertise for them?
For I myself am not one who bestows nothing upon
man and woman;
For I bestow upon any man or woman the entrance to
all the gifts of the universe.

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1 OUT of the rock'd cradle,
Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle,
Out of the Ninth-month midnight,
Over the sterile sands, and the fields beyond, where
the child, leaving his bed, wander'd alone, bare-
headed, barefoot,
Down from the shower'd halo,
Up from the mystic play of shadows, twining and
twisting as if they were alive,
Out from the patches of briers and blackberries,
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
From your memories, sad brother—from the fitful
risings and fallings I heard,
From under that yellow half-moon, late-risen, and
swollen as if with tears,
From those beginning notes of sickness and love,
there in the transparent mist,
From the thousand responses of my heart, never to cease,
From the myriad thence-arous'd words,
From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
From such, as now they start, the scene revisiting,
As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing,
Borne hither—ere all eludes me, hurriedly,
A man—yet by these tears a little boy again,
Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves,
I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter,
Taking all hints to use them—but swiftly leaping
beyond them,
A reminiscence sing.

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2Once, Paumanok,
When the snows had melted, and the Fifth-month
grass was growing,
Up this sea-shore, in some briers,
Two guests from Alabama—two together,
And their nest, and four light-green eggs, spotted with
And every day the he-bird, to and fro, near at hand,
And every day the she-bird, crouch'd on her nest,
silent, with bright eyes,
And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never
disturbing them,
Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.


3 Shine! shine! shine!
Pour down your warmth, great Sun!
While we bask—we two together.

4 Two together!
Winds blow South, or winds blow North,
Day come white, or night come black,
Home, or rivers and mountains from home,
Singing all time, minding no time,
If we two but keep together.


5Till of a sudden,
May-be kill'd, unknown to her mate,
One forenoon the she-bird crouch'd not on the nest,
Nor return'd that afternoon, nor the next,
Nor ever appear'd again.

6And thenceforward, all summer, in the sound of the
And at night, under the full of the moon, in calmer

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Over the hoarse surging of the sea,
Or flitting from brier to brier by day,
I saw, I heard at intervals, the remaining one, the
The solitary guest from Alabama.


7 Blow! blow! blow!
Blow up, sea-winds, along Paumanok's shore!
I wait and I wait, till you blow my mate to me.


8Yes, when the stars glisten'd,
All night long, on the prong of a moss-scallop'd stake,
Down, almost amid the slapping waves,
Sat the lone singer, wonderful, causing tears.

9He call'd on his mate;
He pour'd forth the meanings which I, of all men,

10Yes, my brother, I know;
The rest might not—but I have treasur'd every
For once, and more than once, dimly, down to the
beach gliding,
Silent, avoiding the moonbeams, blending myself with
the shadows,
Recalling now the obscure shapes, the echoes, the
sounds and sights after their sorts,
The white arms out in the breakers tirelessly tossing,
I, with bare feet, a child, the wind wafting my hair,
Listen'd long and long.

11Listen'd, to keep, to sing—now translating the
Following you, my brother.

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12 Soothe! soothe! soothe!
Close on its wave soothes the wave behind,
And again another behind, embracing and lapping,
every one close,
But my love soothes not me, not me.

13 Low hangs the moon—it rose late;
O it is lagging—O I think it is heavy with love,
with love.

14 O madly the sea pushes, pushes upon the land.
With love—with love.

15 O night! do I not see my love fluttering out there
among the breakers?
What is that little black thing I see there in the white?

16 Loud! loud! loud!
Loud I call to you, my love!
High and clear I shoot my voice over the waves;
Surely you must know who is here, is here;
You must know who I am, my love.

17 Low-hanging moon!
What is that dusky spot in your brown yellow?
O it is the shape, the shape of my mate!
O moon, do not keep her from me any longer.

18 Land! land! O land!
Whichever way I turn, O I think you could give me
my mate back again, if you only would;
For I am almost sure I see her dimly whichever way
I look.

19 O rising stars!
Perhaps the one I want so much will rise, will rise
with some of you.

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20O throat! O trembling throat!
Sound clearer through the atmosphere!
Pierce the woods, the earth;
Somewhere listening to catch you, must be the one I

21 Shake out, carols!
Solitary here—the night's carols!
Carols of lonesome love! Death's carols!
Carols under that lagging, yellow, waning moon!
O, under that moon, where she droops almost down
into the sea!
O reckless, despairing carols.

22 But soft! sink low;
Soft! let me just murmur;
And do you wait a moment, you husky-noised sea;
For somewhere I believe I heard my mate responding
to me,
So faint—I must be still, be still to listen;
But not altogether still, for then she might not come
immediately tome.

23 Hither, my love!
Here I am! Here!
With this just-sustain'd note I announce myself to
This gentle call is for you, my love, for you.

24 Do not be decoy'd elsewhere!
That is the whistle of the wind—it is not my voice;
That is the fluttering, the fluttering of the spray;
Those are the shadows of leaves.

25 O darkness! O in vain!
O I am very sick and sorrowful.

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26 O brown halo in the sky, near the moon, drooping
upon the sea!
O troubled reflection in the sea!
O throat! O throbbing heart!
O all—and I singing uselessly, uselessly all the night.

27 Yet I murmur, murmur on!
O murmurs—you yourselves make me continue to sing,
I know not why.

28 O past! O life! O songs of joy!
In the air—in the woods—over fields;
Loved! loved! loved! loved! loved!
But my love no more, no more with me!
We two together no more.


29The aria sinking;
All else continuing—the stars shining,
The winds blowing—the notes of the bird continuous
With angry moans the fierce old mother incessantly
On the sands of Paumanok's shore, gray and rustling;
The yellow half-moon enlarged, sagging down, droop-
ing, the face of the sea almost touching;
The boy extatic—with his bare feet the waves, with
his hair the atmosphere dallying,
The love in the heart long pent, now loose, now at last
tumultuously bursting,
The aria's meaning, the ears, the Soul, swiftly deposit-
The strange tears down the cheeks coursing,
The colloquy there—the trio—each uttering,
The undertone—the savage old mother, incessantly
To the boy's Soul's questions sullenly timing—some
drown'd secret hissing,
To the outsetting bard of love.

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30Demon or bird! (said the boy's soul,)
Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it
mostly to me?
For I, that was a child, my tongue's use sleeping,
Now I have heard you,
Now in a moment I know what I am for—I awake,
And already a thousand singers—a thousand songs,
clearer, louder and more sorrowful than yours,
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within
Never to die.

31O you singer, solitary, singing by yourself—project-
ing me;
O solitary me, listening—never more shall I cease per-
petuating you;
Never more shall I escape, never more the reverbera-
Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent
from me,
Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was
before what there, in the night,
By the sea, under the yellow and sagging moon,
The messenger there aroused—the fire, the sweet hell
The unknown want, the destiny of me.

32O give me the clew! (it lurks in the night here
O if I am to have so much, let me have more!
O a word! O what is my destination? (I fear it is
henceforth chaos;)
O how joys, dreads, convolutions, human shapes, and
all shapes, spring as from graves around me!
O phantoms! you cover all the land and all the sea!
O I cannot see in the dimness whether you smile or
frown upon me;

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O vapor, a look, a word! O well-beloved!
O you dear women's and men's phantoms!

33A word then, (for I will conquer it,)
The word final, superior to all,
Subtle, sent up—what is it?—I listen;
Are you whispering it, and have been all the time, you
Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands?


34Whereto answering, the sea,
Delaying not, hurrying not,
Whisper'd me through the night, and very plainly be-
fore daybreak,
Lisp'd to me the low and delicious word DEATH;
And again Death—ever Death, Death, Death,
Hissing melodious, neither like the bird, nor like my
arous'd child's heart,
But edging near, as privately for me, rustling at my
Creeping thence steadily up to my ears, and laving me
softly all over,
Death, Death, Death, Death, Death.

35Which I do not forget,
But fuse the song of my dusky demon and brother,
That he sang to me in the moonlight on Paumanok's
gray beach,
With the thousand responsive songs, at random,
My own songs, awaked from that hour;
And with them the key, the word up from the waves,
The word of the sweetest song, and all songs,
That strong and delicious word which, creeping to my
The sea whisper'd me.

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1 SAUNTERING the pavement, or riding the country by-
road—lo! such 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 back-
The faces of hunters and fishers, bulged at the brows—
the shaved blanch'd faces of orthodox citizens;
The pure, extravagant, yearning, questioning artist's
The ugly face of some beautiful Soul, the handsome
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 rock;
The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a castrated
A wild hawk, his wings clipp'd by the clipper;
A stallion that yielded at last to the thongs and knife
of the gelder.

2Sauntering the pavement, thus, or crossing the
ceaseless ferry, faces, and faces, and faces:
I see them, and complain not, and am content with

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3Do you suppose I could be content with all, if I
thought them their own finale?

4This 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.

5This face is a dog's snout, sniffing for garbage;
Snakes nest in that mouth—I hear the sibilant threat.

6This face is a haze more chill than the arctic sea;
Its sleepy and wobbling icebergs crunch as they go.

7This is a face of bitter herbs—this an emetic—they
need no label;
And more of the drug-shelf, laudanum, caoutchouc, or

8This 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
turn'd-in nails,
The man falls struggling and foaming to the ground
while he speculates well.

9This face is bitten by vermin and worms,
And this is some murderer's knife with a half-pull'd

10This face owes to the sexton his dismalest fee;
An unceasing death-bell tolls there.

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11Those then are really men—the bosses and tufts of
the great round globe!

12Features of my equals, would you trick me with
your creas'd and cadaverous march?
Well, you cannot trick me.

13I see your rounded never-erased flow;
I see neath the rims of your haggard and mean dis-

14Splay and twist as you like—poke with the tangling
fores of fishes or rats;
You'll be unmuzzled, you certainly will.

15I saw the face of the most smear'd and slobbering
idiot they had at the asylum;
And I knew for my consolation what they knew not;
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 ages,
And I shall meet the real landlord, perfect and un-
harm, every inch as good as myself.


16The Lord advances, and yet advances;
Always the shadow in front—always the reach'd hand
bringing up the laggards.

17Out of this face emerge banners and horses—O su-
perb! I see what is coming;
I see the high pioneer-caps—I see the staves of run-
ners clearing the way,
I hear victorious drums.

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18This face is a life-boat;
This is the face commanding and bearded, it asks no
odds of the rest;
This face is flavor'd fruit, ready for eating;
This face of a healthy honest boy is the programme of
all good.

19These faces bear testimony slumbering or awake;
They show their descent from the Master himself.

20Off the word I have spoken I except not one—red,
white, black, are all deific;
In each house is the ovum—it comes forth after a
thousand years.

21Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb me;
Tall and sufficient stand behind, and make signs to
I read the promise, and patiently wait.

22This is a full-grown lily's face,
She speaks to the limber-hipp'd man near the garden
Come here, she blushingly cries—Come nigh to me, lim-
ber-hipp'd man,
Stand at my side till I lean as high as I can upon you,
Fill me with albescent honey, bend down to me,
Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my breast and


23The old face of the mother of many children!
Whist! I am fully content.

24Lull'd and late is the smoke of the First-day
It hangs low over the rows of trees by the fences,
It hangs thin by the sassafras, the wild-cherry, and
the cat-brier under them.

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25I 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.

26Behold a woman!
She looks out from her quaker cap—her face is clearer
and more beautiful than the sky.

27She sits in an arm-chair, under the shaded porch of
the farm-house,
The sun just shines on her old white head.

28Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen,
Her grandsons raised the flax, and her grand-daugh-
ters spun it with the distaff and the wheel.

29The melodious character of the earth,
The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go, and
does not wish to go,
The justified mother of men.



HAVE you learned lessons only of those who admired
you, and were tender with you, and stood aside
for you?
Have you not learned the great lessons of those who
rejected you, and braced themselves against
you? or who treated you with contempt, or
disputed the passage with you?

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The 72d and 73d Years of These States.

1SUDDENLY, out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair
of slaves,
Like lightning it le'pt forth, half startled at itself,
Its feet upon the ashes and the rags—its hands tight
to the throats of kings.

2O hope and faith!
O aching close of exiled patriots' lives!
O many a sicken'd heart!
Turn back unto this day, and make yourselves afresh.

3And you, paid to defile the People! you liars,
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts,
For court thieving in its manifold mean forms, worm-
ing from his simplicity the poor man's wages,
For many a promise sworn by royal lips, and broken,
and laugh'd at in the breaking,
Then in their power, not for all these did the blow.
strike revenge, or the heads of the nobles fall;
The People scorn'd the ferocity of kings.

4But the sweetness of mercy brew'd bitter destruc-
tion, and the frighten'd rulers come back;
Each comes in state with his train—hangman, priest,
Soldier, lawyer, lord, jailer, and sycophant.

5Yet behind all, lowering, stealing—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

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One finger, crook'd, pointed high over the top, like
the head of a snake appears.

6Meanwhile, 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
And all these things bear fruits—and they are good.

7Those corpses of young men,
Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets—those
hearts pierc'd by the gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere with
unslaughter'd vitality.

8They live in other youngmen, O kings!
They live in brothers, again ready to defy you!
They were purified by death—they were taught and

9Not a grave of the murder'd for freedom, but grows
seed for freedom, in its turn to bear seed,
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the rains
and the snows nourish.

10Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of tyrants
let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering,
counseling, cautioning.

11Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair
of you.

12Is 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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OF Public Opinion;
Of a calm and cool fiat, sooner or later, (How im-
passive! How certain and final!)
Of the President with pale face asking secretly to
himself, What will the people say at last?
Of the frivolous Judge—Of the corrupt Congressman,
Governor, Mayor—Of such as these, standing
helpless and exposed;
Of the mumbling and screaming priest—(soon, soon
Of the lessening, year by year, of venerableness, and
of the dicta of officers, statutes, pulpits, schools;
Of the rising forever taller and stronger and broader,
of the intuitions of men and women, and of
self-esteem, and of personality;
—Of the New World—Of the Democracies, resplendent,
Of the conformity of politics, armies, navies, to them
and to me,
Of the shining sun by them—Of the inherent light,
greater than the rest,
Of the envelopment of all by them, and of the effusion
of all from them.



ON a flat road runs the well-train'd runner;
He is lean and sinewy, with muscular legs;
He is thinly clothed—he leans forward as he runs,
With lightly closed fists, and arms partially rais'd.

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1 EARTH, round, rolling, compact—suns, moons, ani-
mals—all these are words to be said;
Watery, vegetable, sauroid advances—beings, premoni-
tions, lispings of the future,
Behold! these are vast words to be said.

2Were you thinking that those were the words—
those upright lines? those curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words—the substantial words
are in the ground and sea,
They are in the air—they are in you.

3Were you thinking that those were the words—
those delicious sounds out of your friends'
No, the real words are more delicious than they.

4Human bodies are words, myriads of words;
In the best poems re-appears the body, man's or wo-
man, well-shaped, natural, gay,
Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or
the need of shame.

5Air, soil, water, fire—these are words;
I myself am a word with them—my qualities inter-
penetrate with theirs—my name is nothing to
Though it were told in the three thousand languages,
what would air, soil, water, fire, know of my

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6A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding ges-
ture, are words, sayings, meanings;
The charms that go with the mere looks of some men
and women, are sayings and meanings also.


7The workmanship of souls is by the inaudible words
of the earth;
The great masters know the earth's words, and use
them more than the audible words.

8Amelioration is one of the earth's words;
The earth neither lags nor hastens;
It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in itself
from the jump;
It is not half beautiful only—defects and excrescences
show just as much as perfections show.

9The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough;
The truths of the earth continually wait, they are not
so conceal'd either;
They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print;
They are imbued through all things, conveying them-
selves 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?

10(Accouche! Accouchez!
Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
Will you squat and stifle there?)

11The earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,

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Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts
none out.

12The earth does not exhibit itself, nor refuse to ex-
hibit 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

13To 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.


14Of 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 rest.

15With her ample back towards every beholder,
With the fascinations of youth, and the equal fascina-
tions 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, while her eyes glance back from it,
Glance as she sits, inviting none, denying none,
Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before her
own face.

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16Seen 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
Looking from no countenances of their own, but from
the countenances of those who are with them,
From the countenances of children or women, or the
manly countenance,
From the open countenances of animals, or from in-
animate things,
From the landscape or waters, or from the exquisite
apparition of the sky,
From our countenances, mine and yours, faithfully re-
turning them,
Every day in public appearing without fail, but never
twice with the same companions.

17Embracing 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.

18Tumbling on steadily, nothing dreading,
Sunshine, storm, cold, heat, forever withstanding.
passing, carrying,
The Soul's realization and determination still inherit-
The fluid vacuum around and ahead still entering and
No balk retarding, no anchor anchoring, on no rock
Swift, glad, content, unbereav'd, nothing losing,
Of all able and ready at any time to give strict ac-
The divine ship sails the divine sea.

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19Whoever you are! motion and reflection are especi-
ally for you;
The divine ship sails the divine sea for you.

20Whoever 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,
For none more than you are the present and the past,
For none more than you is immortality.

21Each man to himself, and each woman to herself,
such is the word of the past and present, and
the word of immortality;
No one can acquire for another—not one!
Not one can grow for another—not one!

22The 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 him;
The love is to the lover, and comes back most to him;
The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him
—it cannot fail;
The oration is to the orator, the acting is to the actor
and actress, not to the audience;
And no man understands any greatness or goodness
but his own, or the indication of his own.


23I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or
her who shall be complete!
I swear the earth remains jagged and broken only to
him or her who remains broken and jagged!

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24I 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, behavior, or what not, is of
account, unless it compare with the amplitude
of the earth,
Unless it face the exactness; vitality, impartiality, rec-
titude of the earth.

25I swear I begin to see love with sweeter spasms than
that which responds love!
It is that which contains itself—which never invites,
and never refuses.

26I 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 words that
print cannot touch.

27I swear I see what is better than to tell the best;
It is always to leave the best untold.

28When I undertake to tell the best, I find I cannot,
My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots,
My breath will not be obedient to its organs,
I become a dumb man.

29The 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 dismiss'd from the places they held

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The earth is just as positive and direct as it was be-
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 establish'd it,
Undeniable proof has establish'd it.


30This is a poem for the sayers of words—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?

31I swear I will never henceforth have to do with the
faith that tells the best!
I will have to do only with that faith that leaves the
best untold.


32Say on, sayers!
Delve! mould! pile the words of the earth!
Work on—it is materials you bring, not breaths;
Work on, age after age! nothing is to be lost;
It may have to wait long, but it will certainly come in
When the materials are all prepared, the architects
shall appear.

33I 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

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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.



O MAGNET-SOUTH! O glistening, perfumed South! My
O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse, and love! Good
and evil! O all dear to me!
O dear to me my birth-things—All moving things,
and the trees where I was born—the grains,
plants, rivers;
Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they
flow, distant, over flats of silvery sands, or
through swamps;
Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altama-
haw, the Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee, the
Coosa, and the Sabine;
O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my Soul
to haunt their banks again;
Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes—I float
on the Okeechobee—I cross the hummock land,
or through pleasant openings, or dense forests;
I see the parrots in the woods—I see the papaw tree
and the blossoming titi;
Again, sailing in my coaster, on deck, I coast off
Georgia—I coast up the Carolinas,
I see where the live-oak is growing—I see where the
yellow-pine, the scented bay-tree, the lemon and
orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto;

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I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico Sound
through an inlet, and dart my vision inland;
O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar,
The cactus, guarded with thorns—the laurel-tree,
with large white flowers;
The range afar—the richness and barrenness—the old
woods charged with mistletoe and trailing moss,
The piney odor and the gloom—the awful natural
stillness, (Here in these dense swamps the free-
booter carries his gun, and the fugitive slave
has his conceal'd hut;)
O the strange fascination of these half-known, half-
impassable swamps, infested by reptiles, re-
sounding with the bellow of the alligator, the
sad noises of the night-owl and the wild-cat,
and the whirr of the rattlesnake;
The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all
the forenoon—singing through the moon-lit
The humming-bird, the wild-turkey, the raccoon, the
A Tennessee corn-field—the tall, graceful, long-leav'd
corn—slender, flapping, bright green, with
tassels—with beautiful ears, each well-sheath'd
in its husk;
An Arkansas prairie—a sleeping lake, or still bayou;
O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs—I can stand
them not—I will depart;
O to be a Virginian, where I grew up! O to be a
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Ten-
nessee, and never wander more!

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ALL you are doing and saying is to America dangled
You have not learn'd of Nature—of the politics of
Nature, you have not learn'd the great ampli-
tude, rectitude, impartiality;
You have not seen that only such as they are for These
And that what is less than they, must sooner or later
lift off from These States.



TO The States, or any one of them, or any city of The
States, Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth,
ever afterward resumes its liberty.



I HEAR you have been asking for something to repre-
sent the new race, our self-poised Democracy,
Therefore I send you my poems, that you behold in
them what you wanted.

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

2Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more,
need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.

3The 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.

4Still 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 fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.


5You road I enter upon and look around! I believe
you are not all that is here; I believe that much unseen is also here.

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6Here is the profound lesson of reception, neither
preference or denial;
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the dis-
eas, the illiterate person, are not denied;
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, anything passes—none can be
None but are accepted, none but are dear to me.


7You 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
You sprouting growths from the farmers' fields! you
stalks and weeds by the fences!
You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the road-
I think you are latent with unseen existences—you
are so dear to me.

8You flagg'd 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-pierc'd façades! you

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You porches and entrances! you copings and iron
You windows whose transparent shells might expose so
You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trod-
den crossings!
From all that has been near you, I believe you have im-
parted 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 amicable with me.


9The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
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.

10O 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
Do you say, I am already prepared—I am well-beaten
and undenied—adhere to me?

11O 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.

12I think heroic deeds were all conceiv'd in the open
I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles;

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I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like,
and whoever beholds me shall like me;
I think whoever I see must be happy.


13From this hour, freedom!
From this hour I ordain myself loosed of limits and
imaginary lines,
Going where I list—my own master, total and abso-
Listening to others, and considering well what they
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of
the holds that would hold me.

14I inhale great draughts of air;
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the
south are mine.

15I am larger than I thought;
I did not know I held so much goodness.

16All 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.

17I 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.


18Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear, it
would not amaze me;
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear'd,
it would not astonish me.

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19Now I see the secret of the making of the best per-
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with
the earth.

20Here is space—here a great personal deed has room;
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.

21Here is the test of wisdom;
Wisdom is not finally tested in schools;
Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it, to an-
other 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
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.

22Now I reëxamine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at
all under the spacious clouds, and along the land-
scape and flowing currents.

23Here is realization;
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in
The animals, the past, the future, light, space, majesty,
love, if they are vacant of you, you are vacant
of them.

24Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for
you and me?

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25Here is adhesiveness—it is not previously fashion'd
—it is apropos;
Do you know what it is, as you pass, to be loved by
Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?


26Here is the efflux of the Soul;
The efflux of the Soul comes from within, through em-
bower gates, ever provoking questions:
These yearnings, why are they? These thoughts in the
darkness, why are they?
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 strangers?
What with some driver, as I ride on the seat by his
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 mine?


27The efflux of the Soul is happiness—here is happi-
I think it pervades the air, waiting at all times;
Now it flows into us—we are rightly charged.

28Here rises the fluid and attaching character;
The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and
sweetness of man and woman;

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(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.)

29Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes
the sweat of the love of young and old;
From it falls distill'd the charm that mocks beauty
and attainments;
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of


30Allons! whoever you are, come travel with me!
Traveling with me, you find what never tires.

31The 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 envelop'd;
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful
than words can tell.

32Allons! We must not stop here!
However sweet these laid-up stores—however con-
venient this dwelling, we cannot remain here;
However shelter'd this port, and 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 while.


33Allons! 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 sail.

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34Allons! With power, liberty, the earth, the ele-
Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity;
Allons! from all formules!
From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic

35The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the burial
waits no longer.

36Allons! 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.

37Come not here if you have already spent the best
of yourself;
Only those may come, who come in sweet and de-
termin bodies;
No diseas'd person—no rum-drinker or venereal
taint is permitted here.

38I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes,
We convince by our presence.


39Listen! 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:

40You shall not heap up what is call'd riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn
or achieve,

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You but arrive at the city to which you were des-
tined—you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction,
before you are call'd by an irresistible call to
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mock-
ings 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 reach'd hands toward you.


41Allons! After the GREAT COMPANIONS! and to belong
to them!
They too are on the road! they are the swift and
majestic men! they are the greatest women.

42Over that which hinder'd them—over that which
retarded—passing impediments large or small,
Committers of crimes, committers of many beautiful
Enjoyers of calms of seas, and storms of seas,
Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of
Habitués of many different countries, habitués of far-
distant dwellings,
Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, soli-
tary toilers,
Pausers and contemplators 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, lower-
ers down of coffins,
Jouneyers over consecutive seasons, over the years—
the curious years, each emerging from that
which preceded it,

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Journeyers as with companions, namely, their own
diverse phases,
Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days,
Journeyers gayly with their own youth—Journeyers
with their bearded and well-grain'd manhood,
Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsur-
pass, content,
Journeyers with their own sublime old age of man-
hood or womanhood,
Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty
breadth of the universe,
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by free-
dom of death.


43Allons! To that which is endless, as it was begin-
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 jour-
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
To see no possession but you may possess it—enjoy-
ing 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 or-
chards 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 lovers on the road with you, for all that
you leave them behind you,
To know the universe itself as a road—as many roads
—as roads for traveling souls.


44The 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 soul.

45All 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
procession of Souls along the grand roads of
the universe.

46Of the progress of the souls of men and women
along the grand roads of the universe, all
other progress is the needed emblem and sus-

47Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbu-
lent, feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, re-
jected 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.

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48Allons! Whoever you are! come forth!
You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the
house, though you built it, or though it has
been built for you.

49Allons! out of the dark confinement!
It is useless to protest—I know all, and expose it.

50Behold, through you as bad as the rest,
Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of
Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those
wash'd and trimm'd faces,
Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.

51No husband, no wife, no friend, trusted to hear the
Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and
hiding it goes,
Formless and wordless through the streets of the
cities, polite and bland in the parlors,
In the cars of rail-roads, in steamboats, in the public
Home to the houses of men and women, at the table,
in the bed-room everywhere,
Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright,
death under the breast-bones, hell under the
Under the broadcloth 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.


52Allons! Through struggles and wars!
The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.

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53Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? Yourself? Your nation? Na-
Now understand me well—It is provided in the es-
sence of things, that from any fruition of suc-
cess, no matter what, shall come forth some-
thing to make a greater struggle necessary.

54My call is the call of battle—I nourish active re-
He going with me must go well armed;
He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty,
angry enemies, desertions.


55Allons! The road is before us!
It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it

56Allons! Be not detain'd!
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the
book on the shelf unopen'd!
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money
remain unearn'd!
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
Let the preacher preach in the pulpit! let the lawyer
plead in the court, and the judge expound the

57Mon 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
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

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To Identify the 16th, 17th, or 18th Presidentiad.

WHY reclining, interrogating? Why myself and all
What deepening twilight! Scum floating atop of the
Who are they, as bats and night-dogs, askant in the
What a filthy Presidentiad! (O south, your torrid suns!
O north, your arctic freezings!)
Judges? Is that the President?
Then I will sleep a while yet—for I see that These
States sleep, for reasons;
(With gathering murk—with muttering thunder and
lambent shoots, we all duly awake,
South, north, east, west, inland and seaboard, we will
surely awake.)



HERE, take this gift!
I was reserving it for some hero, orator, or general,
One who should serve the good old cause, the great
Idea, the progress and freedom of the race;
But I see that what I was reserving belongs to you
just as much as to any.

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1COME closer to me;
Push close, my lovers, and take the best I possess;
Yield closer and closer, and give me the best you

2This is unfinish'd business with me—How is it with
(I was chill'd with the cold types, cylinder, wet paper
between us.)

3Male and Female!
I pass so poorly with paper and types, I must pass
with the contact of bodies and souls.

4American masses!
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.


5This is the poem of occupations;
In the labor of engines and trades, and the labor of
fields, I find the developments,
And find the eternal meanings.

6Workmen and Workwomen!
Were all educations, practical and ornamental, well
display'd 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?

7The learn'd, virtuous, benevolent, and the usual
A man like me, and never the usual terms.

8Neither 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

9If you stand at work in a shop, I stand as nigh as
the nighest in the same shop;
If you bestow gifts on your brother or dearest friend,
I demand as good as your brother or dearest
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 outlaw'd deeds, do
you think I cannot remember my own foolish
and outlaw'd deeds?
If you carouse at the table, I carouse at the opposite
side of the table;
If you meet some stranger in the streets, and love
him or her—why I often meet strangers in the
street, and love them.

10Why, what have you thought of yourself?
Is it you then that thought yourself less?
Is it you that thought the President greater than
Or the rich better off than you? or the educated
wiser than you?

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11Because you are greasy or pimpled, or that you was
once drunk, or a thief,
Or diseas'd, or rheumatic, or a prostitute, or are so
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 immortal?


12Souls of men and women! it is not you I call un-
seen, unheard, untouchable and untouching;
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.

13Grown, half-grown, and babe, of this country and
every country, indoors and outdoors, one just
as much as the other, I see,
And all else behind or through them.

14The wife—and she is not one jot less than the
The daughter—and she is just as good as the son;
The mother—and she is every bit as much as the

15Offspring of ignorant and poor, boys apprenticed to
Young fellows working on farms, and old fellows
working on farms,
Sailor-men, merchant-men, coasters, immigrants,
All these I see—but nigher and farther the same I
None shall escape me, and none shall wish to escape

16I 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.

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17There is something that comes home to one now
and perpetually;
It is not what is printed, preach'd, discuss'd—it eludes
discussion and print;
It is not to be put in a book—it is not in this book;
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
ever provoked by them.

18You 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 or revenue returns, prices current,
or any accounts of stock.


19The 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 reconnoissance,
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.

20The light and shade, the curious sense of body and
identity, the greed that with perfect complais-
ance devours all things, the endless pride and
out-stretching of man, unspeakable joys and

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The wonder every one sees in every one else he sees,
and the wonders that fill each minute of time
What have you reckon'd them for, camerado?
Have you reckon'd them for a trade, or farm-work?
or for the profits of a store?
Or to achieve yourself a position? or to fill a gentle-
man leisure, or a lady's leisure?

21Have you reckon'd the landscape took substance and
form that it might be painted in a picture?
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 tables,
or agriculture itself?

22Old institutions—these arts, libraries, legends, col-
lections, and the practice handed along in man-
ufactures—will we rate them so high?
Will we rate our cash and business high ?—I have no
I rate them as high as the highest—then a child born
of a woman and man I rate beyond all rate.

23We 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 you;
Then I am in love with you, and with all my fellows
upon the earth.

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24We 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 you.


25When 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 again;
When a university course convinces, like a slumber-
ing 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 like you.

26The 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 Twelfth-month for you;
Laws, courts, the forming of States, the charters of
cities, the going and coming of commerce and
mails, are all for you.

27List close, my scholars dear!
All doctrines, all politics and civilization, exurge from

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All sculpture and monuments, and anything inscribed
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 renown'd poems would be ashes, orations
and plays would be vacuums.

28All 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?)

29All 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 romanza—nor
that of the men's chorus, nor that of the wo-
men chorus,
It is nearer and farther than they.


30Will the whole come back then?
Can each see signs of the best by a look in the look-
ing-glass? is there nothing greater or more?
Does all sit there with you, with the mystic, unseen

31Strange and hard that paradox true I give;
Objects gross and the unseen Soul are one.

32House-building, measuring, sawing the boards;
Blacksmithing, glass-blowing, nail-making, coopering,
tin-rooting, shingle-dressing,

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Ship-joining, dock-building, fish-curing, ferrying, flag-
ging of side-walks by flaggers,
The pump, the pile-driver, the great derrick, the coal-
kiln and brick-kiln,
Coal-mines, and all that is down there,—the lamps in
the darkness, echoes, songs, what meditations,
what vast native thoughts looking through
smutch'd faces,
Iron-works, forge-fires in the mountains, or by the
river-banks—men around feeling the melt with
huge crowbars—lumps of ore, the due com-
bining of ore, limestone, coal—the blast-fur-
nace and the puddling-furnace, the loup-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 railroads;
Oil-works, silk-works, white-lead-works, the sugar-
house, steam-saws, the great mills and factories;
Stone-cutting, shapely trimmings, for façades, or win-
dow or door-lintels—the mallet, the tooth-
chisel, the jib to protect the thumb,
Oakum, the oakum-chisel, the caulking-iron—the
kettle of boiling vault-cement, and the fire un-
der the kettle,
The cotton-bale, the stevedore's hook, the saw and
buck of the sawyer, the mould of the moulder,
the working-knife of the butcher, the ice-saw,
and all the work with ice,
The implemements for daguerreotyping—the tools of
the rigger, grappler, sail-maker, block-maker,
Goods of gutta-percha, papier-mache, colors, brushes,
brush-making, glazier's implements,
The veneer and glue-pot, the confectioner's ornaments,
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,

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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,
cotton-picking—electro-plating, electrotyping,
Stave-machines, planing-machines, reaping-machines,
ploughing-machines, thrashing-machines, steam
The cart of the carman, the omnibus, the ponderous
Pyrotechny, letting off color'd fire-works at night,
fancy figures and jets,
Beef on the butcher's stall, the slaughter-house of
the butcher, the butcher in his killing-clothes,
The 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
The men, and the work of the men, on railroads,
coasters, fish-boats, canals;
The daily routine of your own or any man's life—the
shop, yard, store, or factory;
These shows all near you by day and night—work-
men! whoever you are, your daily life!
In that and them the heft of the heaviest—in them
far more than you estimated, and far less also;
In them realities for you and me—in them poems for
you and me;
In them, not yourself—you and your Soul enclose all
things, regardless of estimation;
In them the development good—in them, all themes
and hints.

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33I 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 great;
But I say that none lead to greater, than those lead to.


34Will you seek afar off? You surely come back at last,
In things best known to you, finding the best, or as
good as the best,
In folks nearest to you finding the sweetest, strongest,
Happiness, knowledge, not in another place, but this
place—not for another hour, but this hour;
Man in the first you see or touch—always in friend,
brother, nighest neighbor—Woman in mother,
lover, wife;
The popular tastes and employments taking precedence
in poems or any where,
You workwomen and workmen of these States having
your own divine and strong life,
And all else giving place to men and women like you.



HE is wisest who has the most caution;
He only wins who goes far enough.


ANY thing is as good as established, when that is estab-
lished that will produce it and continue it.

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O free and extatic! O what I here, preparing, warble
O the sun of the world will ascend, dazzling, and take
his height—and you too will ascend!
O so amazing and broad—up there resplendent, dart-
ing and burning!
O vision prophetic, stagger'd with weight of light!
with pouring glories!
O lips of my soul, already becoming powerless!
O ample and grand Presidentiads!
New history! new heroes! I project you!
Visions of poets! only you really last! O sweep on!
sweep on!
O heights too swift and dizzy yet!
O purged and luminous! you threaten me more than
I can stand!
(I must not venture—the ground under my feet men-
aces me—it will not support me;)
O present! I return to you while yet I may!



TEARS! tears! tears!
In the night, in solitude, tears;
On the white shore dripping, dripping, suck'd in by
the sand;
Tears—not a star shining—all dark and desolate;
Moist tears from the eyes of a muffled head:
—O who is that ghost?—that form in the dark, with

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What shapeless lump is that, bent, crouch'd there on
the sand?
Streaming tears—sobbing tears—throes, choked with
wild cries;
O storm, embodied, rising, careering, with swift steps
along the beach;
O wild and dismal night storm, with wind! O belch-
ing and desperate!
O shade, so sedate and decorous by day, with calm
countenance and regulated pace;
But away, at night, as you fly, none looking—O then
the unloosen'd ocean,
Of tears! tears! tears!



1 ABOARD, at the ship's helm,
A young steersman, steering with care.

2A bell through fog on a sea-coast dolefully ringing,
An ocean-bell—O a warning bell, rock'd by the waves.

3O you give good notice indeed, you bell by the sea-
reefs ringing,
Ringing, ringing, to warn the ship from its wreck-

4For, as on the alert, O steersman, you mind the
bell's admonition,
The bows turn,—the freighted ship, tacking, speeds
away under her gray sails,
The beautiful and noble ship, with all her precious
wealth, speeds away gaily and safe.

5But O the ship, the immortal ship! O ship aboard
the ship!
O ship of the body—ship of the soul—voyaging, voy-
aging, voyaging.

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AMERICA always!
Always our own feuillage!
Always Florida's green peninsula! Always the price-
less delta of Louisiana! Always the cotton-fields
of Alabama and Texas!
Always California's golden hills and hollows—and the
silver mountains of New Mexico! Always soft-
breath'd Cuba!
Always the vast slope drain'd by the Southern Sea—
inseparable with the slopes drain'd by the
Eastern and Western Seas;
The area the eighty-third year of These States—the
three and a half millions of square miles;
The eighteen thousand miles of sea-coast and bay-
coast on the main—the thirty thousand miles
of river navigation,
The seven millions of distinct families, and the same
number of dwellings—Always these, and more,
branching forth into numberless branches;
Always the free range and diversity! Always the
continent of Democracy!
Always the prairies, pastures, forests, vast cities,
travelers, Kanada, the snows;
Always these compact lands—lands tied at the hips
with the belt stringing the huge oval lakes;
Always the West, with strong native persons—the
increasing density there—the habitans, friendly,
threatening, ironical, scorning invaders;
All sights, South, North, East—all deeds, promis-
cuously done at all times,

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All characters, movements, growths—a few noticed,
myriads unnoticed,
Through Mannahatta's streets I walking, these things
On interior rivers, by night, in the glare of pine knots,
steamboats wooding up;
Sunlight by day on the valley of the Susquehanna,
and on the valleys of the Potomac and Rappa-
hannock, and the valleys of the Roanoke and
In their northerly wilds beasts of prey haunting the
Adirondacks, the hills—or lapping the Saginaw
waters to drink;
In a lonesome inlet, a sheldrake, lost from the flock,
sitting on the water, rocking silently;
In farmers' barns, oxen in the stable, their harvest la-
bor done—they rest standing—they are too tired;
Afar on arctic ice, the she-walrus lying drowsily,
while her cubs play around;
The hawk sailing where men have not yet sail'd—the
farthest polar sea, ripply, crystalline, open,
beyond the floes;
White drift spooning ahead, where the ship in the
tempest dashes;
On solid land, what is done in cities, as the bells all
strike midnight together;
In primitive woods, the sounds there also sounding—
the howl of the wolf, the scream of the panther,
and the hoarse bellow of the elk;
In winter beneath the hard blue ice of Moosehead
Lake—in summer visible through the clear
waters, the great trout swimming;
In lower latitudes, in warmer air, in the Carolinas,
the large black buzzard floating slowly, high
beyond the tree tops,
Below, the red cedar, festoon'd with tylandria—the
pines and cypresses, growing out of the white
sand that spreads far and flat;

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Rude boats descending the big Pedee—climbing
plants, parasites, with color'd flowers and ber-
ries, enveloping huge trees,
The waving drapery on the live oak, trailing long and
low, noiselessly waved by the wind;
The camp of Georgia wagoners, just after dark—the
supper-fires, and the cooking and eating by
whites and negroes,
Thirty or forty great wagons—the mules, cattle,
horses, feeding from troughs,
The shadows, gleams, up under the leaves of the old
sycamore-trees—the flames—also the black
smoke from the pitch-pine, curling and rising;
Southern fishermen fishing—the sounds and inlets of
North Carolina's coast—the shad-fishery and
the herring-fishery—the large sweep-seines—
the windlasses on shore work'd by horses—the
clearing, curing, and packing-houses;
Deep in the forest, in piney woods, turpentine drop-
ping from the incisions in the trees—There are
the turpentine works,
There are the negroes at work, in good health—the
ground in all directions is cover'd with pine straw.
—In Tennessee and Kentucky, slaves busy in the
coalings, at the forge, by the furnace-blaze, or
at the corn-shucking;
In Virginia, the planter's son returning after a long
absence, joyfully welcom'd and kiss'd by the
aged mulatto nurse;
On rivers, boatmen safely moor'd at night-fall, in their
boats, under shelter of high banks,
Some of the younger men dance to the sound of the
banjo or fiddle—others sit on the gunwale,
smoking and talking;
Late in the afternoon, the mocking-bird, the Ameri-
can mimic, singing in the Great Dismal Swamp
—there are the greenish waters, the resinous
odor, the plenteous moss, the cypress tree, and
the juniper tree;

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—Northward, young men of Mannahatta—the target
company from an excursion returning home at
evening—the musket-muzzles all bear bunches
of flowers presented by women;
Children at play—or on his father's lap a young boy
fallen asleep, (how his lips move! how he
smiles in his sleep!)
The scout riding on horseback over the plains west of
the Mississippi—he ascends a knoll and sweeps
his eye around;
California life—the miner, bearded, dress'd in his
rude costume—the stanch California friendship
—the sweet air—the graves one, in passing,
meets, solitary, just aside the horse-path;
Down in Texas, the cotton-field, the negro-cabins—
drivers driving mules or oxen before rude carts
—cotton-bales piled on banks and wharves;
Encircling all, vast-darting, up and wide, the American
Soul, with equal hemisphere—one love, one
Dilation or Pride;
—In arriere, the peace-talk with the Iroquois, the
aborigines—the calumet, the pipe of good-will
arbitration, and indorsement,
The sachem blowing the smoke first toward the sum
and then toward the earth,
The drama of the scalp-dance enacted with painted
faces and guttural exclamations,
The setting out of the war-party—the long and
stealthy march,
The single-file—the swinging hatchets—the surprise
and slaughter of enemies;
—All the acts, scenes, ways, persons, attitudes of These
States—reminiscences, all institutions,
All These States, compact—Every square mile of
These States, without excepting a particle—you
also—me also,
Me pleased, rambling in lanes and country fields,
Paumanok's fields,

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Me, observing the spiral flight of two little yellow
butterflies, shuffling between each other, ascend-
ing high in the air;
The darting swallow, the destroyer of insects—the
fall traveler southward, but returning north-
ward early in the spring;
The country boy at the close of the day, driving the
herd of cows, and shouting to them as they
loiter to browse by the road-side;
The city wharf—Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore,
Charleston, New Orleans, San Francisco,
The departing ships, when the sailors heave at the
Evening—me in my room—the setting sun,
The setting summer sun shining in my open window,
showing the swarm of flies, suspended, balanc-
ing in the air in the centre of the room, darting
athwart, up and down, casting swift shadows in
specks on the opposite wall, where the shine is;
The athletic American matron speaking in public to
crowds of listeners;
Males, females, immigrants, combinations—the co-
piousness—the individuality of The States, each
for itself—the money-makers;
Factories, machinery, the mechanical forces—the
windlass, lever, pulley—All certainties,
The certainty of space, increase, freedom, futurity,
In space, the sporades, the scattered islands, the stars
—on the firm earth, the lands, my lands,
O lands! all so dear to me—what you are, (whatever
it is), I become a part of that, whatever it is
Southward there, I screaming, with wings slow flap-
ping, with the myriads of gulls wintering along
the coasts of Florida—or in Louisiana, with
pelicans breeding,
Otherways, there, atwixt the banks of the Arkansaw,
the Rio Grande, the Nueces, the Brazos, the
Tombigbee, the Red River, the Saskatchawan,
or the Osage, I with the spring waters laughing
and skipping and running;

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Northward, on the sands, on some shallow bay of Pau-
manok, I, with parties of snowy herons wading
in the wet to seek worms and aquatic plants;
Retreating, triumphantly twittering, the king-bird,
from piercing the crow with its bill, for amuse-
ment—And I triumphantly twittering;
The migrating flock of wild geese alighting in autumn
to refresh themselves—the body of the flock
feed—the sentinels outside move around with
erect heads watching, and are from time to
time reliev'd by other sentinels—And I feeding
and taking turns with the rest;
In Kanadian forests, the moose, large as an ox, cor-
ner'd by hunters, rising desperately on his hind-
feet, and plunging with his fore-feet, the hoofs
as sharp as knives—And I, plunging at the
hunters, corner'd and desperate;
In the Mannahatta, streets, piers, shipping, store-
houses, and the countless workmen working in
the shops,
And I too of the Mannahatta, singing thereof—and
no less in myself than the whole of the Manna-
hatta in itself,
Singing the song of These, my ever-united lands—my
body no more inevitably united, part to part,
and made one identity, any more than my lands
are inevitably united, and made ONE IDENTITY;
Nativities, climates, the grass of the great Pastoral
Cities, labors, death, animals, products, good and evil
—these me,
These affording, in all their particulars, endless
feuillage to me and to America, how can I do
less than pass the clew of the union of them, to
afford the like to you?
Whoever you are! how can I but offer you divine
leaves, that you also be eligible as I am?
How can I but, as here, chanting, invite you for your-
self to collect bouquets of the incomparable
feuillage of These States?

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1I WAS asking for something specific and perfect for
my city,
Whereupon, lo! upsprang the aboriginal name!

2Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid,
sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient;
I see that the word of my city is that word up there,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays,
superb, with tall and wonderful spires,
Rich, hemm'd thick all around with sailships and
steamships—an island sixteen miles long, solid-
Numberless crowded streets—high growths of iron,
slender, strong, light, splendidly uprising to-
ward clear skies;
Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sun-
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger ad-
joining islands, the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the
lighters, the ferry-boats, the black sea-steam-
ers, well model'd;
The down-town streets, the jobbers' houses of busi-
ness—the houses of business of the ship-mer-
chants, and money-brokers—the river-streets;
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a
The carts hauling goods—the manly race of drivers of
horses—the brown-faced sailors;
The summer-air, the bright sun shining, and the sail-
ing clouds aloft;

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The winter snows, the sleigh-bells—the broken ice in
the river, passing along, up or down, with the
flood-tide or-ebb tide;
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form'd,
beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the
Trottoirs throng'd—vehicles—Broadway—the women
—the shops and shows,
The parades, processions, bugles playing, flags flying,
drums beating;
A million people—manners free and superb—open
voices—hospitality—the most courageous and
friendly young men;
The free city! no slaves! no owners of slaves!
The beautiful city, the city of hurried and sparkling
waters! the city of spires and masts!
The city nested in bays! my city!
The city of such women, I am mad to be with them!
I will return after death to be with them!
The city of such young men, I swear I cannot live
happy, without I often go talk, walk, eat, drink,
sleep, with them!



LET us twain walk aside from the rest;
Now we are together privately, do you discard cere-
Come! vouchsafe to me what has yet been vouch-
safed to none—Tell me the whole story,
Tell me what you would not tell your brother, wife,
husband, or physician.

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The 18th Year of These States.

1 A GREAT year and place;
A harsh, discordant, natal scream out-sounding, to
touch the mother's heart closer than any yet.

2I walk'd the shores of my Eastern Sea,
Heard over the waves the little voice,
Saw the divine infant, where she woke, mournfully
wailing, amid the roar of cannon, curses,
shouts, crash of falling buildings;
Was not so sick from the blood in the gutters running
—nor from the single corpses, nor those in
heaps, nor those borne away in the tumbrils;
Was not so desperate at the battues of death—was
not so shock'd at the repeated fusillades of the

3Pale, silent, stern, what could I say to that long-
accrued retribution?
Could I wish humanity different?
Could I wish the people made of wood and stone?
Or that there be no justice in destiny or time?

4O Liberty! O mate for me!
Here too the blaze, the bullet and the axe, in reserve,
to fetch them out in case of need;
Here too, though long represt, can never be destroy'd;
Here too could rise at last, murdering and extatic;
Here too demanding full arrears of vengeance.

5Hence I sign this salute over the sea,
And I do not deny that terrible red birth and baptism,
But remember the little voice that I heard wailing—
and wait with perfect trust, no matter how

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And from to-day, sad and cogent, I maintain the be-
queath cause, as for all lands,
And I send these words to Paris with my love,
And I guess some chansonniers there will understand
For I guess there is latent music yet in France—
floods of it;
O I hear already the bustle of instruments—they will
soon be drowning all that would interrupt
O I think the east wind brings a triumphal and free
It reaches hither—it swells me to joyful madness,
I will run transpose it in words, to justify it,
I will yet sing a song for you, ma femme.



HOLD it up sternly! See this it sends back! (Who is
it? Is it you?)
Outside fair costume—within ashes and filth,
No more a flashing eye—no more a sonorous voice or
springy step;
Now some slave's eye, voice, hands, step,
A drunkard's breath, unwholesome eater's face,
venerealee's flesh,
Lungs rotting away piecemeal, stomach sour and can-
Joints rheumatic, bowels clogged with abomination,
Blood circulating dark and poisonous streams,
Words babble, hearing and touch callous,
No brain, no heart left—no magnetism of sex;
Such, from one look in this looking-glass ere you go
Such a result so soon—and from such a beginning!

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OF the visages of things—And of piercing through
to the accepted hells beneath;
Of ugliness—To me there is just as much in it as
there is in beauty—And now the ugliness of
human beings is acceptable to me;
Of detected persons—To me, detected persons are
not, in any respect, worse than undetected per-
sons—and are not in any respect worse than I
am myself;
Of criminals—To me, any judge, or any juror, is
equally criminal—and any reputable person is
also—and the President is also.



OF waters, forests, hills;
Of the earth at large, whispering through medium of
Of vista—Suppose some sight in arriere, through the
formative chaos, presuming the growth, fulness,
life, now attain'd on the journey;
(But I see the road continued, and the journey ever
Of what was once lacking on earth, and in due time
has become supplied—And of what will yet be
Because all I see and know, I believe to have purport
in what will yet be supplied.

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OF persons arrived at high positions, ceremonies,
wealth, scholarships, and the like;
To me, all that those persons have arrived at, sinks
away from them, except as it results to their
Bodies and Souls,
So that often to me they appear gaunt and naked;
And often, to me, each one mocks the others, and
mocks himself or herself,
And of each one, the core of life, namely happiness,
is full of the rotten excrement of maggots,
And often, to me, those men and women pass unwit-
tingly the true realities of life, and go toward
false realities,
And often, to me, they are alive after what custom has
served them, but nothing more,
And often, to me, they are sad, hasty, unwaked son-
nambules, walking the dusk.



OF ownership—As if one fit to own things could not
at pleasure enter upon all, and incorporate
them into himself or herself;
Of Equality—As if it harm'd me, giving others the
same chances and rights as myself—As if it
were not indispensable to my own rights that
others possess the same;
Of Justice—As if Justice could be anything but the
same ample law, expounded by natural judges
and saviors,
As if it might be this thing or that thing, according
to decisions.


AS I sit with others, at a great feast, suddenly, while
the music is playing,

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To my mind, (whence it comes I know not,) spectral,
in mist, of a wreck at sea,
Of the flower of the marine science of fifty generations,
founder'd off the Northeast coast, and going
down—Of the steamship Arctic going down,
Of the veil'd tableau—Women gather'd together on
deck, pale, heroic, waiting the moment that
draws so close—O the moment!
O the huge sob—A few bubbles—the white foam
spirting up—And then the women gone,
Sinking there, while the passionless wet flows on—
And I now pondering, Are those women indeed
Are Souls drown'd and destroy'd so?
Is only matter triumphant?



OF what I write from myself—As if that were not the
Of Histories—As if such, however complete, were not
less complete than my poems;
As if the shreds, the records of nations, could possibly
be as lasting as my poems;
As if here were not the amount of all nations, and of
all the lives of heroes.



OF obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something
profoundly affecting in large masses of men,
following the lead of those who do not believe
in men.

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MY spirit to yours, dear brother;
Do not mind because many, sounding your name, do
not understand you;
I do not sound your name, but I understand you,
(there are others also;)
I specify you with joy, O my comrade, to salute you,
and to salute those who are with you, before
and since—and those to come also,
That we all labor together, transmitting the same
charge and succession;
We few, equals, indifferent of lands, indifferent of
We, enclosers of all continents, all castes—allowers of
all theologies,
Compassionaters, perceivers, rapport of men,
We walk silent among disputes and assertions, but
reject not the disputers, nor any thing that is
We hear the bawling and din—we are reach'd at by
divisions, jealousies, recriminations on every
They close peremptorily upon us, to surround us, my
Yet we walk unheld, free, the whole earth over,
journeying up and down, till we make our in-
effaceable mark upon time and the diverse eras,
Till we saturate time and eras, that the men and
women of races, ages to come, may prove
brethren and lovers, as we are.



I SEE in you the estuary that enlarges and spreads
itself grandly as it pours in the great Sea.

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1FROM all the rest I single out you, having a message
for you:
You are to die—Let others tell you what they please,
I cannot prevaricate,
I am exact and merciless, but I love you—There is no
escape for you.

2Softly I lay my right hand upon you—you just feel
I do not argue—I bend my head close, and half-
envelop it,
I sit quietly by—I remain faithful,
I am more than nurse, more than parent or neighbor,
I absolve you from all except yourself, spiritual, bodily
—that is eternal,
(The corpse you will leave will be but excrementitious.)

3The sun bursts through in unlooked-for directions!
Strong thoughts fill you, and confidence—you smile!
You forget you are sick, as I forget you are sick,
You do not see the medicines—you do not mind the
weeping friends—I am with you,
I exclude others from you—there is nothing to be
I do not commiserate—I congratulate you.



STRANGER! if you, passing, meet me, and desire to
speak to me, why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?

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1NATIONS ten thousand years before These States,
and many times ten thousand years before
These States;
Garner'd clusters of ages, that men and women like
us grew up and travel'd their course, and
pass'd on;
What vast-built cities—what orderly republics—what
pastoral tribes and nomads;
What histories, rulers, heroes, perhaps trancending
all others;
What laws, customs, wealth, arts, traditions;
What sort of marriage—what costumes—what phy-
siology and phrenology;
What of liberty and slavery among them—what they
thought of death and the soul;
Who were witty and wise—who beautiful and poetic—
who brutish and undevelop'd;
Not a mark, not a record remains—And yet all re-

2O I know that those men and women were not for
nothing, any more than we are for nothing;
I know that they belong to the scheme of the world
every bit as much as we now belong to it, and
as all will henceforth belong to it.

3Afar they stand—yet near to me they stand,
Some with oval countenances, learn'd and calm,
Some naked and savage—Some like huge collections
of insects,
Some in tents—herdsmen, patriarchs, tribes, horse-
Some prowling through woods—Some living peacea-
bly on farms, laboring, reaping, filling barns,
Some traversing paved avenues, amid temples, pala-
ces, factories, libraries, shows, courts, theatres,
wonderful monuments.

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4Are those billions of men really gone?
Are those women of the old experience of the earth
Do their lives, cities, arts, rest only with us?
Did they achieve nothing for good, for themselves?

5I believe of all those billions of men and women
that fill'd the unnamed lands, every one exists
this hour, here or elsewhere, invisible to us, in
exact proportion to what he or she grew from
in life, and out of what he or she did, felt, be-
came, loved, sinned, in life.

6I believe that was not the end of those nations, or
any person of them, any more than this shall
be the end of my nation, or of me;
Of their languages, governments, marriage, literature,
products, games, wars, manners, crimes, pris-
ons, slaves, heroes, poets, I suspect their re-
sults curiously await in the yet unseen world—
counterparts of what accrued to them in the
seen world,
I suspect I shall meet them there,
I suspect I shall there find each old particular of those
unnamed lands.



WHO includes diversity, and is Nature,
Who is the amplitude of the earth, and the coarseness
and sexuality of the earth, and the great char-
ity of the earth, and the equilibrium also,
Who has not look'd forth from the windows, the eyes,
for nothing, or whose brain held audience with
messengers for nothing;

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Who contains believers and disbelievers—Who is the
most majestic lover;
Who holds duly his or her triune proportion of real-
ism, spiritualism, and of the æsthetic, or in-
Who, having consider'd the Body, finds all its organs
and parts good;
Who, out of the theory of the earth, and of his or
her body, understands by subtle analogies all
other theories,
The theory of a city, a poem, and of the large poli-
tics of These States;
Who believes not only in our globe, with its sun and
moon, but in other globes, with their suns and
Who, constructing the house of himself or herself, not
for a day, but for all time, sees races, eras, dates,
The past, the future, dwelling there, like space, insep-
arable together.



WHEN I read the book, the biography famous;
And is this, then, (said I,) what the author calls a
man's life?
And so will some one, when I am dead and gone,
write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught of my life;
As if you, O cunning Soul, did not keep your secret

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1I SAY whatever tastes sweet to the most perfect person
—That is finally right.



2 I SAY the human shape or face is so great, it must
never be made ridiculous;
I say for ornaments nothing outré can be allowed,
And that anything is most beautiful without orna-
And that exaggerations will be sternly revenged in
your own physiology; and in other persons' phys-
iology also;
And I say that clean-shaped children can be jetted and
conceiv'd only where natural forms prevail in
public, and the human face and form are never
And I say that genius need never more be turn'd to
(For facts properly told, how mean appear all ro-



3 I HAVE said many times that materials and the Soul
are great, and that all depends on physique;
Now I reverse what I said, and affirm that all depends
on the æsthetic, or intellectual,
And that criticism is great—and that refinement is
greatest of all;
And I affirm now that the mind governs—and that all
depends on the mind.

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4 WITH one man or woman—(no matter which one—I
even pick out the lowest,)
With him or her I now illustrate the whole law;
I say that every right, in politics or what-not, shall be
eligible to that one man or woman, on the same
terms as any.




1DESPAIRING cries float ceaselessly toward me, day and
The sad voice of Death—the call of my nearest lover,
putting forth, alarm'd, uncertain,
The Sea I am quickly to sail, come tell me,
Come tell me where I am speeding—tell me my destina-


2I understand your anguish, but I cannot help you,
I approach, hear, behold—the sad mouth, the look
out of the eyes, your mute inquiry,
Whither I go from the bed I recline on, come tell me:
Old age, alarm'd, uncertain—A young woman's voice,
appealing to me for comfort;
A young man's voice, Shall I not escape?



A THOUSAND perfect men and women appear,
Around each gathers a cluster of friends, and gay
children and youths, with offerings.

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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-

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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;)

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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,

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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,

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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,

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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?

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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;

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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-

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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.

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RESPONDEZ! Respondez!
Let every one answer! let those who sleep be waked!
let none evade!
(How much longer must we go on with our affectations
and sneaking?
Let me bring this to a close—I pronounce openly for
a new distribution of roles;)
Let that which stood in front go behind! and let that
which was behind advance to the front and
Let murderers, thieves, bigots, fools, unclean persons,
offer new propositions!
Let the old propositions be postponed!
Let faces and theories be turn'd inside out! Let
meanings be freely criminal, as well as results!
Let there be no suggestion above the suggestion of
Let none be pointed toward his destination! (Say! do
you know your destination?)
Let trillions of men and women be mock'd with bodies
and mock'd with Souls!
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 contradict
another! and let one line of my poems contra-
dict 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 love!
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?)

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Let the crust of hell be near'd and trod on! Let the
days be darker than the nights! Let slumber
bring less slumber than waking-time brings!
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 ap-
plause of the audience! Let there be apathy
under the stars!
Let freedom prove no man's inalienable right! Every
one who can tyrannize, let him tyrannize to his
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 writers, judges, gov-
ernments, households, religions, philosophies,
take such for granted above all!
Let the worst men beget children out of the worst
Let the priest still play at immortality!
Let death be inaugurated!
Let nothing remain but the ashes of teachers, artists,
moralists, lawyers, and learn'd and polite per-
Let him who is without my poems be assassinated!
Let the cow, the horse, the camel, the garden-bee—Let
the mud-fish, the lobster, the mussel, eel, the
stingfish—Let these,
and the like of these, be put on a perfect equal-
ity with man and woman!
Let churches accommodate serpents, vermin, and the
corpses of those who have died of the most
filthy of diseases!
Let marriage slip down among fools, and be for none
but fools!

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Let men among themselves talk and think obscenely
of women! and let women among themselves
talk and think 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 public,
naked, monthly, at the peril of our lives! Let
our bodies be freely handled and examined by
whoever chooses!
Let nothing but copies be permitted to exist upon the
Let the earth desert God, nor let there never hence-
forth be mention'd the name of God!
Let there be no God!
Let there be money, business, imports, exports, cus-
tom, 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 transposed?)
Let the slaves be masters! Let the masters become
Let the reformers descend from the stands where they
are forever bawling! Let an idiot or insane
person appear on each of the stands!
Let the Asiatic, the African, the European, the Ameri-
can, and the Australian, go armed against the
murderous stealthiness of each other! Let them
sleep armed! Let none believe in good will!
Let there be no unfashionable wisdom! Let such be
scorn'd and derided off from the earth!
Let a floating cloud in the sky—Let a wave of the sea
—Let growing mint, spinach, onions, tomatoes
—Let these be exhibited as shows at a great
price for admission!
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!

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Let shadows be furnish'd with genitals! Let substances
be deprived of their genitals!
Let there be wealthy and immense cities—but through
any of them, not a single poet, savior, knower,
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 breeding faith!
Let the she-harlots and the he-harlots be prudent!
Let them dance on, while seeming lasts! (O
seeming! seeming! seeming!)
Let the preachers recite creeds! Let them teach only
what they have been taught!
Let insanity have charge of sanity!
Let books take the place of trees, animals, rivers,
Let the daub'd portraits of heroes supersede heroes!
Let the manhood of man never take steps after itself!
Let it take steps after eunuchs, and after con-
sumptive and genteel persons!
Let the white person tread the black person under his
heel! (Say! which is trodden under heel, after
Let the reflections of the things of the world be studied
in mirrors! Let the things themselves continue
Let a man seek pleasure everywhere except in him-
self! Let a woman seek happiness everywhere
except in herself! (What real happiness have
you had one single time through your whole
Let the limited years of life do nothing for the limit-
less years of death! (What do you suppose
death will do, then?)

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BY the City Dead-House, by the gate,
As idly sauntering, wending my way from the clangor,
I curious pause—for lo! an outcast form, a poor dead
prostitute brought;
Her corpse they deposit unclaim'd, it lies on the
damp brick pavement;
The divine woman, her body—I see the Body—I look
on it alone,
That house once full of passion and beauty—all else I
notice not;
Nor stillness so cold, nor running water from faucet,
nor odors morbific impress me;
But the house alone—that wondrous house—that de-
licate fair house—that ruin!
That immortal house, more than all the rows of dwel-
lings ever built!
Or white-domed Capitol itself, with magestic figure sur-
mounted—or all the old high-spired cathedrals,
That little house alone, more than them all—poor,
desperate house!
Fair, fearful wreck! tenement of a Soul! itself a Soul!
Unclaim'd, avoided house! take one breath from my
tremulous lips;
Take one tear, dropt aside as I go, for thought of you,
Dead house of love! house of madness and sin, crum-
bled! crush'd!
House of life—erewhile talking and laughing—but
ah, poor house! dead, even then;
Months, years, an echoing, garnish'd house—but
dead, dead, dead.



WHAT General has a good army in himself, has a good
He happy in himself, or she happy in herself, is happy.

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1 THINK of the Soul;
I swear to you that body of yours gives proportions
to your Soul somehow to live in other spheres;
I do not know how, but I know it is so.

2Think 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.

3Think of the past;
I warn you that in a little while, others will find their
past in you and your times.

4The race is never separated—nor man nor woman
All is inextricable—things, spirits, nature, nations,
you too—from precedents you come.

5Recall the ever-welcome defiers, (The mothers pre-
cede them;)
Recall the sages, poets, saviors, inventors, lawgivers,
of the earth;
Recall Christ, brother of rejected persons—brother of
slaves, felons, idiots, and of insane and diseas'd

6Think 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 dying.

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7Think of spiritual results,
Sure as the earth swims through the heavens, does
every one of its objects pass into spiritual

8Think of manhood, and you to be a man;
Do you count manhood, and the sweet of manhood,

9Think 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?



UNFOLDED 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 form'd of perfect body;
Unfolded only out of the inimitable poem of the wo-
man, 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 obedient;

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Unfolded out of the justice of the woman, all justice
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 greatness of man
is unfolded out of woman,
First the man is shaped in the woman, he can then be
shaped in himself.



1 NIGHT on the prairies;
The supper is over—the fire on the ground burns
The wearied emigrants sleep, wrapt in their blankets;
I walk by myself—I stand and look at the stars,
which I think now I never realized before.

2Now I absorb immortality and peace,
I admire death, and test propositions.

3How plenteous! How spiritual! How resumé!
The same Old Man and Soul—the same old aspira-
tions, and the same content.

4I was thinking the day most splendid, till I saw
what the not-day exhibited,
I was thinking this globe enough, till there sprang
out so noiseless around me myriads of other

5Now, while the great thoughts of space and eternity
fill me, I will measure myself by them;
And now, touch'd with the lives of other globes, ar-
rived as far along as those of the earth,

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Or waiting to arrive, or pass'd on farther than those
of the earth,
I henceforth no more ignore them, than I ignore my
own life,
Or the lives of the earth arrived as far as mine, or
waiting to arrive.

6O I see now that life cannot exhibit all to me—as
the day cannot,
I see that I am to wait for what will be exhibited by



THE world below the brine;
Forests at the bottom of the sea—the branches and
Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds—
the thick tangle, the openings, and the pink
Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white,
and gold—the play of light through the water,
Dumb swimmers there among the rocks—coral, gluten,
grass, rushes—and the aliment of the swimmers,
Sluggish existences grazing there, suspended, or
slowly crawling close to the bottom,
The sperm-whale at the surface, blowing air and
spray, or disporting with his flukes,
The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the
hairy sea-leopard, and the sting-ray;
Passions there—wars, pursuits, tribes—sight in those
ocean-depths—breathing that thick-breathing
air, as so many do;
The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle
air breathed by beings like us, who walk this
The change onward from ours, to that of beings who
walk other spheres.

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I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world,
and upon all oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at an-
guish with themselves, remorseful after deeds
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children,
dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate;
I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the
treacherous seducer of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited
love, attempted to be hid—I see these sights
on the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I
see martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors cast-
ing lots who shall be kill'd, to preserve the
lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arro-
gant persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon
negroes, and the like;
All these—All the meanness and agony without end,
I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.



A MASK—a perpetual natural disguiser of herself,
Concealing her face, concealing her form,
Changes and transformations every hour, every mo-
Falling upon her even when she sleeps.

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NOT the pilot has charged himself to bring his ship
into port, though beaten back, and many times
Not the path-finder, penetrating inland, weary and
By deserts parch'd, snows-chill'd, rivers wet, perse-
veres till he reaches his destination,
More than I have charged myself, heeded or un-
heeded, to compose a free march for These
To be exhilarating music to them, years, centuries



AS if a phantom caress'd me,
I thought I was not alone, walking here by the shore;
But the one I thought was with me, as now I walk by
the shore, the one I loved that caress'd me,
As I lean and look through the glimmering light—
that one has utterly disappear'd,
And those appear that are hateful to me, and mock



WOMEN sit, or move to and fro—some old, some
The young are beautiful—but the old are more beauti-
ful than the young.

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1 GREAT are the myths—I too delight in them;
Great are Adam and Eve—I too look back and accept
Great the risen and fallen nations, and their poets,
women, sages, inventors, rulers, warriors, and

2Great is Liberty! great is Equality! I am their
Helmsmen of nations, choose your craft! where you
sail, I sail,
I weather it out with you, or sink with you.

3Great 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.

4Youth, large, lusty, loving—Youth, full of grace,
force, fascination!
Do you know that Old Age may come after you, with
equal grace, force, fascination?

5Day, full-blown and splendid—Day of the immense
sun, action, ambition, laughter,
The Night follows close, with millions of suns, and
sleep, and restoring darkness.

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6Wealth, with the flush hand, fine clothes, hospi-
But then the Soul's wealth, which is candor, knowl-
edge, pride, enfolding love;
(Who goes for men and women showing Poverty
richer than wealth?)

7(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.)

8Great is the Earth, and the way it became what it
Do you imagine it has stopt at this? the increase
Understand then that it goes as far onward from this,
as this is from the times when it lay in cover-
ing waters and gases, before man had appear'd.

9Great 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.

10The 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;
If there be equilibrium or volition, there is truth—if
there be things at all upon the earth, there is

11O truth of the earth! O truth of things! I am de-
termin to press my way toward you;
Sound your voice! I scale mountains, or dive in the
sea after you.

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12Great is Language—it is the mightiest of the sci-
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.

13Great 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.

14Great is law—great are the old few land-marks of
the law,
They are the same in all times, and shall not be dis-

15Great 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 majorities—
majorities or what not, come at last before the
same passionless and exact tribunal.

16For justice are the grand natural lawyers, and per-
fect judges—is it in their Souls;
It is well assorted—they have not studied for nothing
—the great includes the less;
They rule on the highest grounds—they oversee all
eras, states, administrations.

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17The 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.

18Great is Life, real and mystical, wherever and who-
Great is Death—sure as life holds all parts together,
Death holds all parts together.

19Has Life much purport?—Ah, Death has the greatest



1NOW list to my morning's romanza;
To the cities and farms I sing, as they spread in the
sunshine before me.

2A young man came to me bearing 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.

3And 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 answer'd for his brother, and for men, and I
answer'd for THE POET, and sent these signs.

4Him all wait for—him all yield up to—his word is
decisive and final,

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Him they accept, in him lave, in him perceive them-
selves, as amid light,
Him they immerse, and he immerses them.

5Beautiful women, the haughtiest nations, laws, the
landscape, people, animals,
The profound earth and its attributes, and the unquiet
ocean, (so tell I my morning's romanza;)
All enjoyments and properties, and money, and what-
ever 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.

6He puts things in their attitudes;
He puts to-day 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 after-
ward, nor assume to command them.

7He is the answerer;
What can be answer'd he answers—and what cannot
be answer'd, he shows how it cannot be answer'd.

8A man is a summons and challenge;
(It is vain to skulk—Do you hear that mocking and
laughter? Do you hear the ironical echoes?)

9Books, friendships, philosophers, priests, action,
pleasure, pride, beat up and down, seeking to
give satisfaction;

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He indicates the satisfaction, and indicates them that
beat up and down also.

10Whichever 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 knobs.

11His 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

12Every existence has its idiom—everything 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.

13He 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,
And both understand him, and know that his speech
is right.

14He walks with perfect ease in the Capitol,
He walks among the Congress, an