Published Works

Books by Whitman

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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, my city—or on southern sa-
Or a soldier camp'd, or carrying my knapsack and gun—
or a miner in California;
Or rude in my home in Dakota's woods, my diet meat,
my drink from the spring;
Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep re-
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 earth, rocks, Fifth-month flowers, experienced—
stars, rain, snow, my amaze;
Having studied the mocking-bird's tones, and the
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,
The indissoluble 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!
Underfoot the divine soil—overhead 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 stop,
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
With eyes retrospective towards me.


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

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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.

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

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15In the name of These States, shall I scorn the an-
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 heir-ship 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.

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.

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20I will make a song for These States, that no one State
may under any circumstances be subjected 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

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 view.

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;
I will lift what has too long kept down those smoulder-
ing fires;
I will give them complete abandonment;
I will write the evangel-poem of comrades, and of love;
(For who but I should understand love, with all its sor-
row 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 in their own spirit;
Here is what sings unrestricted faith.

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24Omnes! Omnes! let others ignore what they may;
I make the poem of evil also—I commemorate that part
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 descend into the arena;
(It may be I am destin'd to utter the loudest cries there,
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;
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 Reli-
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;

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But behold! such swiftly subside— burnt up for Reli-
gion's 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 excess
—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.


33Know you! solely 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 resplendent,
The greatness of Love and Democracy—and the great-
ness 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.

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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, at noon,
or setting!
O strain, musical, flowing through ages—now reaching
I take to your reckless and composite chords—I add to
them, and cheerfully pass them forward.


38As I have walk'd in Alabama my morning walk
I have seen where the she-bird, the mocking-bird, sat
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.

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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.

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 sexual organs and acts! do you concentrate in me
—for I am determin'd to tell you with courageous
clear voice, to prove you illustrious;
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 mira-
cles, 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;

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(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.

48All 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 body,
Item for item, it will elude the hands of the corpse-
cleaners, and pass to fitting spheres,
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's 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 indica-
tive hand?

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

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55O the lands! interlink'd, food-yielding lands!
Land of coal and iron! Land of gold! Lands of cot-
ton, 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 north-west Columbia winds, and where
the south-west Colorado winds!
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
The great women's land! the feminine! the experienced
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 rip-
ples, on Paumanok's sands,
Crossing the praries—dwelling again in Chicago—dwel-
ling in every town,
Observing shows, births, improvements, structures, arts,

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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;
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 me.


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

57For your life adhere to me!
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 con-
sent to give myself really to you—but what of
Must not Nature be persuaded many times?

58No dainty dolce affettuoso I;
Bearded, sun-burnt, gray-neck'd, forbidding, I have

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To be wrestled with as I pass, for the solid prizes of
the universe;
For such I afford whoever can persevere to win them.


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
the red aborigines.

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 unpre-
cendented 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 Kansas, 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 Manhat-
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-belov'd, 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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