Published Works

Books by Whitman

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 267] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


RISE, O days, from your fathomless deeps, till you
loftier, fiercer sweep!
Long for my soul, hungering gymnastic, I devour'd
what the earth gave me;
Long I roam'd the woods of the north—long I watch'd
Niagara pouring;
I travel'd the prairies over, and slept on their breast—
I cross'd the Nevadas, I cross'd the plateaus;
I ascended the towering rocks along the Pacific, I sail'd
out to sea;
I sail'd through the storm, I was refresh'd by the storm;
I watch'd with joy the threatening maws of the waves;
I mark'd the white combs where they career'd so high,
curling over;
I heard the wind piping, I saw the black clouds;
Saw from below what arose and mounted, (O superb! O
wild as my heart, and powerful!)
Heard the continuous thunder, as it bellow'd after the
Noted the slender and jagged threads of lightning, as
sudden and fast amid the din they chased each
other across the sky;
—These, and such as these, I, elate, saw—saw with
wonder, yet pensive and masterful;
All the menacing might of the globe uprisen around
Yet there with my soul I fed—I fed content, super-


'Twas well, O soul! 'twas a good preparation you gave
Now we advance our latent and ampler hunger to fill;
Now we go forth to receive what the earth and the sea
never gave us;
Not through the mighty woods we go, but through the
mightier cities;

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 268] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Something for us is pouring now, more than Niagara
Torrents of men, (sources and rills of the Northwest,
are you indeed inexhaustible?)
What, to pavements and homesteads here—what were
those storms of the mountains and sea?
What, to passions I witness around me to-day? Was
the sea risen?
Was the wind piping the pipe of death under the black
Lo! from deeps more unfathomable, something more
deadly and savage;
Manhattan, rising, advancing with menacing front—
Cincinnati, Chicago, unchain'd;
—What was that swell I saw on the ocean? behold
what comes here!
How it climbs with daring feet and hands! how it
How the true thunder bellows after the lightning! how
bright the flashes of lightning!
How DEMOCRACY, with desperate vengeful port strides
on, shown through the dark by those flashes of
(Yet a mournful wail and low sob I fancied I heard
through the dark,
In a lull of the deafening confusion.)


Thunder on! stride on, Democracy! strike with venge-
ful stroke!
And do you rise higher than ever yet, O days, O cities!
Crash heavier, heavier yet, O storms! you have done me
My soul, prepared in the mountains, absorbs your im-
mortal strong nutriment;
—Long had I walk'd my cities, my country roads,
through farms, only half satisfied;
One doubt, nauseous, undulating like a snake, crawl'd
on the ground before me,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 269] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Continually preceding my steps, turning upon me oft,
ironically hissing low;
—The cities I loved so well, I abandon'd and left—I
sped to the certainties suitable to me;
Hungering, hungering, hungering, for primal energies,
and Nature's dauntlessness,
I refresh'd myself with it only, I could relish it only;
I waited the bursting forth of the pent fire—on the
water and air I waited long;
—But now I no longer wait—I am fully satisfied—I am
I have witness'd the true lightning—I have witness'd
my cities electric;
I have lived to behold man burst forth, and warlike
America rise;
Hence I will seek no more the food of the northern sol-
itary wilds,
No more on the mountains roam, or sail the stormy sea.


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

Support the Archive | About the Archive

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