Published Works

Books by Whitman

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 343] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


1NATIONS ten thousand years before These States, and
many times ten thousand years before These
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 transcending all
What laws, customs, wealth, arts, traditions;
What sort of marriage—what costumes—what physi-
ology 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 remains.

2O I know that those men and women were not for
nothing, any more than we are for nothing;

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - [begin page 344] - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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
Some in tents—herdsmen, patriarchs, tribes, horsemen,
Some prowling through woods—Some living peaceably
on farms, laboring, reaping, filling barns,
Some traversing paved avenues, amid temples, palaces,
factories, libraries, shows, courts, theatres, won-
derful monuments.

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, became, loved,
sinn'd, 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, prisons,
slaves, heroes, poets, I suspect their results
curiously await in the yet unseen world—coun-
terparts of what accrued to them in the seen
I suspect I shall meet them there,
I suspect I shall there find each old particular of those
unnamed lands.


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.