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Books by Whitman

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The 72d and 73d Years of These States.


1SUDDENLY, out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair of
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, mark!
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts,
For court thieving in its manifold mean forms, worming
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 blows
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 destruction,
and the frighten'd monarchs 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,

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Out of its robes only this—the red robes, lifted by the
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 martrys 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 young men, 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, coun-
seling, 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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