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Books by Whitman

About this Item

Title: Leaves of Grass

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1871

Whitman Archive ID: ppp.00270

Source: Leaves of Grass (Washington, DC, 1871). Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia, PS3201 1871, 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 Virginia 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: Elizabeth Lorang, Brett Barney, Stacey Berry, Brian L. Pytlik Zillig , Zach Bajaber, Ed Folsom, Kenneth M. Price, and Said Fallaha

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Washington D. C.

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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by WALT WHITMAN, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

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One's Self I Sing


As I Ponder'd in Silence


In Cabin'd Ships at Sea


To Foreign Lands


To a Historian


For Him I Sing


When I read the Book


Beginning my Studies


To Thee Old Cause!


Starting from Paumanok


The Ship Starting


Unfolded out of the Folds


To You


Walt Whitman


Laws for Creations





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


Out of the Rolling Ocean, the Crowd


Native Moments


Once I pass'd through a Populous City


Facing West from California's Shores


Ages and Ages, Returning at Intervals


O Hymen! O Hymenee!


As Adam, Early in the Morning


I Heard You, Solemn-sweet Pipes of the Organ


I am He that Aches with Love


To Him that was Crucified





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 Appearances


The Base of all Metaphysics


Recorders Ages Hence


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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 Consumes


Trickle, Drops


City of Orgies


Behold this Swarthy Face


I saw in Louisiana a Live Oak Growing


To a Stranger


This Moment, Yearning and Thoughtful


I hear it was Charged against Me


The Prairie-Grass Dividing


We Two Boys Together Clinging


A Promise to California


Here the Frailest Leaves of Me


When I peruse the Conquer'd Fame


What think You I take my Pen in Hand


A Glimpse


No Labor-Saving Machine


A Leaf for Hand in Hand


To the East and to the West


Earth! my Likeness


I Dream'd in a Dream


Fast Anchor'd, Eternal, O Love


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 an Monde


A Child's Amaze


The Runner


Beautiful Women


Mother and Babe




American Feuillage


Song of the Broad-Axe


Song of the Open Road



I sit and Look Out


Me Imperturbe


As I lay with my Head in your Lap, Camerado


Crossing Brooklyn Ferry


With Antecedents



Now list to my Morning's Romanza


The Indications


Poets to Come


I Hear America Singing


The City Dead House


A Farm-Picture


Carol of Occupations




The Sleepers


Carol of Words


Ah Poverties, Wincings and Sulky Retreats



A Boston Ballad, 1854


Year of Meteors, 1859-'60


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A Broadway Pageant




Great are the Myths





There was a Child went Forth


Longings for Home


Think of the Soul


You Felons on Trial in Courts


To a Common Prostitute


I was Looking a Long While


To a President


To The States







Beat! Beat! Drums!


From Paumanok Starting


Rise, O Days


City of Ships


The Centenarian's Story


An Army Corps on the March


Cavalry Crossing a Ford


Bivouac on a Mountain Side


By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame


Come up from the Fields, Father


Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field


A March in the Ranks, Hard-prest


Sight in Camp


Not the Pilot, &c.


As Toilsome I Wander'd


Year that Trembled


The Dresser


Long, too Long, O Land!


Give me the Splendid, Silent Sun


Dirge for Two Veterans


Over the Carnage


The Artilleryman's Vision


I saw Old General at Bay


O Tan-faced Prairie Boy


Look Down, Fair Moon




Spirit whose Work is Done


How Solemn as One by One


Not Youth Pertains to Me


To the Leaven'd Soil They Trod





Manhattan Streets I Saunter'd, Pondering


All is Truth





As I sat Alone by Blue Ontario's shores


Pioneers! O Pioneers!




Turn, O Libertad


Adieu to a Soldier


As I walk These Broad, Majestic Days


Weave in, Weave in, My Hardy Life


Race of Veterans


O Sun of Real Peace


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This Compost


Unnamed Lands




Old Ireland


To Oratists


Solid, Ironical, Rolling Orb



Bathed in War's Perfume


Delicate Cluster


Song of the Banner at Day-Break


Ethiopia Saluting the Colors


Lo! Victress on the Peaks


World, Take Good Notice


Thick-Sprinkled Bunting


A Hand-Mirror





O Me! O Life!







Still, though the One I Sing


To a foil'd European Revolutionaire


France, the 18th year of These States


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


Walt Whitman's Caution


To a Certain Cantatrice



To You



As the Time Draws Nigh


Years of the Modern




Song at Sunset


When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer


To Rich Givers




So Long


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1ONE'S-SELF I sing—a simple, separate Person;
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-masse.

2Of Physiology from top to toe I sing;
Not physiognomy alone, nor brain alone, is worthy for
the muse—I say the Form complete is worthier
The Female equally with the male I sing.

3Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful—for freest action form'd, under the laws di-
The Modern Man I sing.



AS I ponder'd in silence,
Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,
A Phantom arose before me, with distrustful aspect,
Terrible in beauty, age, and power,

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The genius of poets of old lands,
As to me directing like flame its eyes,
With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said;
Knowest thou not, there is but one theme for ever-enduring
And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,
The making of perfect soldiers?


Be it so, then I answer'd,
I too, haughty Shade, also sing war—and a longer and
greater one than any,
Waged in my book with varying fortune—with fight, ad-
vance, and retreat—Victory deferr'd and wavering,
(Yet, methinks, certain, or as good as certain, at the last,)
—The field the world;
For life and death—for the Body, and for the eternal Soul,
Lo! I too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
I, above all, promote brave soldiers.



IN cabin'd ships, at sea,
The boundless blue on every side expanding,
With whistling winds and music of the waves—the
large imperious waves—In such,
Or some lone bark, buoy'd on the dense marine,
Where, joyous, full of faith, spreading white sails,
She cleaves the ether, mid the sparkle and the foam of
day, or under many a star at night,
By sailors young and old, haply will I, a reminiscence
of the land, be read,
In full rapport at last.

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Here are our thoughts—voyagers' thoughts,
Here not the land, firm land, alone appears, may then by
them be said;
The sky o'erarches here—we feel the undulating deck be-
neath our feet,
We feel the long pulsation—ebb and flow of endless mo-
The tones of unseen mystery—the vague and vast sugges-
tions of the briny world—the liquid-flowing sylla-
The perfume, the faint creaking of the cordage, the melan-
choly rhythm,
The boundless vista, and the horizon far and dim, are all
And this is Ocean's poem.


Then falter not, O book! fulfil your destiny!
You, not a reminiscence of the land alone,
You too, as a lone bark, cleaving the ether—purpos'd I
know not whither—yet ever full of faith,
Consort to every ship that sails—sail you!
Bear forth to them, folded, my love —(Dear mariners!
for you I fold it here, in every leaf;)
Speed on, my Book! spread your white sails, my little
bark, athwart the imperious waves!
Chant on—sail on—bear o'er the boundless blue, from
me, to every shore,
This song for mariners and all their ships.


I HEARD that you ask'd for something to prove this
puzzle, the New World,
And to define America, her athletic Democracy;
Therefore I send you my poems, that you behold in
them what you wanted.

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YOU who celebrate bygones!
Who have explored the outward, the surfaces of the
races—the life that has exhibited itself;
Who have treated of man as the creature of politics,
aggregates, rulers and priests;
I, habitan of the Alleghanies, treating of him as he is
in himself, in his own rights,
Pressing the pulse of the life that has seldom exhibited
itself, (the great pride of man in himself;)
Chanter of Personality, outlining what is yet to be,
I project the history of the future.


FOR him I sing,
I raise the Present on the Past,
(As some perennial tree, out of its roots, the present on
the past:)
With time and space I him dilate—and fuse the im-
mortal laws,
To make himself, by them, the law unto himself.


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?

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(As if any man really knew aught of my life;
Why, even I myself, I often think, know little or noth-
ing of my real life;
Only a few hints—a few diffused, faint clues and indi-
I seek, for my own use, to trace out here.)


BEGINNING my studies, the first step pleas'd me so
The mere fact, consciousness—these forms—the power
of motion,
The least insect or animal—the senses—eyesight—
The first step, I say, aw'd me and pleas'd me so much,
I have hardly gone, and hardly wish'd to go, any far-
But stop and loiter all the time, to sing it in extatic


1To thee, old Cause!
Thou peerless, passionate, good cause!
Thou stern, remorseless, sweet Idea!
Deathless throughout the ages, races, lands!
After a strange, sad war—great war for thee,
(I think all war through time was really fought, and
ever will be really fought, for thee;)
These chants for thee—the eternal march of thee.

2Thou orb of many orbs!
Thou seething principle! Thou well-kept, latent germ!
Thou centre!

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Around the idea of thee the strange sad war revolv-
With all its angry and vehement play of causes,
(With yet unknown results to come, for thrice a thou-
sand years,)
These recitatives for thee—my Book and the War are
Merged in its spirit I and mine—as the contest hinged
on thee,
As a wheel on its axis turns, this Book, unwitting to
Around the Idea of thee.

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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.


Lo! THE unbounded sea!
On its breast a Ship starting, spreading all her sails—
an ample Ship, carrying even her moonsails;
The pennant is flying aloft, as she speeds, she speeds
so stately— below, emulous waves press forward,
They surround the Ship, with shining curving motions,
and foam.

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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 earth;
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 em-
braces of the man;
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman's brain, come
all the folds of the man's brain, duly obedient;
Unfolded out of the justice of the woman, all justice is
Unfolded out of the sympathy of the woman is all sym-
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.


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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1I 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 lungs;

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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
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.

13Sure 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, swelling
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, uni-
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable
certain rest,
Looking with side-curved head, curious what will come

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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 summer
How you settled your head athwart my hips, and gently
turn'd over upon me,
And parted my 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
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;
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 poke-weed.

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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 nar-
row 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
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 colourless beards of old men;
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

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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.


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 on 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.)

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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 sweet-heart and the old maid—for me
mothers, and the mothers of mothers;
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears;
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.


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 bed-
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

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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;
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
The armfuls are pack'd to the sagging mow.

49I am there—I help—I came stretch'd 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,

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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 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 boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt
for me;
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 protected
his neck—he held his bride by the hand;
She had long eyelashes—her head was bare—her coarse
straight locks descended upon her voluptuous
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,

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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
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.)


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 ribs.

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62The young men float on their backs—their white bel-
lies bulge to the sun—they do not ask who seizes
fast to them;
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant
and bending arch;
They do not think whom they souse with spray.


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;
Over-hand the hammers swing—over-hand so slow—
over-hand 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, pois'd 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.

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

68In me the caresser of life wherever moving—back-
ward as well as forward slueing;
To niches aside and junior bending.

69Oxen 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;
They rise together—they slowly circle around.

71I believe in those wing'd purposes,
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,
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

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73The sharp-hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the
house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog,
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 out-doors,
Of men that live among cattle, or taste of the ocean or
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;
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 stretches;
The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the
The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of
the big wheel;

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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 bedroom;)
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 auction-stand—the
drunkard nods by the bar-room stove;
The machinist rolls up his sleeves—the policeman trav-
els 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
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 offer-
ing moccasins and bead-bags for sale;
The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with
half-shut eyes bent sideways;
As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat, the plank
is thrown for the shore-going passengers;

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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 book-keeper
counts at his desk—the shoemaker waxes his
The conductor beats time for the band, and all the per-
formers 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'd 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;
(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths, nor jeer
The President, holding a cabinet council, is surrounded
by the Great Secretaries;
On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly
with twined arms;

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The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of hal-
ibut 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;
The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their
The old husband sleeps by his wife, and the young hus-
band 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.

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

79I resist anything better than my own diversity;

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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 riddle,
they are nothing;
If they are not just as close as they are distant, they are

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
I play not marches for accepted victors only—I play
great marches for conquered and slain persons.

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 gayest
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!

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And to all generals that lost engagements! and all over-
come heroes!
And the numberless unknown heroes, equal to the
greatest heroes known.


87This is the meal equally 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 in-
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.

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?

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

94All I mark as my own, you shall offset it with your own;
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 wallow
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

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

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's compass;
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with
a burnt stick at night.

102I know I am august;

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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 cheerfulness
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.


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

100I 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-

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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!
Earth of shine and dark, mottling the tide of the river!
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;
Dash me with amorous wet—I can repay you.

116Sea of stretch'd ground-swells!

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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
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?)

119I am not the poet of goodness only—I do not decline
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
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

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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-Masse.

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

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

120I 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.)


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Less 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, a Kosmos, of mighty Manhat-
tan 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.

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 father-stuff,
And of the rights of them the others are down upon;

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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.

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 strippings
of my life.

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

147Root of wash'd sweet flag! timorous pond-snipe!
nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you!

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Mix'd 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! loving
lounger in my winding paths! it shall be you!
Hands I have taken—face I have kiss'd—mortal I have
ever touch'd! it shall be you.

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.

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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


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 daybreak.

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;

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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.

163Writing and talk do not prove me;
I carry the plenum of proof, and everything else, in my
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
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;

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The ring of alarm-bells—the cry of fire—the whirr of
swift-streaking engines and hose-carts, with pre-
monitory 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.)

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 whirls me wider than Uranus flies;
It 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.

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170To be, in any form—what is that?
(Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back
If nothing lay more develop'd, 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;
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 iden-
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 waist,
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

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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.

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 car-
ried 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'd 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 golden.


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?)


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

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

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'uvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all
And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses
any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of
And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at
the farmer's girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and
baking short-cake.

185I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss,
fruits, grains, esculent roots,
And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over,

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And have distanced what is behind me for good rea-
And call anything close again, when I desire it.

186In vain the speeding or shyness;
In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against
my approach;
In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder'd
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 logs;
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 God;
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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I 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 full of sparkling wickedness—ears finely cut, flex-
ibly moving.

192His nostrils dilate, as my heels embrace him;
His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure, as we race
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 guessed 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.

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.

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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 forests;
Prospecting—gold-digging—girdling the trees of a new
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 overhead
—where the buck turns furiously at the hunter;
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 cotton
plant—over the rice in its low moist field;
Over the shar-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;
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
Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve—where
the great gold-bug drops through the dark;
Where flails keep time on the barn-floor;
Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree
and flows to the meadow;

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Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremu-
lous shuddering of their hides;
Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen—where
andirons straddle the hearth-slab—where cob-
webs fall in festoons from the rafters;
Where trip-hammers crash—where the press is whirling
its cylinders;
Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes
under 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 regiments;
Approaching Manhattan, up by the long-stretching
Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my
Upon a door-step—upon the horse-block of hard wood
Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs, or a
good game of base-ball;
At he-festivals, with blackguard jibes, 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

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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 scattered—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 limitless
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
Where winter wolves bark amidst wastes of snow and
icicled trees;
Where the yellow-crowned 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 conical
Through the gymnasium—through the curtain'd saloon
—through the office or public hall;

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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-wash'd
Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Metho-
dist preacher, or any preacher—impress'd 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 animals'
feet, or the moccasin print;
By the cot in the hospital, reaching lemonade to a
feverish patient;
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 miles;

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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 orchard of spheres, and look at the
And look at quintillions ripened, and look at quintillions

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.

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 towards them;
(We are approaching some great battle-field in which
we are soon to be engaged;
We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment—we
pass with still feet and caution;

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Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin'd
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.

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 olden 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;

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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,
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 turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and

210I am the mash'd fireman with breast-bone 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.

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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, to my listening ears, the cannon responsive.

215I take part—I see and hear the whole;
The cries, curses, roar—the plaudits for well-aimed
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.

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219They were the glory of the race of rangers;
Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship,
Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affec-
Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hun-
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 liv-
ing 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
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 can-
non 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
We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just
begun our part of the fighting.

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

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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 again fast on the pumps—the fire eats toward
the powder-magazine.

234One of the pumps has been shot away—it is gene-
rally thought we are sinking.

235Serene 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-lan-

236Toward twelve at night, there in the beams of the
moon, they surrender to us.


237Stretch'd and still lies the midnight;
Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the dark-
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
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 officers yet fit for
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,

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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!
In at the conquer'd doors they crowd. I am possess'd.

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.)

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.

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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 cru-
cifixion 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'd with supreme power, one
of an average unending procession;
Inland and sea-coast we go, and we pass all boundary
Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole
The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thou-
sands of years.

249Eleves, I salute you! come forward!
Continue your annotations, continue your questionings.


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, raised out-doors? Is he

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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 naivete,
Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes
They descend in new forms from the tips of his fingers;
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 surfaces only—I force surfaces and depths

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;
When I give, I give 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;

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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 in my soul I swear, I never will deny him.

261On women fit for conception I start bigger and
nimbler 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.

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

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And when you rise in the mornng 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
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;
Taking them all for what they are worth, and not a cent
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;

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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 destruc-
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 in-
terceding for every person born;
Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three
lusty angels with shirts bagg'd out at their waists;
The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins
past and to come,
Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee lawyers
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;
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'd 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.

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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, real;
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

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, wars,
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 positively not
worms or fleas.)

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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 will not write any
And would fetch you, whoever you are, flush with

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?
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 faiths,
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,

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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,
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, dishearten'd,
I know every one of you—I know the sea of torment,
doubt, 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 same,
And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me,
all, precisely the same.

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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.

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, tubercled 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 THE

291The clock indicates the moment—but what does eter-
nity indicate?

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

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

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 jealous
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 en-
closer of things to be.

297My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs;
On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches be-
tween 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 leth-
argic 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 me.

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302Before I was born out of my mother, generations
guided me;
My embryo has never been torpid—nothing could over-
lay 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 mouths, 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'd 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 under-
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.

309I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled

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And all I see, multiplied as high as I can cipher, edge
but the rim of the farther systems.

310Winder and wider they spread, expanding, always ex-
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 stand,
And as surely go as much farther—and then farther and

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

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

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.)


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;

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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.

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

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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 dreams;
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 hair.


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.

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 fear,
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 hour;
My words itch at your ears till you understand them.

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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.

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 fishermen
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;

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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,
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
(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 wonderful
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 dropt in the street—and every
one is sign'd by God's name,

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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 mortal-
ity, it is idle to try to alarm me.

342To his work without flinching the accoucheur comes;
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.

343And as to you, Corpse, I think you are good manure
—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'd 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 sunbeams
And debouch to the steady and central from the offspring
great or small,

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

349Wrench'd 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.

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.

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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.

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

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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1LAWS for Creations,
For strong artists and leaders—for fresh broods of
teachers, and perfect literats for America,
For noble savans, and coming musicians.

2All must have reference to the ensemble of the world,
and the compact truth of the world;
There shall be no subject too pronounced—All works
shall illustrate the divine law of indirections.

3What do you suppose Creation is?
What do you suppose will satisfy the Soul, except to
walk free, and own no superior?
What do you suppose I would intimate to you in a hun-
dred ways, but that man or woman is as good as
And that there is no God any more divine than Your-
And that that is what the oldest and newest myths
finally mean?
Aud that you or any one must approach Creations
through such laws?


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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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
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 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;
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,

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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 it 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
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;
From exultation, victory, and relief—from the bedfel-
low's 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,

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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.



1I 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
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?


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;

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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 performances,
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,
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 trow-
sers and waist-straps,

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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


6I knew a man, a common farmer—the father of five
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
The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his
hair and beard, and the immeasurable meaning of
his black eyes—the richness and breadth of his
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,
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,

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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 enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
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 mo-
ment—what is this, then?
I do not ask any more delight—I swim in it, as in a sea.

9There is something in staying close to men and women,
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;
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, quiver-
ing jelly of love, white-blow and delirious juice;
Bridegroom night of love, working surely and softly
into the prostrate dawn;

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Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh'd day.

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.

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 be-
come 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;

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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.

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

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 dif-
fuse 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.

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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?

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 embod-
iments and enjoyments.

26How do you know who shall come from the offspring
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?

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—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 body?
For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot conceal


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-shoulders,
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-nails,
Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-
bone, breast-side,

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Ribs, belly, back-bone, 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
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, shouting
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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1A WOMAN waits for me—she contains all, nothing is
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the mois-
ture of the right man were lacking.

2Sex contains all,
Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, re-
sults, promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery,
the seminal milk;
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow'd persons of
the earth,
These are contain'd in sex, as parts of itself, and justi-
fications 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 hers.

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 sufficient for
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 blow-
ing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run,
strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend them-

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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;
Envelop'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
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
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-
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 ap-
ples—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 pic-
The poems of the privacy of the night, and of men like
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 earth,
Soft forenoon airs that blow from the south-west,
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,

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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,
The pulse pounding through palms and trembling en-
circling 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,

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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.


1ONE 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

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

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!

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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 sufficient
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.


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
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;

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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 beasts, 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 product
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



OUT of the rolling ocean, the crowd, came a drop gently
to me,
Whispering, I love you, before long I die,
I have travelled a long way, merely to look on you, to touch
For I could not die till I once look'd on you,
For I fear'd I might afterwards lose you.

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(Now we have met, we have look'd, we are safe;
Return in peace to the ocean, my love;
I too am part of that ocean, my love—we are not so
much separated;
Behold the great rondure—the cohesion of all, how per-
But as for me, for you, the irresistible sea is to separate
As for an hour, carrying us diverse—yet cannot carry
us diverse for ever;
Be not impatient—a little space—Know you, I salute
the air, the ocean, and the land,
Every day, at sundown, for your dear sake, my love.)


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
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 myself
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.

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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 detained 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 tremu-


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?)

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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.


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?


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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I Heard You, Solemn-sweet Pipes of the Organ.

I HEARD you, solemn-sweet pipes of the organ, as last
Sunday morn I pass'd the church;
Winds of autumn!—as I walk'd the woods at dusk, I
heard your long-stretch'd sighs, up above, so
I heard the perfect Italian tenor, singing at the opera
—I heard the soprano in the midst of the quartet
…Heart of my love!—you too I heard, murmuring
low, through one of the wrists around my head;
Heard the pulse of you, when all was still, ringing little
bells last night under my ear.


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.

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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 reached 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, jour-
neying up and down, till we make our inefface-
able mark upon time and the diverse eras,
Till we saturate time and eras, that the men and wo-
men of races, ages to come, may prove brethren
and lovers, as we are.


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

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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, eruditions, 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
most 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 re-
spond 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
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, body-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 be-
lieve 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 finally
beautiful, 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;
Grow up taller, sweet leaves, that I may see! grow up
out of my breast!

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Spring away from the conceal'd heart there!
Do not fold yourself so in your pink-tinged roots, timid
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 me,
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 ac-
cord with it,
Give me yourself—for I see that you belong to me now
above all, and are folded inseparably together—
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 purports
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
That behind the mask of materials you patiently wait,
no matter how long,
That you will one day, perhaps, take control of all,
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.

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Whoever you are, Holding me now in Hand.

1WHOEVER you are, holding me now in hand,
Without one thing, all will be useless;
I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further,
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 exhausting,
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 shoulders,
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,
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, approach
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 hus-
band's kiss,
For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade.

5Or, if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,

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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—l
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 vaunt-
ingly 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.


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,

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Now along the pond-side—now wading in a little, fear-
ing 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 troop gathers around
Some walk by my side, and some behind, and some em-
brace my arms or neck,
They, the spirits of dear friends, dead or alive—thicker
they come, a great crowd, and I in the middle,
Collecting, dispensing, singing in spring, there I wander
with them,
Plucking something for tokens—tossing toward whoever
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 re-
turns again, never to separate from me,
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,

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Indicating to each one what he shall have—giving some-
thing 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.



COME, 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.


I 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.


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.

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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.


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,

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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
any how, from entirely changed points of view;
—To me, these, and the like of these, are curiously an-
swer'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.

The Base of all Metaphysics.

1AND now, gentlemen,
A word I give to remain in your memories and minds,
As base, and finale too, for all metaphysics.

2(So, to the students, the old professor,
At the close of his crowded course.)

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3Having studied the new and antique, the Greek and
Germanic systems,
Kant having studied and stated—Fichte and Schelling
and Hegel,
Stated the lore of Plato—and Socrates, greater than
And greater than Socrates sought and stated—Christ
divine having studied long,
I see reminiscent to-day those Greek and Germanic
See the philosophies all—Christian churches and tenets
Yet underneath Socrates clearly see—and underneath
Christ the divine I see,
The dear love of man for his comrade—the attraction
of friend to friend,
Of the well-married husband and wife—of children and
Of city for city, and land for land.


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,

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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 men,
Who oft as he saunter'd the streets, curv'd 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 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 per-
fect health, refresh'd, singing, inhaling the ripe
breath of autumn,
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,

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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 different
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 lover?
Do you think the friendship of me would be unalloy'd
Do you think I am trusty and faithful?
Do you see no further than this facade—this smooth
and tolerant manner of me?
Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground to-
ward 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 sum is risen;

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Breezes of land and love—breezes set from living
shores out to you on the living sea—to you, O
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
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 you;
If you become the aliment and the wet, they will become
flowers, fruits, tall branches, and trees.

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 sum-
mer, 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 love!
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 air,
Any more than my Soul is borne through the open
Wafted in all directions, O love, for friendship, for

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Trickle, Drops.

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;
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.

City of Orgies.

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 frequent
and swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering response to my own—these repay me;
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.

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Behold this Swarthy Face.

BEHOLD this swarthy face—these gray eyes,
This beard—the white wool, unclipt upon my neck,
My brown hands, and the silent manner of me, without
Yet comes one, a Manhattanese, and ever at parting,
kisses me lightly on the lips with robust love,
And I, on the crossing of the street, or on the ship's
deck, give a kiss in return;
We observe that salute of American comrades, land and
We are those two natural and nonchalant persons.

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
But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves, stand-
ing 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 moss,
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 friends,
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them;)
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.

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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, affectionate,
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 be-
come not yours only, nor left my body mine only,
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.

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
Germany, 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.

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I Hear it was Charged Against Me.

I HEAR it was charged against me that I sought to de-
stroy 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.

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
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 free-
dom 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.

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We Two Boys Together Clinging.

WE two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going—North and South excur-
sions making,
Power enjoying—elbows stretching—fingers clutching,
Arm'd and fearless—eating, drinking, sleeping, loving,
No law less than ourselves owning—sailing, soldiering,
thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials, priests alarming—air breathing, water
drinking, on the turf or the sea-beach dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking, fee-
bleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.


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 Sea;
For These States tend inland, and toward the Western
Sea—and I will also.


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

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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 hear of the brotherhood of lovers, how it
was with them,
How through life, through dangers, odium, unchanging,
long and long,
Through youth, and through middle and old age, how
unfaltering, how affectionate and faithful they
Then I am pensive—I hastily walk away, fill'd with the
bitterest envy.


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.

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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;
Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, silently ap-
proaching, 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, speak-
ing little, perhaps not a word.


NO labor-saving machine,
Nor discovery have I made;
Nor will I be able to leave behind me any wealthy be-
quest 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.


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!

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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, exalt, 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 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.


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.

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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.

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.)

That Shadow, my Likeness.

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 caroling my
O I never doubt whether that is really me.

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1AMONG 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 mine?


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.

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Full of Life, Now.

1FULL 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 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 groups of old men going slowly with their
arms about each other's 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 dwellers?


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 islands.


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 Ten-
nessee and Kentucky, hunting on hills;
I hear emulous shouts of Australians, pursuing the wild
I hear the Spanish dance, with castanets, in the chestnut
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 recitative
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 singing;
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;
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;

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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 barbarians,
tents of nomads, upon the surface;
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,

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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 giant pinnacles of Elbruz, Kazbek, Bazardjusi,
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 Antarctic 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.

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

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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 sail 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


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.

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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 Co-
lumbia 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 Danube,
the Loire, the Rhone, and the Guadalquiver
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;
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 Hercules,
toil'd faithfully and long, and then died;

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I see the place of the innocent rich life and hapless fate
of the beautiful nocturnal son, the full-limb'd
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


17I see the battle-fields of the earth—grass grows upon
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 bil-
lows, and be refresh'd by storms, immensity, lib-
erty, action.

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'd sheep, the antelope, and the burrowing

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21I see the high-lands of Abyssinia;
I see flocks of goats feeding, and see the fig-tree, tama-
rind, date,
And see fields of teff-wheat, and see the places of ver-
dure 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 moss-bonkers—they drop the join'd
seine-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, pois'd
on strong legs;
The boats are partly drawn up—the water slaps against
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

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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 Switzerland
—I mark the long winters, and the isolation.

26I see the cities of the earth, and make myself at ran-
dom 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, Lim-
I am of Madrid, Cadiz, Barcelona, Oporto, Lyons, Brus-
sels, Berne, Frankfort, Stuttgart, Turin, Florence;
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


27I see vapors exhaling from unexplored countries;
I see the savage types, the bow and arrow, the poison'd
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;

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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 inter-
vening sands—I see the caravans toiling onward;
I see Egypt and the Egyptians—I see the pyramids and
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, hunchbacks,
I see the pirates, thieves, betrayers, murderers, slave-
makers of the earth;
I see the helpless infants, and the helpless old men and

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, whoever you are!
You daughter or son of England!
You of the mighty Slavic tribes and empires! you Russ
in Russia!

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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 Prus-
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! Bohemian!
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! Wal-
lachian! 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 Tartar
of Tartary!
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 Ninevah! 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 Bab-el-man-
deb, ruling your families and tribes!
You olive-grower tending your fruit on fields of Naza-
reth, Damascus, or Lake Tiberias!
You Thibet trader on the wide inland, or bargaining
in the shops of Lassa!

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You Japanese man or woman! you liver in Madagas-
car, Ceylon, Sumatra, Borneo!
All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia,
indifferent of place!
All you on the numberless islands of the archipelagoes
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 woolly-
hair'd hordes!
You own'd persons, dropping sweat-drops or blood-
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
language spirituality!
You low expiring aborigines of the hills of Utah, Ore-
gon, 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!

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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.

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 high embedded rocks, to cry thence.

38 Salut au monde!
What cities the light or warmth penetrates, I penetrate
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 signal,
To remain after me in sight forever,
For all the haunts and homes of men.

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SILENT and amazed, even when a little boy,
I remember I heard the preacher every Sunday put
God in his statements,
As contending against some being or influence.


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.


WOMEN sit, or move to and fro—some old, some young;
The young are beautiful—but the old are more beauti-
ful than the young.


I SEE the sleeping babe, nestling the breast of its mother;
The sleeping mother and babe—hush'd, I study them
long and long.


OF obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something
profoundly affecting in large masses of men, fol-
lowing the lead of those who do not believe in

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AMERICA always!
Always our own feuillage!
Always Florida's green peninsula! Always the priceless
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 East-
ern 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
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 conti-
nent of Democracy!
Always the prairies, pastures, forests, vast cities, trav-
elers, 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 in-
creasing density there—the habitans, friendly,
threatening, ironical, scorning invaders;
All sights, South, North, East—all deeds, promiscu-
ously 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 Rappahannock,
and the valleys of the Roanoke and Delaware;
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 labor
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, be-
yond the floes;
White drift spooning ahead, where the ship in the tem-
pest 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;
Rude boats descending the big Pedee—climbing plants,
parasites, with color'd flowers and berries, envel-
oping huge trees,

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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—with 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 clear-
ing, curing, and packing-houses;
Deep in the forest, in piney woods, turpentine dropping
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
—In Tennessee and Kentucky, slaves busy in the coal-
ings, at the forge, by the furnace-blaze, or at the
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 nightfall, 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, smok-
ing and talking;
Late in the afternoon, the mocking-bird, the American
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;
—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;

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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 hemispheres—one Love, one
Dilation or Pride;
—In arriere, the peace-talk with the Iroquois, the abo-
rigines—the calumet, the pipe of good-will, arbi-
tration, and indorsement,
The sachem blowing the smoke first toward the sun 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
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 pleas'd, rambling in lanes and country fields, Pau-
manok's fields,
Me, observing the spiral flight of two little yellow but-
terflies, shuffling between each other, ascending
high in the air;
The darting swallow, the destroyer of insects—the fall
traveler southward, but returning northward
early in the spring;

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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, balancing
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 copious-
ness—the individuality of The States, each for
itself—the money-makers;
Factories, machinery, the mechanical forces—the wind-
lass, lever, pulley—All certainties,
The certainty of space, increase, freedom, futurity,
In space, the sporades, the scatter'd 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 flapping,
with the myriads of gulls wintering along the
coasts of Florida—or in Louisiana, with pelicans
Otherways, there, atwixt the banks of the Arkansaw, the
Rio Grande, the Nueces, the Brazos, the Tombig-
bee, the Red River, the Saskatchawan, or the
Osage, I with the spring waters laughing and
skipping and running;
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 amusement—
And I triumphantly twittering;

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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 re-
liev'd by other sentinels—And I feeding and
taking turns with the rest;
In Kanadian forests, the moose, large as an ox, corner'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 Mannahatta
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, war, good and
evil—these me,
These affording, in all their particulars, endless feuil-
lage to me and to America, how can I do less
than pass the clue 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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1WEAPON, 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—mas-
culine 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;

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Welcome the rich borders of rivers, table-lands, open-
Welcome the measureless grazing-lands—welcome the
teeming soil of orchards, flax, honey, hemp;
Welcome just as much the other more hard-faced lands;
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 masts;
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,
The loose drift of character, the inkling through ran-
dom types, the solidification;

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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 bear-
—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, accord-
ing 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
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,
The bricks, one after another, each laid so workman-
like in its place, and set with a knock of the

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The piles of materials, the mortar on the mortar-boards,
and the steady replenishing by the hod-men;
—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 them,
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,
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 en-
The far-off Assyrian edifice and Mizra edifice,

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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 siege 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 unjust,
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 man,
And nothing endures but personal qualities.

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'uvres 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;

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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 com-
mon words and deeds;
Where thrift is in its place, and prudence is in its place;
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 un-
ript waves;
Where outside authority enters always after the preced-
ence 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;

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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 deed!
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,
The old customs and phrases are confronted, turn'd
back, or laid away.

13What is your money-making now? what can it do now?
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?


14A 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.

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15Than this, nothing has better served—it has served all:
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 Hin-
Served the mound-raiser on the Mississippi—served
those whose relics remain in Central America;
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 gran-
ite 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 harmless
men of Ethiopia;
Served the making of helms for the galleys of pleasure,
and the making of those for war;
Served all great works on land, and all great works on
the sea;
For the medival ages, and before the medival ages;
Served not the living only, then as now, but served the


16I see the European headsman;
He stands mask'd, clothed in red, with huge legs, and
strong naked arms,
And leans on a ponderous axe.

17(Whom have you slaughter'd lately, European heads-
Whose is that blood upon you, so wet and sticky?)

18I see the clear sunsets of the martyrs;

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I see from the scaffolds the descending ghosts,
Ghosts of dead lords, uncrown'd ladies, impeach'd min-
isters, rejected kings,
Rivals, traitors, poisoners, disgraced chieftains, and the

19I see those who in any land have died for the good
The seed is spare, nevertheless the crop shall never run
(Mind you, O foreign kings, O priests, the crop shall
never run out.)

20I 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.

21I 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.


22(America! I do not vaunt my love for you;
I have what I have.)

23The 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,

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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,
Long stately rows in avenues, hospitals for orphans, or
for the poor or sick,
Manhattan steamboats and clippers, taking the measure
of all seas.

24The 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 Yellowstone
river—dwellers on coasts and off coasts,
Seal-fishers, whalers, arctic seamen breaking passages
through the ice.

25The 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 and canal craft,
river craft.

26The 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 auger,
the adze, bolt, line, square, gouge, and bead-

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27The 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 shroud;
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.

28The 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 win-
nings and losings;
The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted and sen-
tenced murderer, the murderer with haggard
face and pinion'd arms,
The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent and
white-lipp'd crowd, the dangling of the rope.

29The 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;

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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.


30Her 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'd from her;
She is none the less considerate or friendly therefor;
She is the best belov'd—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.


31The main shapes arise!
Shapes of Democracy, total—result of centuries;
Shapes, ever projecting other shapes;
Shapes of turbulent manly cities;
Shapes of the friends and home-givers of the whole
Shapes bracing the earth, and braced with the whole

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1AFOOT 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 good-
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.

4(Still 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 the profound lesson of reception, neither prefer-
ence or denial;
The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas'd,
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 fur-
niture into the town, the return back from the
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 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 facades! you
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!

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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 lost?
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
air, and all great poems also;
I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles;
(My judgments, thoughts, I henceforth try by the open
air, the road:)
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 loos'd of limits and
imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,

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Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of
the holds that would hold me.

14I inhale great draughts of space;
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the
south are mine.

15I am larger, better 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.

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 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.

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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 rexamine philosophies and religions,
They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at
all under the spacious clouds, and along the
landscape and flowing currents.

23Here is realization;
Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in
The past, the future, 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?

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'd gates, ever provoking questions:
These yearnings, why are they? These thoughts in the
darkness, why are they?

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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 open air, waiting at all times;
Now it flows unto 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;
(The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter
every day out of the roots of themselves, than it
sprouts fresh and sweet continually 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
Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.


30Allons! whoever you are, come travel with me!
Traveling with me, you find what never tires.

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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 conve-
nient 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 greater;
We will sail pathless and wild seas;
We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the
Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.

34Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements!
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, en-
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
Only those may come, who come in sweet and deter-
min'd bodies;

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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
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin'd—
you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction, before
you are call'd by an irresistible call to depart,
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 towards you.


41Allons! after the GREAT COMPANIONS! and to belong
to them!
They too are on the road! they are the swift and ma-
jestic men! they are the greatest women.

42Over that which hinder'd them—over that which re-
tarded—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 land,
Habitus of many distant countries, habitus of far-
distant dwellings,

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Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, solitary
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, lowerers
down of coffins,
Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the years—
the curious years, each emerging from that which
preceded it,
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, unsurpass'd,
Journeyers with their own sublime old age of manhood
or womanhood,
Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty
breadth of the universe,
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom
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 journeys;
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

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To see no possession but you may possess it—enjoying
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 orchards and
flowers of gardens,
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
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

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 sustenance.

47Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent,
feeble, dissatisfied,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected
by men,

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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 some-
thing great.


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.

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52Allons! through struggles and wars!
The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.

53Have the past struggles succeeded?
What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? nature?
Now understand me well—It is provided in the essence
of things, that from any fruition of success, no
matter what, shall come forth something to make
a greater struggle necessary.

54My call is the call of battle—I nourish active rebel-
He going with me must go well arm'd;
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 well.

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 his 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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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
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see
martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting
lots who shall be kill'd, to preserve the lives of
the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant
persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon ne-
groes, and the like;
All these—All the meanness and agony without end, I
sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.


ME imperturbe, standing at ease in Nature,
Master of all, or mistress of all—aplomb in the midst
of irrational things,
Imbued as they—passive, receptive, silent as they,
Finding my occupation, poverty, notoriety, foibles,
crimes, less important than I thought;

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Me private, or public, or menial, or solitary—all these
subordinate, (I am eternally equal with the best
—I am not subordinate;)
Me toward the Mexican Sea, or in the Mannahatta, or
the Tennessee, or far north, or inland,
A river man, or a man of the woods, or of any farm-life
of These States, or of the coast, or the lakes, or
Me, wherever my life is lived, O to be self-balanced for
O to confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents,
rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.

As I Lay with my Head in your Lap, Camerado.

As I lay with my head in your lap, Camerado,
The confession I made I resume—what I said to you
and the open air I resume:
I know I am restless, and make others so;
I know my words are weapons, full of danger, full of
(Indeed I am myself the real soldier:
It is not he, there, with his bayonet, and not the red-
striped artilleryman;)
For I confront peace, security, and all the settled laws,
to unsettle them;
I am more resolute because all have denied me, than I
could ever have been had all accepted me;
I heed not, and have never heeded, either experience,
cautions, majorities, nor ridicule;
And the threat of what is call'd hell is little or nothing
to me;
And the lure of what is call'd heaven is little or nothing
to me;
…Dear camerado! I confess I have urged you onward
with me, and still urge you, without the least
idea what is our destination,
Or whether we shall be victorious, or utterly quell'd and

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1FLOOD-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 medita-
tions, 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 disin-
tegrated, every one disintegrated, yet part of the
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 pas-
sage over the river;
The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me
far away;

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The others that are to follow me, the ties between me
and them;
The certainty of others—the life, love, sight, hearing of

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;

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I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls—I saw them
high in the air, floating with motionless wings,
oscillating their bodies,
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 beams,
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 tremulous
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 to-


11What is it, then, between us?
What is the count of the scores of 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 walk'd 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;

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That I was, I knew was of my body—and what I should
be, I knew I should be of my body.


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 suspicious;
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 speak,
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 laughing,
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 cen-
It is that each came, or comes, or shall come, from its
due emission,
From the general centre of all, and forming a part
of all:
Everything indicates—the smallest does, and the largest
A necessary film envelopes all, and envelops the Soul
for a proper time.


21Now I am curious what sight can ever be more
stately and admirable to me than my mast-
hemm'd Manhattan,
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.

22We understand, then, do we not?

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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?


23Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with
the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg'd 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 passen-
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta!—stand up, beau-
tiful hills of Brooklyn!
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions
and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!
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, ac-
cording 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;
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;

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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 are;
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


24We 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.

25You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beau-
tiful ministers! you novices!
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold
yourselves from us;
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 soul.

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1WITH 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 come.

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.

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3As for me, (torn, stormy, even as I, amid these vehe-
ment 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 Hebrews;
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
And that to-day is what it should be—and that Amer-
ica 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,
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
And I know that both curiously conjoint in the present
(For the sake of him I typify—for the common average
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.

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1Now list to my morning's romanza—I tell the signs
of the Answerer;
To the cities and farms I sing, as they spread in the
sunshine before me.

2A young man comes to me bearing a message from
his brother;
How shall the young man know the whether and when
of his brother?
Tell him to send me the signs.

3And I stand before the young man face to face, and
take his right hand in my left hand, and his left
hand in my right hand,
And I answer for his brother, and for men, and I an-
swer for him that answers for all, and send these


4Him all wait for—him all yield up to—his word is
decisive and final,
Him they accept, in him lave, in him perceive them-
selves, as amid light,
Him they immerse, and he immerses them.

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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 love;
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, plea-
sure, pride, beat up and down, seeking to give
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;

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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

14He walks with perfect ease in the Capitol,
He walks among the Congress, and one Representative
says to another, Here is our equal, appearing and

15Then the mechanics take him for a mechanic,
And the soldiers suppose him to be a soldier, and the
sailors that he has follow'd the sea,
And the authors take him for an author, and the artists
for an artist,
And the laborers perceive he could labor with them and
love them;
No matter what the work is, that he is the one to fol-
low it, or has follow'd it,
No matter what the nation, that he might find his
brothers and sisters there,

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16The English believe he comes of their English stock,
A Jew to the Jew he seems—a Russ to the Russ—usual
and near, removed from none.

17Whoever he looks at in the traveler's coffee-house
claims him,
The Italian or Frenchman is sure, and the German is
sure, and the Spaniard is sure, and the island
Cuban is sure;
The engineer, the deck-hand on the great lakes, or on
the Mississippi, or St. Lawrence, or Sacramento,
or Hudson, or Paumanok Sound, claims him.

18The gentleman of perfect blood acknowledges his
perfect blood;
The insulter, the prostitute, the angry person, the
beggar, see themselves in the ways of him—he
strangely transmutes them,
They are not vile any more—they hardly know them-
selves, they are so grown.


1THE indications, and tally of time;
Perfect sanity shows the master among philosophs;
Time, always without flaw, indicates itself in parts;
What always indicates the poet, is the crowd of the
pleasant company of singers, and their words;
The words of the singers are the hours or minutes of
the light or dark—but the words of the maker
of poems are the general light and dark;
The maker of poems settles justice, reality, immor-
His insight and power encircle things and the human
He is the glory and extract thus far, of things, and of
the human race.

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2The singers do not beget—only the POET begets;
The singers are welcom'd, understood, appear often
enough—but rare has the day been, likewise the
spot, of the birth of the maker of poems, the
(Not every century, or every five centuries, has con-
tain'd such a day, for all its names.)

3The singers of successive hours of centuries may have
ostensible names, but the name of each of them
is one of the singers,
The name of each is, eye-singer, ear-singer, head-
singer, sweet-singer, echo-singer, parlor-singer,
love-singer, or something else.

4All this time, and at all times, wait the words of true
The words of true poems do not merely please,
The true poets are not followers of beauty, but the
august masters of beauty;
The greatness of sons is the exuding of the greatness
of mothers and fathers,
The words of poems are the tuft and final applause of

5Divine instinct, breadth of vision, the law of reason,
health, rudeness of body, withdrawnness,
Gayety, sun-tan, air-sweetness—such are some of the
words of poems.

6The sailor and traveler underlie the maker of poems,
the answerer;
The builder, geometer, chemist, anatomist, phrenolo-
gist, artist—all these underlie the maker of
poems, the answerer.

7The words of the true poems give you more than
They give you to form for yourself, poems, religions,
politics, war, peace, behavior, histories, essays,
romances, and everything else,

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They balance ranks, colors, races, creeds, and the
They do not seek beauty—they are sought,
Forever touching them, or close upon them, follows
beauty, longing, fain, love-sick.

8They prepare for death—yet are they not the finish,
but rather the outset,
They bring none to his or her terminus, or to be con-
tent and full;
Whom they take, they take into space, to behold the
birth of stars, to learn one of the meanings,
To launch off with absolute faith—to sweep through the
ceaseless rings, and never be quiet again.


1POETS to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me, and answer what I am
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental,
greater than before known,
Arouse! Arouse—for you must justify me—you must

2I myself but write one or two indicative words for the
I but advance a moment, only to wheel and hurry back
in the darkness.

3I am a man who, sauntering along, without fully stop-
ping, turns a casual look upon you, and then
averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.

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I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should
be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or
leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—
the deck-hand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the
hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter's song—the ploughboy's, on his way in
the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young
wife at work—or of the girl sewing or washing—
Each singing what belongs to her, and to none
The day what belongs to the day—At night, the party
of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious

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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 deli-
cate fair house—that ruin!
That immortal house, more than all the rows of dwell-
ings ever built!
Or white-domed Capitol itself, with majestic figure sur-
mounted—or all the old high-spired cathedrals;
That little house alone, more than them all—poor, des-
perate 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.


T HROUGH the ample open door of the peaceful country
A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding;
And haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away.

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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 pos-

2This is unfinished 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 carol of occupations;
In the labor of engines and trades, and the labor of
fields, I find the developments,
And find the eternal meanings.

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6Workmen and Workwomen!
Were all educations, practical and ornamental, well dis-
play'd out of me, what would it amount to?
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 terms;
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 me.

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 friend;
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 you?
Or the rich better off than you? or the educated wiser
than you?

11Because you are greasy or pimpled, or that you were
once drunk, or a thief,

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Or diseas'd, or rheumatic, or a prostitute—or are so now;
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 unseen,
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, in-doors and out-doors, 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 work-
ing 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.

17There is something that comes home to one now
and perpetually;

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It is not what is printed, preach'd, discussed—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 noth-
ing 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
The wonder every one sees in every one else he sees,
and the wonders that fill each minute of time

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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's 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 are;
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.

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

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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 slumbering
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
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?

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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 women's
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 looking-
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-roofing, shingle-dressing,
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,

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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 combining
of ore, limestone, coal—the blast-furnace 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 window
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 under the
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 implements for daguerreotyping—the tools of the
rigger, grappler, sail-maker, block-maker,
Goods of gutta-percha, papier-mach, 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,
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

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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—workman!
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.

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
In things best known to you, finding the best, or as
good as the best,
In folks nearest to you finding the sweetest, strongest,

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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.



OF ownership—As if one fit to own things could not at
pleasure enter upon all, and incorporate them
into himself or herself.


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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1I WANDER all night in my vision,
Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noiselessly step-
ping and stopping,
Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of sleepers,
Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-assorted,
Pausing, gazing, bending, and stopping.

2How solemn they look there, stretch'd and still!
How quiet they breathe, the little children in their

3The wretched features of ennuyés, the white features
of corpses, the livid faces of drunkards, the sick-
gray faces of onanists,
The gash'd bodies on battle-fields, the insane in their
strong-door'd rooms, the sacred idiots, the new-
born emerging from gates, and the dying emerg-
ing from gates,
The night pervades them and infolds them.

4The married couple sleep calmly in their bed—he
with his palm on the hip of the wife, and she
with her palm on the hip of the husband,
The sisters sleep lovingly side by side in their bed,
The men sleep lovingly side by side in theirs,
And the mother sleeps, with her little child carefully

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5The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep,
The prisoner sleeps well in the prison—the run-away
son sleeps;
The murderer that is to be hung next day—how does
he sleep?
And the murder'd person—how does he sleep?

6The female that loves unrequited sleeps,
And the male that loves unrequited sleeps,
The head of the money-maker that plotted all day
And the enraged and treacherous dispositions—all, all


7I stand in the dark with drooping eyes by the worst-
suffering and the most restless,
I pass my hands soothingly to and fro a few inches
from them,
The restless sink in their beds—they fitfully sleep.

8Now I pierce the darkness—new beings appear,
The earth recedes from me into the night,
I saw that it was beautiful, and I see that what is not
the earth is beautiful.

9I go from bedside to bedside—I sleep close with the
other sleepers, each in turn,
I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dream-
And I become the other dreamers.


10I am a dance—Play up, there! the fit is whirling me

11I am the ever-laughing—it is new moon and twi-

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I see the hiding of douceurs—I see nimble ghosts
whichever way I look,
Cache, and cache again, deep in the ground and sea,
and where it is neither ground or sea.

12Well do they do their jobs, those journeymen divine,
Only from me can they hide nothing, and would not if
they could,
I reckon I am their boss, and they make me a pet
And surround me and lead me, and run ahead when I
To lift their cunning covers, to signify me with stretch'd
arms, and resume the way;
Onward we move! a gay gang of blackguards! with
mirth-shouting music, and wild-flapping pennants
of joy!


13I am the actor, the actress, the voter, the politician;
The emigrant and the exile, the criminal that stood in
the box,
He who has been famous, and he who shall be famous
after to-day,
The stammerer, the well-form'd person, the wasted or
feeble person.


14I am she who adorn'd herself and folded her hair
My truant lover has come, and it is dark.

15Double yourself and receive me, darkness!
Receive me and my lover too—he will not let me go
without him.

16I roll myself upon you, as upon a bed—I resign my-
self to the dusk.

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17He whom I call answers me, and takes the place of
my lover,
He rises with me silently from the bed.

18Darkness! you are gentler than my lover—his flesh
was sweaty and panting,
I feel the hot moisture yet that he left me.

19My hands are spread forth, I pass them in all direc-
I would sound up the shadowy shore to which you are

20Be careful, darkness! already, what was it touch'd
I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he are
I hear the heart-beat—I follow, I fade away.


21O hot-cheek'd and blushing! O foolish hectic!
O for pity's sake, no one must see me now! my clothes
were stolen while I was abed,
Now I am thrust forth, where shall I run?

22Pier that I saw dimly last night, when I look'd from
the windows!
Pier out from the main, let me catch myself with you,
and stay—I will not chafe you,
I feel ashamed to go naked about the world.

23I am curious to know where my feet stand—and what
this is flooding me, childhood or manhood—and
the hunger that crosses the bridge between.


24The cloth laps a first sweet eating and drinking,
Laps life-swelling yolks—laps ear of rose-corn, milky
and just ripen'd;

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The white teeth stay, and the boss-tooth advances in
And liquor is spill'd on lips and bosoms by touching
glasses, and the best liquor afterward.


25I descend my western course, my sinews are flaccid,
Perfume and youth course through me, and I am their

26It is my face yellow and wrinkled, instead of the old
I sit low in a straw-bottom chair, and carefully darn
my grandson's stockings.

27It is I too, the sleepless widow, looking out on the
winter midnight,
I see the sparkles of starshine on the icy and pallid

28A shroud I see, and I am the shroud—I wrap a body,
and lie in the coffin,
It is dark here under ground—it is not evil or pain here
—it is blank here, for reasons.

29It seems to me that everything in the light and air
ought to be happy,
Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave, let him
know he has enough.


30I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer, swimming naked
through the eddies of the sea,
His brown hair lies close and even to his head—he
strikes out with courageous arms—he urges him-
self with his legs,
I see his white body—I see his undaunted eyes,
I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash him
head-foremost on the rocks.

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31What are you doing, you ruffianly red-trickled waves?
Will you kill the courageous giant ? Will you kill him
in the prime of his middle age ?

32Steady and long he struggles,
He is baffled, bang'd, bruis'd—he holds out while his
strength holds out,
The slapping eddies are spotted with his blood—they
bear him away—they roll him, swing him, turn
His beautiful body is borne in the circling eddies, it is
continually bruis'd on rocks.
Swiftly and out of sight is borne the brave corpse.


33I turn, but do not extricate myself,
Confused, a past-reading, another, but with darkness

34The beach is cut by the razory ice-wind—the wreck-
guns sound,
The tempest lulls—the moon comes floundering through
the drifts.

35I look where the ship helplessly heads end on—I hear
the burst as she strikes—I hear the howls of
dismay—they grow fainter and fainter.

36I cannot aid with my wringing fingers,
I can but rush to the surf, and let it drench me and
freeze upon me.

37I search with the crowd—not one of the company is
wash'd to us alive;
In the morning I help pick up the dead and lay them
in rows in a barn.


38Now of the older war-days, the defeat at Brooklyn,

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Washington stands inside the lines—he stands on the
intrench'd hills, amid a crowd of officers,
His face is cold and damp—he cannot repress the weep-
ing drops,
He lifts the glass perpetually to his eyes—the color is
blanch'd from his cheeks,
He sees the slaughter of the southern braves confided to
him by their parents.

39The same, at last and at last, when peace is declared,
He stands, in the room of the old tavern—the well-
belov'd soldiers all pass through,
The officers speechless and slow draw near in their
The chief encircles their necks with his arm, and kisses
them on the cheek,
He kisses lightly the wet cheeks one after another—he
shakes hands, and bids good-by to the army.


40Now I tell what my mother told me to-day as we sat
at dinner together,
Of when she was a nearly grown girl, living home with
her parents on the old homestead.

41A red squaw came one breakfast time to the old
On her back she carried a bundle of rushes for rush-
bottoming chairs,
Her hair, straight, shiny, coarse, black, profuse, half-
envelop'd her face,
Her step was free and elastic, and her voice sounded
exquisitely as she spoke.

42My mother look'd in delight and amazement at the
She look'd at the freshness of her tall-borne face, and
full and pliant limbs,
The more she look'd upon her, she loved her,

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Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty and
She made her sit on a bench by the jamb or the fire-
place—she cook'd food for her,
She had no work to give her, but she gave her remem-
brance and fondness.

43The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward the
middle of the afternoon she went away,
O my mother was loth to have her go away!
All the week she thought of her—she watch'd for her
many a month,
She remember'd her many a winter and many a summer,
But the red squaw never came, nor was heard of there


44Now Lucifer was not dead—or if he was, I am his
sorrowful terrible heir;
I have been wrong'd—I am oppress'd—I hate him that
oppresses me,
I will either destroy him, or he shall release me.

45Damn him! how he does defile me!
How he informs against my brother and sister, and
takes pay for their blood!
How he laughs when I look down the bend, after the
steamboat that carries away my woman!

46Now the vast dusk bulk that is the whale's bulk, it
seems mine;
Warily, sportsman! though I lie so sleepy and slug-
gish, the tap of my flukes is death.


47A show of the summer softness! a contact of some-
thing unseen! an amour of the light and air!
I am jealous, and overwhelm'd with friendliness,
And will go gallivant with the light and air myself,

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And have an unseen something to be in contact with
them also.

48O love and summer! you are in the dreams, and in
Autumn and winter are in the dreams—the farmer
goes with his thrift,
The droves and crops increase, and the barns are well-


49Elements merge in the night—ships make tacks in
the dreams,
The sailor sails—the exile returns home,
The fugitive returns unharm'd—the immigrant is back
beyond months and years,
The poor Irishman lives in the simple house of his
childhood, with the well-known neighbors and
They warmly welcome him—he is barefoot again, he
forgets he is well off;
The Dutchman voyages home, and the Scotchman and
Welshman voyage home, and the native of the
Mediterranean voyages home,
To every port of England, France, Spain, enter well-
fill'd ships,
The Swiss foots it toward his hills—the Prussian goes
his way, the Hungarian his way, and the Pole
his way,
The Swede returns, and the Dane and Norwegian re-


50The homeward bound, and the outward bound,
The beautiful lost swimmer, the ennuyé, the onanist,
the female that loves unrequited, the money-
The actor and actress, those through with their parts,
and those waiting to commence,

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The affectionate boy, the husband and wife, the voter,
the nominee that is chosen, and the nominee that
has fail'd,
The great already known, and the great any time after
The stammerer, the sick, the perfect-form'd, the homely,
The criminal that stood in the box, the judge that sat
and sentenced him, the fluent lawyers, the jury,
the audience,
The laugher and weeper, the dancer, the midnight
widow, the red squaw,
The consumptive, the erysipelite, the idiot, he that is
The antipodes, and every one between this and them in
the dark,
I swear they are averaged now—one is no better than
the other,
The night and sleep have likened them and restored

51I swear they are all beautiful;
Every one that sleeps is beautiful—everything in the
dim light is beautiful,
The wildest and bloodiest is over, and all is peace.


52Peace is always beautiful,
The myth of heaven indicates peace and night.

53The myth of heaven indicates the Soul;
The Soul is always beautiful—it appears more or it
appears less—it comes, or it lags behind,
It comes from its embower'd garden, and looks pleasantly
on itself, and encloses the world,
Perfect and clean the genitals previously jetting, and
perfect and clean the womb cohering,
The head well-grown, proportion'd and plumb, and the
bowels and joints proportion'd and plumb.

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54The Soul is always beautiful,
The universe is duly in order, everything is in its place,
What has arrived is in its place, and what waits is in
its place;
The twisted skull waits, the watery or rotten blood
The child of the glutton or venerealee waits long, and
the child of the drunkard waits long, and the
drunkard himself waits long,
The sleepers that liv'd and died wait—the far advanced
are to go on in their turns, and the far behind
are to come on in their turns,
The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall
flow and unite—they unite now.


55The sleepers are very beautiful as they lie unclothed,
They flow hand in hand over the whole earth, from
east to west, as they lie unclothed,
The Asiatic and African are hand in hand—the Euro-
pean and American are hand in hand,
Learn'd and unlearn'd are hand in hand, and male and
female are hand in hand,
The bare arm of the girl crosses the bare breast of her
lover—they press close without lust—his lips
press her neck,
The father holds his grown or ungrown son in his arms
with measureless love, and the son holds the
father in his arms with measureless love,
The white hair of the mother shines on the white wrist
of the daughter,
The breath of the boy goes with the breath of the man,
friend is inarm'd by friend,
The scholar kisses the teacher, and the teacher kisses
the scholar—the wrong'd is made right,
The call of the slave is one with the master's call, and
the master salutes the slave,

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The felon steps forth from the prison—the insane be-
comes sane—the suffering of sick persons is
The sweatings and fevers stop—the throat that was un-
sound is sound—the lungs of the consumptive
are resumed—the poor distress'd head is free,
The joints of the rheumatic move as smoothly as ever,
and smoother than ever,
Stiflings and passages open—the paralyzed become
The swell'd and convuls'd and congested awake to
selves in condition,
They pass the invigoration of the night, and the chem-
istry of the night, and awake.


56I too pass from the night,
I stay a while away, O night, but I return to you again,
and love you.

57Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you?
I am not afraid—I have been well brought forward by
I love the rich running day, but I do not desert her in
whom I lay so long,
I know not how I came of you, and I know not where
I go with you—but I know I came well, and shall
go well.

58I will stop only a time with the night, and rise be-
I will duly pass the day, O my mother, and duly return
to you.

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1EARTH, 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' mouths?
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's, 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 interpene-
trate with theirs—my name is nothing to them;

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Though it were told in the three thousand languages,
what would air, soil, water, fire, know of my

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?


10Accouche! Accouchez!
Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
Will you squat and stifle there?

11The earth does not argue,

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Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none


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 bargain-
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,

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Glance as she sits, inviting none, denying none,
Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before her
own face.


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 inani-
mate 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, pass-
ing, carrying,
The Soul's realization and determination still inherit-
The fluid vacuum around and ahead still entering and

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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.


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
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.

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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 jagged and broken!

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, recti-
tude 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.

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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
The earth is just as positive and direct as it was before;
Facts, religions, improvements, politics, trades, are as
real as before;
But the Soul is also real,—it too is positive and direct;
No reasoning, no proof has establish'd it,
Undeniable growth has establish'd it.


30This is a poem—a carol of words—these are hints of
These are to 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 must 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;

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I swear to you they will understand you, and justify
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.

Ah Poverties, Wincings, and Sulky Retreats.

AH poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats!
Ah you foes that in conflict have overcome me!
(For what is my life, or any man's life, but a conflict
with foes—the old, the incessant war?)
You degradations—you tussle with passions and appe-
You smarts from dissatisfied friendships, (ah wounds,
the sharpest of all;)
You toil of painful and choked articulations—you mean-
You shallow tongue-talks at tables, (my tongue the
shallowest of any;)
You broken resolutions, you racking angers, you smoth-
er'd ennuis;
Ah, think not you finally triumph—My real self has yet
to come forth;
It shall yet march forth o'ermastering, till all lies be-
neath me;
It shall yet stand up the soldier of unquestion'd victory.

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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 govern-
ment 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 troops!
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 called 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 shoul-

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7What troubles you, Yankee phantoms? What is all
this clattering of bare gums?
Does the ague convulse your limbs? Do you mistake
your crutches for firelocks, and level them?

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 com-
mittee 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 journey;
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,

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Fetch home the roarers from Congress, make another
procession, guard it with foot and dragoons.

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
has 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 bargains.


YEAR of meteors! brooding year!
I would bind in words retrospective some of your deeds
and signs;
I would sing your contest for the 19th Presidentiad;.
I would sing how an old man, tall, with white hair,
mounted the scaffold in Virginia;
(I was at hand—silent I stood, with teeth shut close—I
I stood very near you, old man, when cool and indiffer-
ent, but trembling with age and your unheal'd
wounds, you mounted the scaffold;)
—I would sing in my copious song your census returns
of The States,
The tables of population and products—I would sing of
your ships and their cargoes,

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The proud black ships of Manhattan, arriving, some
fill'd with immigrants, some from the isthmus
with cargoes of gold;
Songs thereof would I sing—to all that hitherward
comes would I welcome give;
And you would I sing, fair stripling! welcome to you
from me, sweet boy of England!
Remember you surging Manhattan's crowds, as you
pass'd with your cortege of nobles?
There in the crowds stood I, and singled you out with
I know not why, but I loved you…(and so go forth
little song,
Far over sea speed like an arrow, carrying my love all
And find in his palace the youth I love, and drop these
lines at his feet;)
—Nor forget I to sing of the wonder, the ship as she
swam up my bay,
Well-shaped and stately the Great Eastern swam up my
bay, she was 600 feet long,
Her, moving swiftly, surrounded by myriads of small
craft, I forget not to sing;
—Nor the comet that came unannounced, out of the
north, flaring in heaven;
Nor the strange huge meteor procession, dazzling and
clear, shooting over our heads,
(A moment, a moment long, it sail'd its balls of un-
earthly light over our heads,
Then departed, dropt in the night, and was gone;)
—Of such, and fitful as they, I sing—with gleams from
them would I gleam and patch these chants;
Your chants, O year, all mottled with evil and good!
year of forebodings! year of the youth I love!
Year of comets and meteors transient and strange!—lo!
even here, one equally transient and strange!
As I flit through you hastily, soon to fall and be gone,
what is this book,
What am I myself but one of your meteors?

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1OVER the western sea, hither from Niphon come,
Courteous the swart-cheek'd, two-sworded envoys,
Leaning back in their open barouches, bare-headed,
Ride to-day through Manhattan.

I do not know whether others behold what I behold,
In the procession, along with the nobles of Asia, the
Bringing up the rear, hovering-above, around, or in the
ranks marching;
But I will sing you a song of what I behold, Libertad.


3When million-footed Manhattan, unpent, descends to
her pavements;
When the thunder-cracking guns arouse me with the
proud roar I love;
When the round-mouth'd guns, out of the smoke and
smell I love, spit their salutes;

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When the fire-flashing guns have fully alerted me—
when heaven-clouds canopy my city with a
delicate thin haze;
When, gorgeous, the countless straight stems, the for-
ests at the wharves, thicken with colors;
When every ship, richly drest, carries her flag at the
When pennants trail, and street-festoons hang from the
When Broadway is entirely given up to foot-passengers
and foot-standers—when the mass is densest;
When the façades of the houses are alive with people—
when eyes gaze, riveted, tens of thousands at a
When the guests from the islands advance—when the
pageant moves forward, visible;
When the summons is made—when the answer that
waited thousands of years, answers;
I too, arising, answering, descend to the payements,
merge with the crowd, and gaze with them.


4Superb-faced Manhattan!
Comrade Americanos!—to us, then, at last, the Orient

5To us, my city,
Where our tall-topt marble and iron beauties range on
opposite sides—to walk in the space between,
To-day our Antipodes comes.

6The Originatress comes,
The nest of languages, the bequeather of poems, the
race of eld,
Florid with blood, pensive, rapt with musings, hot with
Sultry with perfume, with ample and flowing garments,
With sunburnt visage, with intense soul and glittering
The race of Brahma comes!

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7See, my cantabile! these, and more, are flashing to us
from the procession;
As it moves, changing, a kaleidoscope, divine it moves,
changing, before us.

8For not the envoys, nor the tann'd Japanee, from his
island only;
Lithe and silent, the Hindoo appears—the Asiatic con-
tinent itself appears—the Past, the dead,
The murky night-morning of wonder and fable, inscru-
The enveloped mysteries, the old and unknown hive-
The North—the sweltering South—eastern Assyria—
the Hebrews—the Ancient of Ancients,
Vast desolated cities—the gliding Present—all of these,
and more, are in the pageant-procession.

9Geography, the world, is in it;
The great Sea, the brood of islands, Polynesia, the
coast beyond;
The coast you, henceforth, are facing—you Libertad!
from your Western golden shores
The countries there, with their populations—the mil-
lions en-masse, are curiously here;
The swarming market places—the temples, with idols
ranged along the sides, or at the end—bonze,
brahmin, and lama;
The mandarin, farmer, merchant, mechanic, and fisher-
The singing-girl and the dancing-girl—the ecstatic
person—the secluded Emperors,
Confucius himself—the great poets and heroes—the
warriors, the castes, all,
Trooping up, crowding from all directions—from the
Altay mountains,
From Thibet—from the four winding and far-flowing
rivers of China,
From the Southern peninsulas, and the demi-conti-
nental islands—from Malaysia;

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These, and whatever belongs to them, palpable, show
forth to me, and are seiz'd by me,
And I am seiz'd by them, and friendlily held by them,
Till, as here, them all I chant, Libertad! for themselves
and for you.


10For I too, raising my voice, join the ranks of this
I am the chanter—I chant aloud over the pageant;
I chant the world on my Western Sea;
I chant, copious, the islands beyond, thick as stars in
the sky;
I chant the new empire, grander than any before—As
in a vision it comes to me;
I chant America, the Mistress—I chant a greater su-
I chant, projected, a thousand blooming cities yet, in
time, on those groups of sea-islands;
I chant my sail-ships and steam-ships threading the
I chant my stars and stripes fluttering in the wind;
I chant commerce opening, the sleep of ages having
done its work—races, reborn, refresh'd;
Lives, works, resumed—The object I know not—but
the old, the Asiatic, renew'd, as it must be,
Commencing from this day, surrounded by the world.


11And you, Libertad of the world!
You shall sit in the middle, well-pois'd, thousands of
As to-day, from one side, the nobles of Asia come to
As to-morrow, from the other side, the Queen of Eng-
land sends her eldest son to you.


12The sign is reversing, the orb is enclosed,
The ring is circled, the journey is done;

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The box-lid is but perceptibly open'd—nevertheless the
perfume pours copiously out of the whole box.


13Young Libertad!
With the venerable Asia, the all-mother,
Be considerate with her, now and ever, hot Libertad—
for you are all;
Bend your proud neck to the long-off mother, now
sending messages over the archipelagoes to you;
Bend your proud neck low for once, young Libertad.


14Were the children straying westward so long? so
wide the tramping?
Were the precedent dim ages debouching westward
from Paradise so long?
Were the centuries steadily footing it that way, all the
while unknown, for you, for reasons?

15They are justified—they are accomplish'd—they shall
now be turn'd the other way also, to travel to-
ward you thence;
They shall now also march obediently eastward, for
your sake, Libertad.

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THAT whatever tastes sweet to the most perfect person
—That is finally right.


That the human shape or face is so great, it must never
be made ridiculous;
That for ornaments nothing outr can be allowed,
That anything is most beautiful without ornament;
That exaggerations will be sternly revenged in your
own physiology, and in other persons' physiol-
ogy also;
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 caricatured;
And that genius need never more be turn'd to ro-
(For facts properly told, how mean appear all ro-


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 suggest that all depends
on the sthetic, or intellectual,
And that criticism is great—and that refinement is
greatest of all;
And that the mind governs—and that all depends on
the mind.


With one man or woman—(no matter which one—I
even pick out the lowest,)
With him or her I now suggest the whole law;
And that every right, in politics or what-not, shall be
eligible to that one man or woman, on the same
terms as any.

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1GREAT 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 fol-
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 Expression
—great is Silence.

4Youth, large, lusty, loving—Youth, full of grace, force,
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?)

7Expression of speech! in what is written or said, for
-get 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 is;
Do you imagine it has stopt at this? the increase aban-
Understand then that it goes as far onward from this,
as this is from the times when it lay in covering
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
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! I am determin'd 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 pro-
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 few old 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 great-
est purport.


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 sonnam-
bules, walking the dusk.

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1THERE was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he
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 commonest
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 quarrelsome
And the tidy and fresh-cheek'd girls—and the barefoot
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 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?
The streets themselves, and the façades of houses, and
goods in the windows,

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Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank'd wharves—the huge
crossing at the ferries,
The village on the highland, seen from afar at sunset—
the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, the 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 purity
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.


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,
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 Altamahaw,
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;

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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;
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 training moss,
The piney odor and the gloom—the awful natural still-
ness, (Here in these dense swamps the freebooter
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, resound-
ing 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 night,
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 tas-
sels—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 Caro-
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Ten-
nessee, and never wander more!

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1THINK 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 your-
self 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 were 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.

7Think of spiritual results,
Sure as the earth swims through the heavens, does every
one of its objects pass into spiritual results.

8Think of manhood, and you to be a man;
Do you count manhood, and the sweet of manhood,


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Think 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?

You Felons on Trial in Courts.

1YOU felons on trial in courts;
You convicts in prison-cells—you sentenced assassins,
chain'd and hand-cuff'd with iron;
Who am I, too, that I am not on trial, or in prison?
Me, ruthless and devilish as any, that my wrists are not
chain'd with iron, or my ankles with iron?

2You prostitutes flaunting over the trottoirs, or ob-
scene in your rooms,
Who am I, that I should call you more obscene than

3O culpable!
I acknowledge—I exposé!
(O admirers! praise not me! compliment not me! you
make me wince,
I see what you do not—I know what you do not.)

4Inside these breast-bones I lie smutch'd and choked;
Beneath this face that appears so impassive, hell's tides
continually run;
Lusts and wickedness are acceptable to me;
I walk with delinquents with passionate love;
I feel I am of them—I belong to those convicts and
prostitutes myself,
And henceforth I will not deny them—for how can I
deny myself?

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To a Common Prostitute.

1BE composed—be at ease with me—I am Walt Whit-
man, 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

3Till then, I salute you with a significant look, that
you do not forget me.

I was Looking a Long While.

I WAS looking a long while for a clue to the history of
the past for myself, and for these chants—and
now I have found it;
It is not in those paged fables in the libraries, (them I
neither accept nor reject;)
It is no more in the legends than in all else;
It is in the present—it is this earth to-day;
It is in Democracy—(the purport and aim of all the
It is the life of one man or one woman to-day—the av-
erage man of to-day;
It is in languages, social customs, literatures, arts;
It is in the broad show of artificial things, ships, ma-
chinery, politics, creeds, modern improvements,
and the interchange of nations,
All for the average man of to-day.

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To a President.

ALL you are doing and saying is to America dangled
You have not learn'd of Nature—of the politics of Na-
ture, you have not learn'd the great amplitude,
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 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!)
Are those really Congressmen? are those the great
Judges? is that the President?
Then I will sleep awhile 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.)

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Aroused and angry,
I thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war;
But soon my fingers fail'd me, my face droop'd, and I
resign'd myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch
the dead.



1FIRST, O songs, for a prelude,
Lightly strike on the stretch'd tympanum, pride and joy
in my city.
How she led the rest to arms—how she gave the cue,
How at once with lithe limbs, unwaiting a moment, she
(O superb! O Manhattan, my own, my peerless!
O strongest you in the hour of danger, in crisis! O
truer than steel!)
How you sprang! how you threw off the costumes of
peace with indifferent hand;
How your soft opera-music changed, and the drum and
fife were heard in their stead;
How you led to the war, (that shall serve for our pre-
lude, songs of soldiers,)
How Manhattan drum-taps led.

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2Forty years had I in my city seen soldiers parading;
Forty years as a pageant—till unawares, the Lady of
this teeming and turbulent city,
Sleepless, amid her ships, her houses, her incalculable
With her million children around her—suddenly,
At dead of night, at news from the south,
Incens'd, struck with clench'd hand the pavement.

3A shock electric—the night sustain'd it;
Till with ominous hum, our hive at day-break pour'd
out its myriads.

4From the houses then, and the workshops, and
through all the doorways,
Leapt they tumultuous—and lo! Manhattan arming.


5To the drum-taps prompt,
The young men falling in and arming;
The mechanics arming, (the trowel, the jack-plane, the
blacksmith's hammer, tost aside with precipita-
The lawyer leaving his office, and arming—the judge
leaving the court;
The driver deserting his wagon in the street, jumping
down, throwing the reins abruptly down on the
horses' backs;
The salesman leaving the store—the boss, book-keeper,
porter, all leaving;
Squads gather everywhere by common consent, and
The new recruits, even boys—the old men show them
how to wear their accoutrements—they buckle
the straps carefully;
Outdoors arming—indoors arming—the flash of the
The white tents cluster in camps—the arm'd sentries
around—the sunrise cannon, and again at sunset;

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Arm'd regiments arrive every day, pass through the
city, and embark from the wharves;
(How good they look, as they tramp down to the river,
sweaty, with their guns on their shoulders!
How I love them! how I could hug them, with their
brown faces, and their clothes and knapsacks
cover'd with dust!)
The blood of the city up—arm'd! arm'd! the cry
The flags flung out from the steeples of churches, and
from all the public buildings and stores;
The tearful parting—the mother kisses her son—the
son kisses his mother;
(Loth is the mother to part—yet not a word does she
speak to detain him;)
The tumultuous escort—the ranks of policemen preced-
ing, clearing the way;
The unpent enthusiasm—the wild cheers of the crowd
for their favorites;
The artillery—the silent cannons, bright as gold, drawn
along, rumble lightly over the stones;
(Silent cannons—soon to cease your silence!
Soon, unlimber'd, to begin the red business;)
All the mutter of preparation—all the determin'd
The hospital service—the lint, bandages, and medi-
The women volunteering for nurses—the work begun
for, in earnest—no mere parade now;
War! an arm'd race is advancing!—the welcome for
battle—no turning away;
War! be it weeks, months, or years—an arm'd race is
advancing to welcome it.


6Mannahatta a-march!—and it's O to sing it well!
It's O for a manly life in the camp!

7And the sturdy artillery!
The guns, bright as gold—the work for giants—to serve
well the guns:

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Unlimber them! no more, as the past forty years, for
salutes for courtesies merely;
Put in something else now besides powder and wadding.


8And you, Lady of Ships! you Mannahatta;
Old matron of this proud, friendly, turbulent city!
Often in peace and wealth you were pensive, or covertly
frown'd amid all your children;
But now you smile with joy, exulting old Mannahatta!


ARM'D year! year of the struggle!
No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you,
terrible year!
Not you as some pale poetling, seated at a desk, lisping
cadenzas piano;
But as a strong man, erect, clothed in blue clothes, ad-
vancing, carrying a rifle on your shoulder,
With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands
—with a knife in a belt at your side,
As I heard you shouting loud—your sonorous voice
ringing across the continent;
Your masculine voice, O year, as rising amid the great
Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you, as one of the
workmen, the dwellers in Manhattan;
Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois
and Indiana,
Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and de-
scending the Alleghanies;
Or down from the great lakes, or in Pennsylvania, or on
deck along the Ohio river;
Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers,
or at Chattanooga on the mountain top,

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Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs, clothed
in blue, bearing weapons, robust year;
Heard your determin'd voice, launch'd forth again and
Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-
lipp'd cannon,
I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.



BEAT! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a
ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation;
Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he
have now with his bride;
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, plowing his field or
gathering his grain;
So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums—so shrill you
bugles blow.


Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in
the streets:
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses?
No sleepers must sleep in those beds;
No bargainers' bargains by day—no brokers or specu-
lators—Would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt
to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case be-
fore the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder

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Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation;
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer;
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man;
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's en-
Make even the trestles to shake the dead, where they
lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump, O terrible drums—so loud you
bugles blow.


FROM Paumanok starting, I fly like a bird,
Around and around to soar, to sing the idea of all;
To the north betaking myself, to sing there arctic
To Kanada, 'till I absorb Kanada in myself—to Michi-
gan then,
To Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, to sing their songs,
(they are inimitable;)
Then to Ohio and Indiana to sing theirs—to Missouri
and Kansas and Arkansas, to sing theirs,
To Tennessee and Kentucky—to the Carolinas and
Georgia, to sing theirs,
To Texas, and so along up toward California, to roam
accepted everywhere;
To sing first, (to the tap of the war-drum, if need be,)
The idea of all—of the western world, one and insepa-
And then the song of each member of These States.

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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;

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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,

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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.


CITY of ships!
(O the black ships! O the fierce ships!
O the beautiful, sharp bow'd steam-ships and sail-ships!)
City of the world! (for all races are here;
All the lands of the earth make contributions here;)
City of the sea! city of hurried and glittering tides!
City whose gleeful tides continually rush or recede,
whirling in and out, with eddies and foam!
City of wharves and stores! city of tall façades of mar-
ble and iron!
Proud and passionate city! mettlesome, mad, extrava-
gant city!
Spring up, O city! not for peace alone, but be indeed
yourself, warlike!
Fear not! submit to no models but your own, O city!
Behold me! incarnate me, as I have incarnated you!

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I have rejected nothing you offer'd me—whom you
adopted, I have adopted;
Good or bad, I never question you—I love all—I do not
condemn anything;
I chant and celebrate all that is yours—yet peace no
In peace I chanted peace, but now the drum of war is
War, red war, is my song through your streets, O city!


(At Washington Park, Brooklyn, assisting the Centenarian.)

1GIVE me your hand, old Revolutionary;
The hill-top is nigh—but a few steps, (make room, gen-
Up the path you have follow'd me well, spite of your
hundred and extra years;
You can walk, old man, though your eyes are almost
Your faculties serve you, and presently I must have
them serve me.

2Rest, while I tell what the crowd around us means;
On the plain below, recruits are drilling and exercising;
There is the camp—one regiment departs to-morrow;
Do you hear the officers giving the orders?
Do you hear the clank of the muskets?

3Why, what comes over you now, old man?
Why do you tremble, and clutch my hand so convul-
The troops are but drilling—they are yet surrounded
with smiles;

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Around them, at hand, the well-drest friends, and the
While splendid and warm the afternoon sun shines
Green the midsummer verdure, and fresh blows the
dallying breeze,
O'er proud and peaceful cities, and arm of the sea be-

4But drill and parade are over—they march back to
Only hear that approval of hands! hear what a clap-

5As wending, the crowds now part and disperse—but
we, old man,
Not for nothing have I brought you hither—we must
You to speak in your turn, and I to listen and tell.


6When I clutch'd your hand, it was not with terror;
But suddenly, pouring about me here, on every side,
And below there where the boys were drilling, and up
the slopes they ran,
And where tents are pitch'd, and wherever you see,
south and south-east and south-west,
Over hills, across lowlands, and in the skirts of woods,
And along the shores, in mire (now fill'd over), came
again, and suddenly raged,
As eighty-five years a-gone, no mere parade receiv'd
with applause of friends,
But a battle, which I took part in myself—aye, long ago
as it is, I took part in it,
Walking then this hill-top, this same ground.

7Aye, this is the ground;
My blind eyes, even as I speak, behold it re-peopled
from graves;

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The years recede, pavements and stately houses disap-
Rude forts appear again, the old hoop'd guns are
I see the lines of rais'd earth stretching from river to
I mark the vista of waters, I mark the uplands and
Here we lay encamp'd—it was this time in summer also.

8As I talk, I remember all—I remember the Declara-
It was read here—the whole army paraded—it was
read to us here;
By his staff surrounded, the General stood in the mid-
dle—he held up his unsheath'd sword,
It glitter'd in the sun in full sight of the army.

9'Twas a bold act then;
The English war-ships had just arrived—the king had
sent them from over the sea;
We could watch down the lower bay where they lay at
And the transports, swarming with soldiers.

10A few days more, and they landed—and then the

11Twenty thousand were brought against us,
A veteran force, furnish'd with good artillery.

12I tell not now the whole of the battle;
But one brigade, early in the forenoon, order'd forward
to engage the red-coats;
Of that brigade I tell, and how steadily it march'd,
And how long and how well it stood, confronting death.

13Who do you think that was, marching steadily, stern-
ly confronting death?
It was the brigade of the youngest men, two thousand

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Rais'd in Virginia and Maryland, and many of them
known personally to the General.

14Jauntily forward they went with quick step toward
Gowanus' waters;
Till of a sudden, unlook'd for, by defiles through the
woods, gain'd at night,
The British advancing, wedging in from the east,
fiercely playing their guns,
That brigade of the youngest was cut off, and at the
enemy's mercy.

15The General watch'd them from this hill;
They made repeated desperate attempts to burst their
Then drew close together, very compact, their flag
flying in the middle;
But O from the hills how the cannon were thinning and
thinning them!

16It sickens me yet, that slaughter!
I saw the moisture gather in drops on the face of the
I saw how he wrung his hands in anguish.

17Meanwhile the British maneuver'd to draw us out
for a pitch'd battle;
But we dared not trust the chances of a pitch'd battle.

18We fought the fight in detachments;
Sallying forth, we fought at several points—but in each
the luck was against us;
Our foe advancing, steadily getting the best of it, push'd
us back to the works on this hill;
Till we turn'd, menacing, here, and then he left us.

19That was the going out of the brigade of the young-
est men, two thousand strong;
Few return'd—nearly all remain in Brooklyn.

20That, and here, my General's first battle;

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No women looking on, nor sunshine to bask in—it did
not conclude with applause;
Nobody clapp'd hands here then.

21But, in darkness, in mist, on the ground, under a chill
Wearied that night we lay, foil'd and sullen;
While scornfully laugh'd many an arrogant lord, off
against us encamp'd,
Quite within hearing, feasting, klinking wine-glasses
together over their victory.

22So, dull and damp, and another day;
But the night of that, mist lifting, rain ceasing,
Silent as a ghost, while they thought they were sure of
him, my General retreated.

23I saw him at the river-side,
Down by the ferry, lit by torches, hastening the embar-
My General waited till the soldiers and wounded were
all passed over;
And then, (it was just ere sunrise,) these eyes rested on
him for the last time.

24Every one else seem'd fill'd with gloom;
Many no doubt thought of capitulation.

25But when my General pass'd me,
As he stood in his boat, and look'd toward the coming
I saw something different from capitulation.


26Enough—the Centenarian's story ends;
The two, the past and present, have interchanged;
I myself, as connecter, as chansonnier of a great future,
am now speaking.

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27And is this the ground Washington trod?
And these waters I listlessly daily cross, are these the
waters he cross'd,
As resolute in defeat, as other generals in their proudest

28It is well—a lesson like that, always comes good;
I must copy the story, and send it eastward and west-
I must preserve that look, as it beam'd on you, rivers
of Brooklyn.

29See! as the annual round returns, the phantoms
It is the 27th of August, and the British have landed;
The battle begins, and goes against us—behold! through
the smoke, Washington's face;
The brigade of Virginia and Maryland have march'd
forth to intercept the enemy;
They are cut off—murderous artillery from the hills
plays upon them;
Rank after rank falls, while over them silently droops
the flag,
Baptized that day in many a young man's bloody
In death, defeat, and sisters', mothers' tears.

30Ah, hills and slopes of Brooklyn! I perceive you are
more valuable than your owners supposed;
Ah, river! henceforth you will be illumin'd to me at
sunrise with something besides the sun.

31Encampments new! in the midst of you stands an
encampment very old;
Stands forever the camp of the dead brigade.

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An Army Corps on the March.

WITH its cloud of skirmishers in advance,
With now the sound of a single shot, snapping like a
whip, and now an irregular volley,
The swarming ranks press on and on, the dense brigades
press on;
Glittering dimly, toiling under the sun—the dust-cover'd
In columns rise and fall to the undulations of the
With artillery interspers'd—the wheels rumble, the
horses sweat,
As the army corps advances.

Cavalry Crossing a Ford.

A LINE in long array, where they wind betwixt green
They take a serpentine course—their arms flash in the
sun—Hark to the musical clank;
Behold the silvery river—in it the splashing horses,
loitering, stop to drink;
Behold the brown-faced men—each group, each person,
a picture—the negligent rest on the saddles;
Some emerge on the opposite bank—others are just
entering the ford—while,
Scarlet, and blue, and snowy white,
The guidon flags flutter gaily in the wind.

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Bivouac on a Mountain Side.

I SEE before me now, a traveling army halting;
Below, a fertile valley spread, with barns, and the
orchards of summer;
Behind, the terraced sides of a mountain, abrupt in
places, rising high!
Broken, with rocks, with clinging cedars, with tall
shapes, dingily seen;
The numerous camp-fires scatter'd near and far, some
away up on the mountain;
The shadowy forms of men and horses, looming, large-
sized, flickering;
And over all, the sky—the sky! far, far out of reach,
studded, breaking out, the eternal stars.

By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame.

BY the bivouac's fitful flame,
A procession winding around me, solemn and sweet and
slow;—but first I note,
The tents of the sleeping army, the fields' and woods'
dim outline,
The darkness, lit by spots of kindled fire—the silence;
Like a phantom far or near an occasional figure moving;
The shrubs and trees, (as I left my eyes they seem to
be stealthily watching me;)
While wind in procession thoughts, O tender and
wondrous thoughts,
Of life and death—of home and the past and loved,
and of those that are far away;
A solemn and slow procession there as I sit on the
By the bivouac's fitful flame.

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Come Up from the Fields, Father.


1COME up from the fields, father, here's a letter from
our Pete;
And come to the front door, mother—here's a letter
from thy dear son.


2Lo, 'tis autumn;
Lo, where the trees, deeper green, yellower and redder;
Cool and sweeten Ohio's villages, with leaves fluttering
in the moderate wind;
Where apples ripe in the orchards hang, and grapes on
the trellis'd vines;
(Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines?
Smell you the buckwheat, where the bees were lately

3Above all, lo, the sky, so calm, so transparent after
the rain, and with wondrous clouds;
Below, too, all calm, all vital and beautiful—and the
farm prospers well.


4Down in the fields all prospers well;
But now from the fields come, father—come at the
daughter's call;
And come to the entry, mother—to the front door come,
right away.

5Fast as she can she hurries—something ominous—
her steps trembling;
She does not tarry to smooth her hair, nor adjust her

6Open the envelope quickly;

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O this is not our son's writing, yet his name is sign'd;
O a strange hand writes for our dear son—O stricken
mother's soul!
All swims before her eyes—flashes with black—she
catches the main words only;
Sentences broken—gun-shot wound in the breast, cavalry
skirmish, taken to hospital,
At present low, but will soon be better.


7Ah, now the single figure to me,
Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio, with all its cities
and farms,
Sickly white in the face, and dull in the head, very faint,
By the jamb of a door leans.

8 Grieve not so, dear mother, (the just-grown daughter
speaks through her sobs;
The little sisters huddle around, speechless and dis-
See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will soon be better.


9Alas, poor boy, he will never be better, (nor may-be
needs to be better, that brave and simple soul;)
While they stand at home at the door, he is dead
The only son is dead.

10But the mother needs to be better;
She, with thin form, presently drest in black;
By day her meals untouch'd—then at night fitfully
sleeping, often waking,
In the midnight waking, weeping, longing with one deep
O that she might withdraw unnoticed—silent from life,
escape and withdraw,
To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead son.

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VIGIL strange I kept on the field one night:
When you, my son and my comrade, dropt at my side
that day,
One look I but gave, which your dear eyes return'd,
with a look I shall never forget;
One touch of your hand to mine, O boy, reach'd up as
you lay on the ground;
Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested
Till late in the night reliev'd, to the place at last again I
made my way;
Found you in death so cold, dear comrade—found your
body, son of responding kisses, (never again on
earth responding;)
Bared your face in the starlight—curious the scene—
cool blew the moderate night-wind;
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me
the battle-field spreading;
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet, there in the fragrant
silent night;
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh—Long,
long I gazed;
Then on the earth partially reclining, sat by your side,
leaning my chin in my hands;
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with
you, dearest comrade—Not a tear, not a word;
Vigil of silence, love and death—vigil for you, my son
and my soldier,
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones up-
ward stole;
Vigil final for you, brave boy, (I could not save you,
swift was your death,
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living—I think
we shall surely meet again;)
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the
dawn appear'd,
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop'd well his

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Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head,
and carefully under feet;
And there and then, and bathed by the rising sun, my
son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I de-
Ending my vigil strange with that—vigil of night and
battle-field dim;
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth
Vigil for comrade swiftly slain—vigil I never forget,
how as day brighten'd,
I rose from the chill ground, and folded my soldier well
in his blanket,
And buried him where he fell.


A MARCH in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown;
A route through a heavy wood, with muffled steps in
the darkness;
Our army foil'd with loss severe, and the sullen remnant
Till after midnight glimmer upon us, the lights of a
dim-lighted building;
We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by
the dim-lighted building;
'Tis a large old church at the crossing roads—'tis now
an impromptu hospital;
—Entering but for a minute, I see a sight beyond all
the pictures and poems ever made;
Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving
candles and lamps,
And by one great pitchy torch, stationary, with wild red
flame, and clouds of smoke;
By these, crowds, groups of forms, vaguely I see, on the
floor, some in the pews laid down;

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At my feet more distinctly, a soldier, a mere lad, in
danger of bleeding to death, (he is shot in the
I staunch the blood temporarily, (the youngster's face
is white as a lily;)
Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o'er the scene,
fain to absorb it all;
Faces, varieties, postures beyond description, most in
obscurity, some of them dead;
Surgeons operating, attendants holding lights, the smell
of ether, the odor of blood;
The crowd, O the crowd of the bloody forms of soldiers
—the yard outside also fill'd;
Some on the bare ground, some on planks or stretchers,
some in the death-spasm sweating;
An occasional scream or cry, the doctor's shouted orders
or calls;
The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the
glint of the torches;
These I resume as I chant—I see again the forms, I
smell the odor;
Then hear outside the orders given, Fall in, my men,
Fall in;
But first I bend to the dying lad—his eyes open—a
half-smile gives he me;
Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to
the darkness,
Resuming, marching, ever in darkness marching, on in
the ranks,
The unknown road still marching.


1A SIGHT in camp in the day-break grey and dim,
As from my tent I emerge so early, sleepless,
As slow I walk in the cool fresh air, the path near by
the hospital tent,

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Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out
there, untended lying,
Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woollen
Grey and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.

2Curious, I halt, and silent stand.
Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest,
the first, just lift the blanket:
Who are you, elderly man so gaunt and grim, with well-
grey'd hair, and flesh all sunken about the eyes?
Who are you, my dear comrade?

3Then to the second I step—And who are you, my
child and darling?
Who are you, sweet boy, with cheeks yet blooming?

4Then to the third—a face nor child, nor old, very
calm, as of beautiful yellow-white ivory;
Young man, I think I know you—I think this face of
yours is the face of the Christ himself;
Dead and divine, and brother of all, and here again he


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, perseveres
till he reaches his destination,
More than I have charged myself, heeded or unheeded,
to compose a free march for These States,
To be exhilarating music to them—a battle-call, rousing
to arms, if need be—years, centuries hence.

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1AS TOILSOME I wander'd Virginia's woods,
To the music of rustling leaves, kick'd by my feet, (for
'twas autumn,)
I mark'd at the foot of a tree the grave of a soldier,
Mortally wounded he, and buried on the retreat, (easily
all could I understand;
The halt of a mid-day hour, when up! no time to lose
—yet this sign left,
On a tablet scrawl'd and nail'd on the tree by the grave,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.

2Long, long I muse, then on my way go wandering;
Many a changeful season to follow, and many a scene
of life;
Yet at times through changeful season and scene, ab-
rupt, alone, or in the crowded street,
Comes before me the unknown soldier's grave—comes
the inscription rude in Virginia's woods,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.

Year that Trembled and Reel'd Beneath Me.

YEAR that trembled and reel'd beneath me!
Your summer wind was warm enough—yet the air I
breathed froze me;
A thick gloom fell through the sunshine and darken'd
Must I change my triumphant songs? said I to my-
Must I indeed learn to chant the cold dirges of the baf-
And sullen hymns of defeat?

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1AN old man bending, I come, among new faces,
Years looking backward, resuming, in answer to chil-
Come tell us, old man, as from young men and maidens
that love me;
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions,
these chances,
Of unsurpass'd heroes, (was one side so brave? the
other was equally brave;)
Now be witness again—paint the mightiest armies of
Of those armies so rapid, so wondrous, what saw you to
tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious
Of hard-fought engagements, or sieges tremendous,
what deepest remains?


2O maidens and young men I love, and that love me,
What you ask of my days, those the strangest and
sudden your talking recalls;
Soldier alert I arrive, after a long march, cover'd with
sweat and dust;
In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly
shout in the rush of successful charge;
Enter the captur'd works….yet lo! like a swift
running river, they fade;
Pass and are gone, they fade—I dwell not on soldiers'
perils or soldiers' joys;
(Both I remember well—many the hardships, few the
joys, yet I was content.)

3But in silence, in dreams' projections,
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes

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So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the
imprints off the sand,
In nature's reverie sad, with hinged knees returning, I
enter the doors—(while for you up there,
Whoever you are, follow me without noise, and be of
strong heart.)


4Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground, after the battle brought
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof'd
To the long rows of cots, up and down, each side, I
To each and all, one after another, I draw near—not
one do I miss;
An attendant follows, holding a tray—he carries a refuse
Soon to be fill'd with clotted rags and blood, emptied,
and fill'd again.

5I onward go, I stop,
With hinged knees and steady hand, to dress wounds;
I am firm with each—the pangs are sharp, yet unavoid-
One turns to me his appealing eyes—(poor boy! I
never knew you,
Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for
you, if that would save you.)


6On, on I go—(open, doors of time! open, hospital
The crush'd head I dress, (poor crazed hand, tear not
the bandage away;)
The neck of the cavalry-man, with the bullet through
and through, I examine;

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Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the
eye, yet life struggles hard;
(Come, sweet death! be persuaded, O beautiful death!
In mercy come quickly.)

7From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the
matter and blood;
Back on his pillow the soldier bends, with curv'd neck,
and side-falling head;
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, (he dares not look
on the bloody stump,
And has not yet look'd on it.)

8I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep;
But a day or two more—for see, the frame all wasted
already, and sinking,
And the yellow-blue countenance see.

9I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bul-
let wound,
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene,
so sickening, so offensive,
While the attendant stands behind aside me, holding
the tray and pail.

10I am faithful, I do not give out;
The fractur'd thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdo-
These and more I dress with impassive hand—(yet deep
in my breast a fire, a burning flame.)


11Thus in silence, in dreams' projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night—some are so
Some suffer so much—I recall the experience sweet and
(Many a soldier's loving arms about this neck have
cross'd and rested,
Many a soldier's kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)

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LONG, too long, O land,
Traveling roads all even and peaceful, you learn'd from
joys and prosperity only;
But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish—ad-
vancing, grappling with direst fate, and recoiling
And now to conceive, and show to the world, what your
children en-masse really are;
(For who except myself has yet conceiv'd what your
children en-masse really are?)



GIVE me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-
Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the
Give me a field where the unmow'd grass grows;
Give me an arbor, give me the trellis'd grape;
Give me fresh corn and wheat—give me serene-moving
animals, teaching content;
Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus
west of the Mississippi, and I looking up at the
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flow-
ers, where I can walk undisturb'd;
Give me for marriage a sweet-breath'd woman, of whom
I should never tire;
Give me a perfect child—give me, away, aside from the
noise of the world, a rural domestic life;
Give me to warble spontaneous songs, reliev'd, recluse
by myself, for my own ears only;

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Give me solitude—give me Nature—give me again, O
Nature, your primal sanities!
—These, demanding to have them, (tired with cease-
less excitement, and rack'd by the war-strife;)
These to procure, incessantly asking, rising in cries
from my heart,
While yet incessantly asking, still I adhere to my city;
Day upon day, and year upon year, O city, walking your
Where you hold me enchain'd a certain time, refusing
to give me up;
Yet giving to make me glutted, enrich'd of soul—you
give me forever faces;
(O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing
my cries;
I see my own soul trampling down what it ask'd for.)


Keep your splendid, silent sun;
Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by
the woods;
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-
fields and orchards;
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the Ninth-
month bees hum;
Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms in-
cessant and endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me
comrades and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones
by the hand every day!
Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhat-
Give me Broadway, with the soldiers marching—give
me the sound of the trumpets and drums!
(The soldiers in companies or regiments—some, start-
ing away, flush'd and reckless;
Some, their time up, returning, with thinn'd ranks—
young, yet very old, worn, marching, noticing

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—Give me the shores and the wharves heavy-fringed
with the black ships!
O such for me! O an intense life! O full to repletion,
and varied!
The life of the theatre, bar-room, huge hotel, for me!
The saloon of the steamer! the crowded excursion for
me! the torch-light procession!
The dense brigade, bound for the war, with high piled
military wagons following;
People, endless, streaming, with strong voices, passions,
Manhattan streets, with their powerful throbs, with the
beating drums, as now;
The endless and noisy chorus, the rustle and clank of
muskets, (even the sight of the wounded;)
Manhattan crowds, with their turbulent musical chorus
—with varied chorus, and light of the sparkling
Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me.



THE last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here—and there beyond, it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.


Lo! the moon ascending!
Up from the east, the silvery round moon;
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon;
Immense and silent moon.


I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles;

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All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,
As with voices and with tears.


I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring;
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.


For the son is brought with the father;
In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell;
Two veterans, son and father, dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.


Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive;
And the day-light o'er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.


In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd;
('Tis some mother's large, transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)


O strong dead-march, you please me!
O moon immense, with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans, passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.


The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music;
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

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