O Living Always--Always Dying


O LIVING always--always dying!
O the burials of me, past and present!
O me, while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperious as ever!
O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not--I am content;)
O to disengage myself from those corpses of me, which I turn and look
at, where I cast them!
To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the corpses behind!


WORD over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be
utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly
wash again, and ever again, this soil'd world:
... For my enemy is dead--a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin--I draw
near;
I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the
coffin.

As At Thy Portals Also Death

AS at thy portals also death,
Entering thy sovereign, dim, illimitable grounds,
To memories of my mother, to the divine blending, maternity,
To her, buried and gone, yet buried not, gone not from me,
(I see again the calm benignant face fresh and beautiful still,
I sit by the form in the coffin,
I kiss and kiss convulsively again the sweet old lips, the cheeks,
the closed eyes in the coffin;)
To her, the ideal woman, practical, spiritual, of all of earth, life,
love, to me the best,
I grave a monumental line, before I go, amid these songs,
And set a tombstone here. 10

Whispers Of Heavenly Death


WHISPERS of heavenly death, murmur'd I hear;
Labial gossip of night--sibilant chorals;
Footsteps gently ascending--mystical breezes, wafted soft and low;
Ripples of unseen rivers--tides of a current, flowing, forever
flowing;
(Or is it the plashing of tears? the measureless waters of human
tears?)

I see, just see, skyward, great cloud-masses;
Mournfully, slowly they roll, silently swelling and mixing;
With, at times, a half-dimm'd, sadden'd, far-off star,
Appearing and disappearing.

(Some parturition, rather--some solemn, immortal birth: 10
On the frontiers, to eyes impenetrable,
Some Soul is passing over.)

Song Of Myself, VII

Has 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.

I 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.

I am not an 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.)

Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,
For me those that have been boys and that love women,
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.

Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away.

Song Of Myself, XXXVI

Stretch'd and still lies the midnight,
Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness,
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 cabin,
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 duty,
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,
Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent,
A few large stars overhead, silent and mournful shining,
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.


FAR hence, amid an isle of wondrous beauty,
Crouching over a grave, an ancient, sorrowful mother,
Once a queen--now lean and tatter'd, seated on the ground,
Her old white hair drooping dishevel'd round her shoulders;
At her feet fallen an unused royal harp,
Long silent--she too long silent--mourning her shrouded hope and
heir;
Of all the earth her heart most full of sorrow, because most full of
love.

Yet a word, ancient mother;
You need crouch there no longer on the cold ground, with forehead
between your knees;
O you need not sit there, veil'd in your old white hair, so
dishevel'd; 10
For know you, the one you mourn is not in that grave;
It was an illusion--the heir, the son you love, was not really dead;
The Lord is not dead--he is risen again, young and strong, in another
country;
Even while you wept there by your fallen harp, by the grave,
What you wept for, was translated, pass'd from the grave,
The winds favor'd, and the sea sail'd it,
And now with rosy and new blood,
Moves to-day in a new country.

Of Him I Love Day And Night


OF him I love day and night, I dream'd I heard he was dead;
And I dream'd I went where they had buried him I love--but he was not
in that place;
And I dream'd I wander'd, searching among burial-places, to find him;
And I found that every place was a burial-place;
The houses full of life were equally full of death, (this house is
now;)
The streets, the shipping, the places of amusement, the Chicago,
Boston, Philadelphia, the Mannahatta, were as full of the dead
as of the living,
And fuller, O vastly fuller, of the dead than of the living;
--And what I dream'd I will henceforth tell to every person and age,
And I stand henceforth bound to what I dream'd;
And now I am willing to disregard burial-places, and dispense with
them; 10
And if the memorials of the dead were put up indifferently
everywhere, even in the room where I eat or sleep, I should be
satisfied;
And if the corpse of any one I love, or if my own corpse, be duly
render'd to powder, and pour'd in the sea, I shall be
satisfied;
Or if it be distributed to the winds, I shall be satisfied.

Song Of Myself, XLIX

And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me.

To 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.

And 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.

And as to you Life I reckon you are the leavings of many deaths,
(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.)

I hear you whispering there O stars of heaven,
O suns—O grass of graves—O perpetual transfers and pro- motions,
If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing?

Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest,
Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing twilight,
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.

I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night,
I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sunbeams reflected,
And debouch to the steady and central from the offspring great or small.

The City Dead-House


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 delicate fair house--
that ruin!
That immortal house, more than all the rows of dwellings ever built!
Or white-domed Capitol itself, with majestic figure surmounted--or
all the old high-spired cathedrals; 10
That little house alone, more than them all--poor, desperate 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, crumbled! 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.

Pensive On Her Dead Gazing, I Heard The Mother Of All


PENSIVE, on her dead gazing, I heard the Mother of All,
Desperate, on the torn bodies, on the forms covering the battle-
fields gazing;
(As the last gun ceased--but the scent of the powder-smoke linger'd;)
As she call'd to her earth with mournful voice while she stalk'd:
Absorb them well, O my earth, she cried--I charge you, lose not my
sons! lose not an atom;
And you streams, absorb them well, taking their dear blood;
And you local spots, and you airs that swim above lightly,
And all you essences of soil and growth--and you, my rivers' depths;
And you, mountain sides--and the woods where my dear children's
blood, trickling, redden'd;
And you trees, down in your roots, to bequeath to all future
trees, 10
My dead absorb--my young men's beautiful bodies absorb--and their
precious, precious, precious blood;
Which holding in trust for me, faithfully back again give me, many a
year hence,
In unseen essence and odor of surface and grass, centuries hence;
In blowing airs from the fields, back again give me my darlings--give
my immortal heroes;
Exhale me them centuries hence--breathe me their breath--let not an
atom be lost;
O years and graves! O air and soil! O my dead, an aroma sweet!
Exhale them perennial, sweet death, years, centuries hence.

Dirge For Two Veterans


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; 10
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. 20


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! 30
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.


TO ORATISTS--to male or female,
Vocalism, measure, concentration, determination, and the divine power
to use words.
Are you full-lung'd and limber-lipp'd from long trial? from vigorous
practice? from physique?
Do you move in these broad lands as broad as they?
Come duly to the divine power to use words?

For only at last, after many years--after chastity, friendship,
procreation, prudence, and nakedness;
After treading ground and breasting river and lake;
After a loosen'd throat--after absorbing eras, temperaments, races--
after knowledge, freedom, crimes;
After complete faith--after clarifyings, elevations, and removing
obstructions;
After these, and more, it is just possible there comes to a man, a
woman, the divine power to use words. 10

Then toward that man or that woman, swiftly hasten all--None refuse,
all attend;
Armies, ships, antiquities, the dead, libraries, paintings, machines,
cities, hate, despair, amity, pain, theft, murder, aspiration,
form in close ranks;
They debouch as they are wanted to march obediently through the mouth
of that man, or that woman.

.... O I see arise orators fit for inland America;
And I see it is as slow to become an orator as to become a man;
And I see that all power is folded in a great vocalism.

Of a great vocalism, the merciless light thereof shall pour, and the
storm rage,
Every flash shall be a revelation, an insult,
The glaring flame on depths, on heights, on suns, on stars,
On the interior and exterior of man or woman, 20
On the laws of Nature--on passive materials,
On what you called death--(and what to you therefore was death,
As far as there can be death.)

Song Of Myself, XXVI

Now I will do nothing but listen,
To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute toward it.

I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals,
I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following,
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,
The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streak-
ing engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color'd lights,
The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching 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.)

I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man's heart's complaint,)
I hear the key'd cornet, it glides quickly in through my ears,
It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.

I hear the chorus, it is a grand opera,
Ah this indeed is music—this suits me.

A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me,
The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full.

I 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 cut by bitter and angry hail, I lose my breath,
Steep'd amid honey'd morphine, my windpipe throttled in fakes of death,
At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,
And that we call Being.

Vigil Strange I Kept On The Field One Night

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 battle,
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 upward 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 form,
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 deposited,
Ending my vigil strange with that, vigil of night and battle-field dim,
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding,)
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.

Song Of Myself, VI

A 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.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or 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?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out of their mothers' laps,
And here you are the mothers' laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.

I 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.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and chil- dren?

They 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.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

A Child Said, What Is The Grass?

A 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.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,
And here you are the mother's laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I 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.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and
children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show 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 ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
luckier.

A March In The Ranks, Hard-Prest


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 retreating;
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; 10
At my feet more distinctly, a soldier, a mere lad, in danger of
bleeding to death, (he is shot in the abdomen;)
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; 20
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.

Virgil Strange I Kept On The Field


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 battle;
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 battlefield
spreading;
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet, there in the fragrant silent
night; 10
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 upward 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 form,
Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head, and
carefully under feet; 20
And there and then, and bathed by the rising sun, my son in his
grave, in his rude-dug grave I deposited;
Ending my vigil strange with that--vigil of night and battlefield
dim;
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth
responding;)
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.

Europe, The 72d And 73d Years Of These States


SUDDENLY, out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair of slaves,
Like lightning it le'pt forth, half startled at itself,
Its feet upon the ashes and the rags--its hands tight to the throats
of kings.

O hope and faith!
O aching close of exiled patriots' lives!
O many a sicken'd heart!
Turn back unto this day, and make yourselves afresh.

And you, paid to defile the People! you liars, mark!
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts,
For court thieving in its manifold mean forms, worming from his
simplicity the poor man's wages, 10
For many a promise sworn by royal lips, and broken, and laugh'd at in
the breaking,
Then in their power, not for all these, did the blows strike revenge,
or the heads of the nobles fall;
The People scorn'd the ferocity of kings.


But the sweetness of mercy brew'd bitter destruction, and the
frighten'd monarchs come back;
Each comes in state, with his train--hangman, priest, tax-gatherer,
Soldier, lawyer, lord, jailer, and sycophant.

Yet behind all, lowering, stealing--lo, a Shape,
Vague as the night, draped interminably, head, front and form, in
scarlet folds,
Whose face and eyes none may see,
Out of its robes only this--the red robes, lifted by the arm, 20
One finger, crook'd, pointed high over the top, like the head of a
snake appears.


Meanwhile, corpses lie in new-made graves--bloody corpses of young
men;
The rope of the gibbet hangs heavily, the bullets of princes are
flying, the creatures of power laugh aloud,
And all these things bear fruits--and they are good.

Those corpses of young men,
Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets--those hearts pierc'd by the
gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere with unslaughter'd
vitality.

They live in other young men, O kings!
They live in brothers, again ready to defy you!
They were purified by death--they were taught and exalted. 30

Not a grave of the murder'd for freedom, but grows seed for freedom,
in its turn to bear seed,
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the rains and the snows
nourish.

Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of tyrants let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering, counseling,
cautioning.


Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair of you.

Is the house shut? Is the master away?
Nevertheless, be ready--be not weary of watching;
He will soon return--his messengers come anon.

A Boston Ballad, 1854


TO get betimes in Boston town, I rose this morning early;
Here's a good place at the corner--I must stand and see the show.

Clear the way there, Jonathan!
Way for the President's marshal! Way for the government cannon!
Way for the Federal foot and dragoons--and the apparitions copiously
tumbling.

I love to look on the stars and stripes--I hope the fifes will play
Yankee Doodle.

How bright shine the cutlasses of the foremost troops!
Every man holds his revolver, marching stiff through Boston town.

A fog follows--antiques of the same come limping,
Some appear wooden-legged, and some appear bandaged and bloodless. 10

Why 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 shoulders!

What troubles you, Yankee phantoms? What is all this chattering of
bare gums?
Does the ague convulse your limbs? Do you mistake your crutches for
fire-locks, and level them?

If you blind your eyes with tears, you will not see the President's
marshal;
If you groan such groans, you might balk the government cannon.

For shame, old maniacs! Bring down those toss'd arms, and let your
white hair be; 20
Here gape your great grand-sons--their wives gaze at them from the
windows,
See how well dress'd--see how orderly they conduct themselves.

Worse and worse! Can't you stand it? Are you retreating?
Is this hour with the living too dead for you?

Retreat then! Pell-mell!
To your graves! Back! back to the hills, old limpers!
I do not think you belong here, anyhow.

But there is one thing that belongs here--shall I tell you what it
is, gentlemen of Boston?
I will whisper it to the Mayor--he shall send a committee to England;
They shall get a grant from the Parliament, go with a cart to the
royal vault--haste! 30

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.

Now call for the President's marshal again, bring out the government
cannon,
Fetch home the roarers from Congress, make another procession, guard
it with foot and dragoons.

This centre-piece for them:
Look! all orderly citizens--look from the windows, women!

The 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.

You have got your revenge, old buster! The crown is come to its own,
and more than its own.

Stick your hands in your pockets, Jonathan--you are a made man from
this day; 40
You are mighty cute--and here is one of your bargains.

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of
dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your
feet and hands,
Even now your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners,
troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs, out of commerce, shops,
work, farms, clothes, the house, buying, selling, eating,
drinking, suffering, dying.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you
be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better
than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb,
I should have made my way straight to you long ago,
I should have blabb’d nothing but you, I should have chanted
nothing but you.

I will leave all and come and make the hymns of you,
None has understood you, but I understand you,
None has done justice to you, you have not done justice to
yourself,
None but has found you imperfect, I only find no
imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you, I only am he who will
never consent to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better,
God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.

Painters have painted their swarming groups and the centre-
figure of all,
From the head of the centre-figure spreading a nimbus of
gold-color’d light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its
nimbus of gold-color’d light,
From my hand from the brain of every man and woman it
streams, effulgently flowing forever.

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are, you have slumber’d upon
yourself all your life,
Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time,
What you have done returns already in mockeries,
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in
mockeries, what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk,
I pursue you where none else has pursued you,
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the
accustom’d routine, if these conceal you from others or
from yourself, they do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if
these balk others they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform’d attitude, drunkenness, greed,
premature death, all these I part aside.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied
in you,
There is no virtue, no beauty in man or woman, but as good
is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits
for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one except I give the like
carefully to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than
I sing the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at an hazard!
These shows of the East and West are tame compared to you,
These immense meadows, these interminable rivers, you are
immense and interminable as they,
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of
apparent dissolution, you are he or she who is master or
mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements,
pain, passion, dissolution.

The hopples fall from your ankles, you find an unfailing
sufficiency,
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest,
whatever you are promulges itself,
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided,
nothing is scanted,
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what
you are picks its way.

The Wound Dresser

1


AN old man bending, I come, among new faces,
Years looking backward, resuming, in answer to children,
Come tell us, old man, as from young men and maidens that love me;
(Arous'd and angry, I'd 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
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 earth;
Of those armies so rapid, so wondrous, what saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements, or sieges tremendous, what deepest remains?



2



O 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.)



But in silence, in dreams’ projections,
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,
So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the sand,
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.)



3



Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground, after the battle brought in;
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground;
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof’d hospital;
To the long rows of cots, up and down, each side, I return;
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 pail,
Soon to be fill’d with clotted rags and blood, emptied and fill’d again.



I onward go, I stop,
With hinged knees and steady hand, to dress wounds;
I am firm with each—the pangs are sharp, yet unavoidable;
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.)



On, on I go!—(open doors of time! open hospital doors!)
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;
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.)



From 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.



I 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.



I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet 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.



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



4


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


TO conclude--I announce what comes after me;
I announce mightier offspring, orators, days, and then, for the
present, depart.

I remember I said, before my leaves sprang at all,
I would raise my voice jocund and strong, with reference to
consummations.

When America does what was promis'd,
When there are plentiful athletic bards, inland and seaboard,
When through These States walk a hundred millions of superb persons,
When the rest part away for superb persons, and contribute to them,
When breeds of the most perfect mothers denote America,
Then to me and mine our due fruition. 10

I have press'd through in my own right,
I have sung the Body and the Soul--War and Peace have I sung,
And the songs of Life and of Birth--and shown that there are many
births:
I have offer'd my style to everyone--I have journey'd with confident
step;
While my pleasure is yet at the full, I whisper, So long!
And take the young woman's hand, and the young man's hand, for the
last time.


I announce natural persons to arise;
I announce justice triumphant;
I announce uncompromising liberty and equality;
I announce the justification of candor, and the justification of
pride. 20

I announce that the identity of These States is a single identity
only;
I announce the Union more and more compact, indissoluble;
I announce splendors and majesties to make all the previous politics
of the earth insignificant.

I announce adhesiveness--I say it shall be limitless, unloosen'd;
I say you shall yet find the friend you were looking for.

I announce a man or woman coming--perhaps you are the one, (So long!)
I announce the great individual, fluid as Nature, chaste,
affectionate, compassionate, fully armed.

I announce a life that shall be copious, vehement, spiritual, bold;
I announce an end that shall lightly and joyfully meet its
translation;
I announce myriads of youths, beautiful, gigantic, sweet-blooded; 30
I announce a race of splendid and savage old men.


O thicker and faster! (So long!)
O crowding too close upon me;
I foresee too much--it means more than I thought;
It appears to me I am dying.

Hasten throat, and sound your last!
Salute me--salute the days once more. Peal the old cry once more.

Screaming electric, the atmosphere using,
At random glancing, each as I notice absorbing,
Swiftly on, but a little while alighting, 40
Curious envelop'd messages delivering,
Sparkles hot, seed ethereal, down in the dirt dropping,
Myself unknowing, my commission obeying, to question it never daring,
To ages, and ages yet, the growth of the seed leaving,
To troops out of me, out of the army, the war arising--they the tasks
I have set promulging,
To women certain whispers of myself bequeathing--their affection me
more clearly explaining,
To young men my problems offering--no dallier I--I the muscle of
their brains trying,
So I pass--a little time vocal, visible, contrary;
Afterward, a melodious echo, passionately bent for--(death making me
really undying;)
The best of me then when no longer visible--for toward that I have
been incessantly preparing. 50

What is there more, that I lag and pause, and crouch extended with
unshut mouth?
Is there a single final farewell?


My songs cease--I abandon them;
From behind the screen where I hid I advance personally, solely to
you.

Camerado! This is no book;
Who touches this, touches a man;
(Is it night? Are we here alone?)
It is I you hold, and who holds you;
I spring from the pages into your arms--decease calls me forth.

O how your fingers drowse me! 60
Your breath falls around me like dew--your pulse lulls the tympans of
my ears;
I feel immerged from head to foot;
Delicious--enough.

Enough, O deed impromptu and secret!
Enough, O gliding present! Enough, O summ'd-up past!


Dear friend, whoever you are, take this kiss,
I give it especially to you--Do not forget me;
I feel like one who has done work for the day, to retire awhile;
I receive now again of my many translations--from my avataras
ascending--while others doubtless await me; 70
An unknown sphere, more real than I dream'd, more direct, darts
awakening rays about me--So long!
Remember my words--I may again return,
I love you--I depart from materials;
I am as one disembodied, triumphant, dead.

Prayer Of Columbus

IT was near the close of his indomitable and pious life--on his last voyage
when nearly 70 years of age--that Columbus, to save his two remaining ships
from foundering in the Caribbean Sea in a terrible storm, had to run them
ashore on the Island of Jamaica--where, laid up for a long and miserable
year--1503--he was taken very sick, had several relapses, his men revolted,
and death seem'd daily imminent; though he was eventually rescued, and sent
home to Spain to die, unrecognized, neglected and in want......It is only
ask'd, as preparation and atmosphere for the following lines, that the bare
authentic facts be recall'd and realized, and nothing contributed by the
fancy. See, the Antillean Island, with its florid skies and rich foliage
and scenery, the waves beating the solitary sands, and the hulls of the
ships in the distance. See, the figure of the great Admiral, walking the
beach, as a stage, in this sublimest tragedy--for what tragedy, what poem,
so piteous and majestic as the real scene?--and hear him uttering--as his
mystical and religious soul surely utter'd, the ideas following--perhaps,
in their equivalents, the very words.

A BATTER'D, wreck'd old man,
Thrown on this savage shore, far, far from home,
Pent by the sea, and dark rebellious brows, twelve dreary months,
Sore, stiff with many toils, sicken'd, and nigh to death,
I take my way along the island's edge,
Venting a heavy heart.

I am too full of woe!
Haply, I may not live another day;
I can not rest, O God--I can not eat or drink or sleep,
Till I put forth myself, my prayer, once more to Thee, 10
Breathe, bathe myself once more in Thee--commune with Thee,
Report myself once more to Thee.

Thou knowest my years entire, my life,
(My long and crowded life of active work--not adoration merely;)
Thou knowest the prayers and vigils of my youth;
Thou knowest my manhood's solemn and visionary meditations;
Thou knowest how, before I commenced, I devoted all to come to Thee;
Thou knowest I have in age ratified all those vows, and strictly kept
them;
Thou knowest I have not once lost nor faith nor ecstasy in Thee;
(In shackles, prison'd, in disgrace, repining not, 20
Accepting all from Thee--as duly come from Thee.)

All my emprises have been fill'd with Thee,
My speculations, plans, begun and carried on in thoughts of Thee,
Sailing the deep, or journeying the land for Thee;
Intentions, purports, aspirations mine--leaving results to Thee.

O I am sure they really come from Thee!
The urge, the ardor, the unconquerable will,
The potent, felt, interior command, stronger than words,
A message from the Heavens, whispering to me even in sleep,
These sped me on. 30

By me, and these, the work so far accomplish'd (for what has been,
has been;)
By me Earth's elder, cloy'd and stifled lands, uncloy'd, unloos'd;
By me the hemispheres rounded and tied--the unknown to the known.

The end I know not--it is all in Thee;
Or small, or great, I know not--haply, what broad fields, what lands;
Haply, the brutish, measureless human undergrowth I know,
Transplanted there, may rise to stature, knowledge worthy Thee;
Haply the swords I know may there indeed be turn'd to reaping-tools;
Haply the lifeless cross I know--Europe's dead cross--may bud and
blossom there.

One effort more--my altar this bleak sand: 40
That Thou, O God, my life hast lighted,
With ray of light, steady, ineffable, vouchsafed of Thee,
(Light rare, untellable--lighting the very light!
Beyond all signs, descriptions, languages!)
For that, O God--be it my latest word--here on my knees,
Old, poor, and paralyzed--I thank Thee.

My terminus near,
The clouds already closing in upon me,
The voyage balk'd--the course disputed, lost,
I yield my ships to Thee. 50

Steersman unseen! henceforth the helms are Thine;
Take Thou command--(what to my petty skill Thy navigation?)
My hands, my limbs grow nerveless;
My brain feels rack'd, bewilder'd; Let the old timbers part--I will
not part!
I will cling fast to Thee, O God, though the waves buffet me;
Thee, Thee, at least, I know.

Is it the prophet's thought I speak, or am I raving?
What do I know of life? what of myself?
I know not even my own work, past or present; 60
Dim, ever-shifting guesses of it spread before me,
Of newer, better worlds, their mighty parturition,
Mocking, perplexing me.

And these things I see suddenly--what mean they?
As if some miracle, some hand divine unseal'd my eyes,
Shadowy, vast shapes, smile through the air and sky,
And on the distant waves sail countless ships,
And anthems in new tongues I hear saluting me.

Manhattan Streets I Saunter'D, Pondering


MANHATTAN'S streets I saunter'd, pondering,
On time, space, reality--on such as these, and abreast with them,
prudence.


After all, the last explanation remains to be made about prudence;
Little and large alike drop quietly aside from the prudence that
suits immortality.

The Soul is of itself;
All verges to it--all has reference to what ensues;
All that a person does, says, thinks, is of consequence;
Not a move can a man or woman make, that affects him or her in a day,
month, any part of the direct life-time, or the hour of death,
but the same affects him or her onward afterward through the
indirect life-time.


The indirect is just as much as the direct,
The spirit receives from the body just as much as it gives to the
body, if not more. 10

Not one word or deed--not venereal sore, discoloration, privacy of
the onanist, putridity of gluttons or rum-drinkers, peculation,
cunning, betrayal, murder, seduction, prostitution, but has
results beyond death, as really as before death.


Charity and personal force are the only investments worth anything.

No specification is necessary--all that a male or female does, that
is vigorous, benevolent, clean, is so much profit to him or
her, in the unshakable order of the universe, and through the
whole scope of it forever.


Who has been wise, receives interest,
Savage, felon, President, judge, farmer, sailor, mechanic, literat,
young, old, it is the same,
The interest will come round--all will come round.

Singly, wholly, to affect now, affected their time, will forever
affect all of the past, and all of the present, and all of the
future,
All the brave actions of war and peace,
All help given to relatives, strangers, the poor, old, sorrowful,
young children, widows, the sick, and to shunn'd persons,
All furtherance of fugitives, and of the escape of slaves, 20
All self-denial that stood steady and aloof on wrecks, and saw others
fill the seats of the boats,
All offering of substance or life for the good old cause, or for a
friend's sake, or opinion's sake,
All pains of enthusiasts, scoff'd at by their neighbors,
All the limitless sweet love and precious suffering of mothers,
All honest men baffled in strifes recorded or unrecorded,
All the grandeur and good of ancient nations whose fragments we
inherit,
All the good of the dozens of ancient nations unknown to us by name,
date, location,
All that was ever manfully begun, whether it succeeded or no,
All suggestions of the divine mind of man, or the divinity of his
mouth, or the shaping of his great hands;
All that is well thought or said this day on any part of the globe--
or on any of the wandering stars, or on any of the fix'd stars,
by those there as we are here; 30
All that is henceforth to be thought or done by you, whoever you are,
or by any one;
These inure, have inured, shall inure, to the identities from which
they sprang, or shall spring.


Did you guess anything lived only its moment?
The world does not so exist--no parts palpable or impalpable so
exist;
No consummation exists without being from some long previous
consummation--and that from some other,
Without the farthest conceivable one coming a bit nearer the
beginning than any.


Whatever satisfies Souls is true;
Prudence entirely satisfies the craving and glut of Souls;
Itself only finally satisfies the Soul;
The Soul has that measureless pride which revolts from every lesson
but its own. 40


Now I give you an inkling;
Now I breathe the word of the prudence that walks abreast with time,
space, reality,
That answers the pride which refuses every lesson but its own.

What is prudence, is indivisible,
Declines to separate one part of life from every part,
Divides not the righteous from the unrighteous, or the living from
the dead,
Matches every thought or act by its correlative,
Knows no possible forgiveness, or deputed atonement,
Knows that the young man who composedly peril'd his life and lost it,
has done exceedingly well for himself without doubt,
That he who never peril'd his life, but retains it to old age in
riches and ease, has probably achiev'd nothing for himself
worth mentioning; 50
Knows that only that person has really learn'd, who has learn'd to
prefer results,
Who favors Body and Soul the same,
Who perceives the indirect assuredly following the direct,
Who in his spirit in any emergency whatever neither hurries or,
avoids death.

The Mystic Trumpeter


HARK! some wild trumpeter--some strange musician,
Hovering unseen in air, vibrates capricious tunes to-night.

I hear thee, trumpeter--listening, alert, I catch thy notes,
Now pouring, whirling like a tempest round me,
Now low, subdued--now in the distance lost.


Come nearer, bodiless one--haply, in thee resounds
Some dead composer--haply thy pensive life
Was fill'd with aspirations high--unform'd ideals,
Waves, oceans musical, chaotically surging,
That now, ecstatic ghost, close to me bending, thy cornet echoing,
pealing, 10
Gives out to no one's ears but mine--but freely gives to mine,
That I may thee translate.


Blow, trumpeter, free and clear--I follow thee,
While at thy liquid prelude, glad, serene,
The fretting world, the streets, the noisy hours of day, withdraw;
A holy calm descends, like dew, upon me,
I walk, in cool refreshing night, the walks of Paradise,
I scent the grass, the moist air, and the roses;
Thy song expands my numb'd, imbonded spirit--thou freest, launchest
me,
Floating and basking upon Heaven's lake. 20


Blow again, trumpeter! and for my sensuous eyes,
Bring the old pageants--show the feudal world.

What charm thy music works!--thou makest pass before me,
Ladies and cavaliers long dead--barons are in their castle halls--the
troubadours are singing;
Arm'd knights go forth to redress wrongs--some in quest of the Holy
Grail:
I see the tournament--I see the contestants, encased in heavy armor,
seated on stately, champing horses;
I hear the shouts--the sounds of blows and smiting steel:
I see the Crusaders' tumultuous armies--Hark! how the cymbals clang!
Lo! where the monks walk in advance, bearing the cross on high!


Blow again, trumpeter! and for thy theme, 30
Take now the enclosing theme of all--the solvent and the setting;
Love, that is pulse of all--the sustenace and the pang;
The heart of man and woman all for love;
No other theme but love--knitting, enclosing, all-diffusing love.

O, how the immortal phantoms crowd around me!
I see the vast alembic ever working--I see and know the flames that
heat the world;
The glow, the blush, the beating hearts of lovers,
So blissful happy some--and some so silent, dark, and nigh to death:
Love, that is all the earth to lovers--Love, that mocks time and
space;
Love, that is day and night--Love, that is sun and moon and stars; 40
Love, that is crimson, sumptuous, sick with perfume;
No other words, but words of love--no other thought but Love.


Blow again, trumpeter--conjure war's Wild alarums.
Swift to thy spell, a shuddering hum like distant thunder rolls;
Lo! where the arm'd men hasten--Lo! mid the clouds of dust, the glint
of bayonets;
I see the grime-faced cannoniers--I mark the rosy flash amid the
smoke--I hear the cracking of the guns:
--Nor war alone--thy fearful music-song, wild player, brings every
sight of fear,
The deeds of ruthless brigands--rapine, murder--I hear the cries for
help!
I see ships foundering at sea--I behold on deck, and below deck, the
terrible tableaux.


O trumpeter! methinks I am myself the instrument thou playest! 50
Thou melt'st my heart, my brain--thou movest, drawest, changest them,
at will:
And now thy sullen notes send darkness through me;
Thou takest away all cheering light--all hope:
I see the enslaved, the overthrown, the hurt, the opprest of the
whole earth;
I feel the measureless shame and humiliation of my race--it becomes
all mine;
Mine too the revenges of humanity--the wrongs of ages--baffled feuds
and hatreds;
Utter defeat upon me weighs--all lost! the foe victorious!
(Yet 'mid the ruins Pride colossal stands, unshaken to the last;
Endurance, resolution, to the last.)


Now, trumpeter, for thy close, 60
Vouchsafe a higher strain than any yet;
Sing to my soul--renew its languishing faith and hope;
Rouse up my slow belief--give me some vision of the future;
Give me, for once, its prophecy and joy.

O glad, exulting, culminating song!
A vigor more than earth's is in thy notes!
Marches of victory--man disenthrall'd--the conqueror at last!
Hymns to the universal God, from universal Man--all joy!
A reborn race appears--a perfect World, all joy!
Women and Men, in wisdom, innocence and health--all joy! 70
Riotous, laughing bacchanals, fill'd with joy!

War, sorrow, suffering gone--The rank earth purged--nothing but joy
left!
The ocean fill'd with joy--the atmosphere all joy!
Joy! Joy! in freedom, worship, love! Joy in the ecstacy of life!
Enough to merely be! Enough to breathe!
Joy! Joy! all over Joy!

Pioneers! O Pioneers!


COME, my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!


For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


O you youths, western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship, 10
Plain I see you, western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied, over there beyond the
seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden, and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


All the past we leave behind;
We debouch upon a newer, mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers! 20


We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing, as we go, the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we, and piercing deep the mines
within;
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


Colorado men are we,
From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high
plateaus, 30
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental blood
intervein'd;
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the
Northern,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


O resistless, restless race!
O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult--I am rapt with love for all,
Pioneers! O pioneers! 40


Raise the mighty mother mistress,
Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress,
(bend your heads all,)
Raise the fang'd and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon'd
mistress,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


See, my children, resolute children,
By those swarms upon our rear, we must never yield or falter,
Ages back in ghostly millions, frowning there behind us urging,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


On and on, the compact ranks,
With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly
fill'd, 50
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


O to die advancing on!
Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?
Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill'd,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


All the pulses of the world,
Falling in, they beat for us, with the western movement beat;
Holding single or together, steady moving, to the front, all for us,
Pioneers! O pioneers! 60


Life's involv'd and varied pageants,
All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,
All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


All the hapless silent lovers,
All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


I too with my soul and body,
We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way, 70
Through these shores, amid the shadows, with the apparitions
pressing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


Lo! the darting bowling orb!
Lo! the brother orbs around! all the clustering suns and planets,
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


These are of us, they are with us,
All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait
behind,
We to-day's procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,
Pioneers! O pioneers! 80


O you daughters of the west!
O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!
Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


Minstrels latent on the prairies!
(Shrouded bards of other lands! you may sleep--you have done your
work;)
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


Not for delectations sweet;
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the
studious; 90
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock'd and bolted doors?
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,
Pioneers! O pioneers!


Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged, nodding on
our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you, in your tracks to pause oblivious,
Pioneers! O pioneers! 100


Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the day-break call--hark! how loud and clear I hear it
wind;
Swift! to the head of the army!--swift! spring to your places, Pioneers! O pioneers.

Song Of The Redwood-Tree


A CALIFORNIA song!
A prophecy and indirection--a thought impalpable, to breathe, as air;
A chorus of dryads, fading, departing--or hamadryads departing;
A murmuring, fateful, giant voice, out of the earth and sky,
Voice of a mighty dying tree in the Redwood forest dense.

Farewell, my brethren,
Farewell, O earth and sky--farewell, ye neighboring waters;
My time has ended, my term has come.


Along the northern coast,
Just back from the rock-bound shore, and the caves, 10
In the saline air from the sea, in the Mendocino country,
With the surge for bass and accompaniment low and hoarse,
With crackling blows of axes, sounding musically, driven by strong
arms,
Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axes--there in the Redwood
forest dense,
I heard the mighty tree its death-chant chanting.

The choppers heard not--the camp shanties echoed not;
The quick-ear'd teamsters, and chain and jack-screw men, heard not,
As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand years, to
join the refrain;
But in my soul I plainly heard.

Murmuring out of its myriad leaves, 20
Down from its lofty top, rising two hundred feet high,
Out of its stalwart trunk and limbs--out of its foot-thick bark,
That chant of the seasons and time--chant, not of the past only, but
the future.


You untold life of me,
And all you venerable and innocent joys,
Perennial, hardy life of me, with joys, 'mid rain, and many a summer
sun,
And the white snows, and night, and the wild winds;
O the great patient, rugged joys! my soul's strong joys, unreck'd by
man;
(For know I bear the soul befitting me--I too have consciousness,
identity,
And all the rocks and mountains have--and all the earth;) 30
Joys of the life befitting me and brothers mine,
Our time, our term has come.

Nor yield we mournfully, majestic brothers,
We who have grandly fill'd our time;
With Nature's calm content, and tacit, huge delight,
We welcome what we wrought for through the past,
And leave the field for them.

For them predicted long,
For a superber Race--they too to grandly fill their time,
For them we abdicate--in them ourselves, ye forest kings! 40
In them these skies and airs--these mountain peaks--Shasta--Nevadas,
These huge, precipitous cliffs--this amplitude--these valleys grand--
Yosemite,
To be in them absorb'd, assimilated.


Then to a loftier strain,
Still prouder, more ecstatic, rose the chant,
As if the heirs, the Deities of the West,
Joining, with master-tongue, bore part.

Not wan from Asia's fetishes,
Nor red from Europe's old dynastic slaughter-house,
(Area of murder-plots of thrones, with scent left yet of wars and
scaffolds every where,) 50
But come from Nature's long and harmless throes--peacefully builded
thence,
These virgin lands--Lands of the Western Shore,
To the new Culminating Man--to you, the Empire New,
You, promis'd long, we pledge, we dedicate.

You occult, deep volitions,
You average Spiritual Manhood, purpose of all, pois'd on yourself--
giving, not taking law,
You Womanhood divine, mistress and source of all, whence life and
love, and aught that comes from life and love,
You unseen Moral Essence of all the vast materials of America, (age
upon age, working in Death the same as Life,)
You that, sometimes known, oftener unknown, really shape and mould
the New World, adjusting it to Time and Space,
You hidden National Will, lying in your abysms, conceal'd, but ever
alert, 60
You past and present purposes, tenaciously pursued, may-be
unconscious of yourselves,
Unswerv'd by all the passing errors, perturbations of the surface;
You vital, universal, deathless germs, beneath all creeds, arts,
statutes, literatures,
Here build your homes for good--establish here--These areas entire,
Lands of the Western Shore,
We pledge, we dedicate to you.

For man of you--your characteristic Race,
Here may be hardy, sweet, gigantic grow--here tower, proportionate to
Nature,
Here climb the vast, pure spaces, unconfined, uncheck'd by wall or
roof,
Here laugh with storm or sun--here joy--here patiently inure,
Here heed himself, unfold himself (not others' formulas heed)--here
fill his time, 70
To duly fall, to aid, unreck'd at last,
To disappear, to serve.

Thus, on the northern coast,
In the echo of teamsters' calls, and the clinking chains, and the
music of choppers' axes,
The falling trunk and limbs, the crash, the muffled shriek, the
groan,
Such words combined from the Redwood-tree--as of wood-spirits' voices
ecstatic, ancient and rustling,
The century-lasting, unseen dryads, singing, withdrawing,
All their recesses of forests and mountains leaving,
From the Cascade range to the Wasatch--or Idaho far, or Utah,
To the deities of the Modern henceforth yielding, 80
The chorus and indications, the vistas of coming humanity--the
settlements, features all,
In the Mendocino woods I caught.


The flashing and golden pageant of California!
The sudden and gorgeous drama--the sunny and ample lands;
The long and varied stretch from Puget Sound to Colorado south;
Lands bathed in sweeter, rarer, healthier air--valleys and mountain
cliffs;
The fields of Nature long prepared and fallow--the silent, cyclic
chemistry;
The slow and steady ages plodding--the unoccupied surface ripening--
the rich ores forming beneath;
At last the New arriving, assuming, taking possession,
A swarming and busy race settling and organizing every where;
Ships coming in from the whole round world, and going out to the
whole world, 90
To India and China and Australia, and the thousand island paradises
of the Pacific;
Populous cities--the latest inventions--the steamers on the rivers--
the railroads--with many a thrifty farm, with machinery,
And wool, and wheat, and the grape--and diggings of yellow gold.


But more in you than these, Lands of the Western Shore!
(These but the means, the implements, the standing-ground,)
I see in you, certain to come, the promise of thousands of years,
till now deferr'd,
Promis'd, to be fulfill'd, our common kind, the Race.

The New Society at last, proportionate to Nature,
In Man of you, more than your mountain peaks, or stalwart trees
imperial, 100
In Woman more, far more, than all your gold, or vines, or even vital
air.

Fresh come, to a New World indeed, yet long prepared,
I see the Genius of the Modern, child of the Real and Ideal,
Clearing the ground for broad humanity, the true America, heir of the
past so grand,
To build a grander future.

The Return Of The Heroes

For the lands, and for these passionate days, and for myself,
Now I awhile return to thee, O soil of autumn fields,
Reclining on thy breast, giving myself to thee,
Answering the pulses of thy sane and equable heart,
Tuning a verse for thee.

O Earth, that hast no voice, confide to me a voice,
O harvest of my lands—O boundless Summer growths!
O lavish brown parturient earth—O infinite, teeming womb.
A song to narrate thee.

2

Ever upon this stage,
Is acted God's calm, annual drama,
Gorgeous processions, songs of birds,
Sunrise that fullest feeds and freshens most the soul,
The heaving sea, the waves upon the shore, the musical, strong waves,
The woods, the stalwart trees, the slender, tapering trees,
The lilliput countless armies of the grass,
The heat, the showers, the measureless pasturages,
The scenery of the snows, the wind's free orchestra,
The stretching, light-hung roof of clouds, the clear cerulean and the silvery fringes,
The high dilating stars, the placid beckoning stars,
The shows of all the varied soils, and all the growths and products,
The moving flocks and herds, the plains and emerald meadows,
The shows of all the varied lands and all the growths and products.

3

Fecund America—to-day,
Thou art all over set in births and joys!
Thou groan'st with riches! thy wealth clothes thee as a swathing garment,
Thou laughest loud with ache of great possessions,
A myriad-twining life, like interlacing vines, binds all thy vast demesne,
As some huge ship freighted to water's edge thou ridest into port,
As rain falls from the heaven, and vapors rise from the earth, so have the precious values fallen upon thee, and risen out of thee;
Thou envy of the globe! thou miracle!
Thou, bathed, choked, swimming in plenty,
Thou lucky Mistress of the tranquil barns,
Thou Prairie Dame that sittest in the middle and lookest out upon thy world, and lookest East, and lookest West,
Dispensatress, that by a word givest a thousand miles, a million farms, and missest nothing,
Thou all-acceptress—thou hospitable, (thou only art hospitable as God is hospitable.)

4

When late I sang sad was my voice;
Sad were the shows around me with deafening noises of hatred and smoke of war;
In the midst of the conflict, the heroes, I stood,
Or pass'd with slow step through the wounded and dying.

But now I sing not War,
Nor the measur'd march of soldiers, nor the tents of camps,
Nor the regiments hastily coming up, deploying in line of battle;
No more the sad, unnatural shows of war.

Ask'd room those flush'd immortal ranks, the first forth-stepping armies?
Ask room alas the ghastly ranks—the armies dread that follow'd.

(Pass—pass, ye proud brigades, with your tramping, sinewy legs,
With your shoulders young and strong, with your knapsacks and your muskets;
How elate I stood and watch'd you, where starting off you march'd.

Pass;—then rattle drums again,
For an army heaves in sight, O another gathering army,
Swarming, trailing on the rear, O you dread accruing army,
O you regiments so piteous, with your mortal diarrhea, with your fever,
O my land's maimed darlings, with the plenteous bloody bandage and the crutch,
Lo, your pallid army follows.)

5

But on these days of brightness,
On the far-stretching beauteous landscape, the roads and lanes, the high-piled farm-wagons, and the fruits and barns,
Should the dead intrude?

Ah the dead to me mar not, they fit well in Nature,
They fit very well in the landscape under the trees and grass,
And along the edge of the sky in the horizon's far margin.

Nor do I forget you Departed;
Nor in winter or summer my lost ones,
But most in the open air as now when my soul is rapt and at peace, like pleasing phantoms,
Your memories rising glide silently by me.

6

I saw the day the return of the heroes;
(Yet the heroes never surpass'd shall never return,
Them that day I saw not.)

I saw the interminable corps, I saw the processions of armies,
I saw them approaching, defiling by with divisions,
Streaming northward, their work done, camping awhile in clusters of mighty camps.

No holiday soldiers—youthful, yet veterans,
Worn, swart, handsome, strong, of the stock of homestead and workshop,
Harden'd of many a long campaign and sweaty march,
Inured on many a hard-fought bloody field.

A pause—the armies wait,
A million flush'd embattled conquerors wait,
The world too waits, then soft as breaking night and sure as dawn,
They melt, they disappear.

Exult O lands! victorious lands!
Not there your victory on those red shuddering fields;
But here and hence your victory.

Melt, melt away, ye armies—disperse, ye blue-clad soldiers,
Resolve ye back again, give up for good your deadly arms,
Other the arms the fields henceforth for you, or South or North,
With saner wars, sweet wars, life-giving wars.

7

Loud O my throat, and clear O soul!
The season of thanks and the voice of full-yielding,
The chant of joy and power for boundless fertility.

All till'd and untill'd fields expand before me,
I see the true arenas of my race and land—or first or last,
Man's innocent and strong arenas.

I see the heroes at other toils,
I see well-wielded in their hands the better weapons.

I see where the Mother of All,
With full-spanning eye gazes forth, dwells long,
And counts the varied gathering of the products.

Busy the far, the sunlit panorama,
Prairie, orchard, and yellow grain of the North,
Cotton and rice of the South and Louisianian cane,
Open unseeded fallows, rich fields of clover and timothy,
Kine and horses feeding, and droves of sheep and swine,
And many a stately river flowing and many a jocund brook,
And healthy uplands with herby-perfumed breezes,
And the good green grass, that delicate miracle the ever-recurring grass.

8

Toil on heroes! harvest the products!
Not alone on those warlike fields the Mother of All,
With dilated form and lambent eyes watch'd you.

Toil on heroes! toil well! handle the weapons well!
The Mother of All, yet here as ever she watches you.

Well-pleased America thou beholdest,
Over the fields of the West, those crawling monsters,
The human-divine inventions, the labor-saving implements;
Beholdest, moving in every direction imbued as with life the revolving hay-rakes,
The steam-power reaping-machines and the horse-power machines,
The engines, thrashers of grain, and cleaners of grain, well separating the straw, the nimble work of the patent pitchfork;
Beholdest the newer saw-mill, the southern cotton-gin, and the rice-cleanser.

Beneath thy look O Maternal,
With these and else and with their own strong hands the heroes harvest.

All gather and all harvest;
Yet but for thee O Powerful, not a scythe might swing as now in security,
Not a maize-stalk dangle as now its silken tassels in peace.

Under thee only they harvest, even but a wisp of hay under thy great face only,
Harvest the wheat of Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, every barbed spear under thee,
Harvest the maize of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, each ear in its light-green sheath,
Gather the hay to its myriad mows in the odorous tranquil barns,
Oats to their bins, the white potato, the buckwheat of Michigan, to theirs;
Gather the cotton in Mississippi or Alabama, dig and hoard the golden the sweet potato of Georgia and the Carolinas,
Clip the wool of California or Pennsylvania,
Cut the flax in the Middle States, or hemp or tobacco in the Borders,
Pick the pea and the bean, or pull apples from the trees or bunches of grapes from the vines,
Or aught that ripens in all these States or North or South,
Under the beaming sun and under thee.

The Centerarian's Story


GIVE me your hand, old Revolutionary;
The hill-top is nigh--but a few steps, (make room, gentlemen;)
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 done;
Your faculties serve you, and presently I must have them serve me.

Rest, 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? 10

Why, what comes over you now, old man?
Why do you tremble, and clutch my hand so convulsively?
The troops are but drilling--they are yet surrounded with smiles;
Around them, at hand, the well-drest friends, and the women;
While splendid and warm the afternoon sun shines down;
Green the midsummer verdure, and fresh blows the dallying breeze,
O'er proud and peaceful cities, and arm of the sea between.
But drill and parade are over--they march back to quarters;
Only hear that approval of hands! hear what a clapping!

As wending, the crowds now part and disperse--but we, old man, 20
Not for nothing have I brought you hither--we must remain;
You to speak in your turn, and I to listen and tell.

THE CENTENARIAN.

When 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 agone, 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, 30
Walking then this hill-top, this same ground.

Aye, this is the ground;
My blind eyes, even as I speak, behold it re-peopled from graves;
The years recede, pavements and stately houses disappear;
Rude forts appear again, the old hoop'd guns are mounted;
I see the lines of rais'd earth stretching from river to bay;
I mark the vista of waters, I mark the uplands and slopes:
Here we lay encamp'd--it was this time in summer also.

As I talk, I remember all--I remember the Declaration;
It was read here--the whole army paraded--it was read to us here; 40
By his staff surrounded, the General stood in the middle--he held up
his unsheath'd sword,
It glitter'd in the sun in full sight of the army.

'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 anchor,
And the transports, swarming with soldiers.

A few days more, and they landed--and then the battle.

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

I tell not now the whole of the battle; 50
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.

Who do you think that was, marching steadily, sternly confronting
death?
It was the brigade of the youngest men, two thousand strong,
Rais'd in Virginia and Maryland, and many of them known personally to
the General.

Jauntily 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. 60

The General watch'd them from this hill;
They made repeated desperate attempts to burst their environment;
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!

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

Meanwhile 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.

We fought the fight in detachments; 70
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.

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

That, and here, my General's first battle;
No women looking on, nor sunshine to bask in--it did not conclude
with applause;
Nobody clapp'd hands here then.

But in darkness, in mist, on the ground, under a chill rain,
Wearied that night we lay, foil'd and sullen; 80
While scornfully laugh'd many an arrogant lord, off against us
encamp'd,
Quite within hearing, feasting, klinking wine-glasses together over
their victory.

So, 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.

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

Every one else seem'd fill'd with gloom; 90
Many no doubt thought of capitulation.

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

TERMINUS.

Enough--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.

And 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
triumphs? 100

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

See! as the annual round returns, the phantoms return;
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 wounds, 110
In death, defeat, and sisters', mothers' tears.

Ah, 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.

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

As A Strong Bird On Pinious Free


AS a strong bird on pinions free,
Joyous, the amplest spaces heavenward cleaving,
Such be the thought I'd think to-day of thee, America,
Such be the recitative I'd bring to-day for thee.

The conceits of the poets of other lands I bring thee not,
Nor the compliments that have served their turn so long,
Nor rhyme--nor the classics--nor perfume of foreign court, or indoor
library;
But an odor I'd bring to-day as from forests of pine in the north, in
Maine--or breath of an Illinois prairie,
With open airs of Virginia, or Georgia, or Tennessee--or from Texas
uplands, or Florida's glades,
With presentment of Yellowstone's scenes, or Yosemite; 10
And murmuring under, pervading all, I'd bring the rustling sea-sound,
That endlessly sounds from the two great seas of the world.

And for thy subtler sense, subtler refrains, O Union!
Preludes of intellect tallying these and thee--mind-formulas fitted
for thee--real, and sane, and large as these and thee;
Thou, mounting higher, diving deeper than we knew--thou
transcendental Union!
By thee Fact to be justified--blended with Thought;
Thought of Man justified--blended with God:
Through thy Idea--lo! the immortal Reality!
Through thy Reality--lo! the immortal Idea!


Brain of the New World! what a task is thine! 20
To formulate the Modern.....Out of the peerless grandeur of the
modern,
Out of Thyself--comprising Science--to recast Poems, Churches, Art,
(Recast--may-be discard them, end them--May-be their work is done--
who knows?)
By vision, hand, conception, on the background of the mighty past,
the dead,
To limn, with absolute faith, the mighty living present.

(And yet, thou living, present brain! heir of the dead, the Old World
brain!
Thou that lay folded, like an unborn babe, within its folds so long!
Thou carefully prepared by it so long!--haply thou but unfoldest it--
only maturest it;
It to eventuate in thee--the essence of the by-gone time contain'd in
thee;
Its poems, churches, arts, unwitting to themselves, destined with
reference to thee, 30
The fruit of all the Old, ripening to-day in thee.)


Sail--sail thy best, ship of Democracy!
Of value is thy freight--'tis not the Present only,
The Past is also stored in thee!
Thou holdest not the venture of thyself alone--not of thy western
continent alone;
Earth's résumé entire floats on thy keel, O ship--is steadied by thy
spars;
With thee Time voyages in trust--the antecedent nations sink or swim
with thee;
With all their ancient struggles, martyrs, heroes, epics, wars, thou
bear'st the other continents;
Theirs, theirs as much as thine, the destination-port triumphant:
--Steer, steer with good strong hand and wary eye, O helmsman--thou
carryest great companions, 40
Venerable, priestly Asia sails this day with thee,
And royal, feudal Europe sails with thee.


Beautiful World of new, superber Birth, that rises to my eyes,
Like a limitless golden cloud, filling the western sky;
Emblem of general Maternity, lifted above all;
Sacred shape of the bearer of daughters and sons;
Out of thy teeming womb, thy giant babes in ceaseless procession
issuing,
Acceding from such gestation, taking and giving continual strength
and life;
World of the Real! world of the twain in one!
World of the Soul--born by the world of the real alone--led to
identity, body, by it alone; 50
Yet in beginning only--incalculable masses of composite, precious
materials,
By history's cycles forwarded--by every nation, language, hither
sent,
Ready, collected here--a freer, vast, electric World, to be
constructed here,
(The true New World--the world of orbic Science, Morals, Literatures
to come,)
Thou Wonder World, yet undefined, unform'd--neither do I define thee;
How can I pierce the impenetrable blank of the future?
I feel thy ominous greatness, evil as well as good;
I watch thee, advancing, absorbing the present, transcending the
past;
I see thy light lighting and thy shadow shadowing, as if the entire
globe;
But I do not undertake to define thee--hardly to comprehend thee; 60
I but thee name--thee prophecy--as now!
I merely thee ejaculate!

Thee in thy future;
Thee in thy only permanent life, career--thy own unloosen'd mind--thy
soaring spirit;
Thee as another equally needed sun, America--radiant, ablaze, swift-
moving, fructifying all;
Thee! risen in thy potent cheerfulness and joy--thy endless, great
hilarity!
(Scattering for good the cloud that hung so long--that weigh'd so
long upon the mind of man,
The doubt, suspicion, dread, of gradual, certain decadence of man;)
Thee in thy larger, saner breeds of Female, Male--thee in thy
athletes, moral, spiritual, South, North, West, East,
(To thy immortal breasts, Mother of All, thy every daughter, son,
endear'd alike, forever equal;) 70
Thee in thy own musicians, singers, artists, unborn yet, but certain;
Thee in thy moral wealth and civilization (until which thy proudest
material wealth and civilization must remain in vain;)
Thee in thy all-supplying, all-enclosing Worship--thee in no single
bible, saviour, merely,
Thy saviours countless, latent within thyself--thy bibles incessant,
within thyself, equal to any, divine as any;
Thee in an education grown of thee--in teachers, studies, students,
born of thee;
Thee in thy democratic fetes, en masse--thy high original festivals,
operas, lecturers, preachers;
Thee in thy ultimata, (the preparations only now completed--the
edifice on sure foundations tied,)
Thee in thy pinnacles, intellect, thought--thy topmost rational
joys--thy love, and godlike aspiration,
In thy resplendent coming literati--thy full-lung'd orators--thy
sacerdotal bards--kosmic savans,
These! these in thee, (certain to come,) to-day I prophecy. 80


Land tolerating all--accepting all--not for the good alone--all good
for thee;
Land in the realms of God to be a realm unto thyself;
Under the rule of God to be a rule unto thyself.

(Lo! where arise three peerless stars,
To be thy natal stars, my country--Ensemble--Evolution--Freedom,
Set in the sky of Law.)

Land of unprecedented faith--God's faith!
Thy soil, thy very subsoil, all upheav'd;
The general inner earth, so long, so sedulously draped over, now and
hence for what it is, boldly laid bare,
Open'd by thee to heaven's light, for benefit or bale. 90

Not for success alone;
Not to fair-sail unintermitted always;
The storm shall dash thy face--the murk of war, and worse than war,
shall cover thee all over;
(Wert capable of war--its tug and trials? Be capable of peace, its
trials;
For the tug and mortal strain of nations come at last in peace--not
war;)
In many a smiling mask death shall approach, beguiling thee--thou in
disease shalt swelter;
The livid cancer spread its hideous claws, clinging upon thy breasts,
seeking to strike thee deep within;
Consumption of the worst--moral consumption--shall rouge thy face
with hectic:
But thou shalt face thy fortunes, thy diseases, and surmount them
all,
Whatever they are to-day, and whatever through time they may be, 100
They each and all shall lift, and pass away, and cease from thee;
While thou, Time's spirals rounding--out of thyself, thyself still
extricating, fusing,
Equable, natural, mystical Union thou--(the mortal with immortal
blent,)
Shalt soar toward the fulfilment of the future--the spirit of the
body and the mind,
The Soul--its destinies.

The Soul, its destinies--the real real,
(Purport of all these apparitions of the real;)
In thee, America, the Soul, its destinies;
Thou globe of globes! thou wonder nebulous!
By many a throe of heat and cold convuls'd--(by these thyself
solidifying;) 110
Thou mental, moral orb! thou New, indeed new, Spiritual World!
The Present holds thee not--for such vast growth as thine--for such
unparallel'd flight as thine,
The Future only holds thee, and can hold thee.

Leaves Of Grass. A Carol Of Harvest For 1867


A SONG of the good green grass!
A song no more of the city streets;
A song of farms--a song of the soil of fields.

A song with the smell of sun-dried hay, where the nimble pitchers
handle the pitch-fork;
A song tasting of new wheat, and of fresh-husk'd maize.


For the lands, and for these passionate days, and for myself,
Now I awhile return to thee, O soil of Autumn fields,
Reclining on thy breast, giving myself to thee,
Answering the pulses of thy sane and equable heart,
Tuning a verse for thee. 10

O Earth, that hast no voice, confide to me a voice!
O harvest of my lands! O boundless summer growths!
O lavish, brown, parturient earth! O infinite, teeming womb!
A verse to seek, to see, to narrate thee.


Ever upon this stage,
Is acted God's calm, annual drama,
Gorgeous processions, songs of birds,
Sunrise, that fullest feeds and freshens most the soul,
The heaving sea, the waves upon the shore, the musical, strong waves,
The woods, the stalwart trees, the slender, tapering trees, 20
The flowers, the grass, the lilliput, countless armies of the grass,
The heat, the showers, the measureless pasturages,
The scenery of the snows, the winds' free orchestra,
The stretching, light-hung roof of clouds--the clear cerulean, and
the bulging, silvery fringes,
The high dilating stars, the placid, beckoning stars,
The moving flocks and herds, the plains and emerald meadows,
The shows of all the varied lands, and all the growths and products.


Fecund America! To-day,
Thou art all over set in births and joys!
Thou groan'st with riches! thy wealth clothes thee as with a swathing
garment! 30
Thou laughest loud with ache of great possessions!
A myriad-twining life, like interlacing vines, binds all thy vast
demesne!
As some huge ship, freighted to water's edge, thou ridest into port!
As rain falls from the heaven, and vapors rise from earth, so have
the precious values fallen upon thee, and risen out of thee!
Thou envy of the globe! thou miracle!
Thou, bathed, choked, swimming in plenty!
Thou lucky Mistress of the tranquil barns!
Thou Prairie Dame that sittest in the middle, and lookest out upon
thy world, and lookest East, and lookest West!
Dispensatress, that by a word givest a thousand miles--that giv'st a
million farms, and missest nothing!
Thou All-Acceptress--thou Hospitable--(thou only art hospitable, as
God is hospitable.) 40


When late I sang, sad was my voice;
Sad were the shows around me, with deafening noises of hatred, and
smoke of conflict;
In the midst of the armies, the Heroes, I stood,
Or pass'd with slow step through the wounded and dying.

But now I sing not War,
Nor the measur'd march of soldiers, nor the tents of camps,
Nor the regiments hastily coming up, deploying in line of battle.

No more the dead and wounded;
No more the sad, unnatural shows of War.

Ask'd room those flush'd immortal ranks? the first forth-stepping
armies? 50
Ask room, alas, the ghastly ranks--the armies dread that follow'd.


(Pass--pass, ye proud brigades!
So handsome, dress'd in blue--with your tramping, sinewy legs;
With your shoulders young and strong--with your knapsacks and your
muskets;
--How elate I stood and watch'd you, where, starting off, you
march'd!

Pass;--then rattle, drums, again!
Scream, you steamers on the river, out of whistles loud and shrill,
your salutes!
For an army heaves in sight--O another gathering army!
Swarming, trailing on the rear--O you dread, accruing army!
O you regiments so piteous, with your mortal diarrhoea! with your
fever! 60
O my land's maimed darlings! with the plenteous bloody bandage and
the crutch!
Lo! your pallid army follow'd!)


But on these days of brightness,
On the far-stretching beauteous landscape, the roads and lanes, the
high-piled farm-wagons, and the fruits and barns,
Shall the dead intrude?

Ah, the dead to me mar not--they fit well in Nature;
They fit very well in the landscape, under the trees and grass,
And along the edge of the sky, in the horizon's far margin.

Nor do I forget you, departed;
Nor in winter or summer, my lost ones; 70
But most, in the open air, as now, when my soul is rapt and at
peace--like pleasing phantoms,
Your dear memories, rising, glide silently by me.


I saw the day, the return of the Heroes;
(Yet the Heroes never surpass'd, shall never return;
Them, that day, I saw not.)

I saw the interminable Corps--I saw the processions of armies,
I saw them approaching, defiling by, with divisions,
Streaming northward, their work done, camping awhile in clusters of
mighty camps.

No holiday soldiers!--youthful, yet veterans;
Worn, swart, handsome, strong, of the stock of homestead and
workshop,
Harden'd of many a long campaign and sweaty march, 80
Inured on many a hard-fought, bloody field.


A pause--the armies wait;
A million flush'd, embattled conquerors wait;
The world, too, waits--then, soft as breaking night, and sure as
dawn,
They melt--they disappear.

Exult, indeed, O lands! victorious lands!
Not there your victory, on those red, shuddering fields;
But here and hence your victory.

Melt, melt away, ye armies! disperse, ye blue-clad soldiers!
Resolve ye back again--give up, for good, your deadly arms; 90
Other the arms, the fields henceforth for you, or South or North, or
East or West,
With saner wars--sweet wars--life-giving wars.


Loud, O my throat, and clear, O soul!
The season of thanks, and the voice of full-yielding;
The chant of joy and power for boundless fertility.

All till'd and untill'd fields expand before me;
I see the true arenas of my race--or first, or last,
Man's innocent and strong arenas.

I see the Heroes at other toils;
I see, well-wielded in their hands, the better weapons. 100


I see where America, Mother of All,
Well-pleased, with full-spanning eye, gazes forth, dwells long,
And counts the varied gathering of the products.

Busy the far, the sunlit panorama;
Prairie, orchard, and yellow grain of the North,
Cotton and rice of the South, and Louisianian cane;
Open, unseeded fallows, rich fields of clover and timothy,
Kine and horses feeding, and droves of sheep and swine,
And many a stately river flowing, and many a jocund brook,
And healthy uplands with their herby-perfumed breezes, 110
And the good green grass--that delicate miracle, the ever-recurring
grass.


Toil on, Heroes! harvest the products!
Not alone on those warlike fields, the Mother of All,
With dilated form and lambent eyes, watch'd you.

Toil on, Heroes! toil well! Handle the weapons well!
The Mother of All--yet here, as ever, she watches you.

Well-pleased, America, thou beholdest,
Over the fields of the West, those crawling monsters,
The human-divine inventions, the labor-saving implements:
Beholdest, moving in every direction, imbued as with life, the
revolving hay-rakes, 120
The steam-power reaping-machines, and the horse-power machines,
The engines, thrashers of grain, and cleaners of grain, well
separating the straw--the nimble work of the patent pitch-fork;
Beholdest the newer saw-mill, the southern cotton-gin, and the rice-
cleanser.

Beneath thy look, O Maternal,
With these, and else, and with their own strong hands, the Heroes
harvest.

All gather, and all harvest;
(Yet but for thee, O Powerful! not a scythe might swing, as now, in
security;
Not a maize-stalk dangle, as now, its silken tassels in peace.)


Under Thee only they harvest--even but a wisp of hay, under thy great
face, only;
Harvest the wheat of Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin--every barbed spear,
under thee; 130
Harvest the maize of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee--each ear in its
light-green sheath,
Gather the hay to its myriad mows, in the odorous, tranquil barns,
Oats to their bins--the white potato, the buckwheat of Michigan, to
theirs;
Gather the cotton in Mississippi or Alabama--dig and hoard the
golden, the sweet potato of Georgia and the Carolinas,
Clip the wool of California or Pennsylvania,
Cut the flax in the Middle States, or hemp, or tobacco in the
Borders,
Pick the pea and the bean, or pull apples from the trees, or bunches
of grapes from the vines,
Or aught that ripens in all These States, or North or South,
Under the beaming sun, and under Thee.

Proud Music Of The Storm


PROUD music of the storm!
Blast that careers so free, whistling across the prairies!
Strong hum of forest tree-tops! Wind of the mountains!
Personified dim shapes! you hidden orchestras!
You serenades of phantoms, with instruments alert,
Blending, with Nature's rhythmus, all the tongues of nations;
You chords left us by vast composers! you choruses!
You formless, free, religious dances! you from the Orient!
You undertone of rivers, roar of pouring cataracts;
You sounds from distant guns, with galloping cavalry! 10
Echoes of camps, with all the different bugle-calls!
Trooping tumultuous, filling the midnight late, bending me powerless,
Entering my lonesome slumber-chamber--Why have you seiz'd me?


Come forward, O my Soul, and let the rest retire;
Listen--lose not--it is toward thee they tend;
Parting the midnight, entering my slumber-chamber,
For thee they sing and dance, O Soul.

A festival song!
The duet of the bridegroom and the bride--a marriage-march,
With lips of love, and hearts of lovers, fill'd to the brim with
love; 20
The red-flush'd cheeks, and perfumes--the cortege swarming, full of
friendly faces, young and old,
To flutes' clear notes, and sounding harps' cantabile.


Now loud approaching drums!
Victoria! see'st thou in powder-smoke the banners torn but flying?
the rout of the baffled?
Hearest those shouts of a conquering army?

(Ah, Soul, the sobs of women--the wounded groaning in agony,
The hiss and crackle of flames--the blacken'd ruins--the embers of
cities,
The dirge and desolation of mankind.)


Now airs antique and medieval fill me!
I see and hear old harpers with their harps, at Welsh festivals: 30
I hear the minnesingers, singing their lays of love,
I hear the minstrels, gleemen, troubadours, of the feudal ages.


Now the great organ sounds,
Tremulous--while underneath, (as the hid footholds of the earth,
On which arising, rest, and leaping forth, depend,
All shapes of beauty, grace and strength--all hues we know,
Green blades of grass, and warbling birds--children that gambol and
play--the clouds of heaven above,)
The strong base stands, and its pulsations intermits not,
Bathing, supporting, merging all the rest--maternity of all the rest;
And with it every instrument in multitudes, 40
The players playing--all the world's musicians,
The solemn hymns and masses, rousing adoration,
All passionate heart-chants, sorrowful appeals,
The measureless sweet vocalists of ages,
And for their solvent setting, Earth's own diapason,
Of winds and woods and mighty ocean waves;
A new composite orchestra--binder of years and climes--ten-fold
renewer,
As of the far-back days the poets tell--the Paradiso,
The straying thence, the separation long, but now the wandering done,
The journey done, the Journeyman come home, 50
And Man and Art, with Nature fused again.


Tutti! for Earth and Heaven!
The Almighty Leader now for me, for once has signal'd with his wand.

The manly strophe of the husbands of the world,
And all the wives responding.

The tongues of violins!
(I think, O tongues, ye tell this heart, that cannot tell itself;
This brooding, yearning heart, that cannot tell itself.)


Ah, from a little child,
Thou knowest, Soul, how to me all sounds became music; 60
My mother's voice, in lullaby or hymn;
(The voice--O tender voices--memory's loving voices!
Last miracle of all--O dearest mother's, sister's, voices;)
The rain, the growing corn, the breeze among the long-leav'd corn,
The measur'd sea-surf, beating on the sand,
The twittering bird, the hawk's sharp scream,
The wild-fowl's notes at night, as flying low, migrating north or
south,
The psalm in the country church, or mid the clustering trees, the
open air camp-meeting,
The fiddler in the tavern--the glee, the long-strung sailor-song,
The lowing cattle, bleating sheep--the crowing cock at dawn. 70


All songs of current lands come sounding 'round me,
The German airs of friendship, wine and love,
Irish ballads, merry jigs and dances--English warbles,
Chansons of France, Scotch tunes--and o'er the rest,
Italia's peerless compositions.

Across the stage, with pallor on her face, yet lurid passion,
Stalks Norma, brandishing the dagger in her hand.

I see poor crazed Lucia's eyes' unnatural gleam;
Her hair down her back falls loose and dishevell'd.

I see where Ernani, walking the bridal garden, 80
Amid the scent of night-roses, radiant, holding his bride by the
hand,
Hears the infernal call, the death-pledge of the horn.

To crossing swords, and grey hairs bared to heaven,
The clear, electric base and baritone of the world,
The trombone duo--Libertad forever!

From Spanish chestnut trees' dense shade,
By old and heavy convent walls, a wailing song,
Song of lost love--the torch of youth and life quench'd in despair,
Song of the dying swan--Fernando's heart is breaking.

Awaking from her woes at last, retriev'd Amina sings; 90
Copious as stars, and glad as morning light, the torrents of her joy.

(The teeming lady comes!
The lustrious orb--Venus contralto--the blooming mother,
Sister of loftiest gods--Alboni's self I hear.)


I hear those odes, symphonies, operas;
I hear in the William Tell, the music of an arous'd and angry people;
I hear Meyerbeer's Huguenots, the Prophet, or Robert;
Gounod's Faust, or Mozart's Don Juan.


I hear the dance-music of all nations,
The waltz, (some delicious measure, lapsing, bathing me in
bliss;) 100
The bolero, to tinkling guitars and clattering castanets.

I see religious dances old and new,
I hear the sound of the Hebrew lyre,
I see the Crusaders marching, bearing the cross on high, to the
martial clang of cymbals;
I hear dervishes monotonously chanting, interspers'd with frantic
shouts, as they spin around, turning always towards Mecca;
I see the rapt religious dances of the Persians and the Arabs;
Again, at Eleusis, home of Ceres, I see the modern Greeks dancing,
I hear them clapping their hands, as they bend their bodies,
I hear the metrical shuffling of their feet.

I see again the wild old Corybantian dance, the performers wounding
each other; 110
I see the Roman youth, to the shrill sound of flageolets, throwing
and catching their weapons,
As they fall on their knees, and rise again.

I hear from the Mussulman mosque the muezzin calling;
I see the worshippers within, (nor form, nor sermon, argument, nor
word,
But silent, strange, devout--rais'd, glowing heads--extatic faces.)


I hear the Egyptian harp of many strings,
The primitive chants of the Nile boatmen;
The sacred imperial hymns of China,
To the delicate sounds of the king, (the stricken wood and stone;)
Or to Hindu flutes, and the fretting twang of the vina, 120
A band of bayaderes.


Now Asia, Africa leave me--Europe, seizing, inflates me;
To organs huge, and bands, I hear as from vast concourses of voices,
Luther's strong hymn, Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott;
Rossini's Stabat Mater dolorosa;
Or, floating in some high cathedral dim, with gorgeous color'd
windows,
The passionate Agnus Dei, or Gloria in Excelsis.


Composers! mighty maestros!
And you, sweet singers of old lands--Soprani! Tenori! Bassi!
To you a new bard, carolling free in the west,
Obeisant, sends his love. 130

(Such led to thee, O Soul!
All senses, shows and objects, lead to thee,
But now, it seems to me, sound leads o'er all the rest.)


I hear the annual singing of the children in St. Paul's Cathedral;
Or, under the high roof of some colossal hall, the symphonies,
oratorios of Beethoven, Handel, or Haydn;
The Creation, in billows of godhood laves me.

Give me to hold all sounds, (I, madly struggling, cry,)
Fill me with all the voices of the universe,
Endow me with their throbbings--Nature's also,
The tempests, waters, winds--operas and chants--marches and
dances, 140
Utter--pour in--for I would take them all.


Then I woke softly,
And pausing, questioning awhile the music of my dream,
And questioning all those reminiscences--the tempest in its fury,
And all the songs of sopranos and tenors,
And those rapt oriental dances, of religious fervor,
And the sweet varied instruments, and the diapason of organs,
And all the artless plaints of love, and grief and death,
I said to my silent, curious Soul, out of the bed of the slumber-
chamber,
Come, for I have found the clue I sought so long, 150
Let us go forth refresh'd amid the day,
Cheerfully tallying life, walking the world, the real,
Nourish'd henceforth by our celestial dream.

And I said, moreover,
Haply, what thou hast heard, O Soul, was not the sound of winds,
Nor dream of raging storm, nor sea-hawk's flapping wings, nor harsh
scream,
Nor vocalism of sun-bright Italy,
Nor German organ majestic--nor vast concourse of voices--nor layers
of harmonies;
Nor strophes of husbands and wives--nor sound of marching soldiers,
Nor flutes, nor harps, nor the bugle-calls of camps; 160
But, to a new rhythmus fitted for thee,
Poems, bridging the way from Life to Death, vaguely wafted in night
air, uncaught, unwritten,
Which, let us go forth in the bold day, and write.

To Think Of Time


To think of time--of all that retrospection!
To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward!

Have you guess'd you yourself would not continue?
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?
Have you fear'd the future would be nothing to you?

Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing?
If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing.

To think that the sun rose in the east! that men and women were
flexible, real, alive! that everything was alive!
To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our part!
To think that we are now here, and bear our part! 10


Not a day passes--not a minute or second, without an accouchement!
Not a day passes--not a minute or second, without a corpse!

The dull nights go over, and the dull days also,
The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over,
The physician, after long putting off, gives the silent and terrible
look for an answer,
The children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters
are sent for,
Medicines stand unused on the shelf--(the camphor-smell has long
pervaded the rooms,)
The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the
dying,
The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying,
The breath ceases, and the pulse of the heart ceases, 20
The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living look upon it,
It is palpable as the living are palpable.

The living look upon the corpse with their eye-sight,
But without eye-sight lingers a different living, and looks curiously
on the corpse.


To think the thought of Death, merged in the thought of materials!
To think that the rivers will flow, and the snow fall, and fruits
ripen, and act upon others as upon us now--yet not act upon us!
To think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking
great interest in them--and we taking no interest in them!

To think how eager we are in building our houses!
To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent!

(I see one building the house that serves him a few years, or seventy
or eighty years at most, 30
I see one building the house that serves him longer than that.)

Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earth--they never
cease--they are the burial lines,
He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall
surely be buried.


A reminiscence of the vulgar fate,
A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen,
Each after his kind:
Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf--posh and ice in the river,
half-frozen mud in the streets, a gray, discouraged sky
overhead, the short, last daylight of Twelfth-month,
A hearse and stages--other vehicles give place--the funeral of an old
Broadway stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers.

Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, the
gate is pass'd, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living
alight, the hearse uncloses,
The coffin is pass'd out, lower'd and settled, the whip is laid on
the coffin, the earth is swiftly shovel'd in, 40
The mound above is flatted with the spades--silence,
A minute--no one moves or speaks--it is done,
He is decently put away--is there anything more?

He was a good fellow, free-mouth'd, quick-temper'd, not bad-looking,
able to take his own part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready
with life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate
hearty, drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew
low-spirited toward the last, sicken'd, was help'd by a
contribution, died, aged forty-one years--and that was his
funeral.

Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves, strap, wet-
weather clothes, whip carefully chosen, boss, spotter, starter,
hostler, somebody loafing on you, you loafing on somebody,
headway, man before and man behind, good day's work, bad day's
work, pet stock, mean stock, first out, last out, turning-in at
night;
To think that these are so much and so nigh to other drivers--and he
there takes no interest in them!


The markets, the government, the working-man's wages--to think what
account they are through our nights and days!
To think that other working-men will make just as great account of
them--yet we make little or no account!

The vulgar and the refined--what you call sin, and what you call
goodness--to think how wide a difference!
To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie
beyond the difference. 50

To think how much pleasure there is!
Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you pleasure from
poems?
Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or
planning a nomination and election? or with your wife and
family?
Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the
beautiful maternal cares?
--These also flow onward to others--you and I flow onward,
But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them.

Your farm, profits, crops,--to think how engross'd you are!
To think there will still be farms, profits, crops--yet for you, of
what avail?


What will be, will be well--for what is, is well,
To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well. 60

The sky continues beautiful,
The pleasure of men with women shall never be sated, nor the pleasure
of women with men, nor the pleasure from poems,
The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the building of
houses--these are not phantasms--they have weight, form,
location;
Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them
phantasms,
The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion,
The earth is not an echo--man and his life, and all the things of his
life, are well-consider'd.

You are not thrown to the winds--you gather certainly and safely
around yourself;
Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever!


It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and
father--it is to identify you;
It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be
decided; 70
Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form'd in you,
You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes.

The threads that were spun are gather'd, the weft crosses the warp,
the pattern is systematic.

The preparations have every one been justified,
The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments--the baton
has given the signal.

The guest that was coming--he waited long, for reasons--he is now
housed,
He is one of those who are beautiful and happy--he is one of those
that to look upon and be with is enough.

The law of the past cannot be eluded,
The law of the present and future cannot be eluded,
The law of the living cannot be eluded--it is eternal, 80
The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded,
The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded,
The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons--not one iota thereof
can be eluded.


Slow moving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth,
Northerner goes carried, and Southerner goes carried, and they on the
Atlantic side, and they on the Pacific, and they between, and
all through the Mississippi country, and all over the earth.

The great masters and kosmos are well as they go--the heroes and
good-doers are well,
The known leaders and inventors, and the rich owners and pious and
distinguish'd, may be well,
But there is more account than that--there is strict account of all.

The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing,
The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing, 90
The common people of Europe are not nothing--the American aborigines
are not nothing,
The infected in the immigrant hospital are not nothing--the murderer
or mean person is not nothing,
The perpetual successions of shallow people are not nothing as they
go,
The lowest prostitute is not nothing--the mocker of religion is not
nothing as he goes.


Of and in all these things,
I have dream'd that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law of
us changed,
I have dream'd that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present
and past law,
And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present and
past law,
For I have dream'd that the law they are under now is enough.

If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung, 100
If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray'd!
Then indeed suspicion of death.

Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die now,
Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward
annihilation?


Pleasantly and well-suited I walk,
Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good,
The whole universe indicates that it is good,
The past and the present indicate that it is good.

How beautiful and perfect are the animals!
How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it! 110

What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just as
perfect,
The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable
fluids are perfect;
Slowly and surely they have pass'd on to this, and slowly and surely
they yet pass on.


I swear I think now that everything without exception has an eternal Soul!
The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have! the
animals!

I swear I think there is nothing but immortality!
That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is for
it, and the cohering is for it;
And all preparation is for it! and identity is for it! and life and
materials are altogether for it!

O to make the most jubilant song!
Full of music-full of manhood, womanhood, infancy!
Full of common employments-full of grain and trees.

O for the voices of animals-O for the swiftness and balance of fishes!
O for the dropping of raindrops in a song!
O for the sunshine and motion of waves in a song!

O the joy of my spirit-it is uncaged-it darts like lightning!
It is not enough to have this globe or a certain time,
I will have thousands of globes and all time.

O the engineer's joys! to go with a locomotive!
To hear the hiss of steam, the merry shriek, the steam-whistle, the
laughing locomotive!
To push with resistless way and speed off in the distance.

O the gleesome saunter over fields and hillsides!
The leaves and flowers of the commonest weeds, the moist fresh
stillness of the woods,
The exquisite smell of the earth at daybreak, and all through the
forenoon.

O the horseman's and horsewoman's joys!
The saddle, the gallop, the pressure upon the seat, the cool
gurgling by the ears and hair.

O the fireman's joys!
I hear the alarm at dead of night,
I hear bells, shouts! I pass the crowd, I run!
The sight of the flames maddens me with pleasure.

O the joy of the strong-brawn'd fighter, towering in the arena in
perfect condition, conscious of power, thirsting to meet his
opponent.

O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which only the human
soul is capable of generating and emitting in steady and
limitless floods.

O the mother's joys!
The watching, the endurance, the precious love, the anguish, the
patiently yielded life.

O the of increase, growth, recuperation,
The joy of soothing and pacifying, the joy of concord and harmony.

O to go back to the place where I was born,
To hear the birds sing once more,
To ramble about the house and barn and over the fields once more,
And through the orchard and along the old lanes once more.

O to have been brought up on bays, lagoons, creeks, or along the coast,
To continue and be employ'd there all my life,
The briny and damp smell, the shore, the salt weeds exposed at low water,
The work of fishermen, the work of the eel-fisher and clam-fisher;
I come with my clam-rake and spade, I come with my eel-spear,
Is the tide out? I Join the group of clam-diggers on the flats,
I laugh and work with them, I joke at my work like a mettlesome
young man;

In winter I take my eel-basket and eel-spear and travel out on foot
on the ice-I have a small axe to cut holes in the ice,
Behold me well-clothed going gayly or returning in the afternoon,
my brood of tough boys accompanying me,
My brood of grown and part-grown boys, who love to be with no
one else so well as they love to be with me,
By day to work with me, and by night to sleep with me.

Another time in warm weather out in a boat, to lift the lobster-pots
where they are sunk with heavy stones, (I know the buoys,)
O the sweetness of the Fifth-month morning upon the water as I row
just before sunrise toward the buoys,
I pull the wicker pots up slantingly, the dark green lobsters are
desperate with their claws as I take them out, I insert
wooden pegs in the ‘oints of their pincers,

I go to all the places one after another, and then row back to the
shore,
There in a huge kettle of boiling water the lobsters shall be boil'd
till their color becomes scarlet.

Another time mackerel-taking,
Voracious, mad for the hook, near the surface, they seem to fill the
water for miles;
Another time fishing for rock-fish in Chesapeake bay, I one of the
brown-faced crew;
Another time trailing for blue-fish off Paumanok, I stand with
braced body,
My left foot is on the gunwale, my right arm throws far out the
coils of slender rope,
In sight around me the quick veering and darting of fifty skiffs, my
companions.

O boating on the rivers,
The voyage down the St. Lawrence, the superb scenery, the steamers,
The ships sailing, the Thousand Islands, the occasional timber-raft
and the raftsmen with long-reaching sweep-oars,
The little huts on the rafts, and the stream of smoke when they cook
supper at evening.

(O something pernicious and dread!
Something far away from a puny and pious life!
Something unproved! something in a trance!
Something escaped from the anchorage and driving free.)

O to work in mines, or forging iron,
Foundry casting, the foundry itself, the rude high roof, the ample
and shadow'd space,
The furnace, the hot liquid pour'd out and running.

O to resume the joys of the soldier!
To feel the presence of a brave commanding officer-to feel his
sympathy!
To behold his calmness-to be warm'd in the rays of his smile!
To go to battle-to hear the bugles play and the drums beat!
To hear the crash of artillery-to see the glittering of the bayonets
and musket-barrels in the sun!

To see men fall and die and not complain!
To taste the savage taste of blood-to be so devilish!
To gloat so over the wounds and deaths of the enemy.

O the whaleman's joys! O I cruise my old cruise again!
I feel the ship's motion under me, I feel the Atlantic breezes
fanning me,
I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-head, There- she
blows!
Again I spring up the rigging to look with the rest- we descend,
wild with excitement,
I leap in the lower'd boat, we row toward our prey where he lies,
We approach stealthy and silent, I see the mountainous mass,
lethargic, basking,
I see the harpooneer standing up, I see the weapon dart from his
vigorous arm;
O swift again far out in the ocean the wounded whale, settling,
running to windward, tows me,
Again I see him rise to breathe, we row close again,
I see a lance driven through his side, press'd deep, turn'd in the
wound,
Again we back off, I see him settle again, the life is leaving him
fast,
As he rises he spouts blood, I see him swim in circles narrower and
narrower, swiftly cutting the water-I see him die,
He gives one convulsive leap in the centre of the circle, and then
falls flat and still in the bloody foam.

O the old manhood of me, my noblest joy of all!
My children and grand-children, my white hair and beard,
My largeness, calmness, majesty, out of the long stretch of my life.

O ripen'd joy of womanhood! O happiness at last!

I am more than eighty years of age, I am the most venerable mother,
How clear is my mind-how all people draw nigh to me!
What attractions are these beyond any before? what bloom more
than the bloom of youth?
What beauty is this that descends upon me and rises out of me?

O the orator's joys!
To inflate the chest, to roll the thunder of the voice out from the
ribs and throat,
To make the people rage, weep, hate, desire, with yourself,
To lead America-to quell America with a great tongue.

O the joy of my soul leaning pois'd on itself, receiving identity
through materials and loving them, observing characters
and absorbing them,
My soul vibrated back to me from them, from sight, hearing, touch,
reason, articulation, comparison, memory, and the like,
The real life of my senses and flesh transcending my senses and
flesh,
My body done with materials, my sight done with my material eyes,
Proved to me this day beyond cavil that it is not my material eyes
which finally see,
Nor my material body which finally loves, walks, laughs, shouts,
embraces, procreates.

O the farmer's joys!
Ohioan's, Illinoisian's, Wisconsinese', Kanadian's, Iowan's,
Kansian's, Missourian's, Oregonese' joys!
To rise at peep of day and pass forth nimbly to work,
To plough land in the fall for winter-sown crops,
To plough land in the spring for maize,
To train orchards, to graft the trees, to gather apples in the fall.

O to bathe in the swimming-bath, or in a good place along shore,
To splash the water! to walk ankle-deep, or race naked along the
shore.

O to realize space!
The plenteousness of all, that there are no bounds,
To emerge and be of the sky, of the sun and moon and flying
clouds, as one with them.

O the joy a manly self-hood!
To be servile to none, to defer to none, not to any tyrant known or
unknown,

To walk with erect carriage, a step springy and elastic,
To look with calm gaze or with a flashing eye,
To speak with a full and sonorous voice out of a broad chest,
To confront with your personality all the other personalities of the
earth.

Know'st thou the excellent joys of youth?
Joys of the dear companions and of the merry word and laughing
face?
Joy of the glad light-beaming day, joy of the wide-breath'd games?
Joy of sweet music, joy of the lighted ball-room and the dancers?
Joy of the plenteous dinner, strong carouse and drinking?

Yet O my soul supreme!
Know'st thou the joys of pensive thought?
Joys of the free and lonesome heart, the tender, gloomy heart?
Joys of the solitary walk, the spirit bow'd yet proud, the suffering
and the struggle?
The agonistic throes, the ecstasies, joys of the solemn musings day
or night?
Joys of the thought of Death, the great spheres Time and Space?
Prophetic joys of better, loftier love's ideals, the divine wife,
the sweet, eternal, perfect comrade?
Joys all thine own undying one, joys worthy thee O soul.

O while I live to be the ruler of life, not a slave,
To meet life as a powerful conqueror,
No fumes, no ennui, no more complaints or scornful criticisms,
To these proud laws of the air, the water and the ground, proving
my interior soul impregnable,
And nothing exterior shall ever take command of me.

For not life's joys alone I sing, repeating-the joy of death!
The beautiful touch of Death, soothing and benumbing a few moments,
for reasons,
Myself discharging my excrementitious body to be burn'd, or render'd
to powder, or buried,
My real body doubtless left to me for other spheres,
My voided body nothing more to me, returning to the purifications,
further offices, eternal uses of the earth.

O to attract by more than attraction!
How it is I know not-yet behold! the something which obeys none
of the rest,
It is offensive, never defensive-yet how magnetic it draws.

O to struggle against great odds, to meet enemies undaunted!
To be entirely alone with them, to find how much one can stand!
To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, face to face!
To mount the scaffold, to advance to the muzzles of guns with
perfect nonchalance!
To be indeed a God!

O to sail to sea in a ship!
To leave this steady unendurable land,
To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, the sidewalks and the
houses,
To leave you O you solid motionless land, and entering a ship,
To sail and sail and sail!

O to have life henceforth a poem of new joys!
To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on, float on!
To be a sailor of the world bound for all ports,
A ship itself, (see indeed these sails I spread to the sun and air,)
A swift and swelling ship full of rich words, full of joys.

Song Of Myself, XXXIII

Space and Time! now I see it is true, what I guess'd 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.

My ties and ballasts leave me, my elbows rest in sea-gaps,
I skirt sierras, my palms cover continents,
I am afoot with my vision.

By 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 purchase,
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 bayou,
Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey, where the beaver patsthe 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 sharp-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, holding 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 wheat-lot,
Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve, where the great gold- bug drops through the dark,
Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow,
Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous shud- dering of their hides,
Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where andirons
straddle the hearth-slab, where cobwebs 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, (floating in it my- self and looking composedly down,)
Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose, where the heat hatches pale-green eggs in the dented sand,
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 currents,
Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the dead are corrupt- ing below;
Where the dense-starr'd flag is borne at the head of the regiments,
Approaching Manhattan up by the long-stretching island,
Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance,
Upon a door-step, upon the horse-block of hard wood outside,
Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs or a good game of base-ball,
At he-festivals, with blackguard gibes, 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 find,
At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, house-raisings;
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 scatter'd, 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 cemetery,
Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees,
Where the yellow-crown'd 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 firs,
Through the gymnasium, through the curtain'd saloon, through the office or public hall;
Pleas'd with the native and pleas'd with the foreign, pleas'd with the new and old,
Pleas'd with the homely woman as well as the handsome,
Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and talks melodiously,
Pleas'd with the tune of the choir of the whitewash'd church,
Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist preach- er, impress'd seriously 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, or down a lane or along the beach,
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 day,)
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 him,
Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from me a long while,
Walking the old hills of Judaea 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,
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.

I visit the orchards of spheres and look at the product,
And look at quintillions ripen'd and look at quintillions green.

I fly those flights of a fluid and swallowing soul,
My course runs below the soundings of plummets.

I help myself to material and immaterial,
No guard can shut me off, no law prevent me.

I anchor my ship for a little while only,
My messengers continually cruise away or bring their returns to me.

I go hunting polar furs and the seal, leaping chasms with a pike- pointed staff, clinging to topples of brittle and blue.

I 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 toward 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,
Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin'd city,
The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities of the globe.
I am a free companion, I bivouac by invading watchfires,
I turn the bridegroom out of bed and stay with the bride myself,
I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.

My 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.

I 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 an inch, and was faith ful 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 three days 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.

The disdain and calmness of martyrs,
The mother of old, 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, blow- ing, cover'd with sweat,
The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the mur- derous buckshot and the bullets,
All these I feel or am.

I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs,
Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marks- men,
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.

Agonies are one of my changes of garments,
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person,
My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe.

I 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 com- rades,
I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels,
They have clear'd the beams away, they tenderly lift me forth.

I 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 torches.

Distant and dead resuscitate,
They show as the dial or move as the hands of me, I am the clock myself.

I am an old artillerist, I tell of my fort's bombardment,
I am there again.

Again the long roll of the drummers,
Again the attacking cannon, mortars,
Again to my listening ears the cannon responsive.

I take part, I see and hear the whole,
The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aim'd shots,
The ambulanza slowly passing trailing its red drip,
Workmen searching after damages, making indispensable repairs,
The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the fan-shaped explo- sion,
The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in the air.

Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general, he furiously waves with his hand,
He gasps through the clot Mind not me—mind—the entrench-
ments.

When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom'D

from Memories of President Lincoln

1

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

2

O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night -- O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear'd -- O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless -- O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

3

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash'd palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle -- and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color'd blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.

4

In the swamp in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.
Solitary the thrush,
The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat,
Death's outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
If thou wast not granted to sing, thou would'st surely die.)

5

Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep'd from the ground, spotting the gray debris,
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the endless grass,
Passing the yellow-spear'd wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprisen,
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards,
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.

6

Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop'd flags with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves as of crepe-veil'd women standing,
With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn,
With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour'd around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs -- where amid these you journey,
With the tolling bells' perpetual clang,
Here, coffin that slowly passes,
I give you a sprig of lilac.

7

(Nor for you, for one alone,
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring,
For fresh as the morning, thus would I chant a song for you O sane and sacred death.

All over bouquets of roses,
O death, I cover you with roses and early lilies,
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes,
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you and the coffins all of you, O death.)

8

O western orb sailing the heaven,
Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk'd,
As I walk'd in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,
As you droop'd from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the other stars all look'd on,)
As we wander'd together the solemn night, (for something I know not what kept me from sleep,)
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you were of woe,
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night,
As I watch'd where you pass'd and was lost in the netherward black of the night,
As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.

9

Sing on there in the swamp,
O singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear your call,
I hear, I come presently, I understand you,
But a moment I linger, for the lustrous star has detain'd me,
The star my departing comrade holds and detains me.

10

O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my soul for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love?

Sea-winds blown from the east and west,
Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till there on the prairies meeting,
These and with these and the breath of my chant,
I'll perfume the grave of him I love.

11

O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,
To adorn the burial-house of him I love?

Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes,
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright,
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, expanding the air,
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific,
In the distance of the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here and there,
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows,
And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys,
And all the scenes of life and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning.

12

Lo, body and soul -- this land,
My own Manhattan with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships,
The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light, Ohio's shores and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies cover'd with grass and corn.

Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty,
The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes,
The gentle soft-born measureless light,
The miracle spreading bathing all, the fulfill'd noon,
The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.

13

Sing on, sing on, you gray-brown bird,
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes,
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.

Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.

O liquid and free and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul -- O wondrous singer!
You only I hear -- yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,)
Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.

14

Now while I sat in the day and look'd forth,
In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring, and the farmers preparing their crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb'd winds and storms,)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sail'd,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of daily usages,
And the streets how their throbbings throbb'd, and the cities pent -- lo, then and there,
Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping me with the rest,
Appear'd the cloud, appear'd the long black trail,
And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.

Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions,
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not,
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars and the ghostly pines so still.

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv'd me,
The gray-brown bird I know received us comrades three,
And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love.

>From deep secluded recesses,
>From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still,
Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol rapt me,
As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night,
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.

Come lovely and soothing death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later delicate death.

Prais'd be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,
And for love, sweet love -- but praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.

Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.

Approach strong deliveress,
When it is so, when you have taken them I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O death.

From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feastings for thee,
And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread sky are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night in silence under many a star,
The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know,
And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil'd death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

Over the treetops I float thee a song,
Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the prairies wide,
Over the dense-packed cities and all the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee O death.

15

To the tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night.

Loud in the pines and cedars dim,
Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume,
And I with my comrades there in the night.

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,
As to long panoramas of visions.

And I saw askant the armies,
I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags,
Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierced with missiles I saw them,
And carried hither and yon through the smoke and torn and bloody,
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (all in silence,)
And the staffs all splinter'd and broken.

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,
I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war,
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer'd not,
The living remain'd and suffer'd, the mother suffer'd,
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer'd,
And the armies that remain'd suffer'd.

16

Passing the visions, passing the night,
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades' hands,
Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul,
Victorious song, death's outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy,
Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,
Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring.

I cease from my song for thee,
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.

Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous'd in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe,
With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep for the dead I loved so well,
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands -- and this for his dear sake,
Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.


O TO make the most jubilant poem!
Even to set off these, and merge with these, the carols of Death.
O full of music! full of manhood, womanhood, infancy!
Full of common employments! full of grain and trees.

O for the voices of animals! O for the swiftness and balance of
fishes!
O for the dropping of rain-drops in a poem!
O for the sunshine, and motion of waves in a poem.

O the joy of my spirit! it is uncaged! it darts like lightning!
It is not enough to have this globe, or a certain time--I will have
thousands of globes, and all time.


O the engineer's joys! 10
To go with a locomotive!
To hear the hiss of steam--the merry shriek--the steam-whistle--the
laughing locomotive!
To push with resistless way, and speed off in the distance.

O the gleesome saunter over fields and hill-sides!
The leaves and flowers of the commonest weeds--the moist fresh
stillness of the woods,
The exquisite smell of the earth at day-break, and all through the
forenoon.

O the horseman's and horsewoman's joys!
The saddle--the gallop--the pressure upon the seat--the cool gurgling
by the ears and hair.


O the fireman's joys!
I hear the alarm at dead of night, 20
I hear bells--shouts!--I pass the crowd--I run!
The sight of the flames maddens me with pleasure.

O the joy of the strong-brawn'd fighter, towering in the arena, in
perfect condition, conscious of power, thirsting to meet his
opponent.

O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which only the human Soul
is capable of generating and emitting in steady and limitless
floods.


O the mother's joys!
The watching--the endurance--the precious love--the anguish--the
patiently yielded life.

O the joy of increase, growth, recuperation;
The joy of soothing and pacifying--the joy of concord and harmony.

O to go back to the place where I was born!
To hear the birds sing once more! 30
To ramble about the house and barn, and over the fields, once more,
And through the orchard and along the old lanes once more.


O male and female!
O the presence of women! (I swear there is nothing more exquisite to
me than the mere presence of women;)
O for the girl, my mate! O for the happiness with my mate!
O the young man as I pass! O I am sick after the friendship of him
who, I fear, is indifferent to me.

O the streets of cities!
The flitting faces--the expressions, eyes, feet, costumes! O I cannot
tell how welcome they are to me.


O to have been brought up on bays, lagoons, creeks, or along the
coast!
O to continue and be employ'd there all my life! 40
O the briny and damp smell--the shore--the salt weeds exposed at low
water,
The work of fishermen--the work of the eel-fisher and clam-fisher.

O it is I!
I come with my clam-rake and spade! I come with my eel-spear;
Is the tide out? I join the group of clam-diggers on the flats,
I laugh and work with them--I joke at my work, like a mettlesome
young man.

In winter I take my eel-basket and eel-spear and travel out on foot
on the ice--I have a small axe to cut holes in the ice;
Behold me, well-clothed, going gaily, or returning in the afternoon--
my brood of tough boys accompaning me,
My brood of grown and part-grown boys, who love to be with no one
else so well as they love to be with me,
By day to work with me, and by night to sleep with me. 50

Or, another time, in warm weather, out in a boat, to lift the
lobster-pots, where they are sunk with heavy stones, (I know
the buoys;)
O the sweetness of the Fifth-month morning upon the water, as I row,
just before sunrise, toward the buoys;
I pull the wicker pots up slantingly--the dark-green lobsters are
desperate with their claws, as I take them out--I insert wooden
pegs in the joints of their pincers,
I go to all the places, one after another, and then row back to the
shore,
There, in a huge kettle of boiling water, the lobsters shall be
boil'd till their color becomes scarlet.

Or, another time, mackerel-taking,
Voracious, mad for the hook, near the surface, they seem to fill the
water for miles:
Or, another time, fishing for rock-fish, in Chesapeake Bay--I one of
the brown-faced crew:
Or, another time, trailing for blue-fish off Paumanok, I stand with
braced body,
My left foot is on the gunwale--my right arm throws the coils of
slender rope, 60
In sight around me the quick veering and darting of fifty skiffs, my
companions.


O boating on the rivers!
The voyage down the Niagara, (the St. Lawrence,)--the superb
scenery--the steamers,
The ships sailing--the Thousand Islands--the occasional timber-raft,
and the raftsmen with long-reaching sweep-oars,
The little huts on the rafts, and the stream of smoke when they cook
their supper at evening.

O something pernicious and dread!
Something far away from a puny and pious life!
Something unproved! Something in a trance!
Something escaped from the anchorage, and driving free.

O to work in mines, or forging iron! 70
Foundry casting--the foundry itself--the rude high roof--the ample
and shadow'd space,
The furnace--the hot liquid pour'd out and running.


O to resume the joys of the soldier:
To feel the presence of a brave general! to feel his sympathy!
To behold his calmness! to be warm'd in the rays of his smile!
To go to battle! to hear the bugles play, and the drums beat!
To hear the crash of artillery! to see the glittering of the bayonets
and musket-barrels in the sun!
To see men fall and die, and not complain!
To taste the savage taste of blood! to be so devilish!
To gloat so over the wounds and deaths of the enemy. 80


O the whaleman's joys! O I cruise my old cruise again!
I feel the ship's motion under me--I feel the Atlantic breezes
fanning me,
I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-head--There--she blows!
--Again I spring up the rigging, to look with the rest--We see--we
descend, wild with excitement,
I leap in the lower'd boat--We row toward our prey, where he lies,
We approach, stealthy and silent--I see the mountainous mass,
lethargic, basking,
I see the harpooneer standing up--I see the weapon dart from his
vigorous arm:
O swift, again, now, far out in the ocean, the wounded whale,
settling, running to windward, tows me;
--Again I see him rise to breathe--We row close again,
I see a lance driven through his side, press'd deep, turn'd in the
wound, 90
Again we back off--I see him settle again--the life is leaving him
fast,
As he rises, he spouts blood--I see him swim in circles narrower and
narrower, swiftly cutting the water--I see him die;
He gives one convulsive leap in the centre of the circle, and then
falls flat and still in the bloody foam.


O the old manhood of me, my joy!
My children and grand-children--my white hair and beard,
My largeness, calmness, majesty, out of the long stretch of my life.

O the ripen'd joy of womanhood!
O perfect happiness at last!
I am more than eighty years of age--my hair, too, is pure white--I am
the most venerable mother;
How clear is my mind! how all people draw nigh to me! 100
What attractions are these, beyond any before? what bloom, more than
the bloom of youth?
What beauty is this that descends upon me, and rises out of me?

O the orator's joys!
To inflate the chest--to roll the thunder of the voice out from the
ribs and throat,
To make the people rage, weep, hate, desire, with yourself,
To lead America--to quell America with a great tongue.

O the joy of my soul leaning pois'd on itself--receiving identity
through materials, and loving them--observing characters, and
absorbing them;
O my soul, vibrated back to me, from them--from facts, sight,
hearing, touch, my phrenology, reason, articulation,
comparison, memory, and the like;
The real life of my senses and flesh, transcending my senses and
flesh;
My body, done with materials--my sight, done with my material
eyes; 110
Proved to me this day, beyond cavil, that it is not my material
eyes which finally see,
Nor my material body which finally loves, walks, laughs, shouts,
embraces, procreates.


O the farmer's joys!
Ohioan's, Illinoisian's, Wisconsinese', Kanadian's, Iowan's,
Kansian's, Missourian's, Oregonese' joys;
To rise at peep of day, and pass forth nimbly to work,
To plow land in the fall for winter-sown crops,
To plough land in the spring for maize,
To train orchards--to graft the trees--to gather apples in the fall.

O the pleasure with trees!
The orchard--the forest--the oak, cedar, pine, pekan-tree, 120
The honey-locust, black-walnut, cottonwood, and magnolia.


O Death! the voyage of Death!
The beautiful touch of Death, soothing and benumbing a few moments,
for reasons;
Myself, discharging my excrementitious body, to be burn'd, or
render'd to powder, or buried,
My real body doubtless left to me for other spheres,
My voided body, nothing more to me, returning to the purifications,
further offices, eternal uses of the earth.


O to bathe in the swimming-bath, or in a good place along shore!
To splash the water! to walk ankle-deep--to race naked along the
shore.

O to realize space!
The plenteousness of all--that there are no bounds; 130
To emerge, and be of the sky--of the sun and moon, and the flying
clouds, as one with them.

O the joy of a manly self-hood!
Personality--to be servile to none--to defer to none--not to any
tyrant, known or unknown,
To walk with erect carriage, a step springy and elastic,
To look with calm gaze, or with a flashing eye,
To speak with a full and sonorous voice, out of a broad chest,
To confront with your personality all the other personalities of the
earth.


Know'st thou the excellent joys of youth?
Joys of the dear companions, and of the merry word, and laughing
face?
Joys of the glad, light-beaming day--joy of the wide-breath'd
games? 140
Joy of sweet music--joy of the lighted ball-room, and the dancers?
Joy of the friendly, plenteous dinner--the strong carouse, and
drinking?


Yet, O my soul supreme!
Know'st thou the joys of pensive thought?
Joys of the free and lonesome heart--the tender, gloomy heart?
Joy of the solitary walk--the spirit bowed yet proud--the suffering
and the struggle?
The agonistic throes, the extasies--joys of the solemn musings, day
or night?
Joys of the thought of Death--the great spheres Time and Space?
Prophetic joys of better, loftier love's ideals--the Divine Wife--the
sweet, eternal, perfect Comrade?
Joys all thine own, undying one--joys worthy thee, O Soul. 150


O, while I live, to be the ruler of life--not a slave,
To meet life as a powerful conqueror,
No fumes--no ennui--no more complaints, or scornful criticisms.

O me repellent and ugly!
To these proud laws of the air, the water, and the ground, proving my
interior Soul impregnable,
And nothing exterior shall ever take command of me.

O to attract by more than attraction!
How it is I know not--yet behold! the something which obeys none of
the rest,
It is offensive, never defensive--yet how magnetic it draws.


O joy of suffering! 160
To struggle against great odds! to meet enemies undaunted!
To be entirely alone with them! to find how much one can stand!
To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, death, face to face!
To mount the scaffold! to advance to the muzzles of guns with perfect
nonchalance!
To be indeed a God!


O, to sail to sea in a ship!
To leave this steady, unendurable land!
To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, the sidewalks and the
houses;
To leave you, O you solid motionless land, and entering a ship,
To sail, and sail, and sail! 170


O to have my life henceforth a poem of new joys!
To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on, float on,
To be a sailor of the world, bound for all ports,
A ship itself, (see indeed these sails I spread to the sun and air,)
A swift and swelling ship, full of rich words--full of joys.

President Lincoln's Burial Hymn


When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd


WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd--and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.


O powerful, western, fallen star!
O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear'd! O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me! 10
O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!


In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the white-wash'd
palings,
Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich
green,
With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume
strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle......and from this bush in the door-yard,
With delicate-color'd blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich
green,
A sprig, with its flower, I break.


In the swamp, in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary, the thrush, 20
The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat!
Death's outlet song of life--(for well, dear brother, I know
If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would'st surely die.)


Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes, and through old woods, (where lately the violets peep'd
from the ground, spotting the gray debris;)
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes--passing the
endless grass;
Passing the yellow-spear'd wheat, every grain from its shroud in the
dark-brown fields uprising;
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards; 30
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.


Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night, with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop'd flags, with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves, as of crape-veil'd women,
standing,
With processions long and winding, and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit--with the silent sea of faces, and the
unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong
and solemn; 40
With all the mournful voices of the dirges, pour'd around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs--Where amid these you
journey,
With the tolling, tolling bells' perpetual clang;
Here! coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac.


(Nor for you, for one, alone;
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring:
For fresh as the morning--thus would I carol a song for you, O sane
and sacred death.

All over bouquets of roses,
O death! I cover you over with roses and early lilies; 50
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
Copious, I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes;
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you, and the coffins all of you, O death.)


O western orb, sailing the heaven!
Now I know what you must have meant, as a month since we walk'd,
As we walk'd up and down in the dark blue so mystic,
As we walk'd in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell, as you bent to me night after
night,
As you droop'd from the sky low down, as if to my side, (while the
other stars all look'd on;) 60
As we wander'd together the solemn night, (for something, I know not
what, kept me from sleep;)
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west, ere you
went, how full you were of woe;
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze, in the cold
transparent night,
As I watch'd where you pass'd and was lost in the netherward black of
the night,
As my soul, in its trouble, dissatisfied, sank, as where you, sad
orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.


Sing on, there in the swamp!
O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes--I hear your call;
I hear--I come presently--I understand you;
But a moment I linger--for the lustrous star has detain'd me; 70
The star, my departing comrade, holds and detains me.


O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be, for the grave of him I love?

Sea-winds, blown from east and west,
Blown from the eastern sea, and blown from the western sea, till
there on the prairies meeting:
These, and with these, and the breath of my chant,
I perfume the grave of him I love.


O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls, 80
To adorn the burial-house of him I love?

Pictures of growing spring, and farms, and homes,
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and
bright,
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking
sun, burning, expanding the air;
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of
the trees prolific;
In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a
wind-dapple here and there;
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky,
and shadows;
And the city at hand, with dwellings so dense, and stacks of
chimneys,
And all the scenes of life, and the workshops, and the workmen
homeward returning.


Lo! body and soul! this land! 90
Mighty Manhattan, with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides,
and the ships;
The varied and ample land--the South and the North in the light--
Ohio's shores, and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies, cover'd with grass and corn.

Lo! the most excellent sun, so calm and haughty;
The violet and purple morn, with just-felt breezes;
The gentle, soft-born, measureless light;
The miracle, spreading, bathing all--the fulfill'd noon;
The coming eve, delicious--the welcome night, and the stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.


Sing on! sing on, you gray-brown bird! 100
Sing from the swamps, the recesses--pour your chant from the bushes;
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.

Sing on, dearest brother--warble your reedy song;
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.

O liquid, and free, and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul! O wondrous singer!
You only I hear......yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart;)
Yet the lilac, with mastering odor, holds me.


Now while I sat in the day, and look'd forth,
In the close of the day, with its light, and the fields of spring,
and the farmer preparing his crops, 110
In the large unconscious scenery of my land, with its lakes and
forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb'd winds, and the
storms;)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the
voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides,--and I saw the ships how they sail'd,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy
with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its
meals and minutia of daily usages;
And the streets, how their throbbings throbb'd, and the cities pent--
lo! then and there,
Falling upon them all, and among them all, enveloping me with the
rest,
Appear'd the cloud, appear'd the long black trail;
And I knew Death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death. 120


Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
And I in the middle, as with companions, and as holding the hands of
companions,
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night, that talks not,
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the
dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars, and ghostly pines so still.

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv'd me;
The gray-brown bird I know, receiv'd us comrades three;
And he sang what seem'd the carol of death, and a verse for him I
love.

From deep secluded recesses, 130
From the fragrant cedars, and the ghostly pines so still,
Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol rapt me,
As I held, as if by their hands, my comrades in the night;
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.

DEATH CAROL.


Come, lovely and soothing Death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later, delicate Death.

Prais'd be the fathomless universe, 140
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious;
And for love, sweet love--But praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death.

Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?

Then I chant it for thee--I glorify thee above all;
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come
unfalteringly.

Approach, strong Deliveress!
When it is so--when thou hast taken them, I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee, 150
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death.

From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose, saluting thee--adornments and feastings
for thee;
And the sights of the open landscape, and the high-spread sky, are
fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night, in silence, under many a star;
The ocean shore, and the husky whispering wave, whose voice I know;
And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veil'd Death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

Over the tree-tops I float thee a song! 160
Over the rising and sinking waves--over the myriad fields, and the
prairies wide;
Over the dense-pack'd cities all, and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!


To the tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure, deliberate notes, spreading, filling the night.

Loud in the pines and cedars dim,
Clear in the freshness moist, and the swamp-perfume;
And I with my comrades there in the night.

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed, 170
As to long panoramas of visions.


I saw askant the armies;
And I saw, as in noiseless dreams, hundreds of battle-flags;
Borne through the smoke of the battles, and pierc'd with missiles, I
saw them,
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody;
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in
silence,)
And the staffs all splinter'd and broken.

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men--I saw them;
I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war; 180
But I saw they were not as was thought;
They themselves were fully at rest--they suffer'd not;
The living remain'd and suffer'd--the mother suffer'd,
And the wife and the child, and the musing comrade suffer'd,
And the armies that remain'd suffer'd.


Passing the visions, passing the night;
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades' hands;
Passing the song of the hermit bird, and the tallying song of my
soul,
(Victorious song, death's outlet song, yet varying, ever-altering
song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding
the night, 190
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again
bursting with joy,
Covering the earth, and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,)
Passing, I leave thee, lilac with heart-shaped leaves;
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring,
I cease from my song for thee;
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with
thee,
O comrade lustrous, with silver face in the night.


Yet each I keep, and all, retrievements out of the night;
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird, 200
And the tallying chant, the echo arous'd in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star, with the countenance full of
woe,
With the lilac tall, and its blossoms of mastering odor;
With the holders holding my hand, nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine, and I in the midst, and their memory ever I keep--for
the dead I loved so well;
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands...and this for
his dear sake;
Lilac and star and bird, twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines, and the cedars dusk and dim.

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