Fast Anchor'D, Eternal, O Love

FAST-ANCHOR'D, eternal, O love! O woman I love!
O bride! O wife! more resistless than I can tell, the thought of you!
--Then separate, as disembodied, or another born,
Ethereal, the last athletic reality, my consolation;
I ascend--I float in the regions of your love, O man,
O sharer of my roving life.

The Voice Of The Rain

And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated:
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea,
Upward to heaven, whence, vaguely form'd, altogether changed, and
yet the same,
I descend to lave the drouths, atomies, dust-layers of the globe,
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn;
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own origin,
and make pure and beautify it;
(For song, issuing from its birth-place, after fulfilment, wandering,
Reck'd or unreck'd, duly with love returns.)

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
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

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
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
Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or
planning a nomination and election? or with your wife and
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,
Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them
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
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
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

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
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

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!

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

FLOOD-TIDE below me! I watch you face to face;
Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see you also face
to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious
you are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning
home, are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to
me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

The impalpable sustenance of me from all things, at all hours of the
The simple, compact, well-join'd scheme--myself disintegrated, every
one disintegrated, yet part of the scheme:
The similitudes of the past, and those of the future;
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings--on
the walk in the street, and the passage over the river;
The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me far away; 10
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them;
The certainty of others--the life, love, sight, hearing of others.

Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross from shore to
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide;
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the
heights of Brooklyn to the south and east;
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half
an hour high;
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others
will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide, the falling
back to the sea of the ebb-tide.

It avails not, neither time or place--distance avails not; 20
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many
generations hence;
I project myself--also I return--I am with you, and know how it is.

Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt;
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd;
Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and the bright
flow, I was refresh'd;
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift
current, I stood, yet was hurried;
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the thick-
stem'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.

I too many and many a time cross'd the river, the sun half an hour
I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls--I saw them high in the air,
floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies, and
left the rest in strong shadow, 30
I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging toward the

I too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams,
Look'd at the fine centrifugal spokes of light around the shape of my
head in the sun-lit water,
Look'd on the haze on the hills southward and southwestward,
Look'd on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet,
Look'd toward the lower bay to notice the arriving ships,
Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me,
Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops--saw the ships at anchor,
The sailors at work in the rigging, or out astride the spars, 40
The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender
serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their pilot-
The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sun-set,
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the
frolicsome crests and glistening,
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of the
granite store-houses by the docks,
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flank'd on
each side by the barges--the hay-boat, the belated lighter,
On the neighboring shore, the fires from the foundry chimneys burning
high and glaringly into the night,
Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild red and yellow
light, over the tops of houses, and down into the clefts of

These, and all else, were to me the same as they are to you; 50
I project myself a moment to tell you--also I return.

I loved well those cities;
I loved well the stately and rapid river;
The men and women I saw were all near to me;
Others the same--others who look back on me, because I look'd forward
to them;
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)

What is it, then, between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?

Whatever it is, it avails not--distance avails not, and place avails

I too lived--Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine; 60
I too walk'd the streets of Manhattan Island, and bathed in the
waters around it;
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,
In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes they came upon me,
In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my bed, they came upon

I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution;
I too had receiv'd identity by my Body;
That I was, I knew was of my body--and what I should be, I knew I
should be of my body.

It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw patches down upon me also;
The best I had done seem'd to me blank and suspicious; 70
My great thoughts, as I supposed them, were they not in reality
meagre? would not people laugh at me?

It is not you alone who know what it is to be evil;
I am he who knew what it was to be evil;
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabb'd, blush'd, resented, lied, stole, grudg'd,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant;
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these
wanting. 80

But I was Manhattanese, friendly and proud!
I was call'd by my nighest name by clear loud voices of young men as
they saw me approaching or passing,
Felt their arms on my neck as I stood, or the negligent leaning of
their flesh against me as I sat,
Saw many I loved in the street, or ferry-boat, or public assembly,
yet never told them a word,
Lived the same life with the rest, the same old laughing, gnawing,
Play'd the part that still looks back on the actor or actress,
The same old role, the role that is what we make it, as great as we
Or as small as we like, or both great and small.

Closer yet I approach you;
What thought you have of me, I had as much of you--I laid in my
stores in advance; 90
I consider'd long and seriously of you before you were born.

Who was to know what should come home to me?
Who knows but I am enjoying this?
Who knows but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot
see me?

It is not you alone, nor I alone;
Not a few races, nor a few generations, nor a few centuries;
It is that each came, or comes, or shall come, from its due emission,
From the general centre of all, and forming a part of all:
Everything indicates--the smallest does, and the largest does;
A necessary film envelopes all, and envelopes the Soul for a proper
time. 100

Now I am curious what sight can ever be more stately and admirable to
me than my mast-hemm'd Manhattan,
My river and sun-set, and my scallop-edg'd waves of flood-tide,
The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in the twilight,
and the belated lighter;
Curious what Gods can exceed these that clasp me by the hand, and
with voices I love call me promptly and loudly by my nighest
name as I approach;
Curious what is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or
man that looks in my face,
Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you.

We understand, then, do we not?
What I promis'd without mentioning it, have you not accepted?
What the study could not teach--what the preaching could not
accomplish, is accomplish'd, is it not?
What the push of reading could not start, is started by me
personally, is it not? 110

Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg'd waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set! drench with your splendor me, or the
men and women generations after me;
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta!--stand up, beautiful hills of
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house, or street, or public
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my
nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or
actress! 120
Play the old role, the role that is great or small, according as one
makes it!

Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may not in unknown ways be
looking upon you;
Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean idly, yet
haste with the hasting current;
Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large circles high in
the air;
Receive the summer sky, you water! and faithfully hold it, till all
downcast eyes have time to take it from you;
Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my head, or any
one's head, in the sun-lit water;
Come on, ships from the lower bay! pass up or down, white-sail'd
schooners, sloops, lighters!
Flaunt away, flags of all nations! be duly lower'd at sunset;
Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast black shadows at
nightfall! cast red and yellow light over the tops of the
Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you are; 130
You necessary film, continue to envelop the soul;
About my body for me, and your body for you, be hung our divinest
Thrive, cities! bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and
sufficient rivers;
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual;
Keep your places, objects than which none else is more lasting.

We descend upon you and all things--we arrest you all;
We realize the soul only by you, you faithful solids and fluids;
Through you color, form, location, sublimity, ideality;
Through you every proof, comparison, and all the suggestions and
determinations of ourselves.

You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers! you
novices! 140
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold yourselves
from us;
We use you, and do not cast you aside--we plant you permanently
within us;
We fathom you not--we love you--there is perfection in you also;
You furnish your parts toward eternity;
Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.

Carol Of Occupations

COME closer to me;
Push close, my lovers, and take the best I possess;
Yield closer and closer, and give me the best you possess.

This is unfinish'd business with me--How is it with you?
(I was chill'd with the cold types, cylinder, wet paper between us.)

Male and Female!
I pass so poorly with paper and types, I must pass with the contact
of bodies and souls.

American masses!
I do not thank you for liking me as I am, and liking the touch of
me--I know that it is good for you to do so.

This is the carol of occupations; 10
In the labor of engines and trades, and the labor of fields, I find the developments,
And find the eternal meanings.

Workmen and Workwomen!
Were all educations, practical and ornamental, well display'd out of
me, what would it amount to?
Were I as the head teacher, charitable proprietor, wise statesman,
what would it amount to?
Were I to you as the boss employing and paying you, would that
satisfy you?

The learn'd, virtuous, benevolent, and the usual terms;
A man like me, and never the usual terms.

Neither a servant nor a master am I;
I take no sooner a large price than a small price--I will have my
own, whoever enjoys me; 20
I will be even with you, and you shall be even with me.

If you stand at work in a shop, I stand as nigh as the nighest in the
same shop;
If you bestow gifts on your brother or dearest friend, I demand as
good as your brother or dearest friend;
If your lover, husband, wife, is welcome by day or night, I must be
personally as welcome;
If you become degraded, criminal, ill, then I become so for your
If you remember your foolish and outlaw'd deeds, do you think I
cannot remember my own foolish and outlaw'd deeds?
If you carouse at the table, I carouse at the opposite side of the
If you meet some stranger in the streets, and love him or her--why I
often meet strangers in the street, and love them.

Why, what have you thought of yourself?
Is it you then that thought yourself less? 30
Is it you that thought the President greater than you?
Or the rich better off than you? or the educated wiser than you?

Because you are greasy or pimpled, or that you were once drunk, or a
Or diseas'd, or rheumatic, or a prostitute--or are so now;
Or from frivolity or impotence, or that you are no scholar, and never
saw your name in print,
Do you give in that you are any less immortal?

Souls of men and women! it is not you I call unseen, unheard,
untouchable and untouching;
It is not you I go argue pro and con about, and to settle whether you
are alive or no;
I own publicly who you are, if nobody else owns.

Grown, half-grown, and babe, of this country and every country, in-
doors and out-doors, one just as much as the other, I see, 40
And all else behind or through them.

The wife--and she is not one jot less than the husband;
The daughter--and she is just as good as the son;
The mother--and she is every bit as much as the father.

Offspring of ignorant and poor, boys apprenticed to trades,
Young fellows working on farms, and old fellows working on farms,
Sailor-men, merchant-men, coasters, immigrants,
All these I see--but nigher and farther the same I see;
None shall escape me, and none shall wish to escape me.

I bring what you much need, yet always have, 50
Not money, amours, dress, eating, but as good;
I send no agent or medium, offer no representative of value, but
offer the value itself.

There is something that comes home to one now and perpetually;
It is not what is printed, preach'd, discussed--it eludes discussion
and print;
It is not to be put in a book--it is not in this book;
It is for you, whoever you are--it is no farther from you than your
hearing and sight are from you;
It is hinted by nearest, commonest, readiest--it is ever provoked by

You may read in many languages, yet read nothing about it;
You may read the President's Message, and read nothing about it
Nothing in the reports from the State department or Treasury
department, or in the daily papers or the weekly papers, 60
Or in the census or revenue returns, prices current, or any accounts
of stock.

The sun and stars that float in the open air;
The apple-shaped earth, and we upon it--surely the drift of them is
something grand!
I do not know what it is, except that it is grand, and that it is
And that the enclosing purport of us here is not a speculation, or
bon-mot, or reconnoissance,
And that it is not something which by luck may turn out well for us,
and without luck must be a failure for us,
And not something which may yet be retracted in a certain

The light and shade, the curious sense of body and identity, the
greed that with perfect complaisance devours all things, the
endless pride and out-stretching of man, unspeakable joys and
The wonder every one sees in every one else he sees, and the wonders
that fill each minute of time forever,
What have you reckon'd them for, camerado? 70
Have you reckon'd them for a trade, or farm-work? or for the profits
of a store?
Or to achieve yourself a position? or to fill a gentleman's leisure,
or a lady's leisure?

Have you reckon'd the landscape took substance and form that it might
be painted in a picture?
Or men and women that they might be written of, and songs sung?
Or the attraction of gravity, and the great laws and harmonious
combinations, and the fluids of the air, as subjects for the
Or the brown land and the blue sea for maps and charts?
Or the stars to be put in constellations and named fancy names?
Or that the growth of seeds is for agricultural tables, or
agriculture itself?

Old institutions--these arts, libraries, legends, collections, and
the practice handed along in manufactures--will we rate them so
Will we rate our cash and business high?--I have no objection; 80
I rate them as high as the highest--then a child born of a woman and
man I rate beyond all rate.

We thought our Union grand, and our Constitution grand;
I do not say they are not grand and good, for they are;
I am this day just as much in love with them as you;
Then I am in love with you, and with all my fellows upon the earth.

We consider bibles and religions divine--I do not say they are not
I say they have all grown out of you, and may grow out of you still;
It is not they who give the life--it is you who give the life;
Leaves are not more shed from the trees, or trees from the earth,
than they are shed out of you.

When the psalm sings instead of the singer; 90
When the script preaches instead of the preacher;
When the pulpit descends and goes, instead of the carver that carved
the supporting desk;
When I can touch the body of books, by night or by day, and when they
touch my body back again;
When a university course convinces, like a slumbering woman and child
When the minted gold in the vault smiles like the night-watchman's
When warrantee deeds loafe in chairs opposite, and are my friendly
I intend to reach them my hand, and make as much of them as I do of
men and women like you.

The sum of all known reverence I add up in you, whoever you are;
The President is there in the White House for you--it is not you who
are here for him;
The Secretaries act in their bureaus for you--not you here for
them; 100
The Congress convenes every Twelfth-month for you;
Laws, courts, the forming of States, the charters of cities, the
going and coming of commerce and mails, are all for you.

List close, my scholars dear!
All doctrines, all politics and civilization, exurge from you;
All sculpture and monuments, and anything inscribed anywhere, are
tallied in you;
The gist of histories and statistics as far back as the records
reach, is in you this hour, and myths and tales the same;
If you were not breathing and walking here, where would they all be?
The most renown'd poems would be ashes, orations and plays would be

All architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it;
(Did you think it was in the white or gray stone? or the lines of the
arches and cornices?) 110

All music is what awakes from you when you are reminded by the
It is not the violins and the cornets--it is not the oboe nor the
beating drums, nor the score of the baritone singer singing
his sweet romanza--nor that of the men's chorus, nor that of
the women's chorus,
It is nearer and farther than they.

Will the whole come back then?
Can each see signs of the best by a look in the looking-glass? is
there nothing greater or more?
Does all sit there with you, with the mystic, unseen Soul?

Strange and hard that paradox true I give;
Objects gross and the unseen Soul are one.

House-building, measuring, sawing the boards;
Blacksmithing, glass-blowing, nail-making, coopering, tin-roofing,
shingle-dressing, 120
Ship-joining, dock-building, fish-curing, ferrying, flagging of side-
walks by flaggers,
The pump, the pile-driver, the great derrick, the coal-kiln and
Coal-mines, and all that is down there,--the lamps in the darkness,
echoes, songs, what meditations, what vast native thoughts
looking through smutch'd faces,
Iron-works, forge-fires in the mountains, or by the river-banks--men
around feeling the melt with huge crowbars--lumps of ore, the
due combining of ore, limestone, coal--the blast-furnace and
the puddling-furnace, the loup-lump at the bottom of the melt
at last--the rolling-mill, the stumpy bars of pig-iron, the
strong, clean-shaped T-rail for railroads;
Oil-works, silk-works, white-lead-works, the sugar-house, steam-saws,
the great mills and factories;
Stone-cutting, shapely trimmings for façades, or window or door-
lintels--the mallet, the tooth-chisel, the jib to protect the
Oakum, the oakum-chisel, the caulking-iron--the kettle of boiling
vault-cement, and the fire under the kettle,
The cotton-bale, the stevedore's hook, the saw and buck of the
sawyer, the mould of the moulder, the working-knife of the
butcher, the ice-saw, and all the work with ice,
The implements for daguerreotyping--the tools of the rigger,
grappler, sail-maker, block-maker,
Goods of gutta-percha, papier-maché, colors, brushes, brush-making,
glazier's implements, 130

O you robust, sacred!
I cannot tell you how I love you;
All I love America for, is contained in men and women like you.

The veneer and glue-pot, the confectioner's ornaments, the decanter
and glasses, the shears and flat-iron,
The awl and knee-strap, the pint measure and quart measure, the
counter and stool, the writing-pen of quill or metal--the
making of all sorts of edged tools,
The brewery, brewing, the malt, the vats, every thing that is done by
brewers, also by wine-makers, also vinegar-makers,
Leather-dressing, coach-making, boiler-making, rope-twisting,
distilling, sign-painting, lime-burning, cotton-picking--
electro-plating, electrotyping, stereotyping,
Stave-machines, planing-machines, reaping-machines, ploughing-
machines, thrashing-machines, steam wagons,
The cart of the carman, the omnibus, the ponderous dray;
Pyrotechny, letting off color'd fire-works at night, fancy figures
and jets;
Beef on the butcher's stall, the slaughter-house of the butcher, the
butcher in his killing-clothes,
The pens of live pork, the killing-hammer, the hog-hook, the
scalder's tub, gutting, the cutter's cleaver, the packer's
maul, and the plenteous winter-work of pork-packing;
Flour-works, grinding of wheat, rye, maize, rice--the barrels and the
half and quarter barrels, the loaded barges, the high piles on
wharves and levees; 140
The men, and the work of the men, on railroads, coasters, fish-boats,
The daily routine of your own or any man's life--the shop, yard,
store, or factory;
These shows all near you by day and night--workman! whoever you are,
your daily life!
In that and them the heft of the heaviest--in them far more than you
estimated, and far less also;
In them realities for you and me--in them poems for you and me;
In them, not yourself--you and your Soul enclose all things,
regardless of estimation;
In them the development good--in them, all themes and hints.

I do not affirm what you see beyond is futile--I do not advise you to
I do not say leadings you thought great are not great;
But I say that none lead to greater, than those lead to. 150

Will you seek afar off? you surely come back at last,
In things best known to you, finding the best, or as good as the
In folks nearest to you finding the sweetest, strongest, lovingest;
Happiness, knowledge, not in another place, but this place--not for
another hour, but this hour;
Man in the first you see or touch--always in friend, brother, nighest
neighbor--Woman in mother, lover, wife;
The popular tastes and employments taking precedence in poems or any
You workwomen and workmen of These States having your own divine and
strong life,
And all else giving place to men and women like you.

O TAKE my hand, Walt Whitman!
Such gliding wonders! such sights and sounds!
Such join'd unended links, each hook'd to the next!
Each answering all--each sharing the earth with all.

What widens within you, Walt Whitman?
What waves and soils exuding?
What climes? what persons and lands are here?
Who are the infants? some playing, some slumbering?
Who are the girls? who are the married women?
Who are the groups of old men going slowly with their arms about each
other's necks? 10
What rivers are these? what forests and fruits are these?
What are the mountains call'd that rise so high in the mists?
What myriads of dwellings are they, fill'd with dwellers?

Within me latitude widens, longitude lengthens;
Asia, Africa, Europe, are to the east--America is provided for in the
Banding the bulge of the earth winds the hot equator,
Curiously north and south turn the axis-ends;
Within me is the longest day--the sun wheels in slanting rings--it
does not set for months;
Stretch'd in due time within me the midnight sun just rises above the
horizon, and sinks again;
Within me zones, seas, cataracts, plants, volcanoes, groups, 20
Malaysia, Polynesia, and the great West Indian islands.

What do you hear, Walt Whitman?

I hear the workman singing, and the farmer's wife singing;
I hear in the distance the sounds of children, and of animals early
in the day;
I hear quick rifle-cracks from the riflemen of East Tennessee and
Kentucky, hunting on hills;
I hear emulous shouts of Australians, pursuing the wild horse;
I hear the Spanish dance, with castanets, in the chestnut shade, to
the rebeck and guitar;
I hear continual echoes from the Thames;
I hear fierce French liberty songs;
I hear of the Italian boat-sculler the musical recitative of old
poems; 30
I hear the Virginia plantation-chorus of negroes, of a harvest night,
in the glare of pine-knots;
I hear the strong baritone of the 'long-shore-men of Mannahatta;
I hear the stevedores unlading the cargoes, and singing;
I hear the screams of the water-fowl of solitary north-west lakes;
I hear the rustling pattering of locusts, as they strike the grain
and grass with the showers of their terrible clouds;
I hear the Coptic refrain, toward sundown, pensively falling on the
breast of the black venerable vast mother, the Nile;
I hear the bugles of raft-tenders on the streams of Kanada;
I hear the chirp of the Mexican muleteer, and the bells of the mule;
I hear the Arab muezzin, calling from the top of the mosque;
I hear the Christian priests at the altars of their churches--I hear
the responsive bass and soprano; 40
I hear the wail of utter despair of the white-hair'd Irish
grandparents, when they learn the death of their grandson;
I hear the cry of the Cossack, and the sailor's voice, putting to sea
at Okotsk;
I hear the wheeze of the slave-coffle, as the slaves march on--as the
husky gangs pass on by twos and threes, fasten'd together with
wrist-chains and ankle-chains;
I hear the entreaties of women tied up for punishment--I hear the
sibilant whisk of thongs through the air;
I hear the Hebrew reading his records and psalms;
I hear the rhythmic myths of the Greeks, and the strong legends of
the Romans;
I hear the tale of the divine life and bloody death of the beautiful
God--the Christ;
I hear the Hindoo teaching his favorite pupil the loves, wars,
adages, transmitted safely to this day, from poets who wrote
three thousand years ago.

What do you see, Walt Whitman?
Who are they you salute, and that one after another salute you? 50

I see a great round wonder rolling through the air;
I see diminute farms, hamlets, ruins, grave-yards, jails, factories,
palaces, hovels, huts of barbarians, tents of nomads, upon the
I see the shaded part on one side, where the sleepers are sleeping--
and the sun-lit part on the other side,
I see the curious silent change of the light and shade,
I see distant lands, as real and near to the inhabitants of them, as
my land is to me.

I see plenteous waters;
I see mountain peaks--I see the sierras of Andes and Alleghanies,
where they range;
I see plainly the Himalayas, Chian Shahs, Altays, Ghauts;
I see the giant pinnacles of Elbruz, Kazbek, Bazardjusi,
I see the Rocky Mountains, and the Peak of Winds; 60
I see the Styrian Alps, and the Karnac Alps;
I see the Pyrenees, Balks, Carpathians--and to the north the
Dofrafields, and off at sea Mount Hecla;
I see Vesuvius and Etna--I see the Anahuacs;
I see the Mountains of the Moon, and the Snow Mountains, and the Red
Mountains of Madagascar;
I see the Vermont hills, and the long string of Cordilleras;
I see the vast deserts of Western America;
I see the Lybian, Arabian, and Asiatic deserts;
I see huge dreadful Arctic and Antarctic icebergs;
I see the superior oceans and the inferior ones--the Atlantic and
Pacific, the sea of Mexico, the Brazilian sea, and the sea of
The Japan waters, those of Hindostan, the China Sea, and the Gulf of
Guinea, 70
The spread of the Baltic, Caspian, Bothnia, the British shores, and
the Bay of Biscay,
The clear-sunn'd Mediterranean, and from one to another of its
The inland fresh-tasted seas of North America,
The White Sea, and the sea around Greenland.

I behold the mariners of the world;
Some are in storms--some in the night, with the watch on the look-
Some drifting helplessly--some with contagious diseases.

I behold the sail and steamships of the world, some in clusters in
port, some on their voyages;
Some double the Cape of Storms--some Cape Verde,--others Cape
Guardafui, Bon, or Bajadore;
Others Dondra Head--others pass the Straits of Sunda--others Cape
Lopatka--others Behring's Straits; 80
Others Cape Horn--others sail the Gulf of Mexico, or along Cuba or
Hayti--others Hudson's Bay or Baffin's Bay;
Others pass the Straits of Dover--others enter the Wash--others the
Firth of Solway--others round Cape Clear--others the Land's
Others traverse the Zuyder Zee, or the Scheld;
Others add to the exits and entrances at Sandy Hook;
Others to the comers and goers at Gibraltar, or the Dardanelles;
Others sternly push their way through the northern winter-packs;
Others descend or ascend the Obi or the Lena;
Others the Niger or the Congo--others the Indus, the Burampooter and
Others wait at the wharves of Manhattan, steam'd up, ready to start;
Wait, swift and swarthy, in the ports of Australia; 90
Wait at Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, Marseilles, Lisbon, Naples,
Hamburg, Bremen, Bordeaux, the Hague, Copenhagen;
Wait at Valparaiso, Rio Janeiro, Panama;
Wait at their moorings at Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore,
Charleston, New Orleans, Galveston, San Francisco.

I see the tracks of the rail-roads of the earth;
I see them welding State to State, city to city, through North
I see them in Great Britain, I see them in Europe;
I see them in Asia and in Africa.

I see the electric telegraphs of the earth;
I see the filaments of the news of the wars, deaths, losses, gains,
passions, of my race.

I see the long river-stripes of the earth; 100
I see where the Mississippi flows--I see where the Columbia flows;
I see the Great River and the Falls of Niagara;
I see the Amazon and the Paraguay;
I see the four great rivers of China, the Amour, the Yellow River,
the Yiang-tse, and the Pearl;
I see where the Seine flows, and where the Danube, the Loire, the
Rhone, and the Guadalquiver flow;
I see the windings of the Volga, the Dnieper, the Oder;
I see the Tuscan going down the Arno, and the Venetian along the Po;
I see the Greek seaman sailing out of Egina bay.

I see the site of the old empire of
Assyria, and that of Persia, and
that of India;
I see the falling of the Ganges over the high rim of Saukara. 110

I see the place of the idea of the Deity incarnated by avatars in
human forms;
I see the spots of the successions of priests on the earth--oracles,
sacrificers, brahmins, sabians, lamas, monks, muftis,
I see where druids walked the groves of Mona--I see the mistletoe and
I see the temples of the deaths of the bodies of Gods--I see the old

I see Christ once more eating the bread of his last supper, in the
midst of youths and old persons;
I see where the strong divine young man, the Hercules, toil'd
faithfully and long, and then died;
I see the place of the innocent rich life and hapless fate of the
beautiful nocturnal son, the full-limb'd Bacchus;
I see Kneph, blooming, drest in blue, with the crown of feathers on
his head;
I see Hermes, unsuspected, dying, well-beloved, saying to the people,
Do not weep for me,
This is not my true country, I have lived banish'd from my true
country--I now go back there, 120
I return to the celestial sphere, where every one goes in his

I see the battle-fields of the earth--grass grows upon them, and
blossoms and corn;
I see the tracks of ancient and modern expeditions.

I see the nameless masonries, venerable messages of the unknown
events, heroes, records of the earth.

I see the places of the sagas;
I see pine-trees and fir-trees torn by northern blasts;
I see granite boulders and cliffs--I see green meadows and lakes;
I see the burial-cairns of Scandinavian warriors;
I see them raised high with stones, by the marge of restless oceans,
that the dead men's spirits, when they wearied of their quiet
graves, might rise up through the mounds, and gaze on the
tossing billows, and be refresh'd by storms, immensity,
liberty, action.
I see the steppes of Asia; 130
I see the tumuli of Mongolia--I see the tents of Kalmucks and
I see the nomadic tribes, with herds of oxen and cows;
I see the table-lands notch'd with ravines--I see the jungles and
I see the camel, the wild steed, the bustard, the fat-tail'd sheep,
the antelope, and the burrowing wolf.

I see the high-lands of Abyssinia;
I see flocks of goats feeding, and see the fig-tree, tamarind, date,
And see fields of teff-wheat, and see the places of verdure and gold.

I see the Brazilian vaquero;
I see the Bolivian ascending Mount Sorata;
I see the Wacho crossing the plains--I see the incomparable rider of
horses with his lasso on his arm; 140
I see over the pampas the pursuit of wild cattle for their hides.

I see little and large sea-dots, some inhabited, some uninhabited;
I see two boats with nets, lying off the shore of Paumanok, quite
I see ten fishermen waiting--they discover now a thick school of
mossbonkers--they drop the join'd seine-ends in the water,
The boats separate--they diverge and row off, each on its rounding
course to the beach, enclosing the mossbonkers;
The net is drawn in by a windlass by those who stop ashore,
Some of the fishermen lounge in their boats--others stand negligently
ankle-deep in the water, pois'd on strong legs;
The boats are partly drawn up--the water slaps against them;
On the sand, in heaps and winrows, well out from the water, lie the
green-back'd spotted mossbonkers.

I see the despondent red man in the west, lingering about the banks
of Moingo, and about Lake Pepin; 150
He has heard the quail and beheld the honey-bee, and sadly prepared
to depart.

I see the regions of snow and ice;
I see the sharp-eyed Samoiede and the Finn;
I see the seal-seeker in his boat, poising his lance;
I see the Siberian on his slight-built sledge, drawn by dogs;
I see the porpoise-hunters--I see the whale-crews of the South
Pacific and the North Atlantic;
I see the cliffs, glaciers, torrents, valleys, of Switzerland--I mark
the long winters, and the isolation.

I see the cities of the earth, and make myself at random a part of
I am a real Parisian;
I am a habitan of Vienna, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Constantinople; 160
I am of Adelaide, Sidney, Melbourne;
I am of London, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Limerick;
I am of Madrid, Cadiz, Barcelona, Oporto, Lyons, Brussels, Berne,
Frankfort, Stuttgart, Turin, Florence;
I belong in Moscow, Cracow, Warsaw--or northward in Christiania or
Stockholm--or in Siberian Irkutsk--or in some street in
I descend upon all those cities, and rise from them again.

I see vapors exhaling from unexplored countries;
I see the savage types, the bow and arrow, the poison'd splint, the
fetish, and the obi.

I see African and Asiatic towns;
I see Algiers, Tripoli, Derne, Mogadore, Timbuctoo, Monrovia;
I see the swarms of Pekin, Canton, Benares, Delhi, Calcutta,
Yedo; 170
I see the Kruman in his hut, and the Dahoman and Ashanteeman in their
I see the Turk smoking opium in Aleppo;
I see the picturesque crowds at the fairs of Khiva, and those of
I see Teheran--I see Muscat and Medina, and the intervening sands--I
see the caravans toiling onward;
I see Egypt and the Egyptians--I see the pyramids and obelisks;
I look on chisel'd histories, songs, philosophies, cut in slabs of
sand-stone, or on granite-blocks;
I see at Memphis mummy-pits, containing mummies, embalm'd, swathed in
linen cloth, lying there many centuries;
I look on the fall'n Theban, the large-ball'd eyes, the side-drooping
neck, the hands folded across the breast.

I see the menials of the earth, laboring;
I see the prisoners in the prisons; 180
I see the defective human bodies of the earth;
I see the blind, the deaf and dumb, idiots, hunchbacks, lunatics;
I see the pirates, thieves, betrayers, murderers, slave-makers of the
I see the helpless infants, and the helpless old men and women.

I see male and female everywhere;
I see the serene brotherhood of philosophs;
I see the constructiveness of my race;
I see the results of the perseverance and industry of my race;
I see ranks, colors, barbarisms, civilizations--I go among them--I
mix indiscriminately,
And I salute all the inhabitants of the earth. 190

You, whoever you are!
You daughter or son of England!
You of the mighty Slavic tribes and empires! you Russ in Russia!
You dim-descended, black, divine-soul'd African, large, fine-headed,
nobly-form'd, superbly destin'd, on equal terms with me!
You Norwegian! Swede! Dane! Icelander! you Prussian!
You Spaniard of Spain! you Portuguese!
You Frenchwoman and Frenchman of France!
You Belge! you liberty-lover of the Netherlands!
You sturdy Austrian! you Lombard! Hun! Bohemian! farmer of Styria!
You neighbor of the Danube! 200
You working-man of the Rhine, the Elbe, or the Weser! you working-
woman too!
You Sardinian! you Bavarian! Swabian! Saxon! Wallachian! Bulgarian!
You citizen of Prague! Roman! Neapolitan! Greek!
You lithe matador in the arena at Seville!
You mountaineer living lawlessly on the Taurus or Caucasus!
You Bokh horse-herd, watching your mares and stallions feeding!
You beautiful-bodied Persian, at full speed in the saddle, shooting
arrows to the mark!
You Chinaman and Chinawoman of China! you Tartar of Tartary!
You women of the earth subordinated at your tasks!
You Jew journeying in your old age through every risk, to stand once
on Syrian ground! 210
You other Jews waiting in all lands for your Messiah!
You thoughtful Armenian, pondering by some stream of the Euphrates!
you peering amid the ruins of Nineveh! you ascending Mount
You foot-worn pilgrim welcoming the far-away sparkle of the minarets
of Mecca!
You sheiks along the stretch from Suez to Bab-el-mandeb, ruling your
families and tribes!
You olive-grower tending your fruit on fields of Nazareth, Damascus,
or Lake Tiberias!
You Thibet trader on the wide inland, or bargaining in the shops of
You Japanese man or woman! you liver in Madagascar, Ceylon, Sumatra,
All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, indifferent
of place!
All you on the numberless islands of the archipelagoes of the sea!
And you of centuries hence, when you listen to me! 220
And you, each and everywhere, whom I specify not, but include just
the same!
Health to you! Good will to you all--from me and America sent.

Each of us inevitable;
Each of us limitless--each of us with his or her right upon the
Each of us allow'd the eternal purports of the earth;
Each of us here as divinely as any is here.

You Hottentot with clicking palate! You woolly-hair'd hordes!
You own'd persons, dropping sweat-drops or blood-drops!
You human forms with the fathomless ever-impressive countenances of
I dare not refuse you--the scope of the world, and of time and space,
are upon me. 230

You poor koboo whom the meanest of the rest look down upon, for all
your glimmering language and spirituality!
You low expiring aborigines of the hills of Utah, Oregon, California!
You dwarf'd Kamtschatkan, Greenlander, Lapp!
You Austral negro, naked, red, sooty, with protrusive lip,
grovelling, seeking your food!
You Caffre, Berber, Soudanese!
You haggard, uncouth, untutor'd, Bedowee!
You plague-swarms in Madras, Nankin, Kaubul, Cairo!
You bather bathing in the Ganges!
You benighted roamer of Amazonia! you Patagonian! you Fejee-man!
You peon of Mexico! you slave of Carolina, Texas, Tennessee! 240
I do not prefer others so very much before you either;
I do not say one word against you, away back there, where you stand;
(You will come forward in due time to my side.)

My spirit has pass'd in compassion and determination around the whole
I have look'd for equals and lovers, and found them ready for me in
all lands;
I think some divine rapport has equalized me with them.

O vapors! I think I have risen with you, and moved away to distant
continents, and fallen down there, for reasons;
I think I have blown with you, O winds;
O waters, I have finger'd every shore with you.

I have run through what any river or strait of the globe has run
through; 250
I have taken my stand on the bases of peninsulas, and on the high
embedded rocks, to cry thence.

Salut au monde!
What cities the light or warmth penetrates, I penetrate those cities
All islands to which birds wing their way, I wing my way myself.

Toward all,
I raise high the perpendicular hand--I make the signal,
To remain after me in sight forever,
For all the haunts and homes of men.

Starting From Paumanok

STARTING from fish-shape Paumanok, where I was born,
Well-begotten, and rais'd by a perfect mother;
After roaming many lands--lover of populous pavements;
Dweller in Mannahatta, my city--or on
southern savannas;
Or a soldier camp'd, or carrying my knapsack and gun--or a miner in
Or rude in my home in Dakota's woods, my diet meat, my drink from the
Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep recess,
Far from the clank of crowds, intervals passing, rapt and happy;
Aware of the fresh free giver, the flowing Missouri--aware of mighty
Aware of the buffalo herds, grazing the plains--the hirsute and
strong-breasted bull; 10
Of earth, rocks, Fifth-month flowers, experienced--stars, rain, snow,
my amaze;
Having studied the mocking-bird's tones, and the mountainhawk's,
And heard at dusk the unrival'd one, the hermit thrush from the
Solitary, singing in the West, I strike up for a New World.

Victory, union, faith, identity, time,
The indissoluble compacts, riches, mystery,
Eternal progress, the kosmos, and the modern reports.

This, then, is life;
Here is what has come to the surface after so many throes and

How curious! how real! 20
Underfoot the divine soil--overhead the sun.

See, revolving, the globe;
The ancestor-continents, away, group'd together;
The present and future continents, north and south, with the isthmus

See, vast, trackless spaces;
As in a dream, they change, they swiftly fill;
Countless masses debouch upon them;
They are now cover'd with the foremost people, arts, institutions,

See, projected, through time,
For me, an audience interminable. 30

With firm and regular step they wend--they never stop,
Successions of men, Americanos, a hundred millions;
One generation playing its part, and passing on;
Another generation playing its part, and passing on in its turn,
With faces turn'd sideways or backward towards me, to listen,
With eyes retrospective towards me,

Americanos! conquerors! marches humanitarian;
Foremost! century marches! Libertad! masses!
For you a programme of chants.

Chants of the prairies; 40
Chants of the long-running Mississippi, and down to the Mexican sea;
Chants of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota;
Chants going forth from the centre, from Kansas, and thence, equi-
Shooting in pulses of fire, ceaseless, to vivify all.

In the Year 80 of The States,
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here, from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-six years old, in perfect health, begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance, 50
(Retiring back a while, sufficed at what they are, but never
I harbor, for good or bad--I permit to speak, at every hazard,
Nature now without check, with original energy.

Take my leaves, America! take them, South, and take them, North!
Make welcome for them everywhere, for they are your own offspring;
Surround them, East and West! for they would surround you;
And you precedents! connect lovingly with them, for they connect
lovingly with you.

I conn'd old times;
I sat studying at the feet of the great masters:
Now, if eligible, O that the great masters might return and study
me! 60

In the name of These States, shall I scorn the antique?
Why These are the children of the antique, to justify it.

Dead poets, philosophs, priests,
Martyrs, artists, inventors, governments long since,
Language-shapers, on other shores,
Nations once powerful, now reduced, withdrawn, or desolate,
I dare not proceed till I respectfully credit what you have left,
wafted hither:
I have perused it--own it is admirable,
(moving awhile among it;)
Think nothing can ever be greater--nothing can ever deserve more than
it deserves;
Regarding it all intently a long while--then dismissing it, 70
I stand in my place, with my own day, here.

Here lands female and male;
Here the heir-ship and heiress-ship of the world--here the flame of
Here Spirituality, the translatress, the openly-avow'd,
The ever-tending, the finale of visible forms;
The satisfier, after due long-waiting, now advancing,
Yes, here comes my mistress, the Soul.

Forever and forever--longer than soil is brown and solid--longer than
water ebbs and flows.

I will make the poems of materials, for I think they are to be the
most spiritual poems; 80
And I will make the poems of my body and of mortality,
For I think I shall then supply myself with the poems of my Soul, and
of immortality.

I will make a song for These States, that no-one State may under any
circumstances be subjected to another State;
And I will make a song that there shall be comity by day and by night
between all The States, and between any two of them:
And I will make a song for the ears of the President, full of weapons
with menacing points,
And behind the weapons countless dissatisfied faces:
--And a song make I, of the One form'd out of all;
The fang'd and glittering One whose head is over all;
Resolute, warlike One, including and over all;
(However high the head of any else, that head is over all.) 90

I will acknowledge contemporary lands;
I will trail the whole geography of the globe, and salute courteously
every city large and small;
And employments! I will put in my poems, that with you is heroism,
upon land and sea;
And I will report all heroism from an American point of view.

I will sing the song of companionship;
I will show what alone must finally compact These;
I believe These are to found their own ideal of manly love,
indicating it in me;
I will therefore let flame from me the burning fires that were
threatening to consume me;
I will lift what has too long kept down those smouldering fires;
I will give them complete abandonment; 100
I will write the evangel-poem of comrades, and of love;
(For who but I should understand love, with all its sorrow and joy?
And who but I should be the poet of comrades?)

I am the credulous man of qualities, ages, races;
I advance from the people in their own spirit;
Here is what sings unrestricted faith.

Omnes! Omnes! let others ignore what they may;
I make the poem of evil also--I commemorate that part also;
I am myself just as much evil as good, and my nation is--And I say
there is in fact no evil;
(Or if there is, I say it is just as important to you, to the land,
or to me, as anything else.) 110

I too, following many, and follow'd by many, inaugurate a Religion--I
descend into the arena;
(It may be I am destin'd to utter the loudest cries there, the
winner's pealing shouts;
Who knows? they may rise from me yet, and soar above every thing.)

Each is not for its own sake;
I say the whole earth, and all the stars in the sky, are for
Religion's sake.

I say no man has ever yet been half devout enough;
None has ever yet adored or worship'd half enough;
None has begun to think how divine he himself is, and how certain the
future is.

I say that the real and permanent grandeur of These States must be
their Religion;
Otherwise there is no real and permanent grandeur: 120
(Nor character, nor life worthy the name, without Religion;
Nor land, nor man or woman, without Religion.)

What are you doing, young man?
Are you so earnest--so given up to literature, science, art, amours?
These ostensible realities, politics, points?
Your ambition or business, whatever it may be?

It is well--Against such I say not a word--I am their poet also;
But behold! such swiftly subside--burnt up for Religion's sake;
For not all matter is fuel to heat, impalpable flame, the essential
life of the earth,
Any more than such are to Religion. 130

What do you seek, so pensive and silent?
What do you need, Camerado?
Dear son! do you think it is love?

Listen, dear son--listen, America, daughter or son!
It is a painful thing to love a man or woman to excess--and yet it
satisfies--it is great;
But there is something else very great--it makes the whole coincide;
It, magnificent, beyond materials, with continuous hands, sweeps and
provides for all.

Know you! solely to drop in the earth the germs of a greater
The following chants, each for its kind, I sing.

My comrade! 140
For you, to share with me, two greatnesses--and a third one, rising
inclusive and more resplendent,
The greatness of Love and Democracy--and the greatness of Religion.

Melange mine own! the unseen and the seen;
Mysterious ocean where the streams empty;
Prophetic spirit of materials shifting and flickering around me;
Living beings, identities, now doubtless near us, in the air, that we
know not of;
Contact daily and hourly that will not release me;
These selecting--these, in hints, demanded of me.

Not he, with a daily kiss, onward from childhood kissing me,
Has winded and twisted around me that which holds me to him, 150
Any more than I am held to the heavens, to the spiritual world,
And to the identities of the Gods, my lovers, faithful and true,
After what they have done to me, suggesting themes.

O such themes! Equalities!
O amazement of things! O divine average!
O warblings under the sun--usher'd, as now, or at noon, or setting!
O strain, musical, flowing through ages--now reaching hither!
I take to your reckless and composite chords--I add to them, and
cheerfully pass them forward.

As I have walk'd in Alabama my morning walk,
I have seen where the she-bird, the mocking-bird, sat on her nest in
the briers, hatching her brood. 160

I have seen the he-bird also;
I have paused to hear him, near at hand, inflating his throat, and
joyfully singing.

And while I paused, it came to me that what he really sang for was
not there only,
Nor for his mate, nor himself only, nor all sent back by the echoes;
But subtle, clandestine, away beyond,
A charge transmitted, and gift occult, for those being born.

Near at hand to you a throat is now inflating itself and joyfully

Ma femme!
For the brood beyond us and of us, 170
For those who belong here, and those to come,
I, exultant, to be ready for them, will now shake out carols stronger
and haughtier than have ever yet been heard upon earth.

I will make the songs of passion, to give them their way,
And your songs, outlaw'd offenders--for I scan you with kindred eyes,
and carry you with me the same as any.

I will make the true poem of riches,
To earn for the body and the mind whatever adheres, and goes forward,
and is not dropt by death.

I will effuse egotism, and show it underlying all--and I will be the
bard of personality;
And I will show of male and female that either is but the equal of
the other;
And sexual organs and acts! do you concentrate in me--for I am
determin'd to tell you with courageous clear voice, to prove
you illustrious;
And I will show that there is no imperfection in the present--and can
be none in the future; 180
And I will show that whatever happens to anybody, it may be turn'd to
beautiful results--and I will show that nothing can happen more
beautiful than death;
And I will thread a thread through my poems that time and events are
And that all the things of the universe are perfect miracles, each as
profound as any.

I will not make poems with reference to parts;
But I will make leaves, poems, poemets, songs, says, thoughts with
reference to ensemble:
And I will not sing with reference to a day, but with reference to
all days;
And I will not make a poem, nor the least part of a poem, but has
reference to the Soul;
(Because, having look'd at the objects of the universe, I find there
is no one, nor any particle of one, but has reference to the

Was somebody asking to see the Soul? 190
See! your own shape and countenance--persons, substances, beasts, the
trees, the running rivers, the rocks and sands.

All hold spiritual joys, and afterwards loosen them:
How can the real body ever die, and be buried?

Of your real body, and any man's or woman's real body,
Item for item, it will elude the hands of the corpse-cleaners, and
pass to fitting spheres,
Carrying what has accrued to it from the moment of birth to the
moment of death.

Not the types set up by the printer return their impression, the
meaning, the main concern,
Any more than a man's substance and life, or a woman's substance and
life, return in the body and the Soul,
Indifferently before death and after death.

Behold! the body includes and is the meaning, the main concern--and
includes and is the Soul; 200
Whoever you are! how superb and how divine is your body, or any part
of it.

Whoever you are! to you endless announcements.

Daughter of the lands, did you wait for your poet?
Did you wait for one with a flowing mouth and indicative hand?

Toward the male of The States, and toward the female of The States,
Live words--words to the lands.

O the lands! interlink'd, food-yielding lands!
Land of coal and iron! Land of gold! Lands of cotton, sugar, rice!
Land of wheat, beef, pork! Land of wool and hemp! Land of the apple
and grape!
Land of the pastoral plains, the grass-fields of the world! Land of
those sweet-air'd interminable plateaus! 210
Land of the herd, the garden, the healthy house of adobie!
Lands where the northwest Columbia winds, and where the southwest
Colorado winds!
Land of the eastern Chesapeake! Land of the Delaware!
Land of Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan!
Land of the Old Thirteen! Massachusetts land! Land of Vermont and
Land of the ocean shores! Land of sierras and peaks!
Land of boatmen and sailors! Fishermen's land!
Inextricable lands! the clutch'd together! the passionate ones!
The side by side! the elder and younger brothers! the bony-limb'd!
The great women's land! the feminine! the experienced sisters and the
inexperienced sisters! 220
Far breath'd land! Arctic braced! Mexican breez'd! the diverse! the
The Pennsylvanian! the Virginian! the double Carolinian!
O all and each well-loved by me! my intrepid nations! O I at any rate
include you all with perfect love!
I cannot be discharged from you! not from one, any sooner than
O Death! O for all that, I am yet of you, unseen, this hour, with
irrepressible love,
Walking New England, a friend, a traveler,
Splashing my bare feet in the edge of the summer ripples, on
Paumanok's sands,
Crossing the prairies--dwelling again in Chicago--dwelling in every
Observing shows, births, improvements, structures, arts,
Listening to the orators and the oratresses in public halls, 230
Of and through The States, as during life--each man and woman my
The Louisianian, the Georgian, as near to me, and I as near to him
and her,
The Mississippian and Arkansian yet with me--and I yet with any of
Yet upon the plains west of the spinal river--yet in my house of
Yet returning eastward--yet in the Sea-Side State, or in Maryland,
Yet Kanadian, cheerily braving the winter--the snow and ice welcome
to me,
Yet a true son either of Maine, or of the Granite State, or of the
Narragansett Bay State, or of the Empire State;
Yet sailing to other shores to annex the same--yet welcoming every
new brother;
Hereby applying these leaves to the new ones, from the hour they
unite with the old ones;
Coming among the new ones myself, to be their companion and equal--
coming personally to you now; 240
Enjoining you to acts, characters, spectacles, with me.

With me, with firm holding--yet haste, haste on.

For your life, adhere to me!
Of all the men of the earth, I only can unloose you and toughen you;
I may have to be persuaded many times before I consent to give myself
really to you--but what of that?
Must not Nature be persuaded many times?

No dainty dolce affettuoso I;
Bearded, sun-burnt, gray-neck'd, forbidding, I have arrived,
To be wrestled with as I pass, for the solid prizes of the universe;
For such I afford whoever can persevere to win them. 250

On my way a moment I pause;
Here for you! and here for America!
Still the Present I raise aloft--Still the Future of The States I
harbinge, glad and sublime;
And for the Past, I pronounce what the air holds of the red

The red aborigines!
Leaving natural breaths, sounds of rain and winds, calls as of birds
and animals in the woods, syllabled to us for names;
Okonee, Koosa, Ottawa, Monongahela, Sauk, Natchez, Chattahoochee,
Kaqueta, Oronoco,
Wabash, Miami, Saginaw, Chippewa, Oshkosh, Walla-Walla;
Leaving such to The States, they melt, they depart, charging the
water and the land with names.

O expanding and swift! O henceforth, 260
Elements, breeds, adjustments, turbulent, quick, and audacious;
A world primal again--Vistas of glory, incessant and branching;
A new race, dominating previous ones, and grander far--with new
New politics, new literatures and religions, new inventions and arts.

These! my voice announcing--I will sleep no more, but arise;
You oceans that have been calm within me! how I feel you, fathomless,
stirring, preparing unprecedented waves and storms.

See! steamers steaming through my poems!
See, in my poems immigrants continually coming and landing;
See, in arriere, the wigwam, the trail, the hunter's hut, the
flatboat, the maize-leaf, the claim, the rude fence, and the
backwoods village;
See, on the one side the Western Sea, and on the other the Eastern
Sea, how they advance and retreat upon my poems, as upon their
own shores. 270

See, pastures and forests in my poems--See, animals, wild and tame--
See, beyond the Kanzas, countless herds of buffalo, feeding on
short curly grass;
See, in my poems, cities, solid, vast, inland, with paved streets,
with iron and stone edifices, ceaseless vehicles, and commerce;
See, the many-cylinder'd steam printing-press--See, the electric
telegraph, stretching across the Continent, from the Western
Sea to Manhattan;
See, through Atlantica's depths, pulses American, Europe reaching--
pulses of Europe, duly return'd;
See, the strong and quick locomotive, as it departs, panting, blowing
the steam-whistle;
See, ploughmen, ploughing farms--See, miners, digging mines--See, the
numberless factories;
See, mechanics, busy at their benches, with tools--See from among
them, superior judges, philosophs, Presidents, emerge, drest in
working dresses;
See, lounging through the shops and fields of The States, me, well-
belov'd, close-held by day and night;
Hear the loud echoes of my songs there! Read the hints come at last.

O Camerado close! 280
O you and me at last--and us two only.

O a word to clear one's path ahead endlessly!
O something extatic and undemonstrable! O music wild!

O now I triumph--and you shall also;
O hand in hand--O wholesome pleasure--O one more desirer and lover!
O to haste, firm holding--to haste, haste on with me.

As I Sat Alone By Blue Ontario's Shores

AS I sat alone, by blue Ontario's shore,
As I mused of these mighty days, and of peace return'd, and the dead
that return no more,
A Phantom, gigantic, superb, with stern visage, accosted me;
Chant me the poem, it said, that comes from the soul of America--
chant me the carol of victory;
And strike up the marches of Libertad--marches more powerful yet;
And sing me before you go, the song of the throes of Democracy.

(Democracy--the destin'd conqueror--yet treacherous lip-smiles
And Death and infidelity at every step.)

A Nation announcing itself,
I myself make the only growth by which I can be appreciated, 10
I reject none, accept all, then reproduce all in my own forms.

A breed whose proof is in time and deeds;
What we are, we are--nativity is answer enough to objections;
We wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded,
We are powerful and tremendous in ourselves,
We are executive in ourselves--We are sufficient in the variety of
We are the most beautiful to ourselves, and in ourselves;
We stand self-pois'd in the middle, branching thence over the world;
From Missouri, Nebraska, or Kansas, laughing attacks to scorn.

Nothing is sinful to us outside of ourselves, 20
Whatever appears, whatever does not appear, we are beautiful or
sinful in ourselves only.

(O mother! O sisters dear!
If we are lost, no victor else has destroy'd us;
It is by ourselves we go down to eternal night.)

Have you thought there could be but a single Supreme?
There can be any number of Supremes--One does not countervail
another, any more than one eyesight countervails another, or
one life countervails another.

All is eligible to all,
All is for individuals--All is for you,
No condition is prohibited--not God's, or any.

All comes by the body--only health puts you rapport with the
universe. 30

Produce great persons, the rest follows.

America isolated I sing;
I say that works made here in the spirit of other lands, are so much
poison in The States.

(How dare such insects as we see assume to write poems for America?
For our victorious armies, and the offspring following the armies?)

Piety and conformity to them that like!
Peace, obesity, allegiance, to them that like!
I am he who tauntingly compels men, women, nations,
Crying, Leap from your seats, and contend for your lives!

I am he who walks the States with a barb'd tongue, questioning every
one I meet; 40
Who are you, that wanted only to be told what you knew before?
Who are you, that wanted only a book to join you in your nonsense?

(With pangs and cries, as thine own, O bearer of many children!
These clamors wild, to a race of pride I give.)

O lands! would you be freer than all that has ever been before?
If you would be freer than all that has been before, come listen to

Fear grace--Fear elegance, civilization, delicatesse,
Fear the mellow sweet, the sucking of honey-juice;
Beware the advancing mortal ripening of nature,
Beware what precedes the decay of the ruggedness of states and
men. 50

Ages, precedents, have long been accumulating undirected materials,
America brings builders, and brings its own styles.

The immortal poets of Asia and Europe have done their work, and
pass'd to other spheres,
A work remains, the work of surpassing all they have done.

America, curious toward foreign characters, stands by its own at all
Stands removed, spacious, composite, sound--initiates the true use of
Does not repel them, or the past, or what they have produced under
their forms,
Takes the lesson with calmness, perceives the corpse slowly borne
from the house,
Perceives that it waits a little while in the door--that it was
fittest for its days,
That its life has descended to the stalwart and well-shaped heir who
approaches, 60
And that he shall be fittest for his days.

Any period, one nation must lead,
One land must be the promise and reliance of the future.

These States are the amplest poem,
Here is not merely a nation, but a teeming nation of nations,
Here the doings of men correspond with the broadcast doings of the
day and night,
Here is what moves in magnificent masses, careless of particulars,
Here are the roughs, beards, friendliness, combativeness, the Soul
Here the flowing trains--here the crowds, equality, diversity, the
Soul loves.

Land of lands, and bards to corroborate! 70
Of them, standing among them, one lifts to the light his west-bred
To him the hereditary countenance bequeath'd, both mother's and
His first parts substances, earth, water, animals, trees,
Built of the common stock, having room for far and near,
Used to dispense with other lands, incarnating this land,
Attracting it Body and Soul to himself, hanging on its neck with
incomparable love,
Plunging his seminal muscle into its merits and demerits,
Making its cities, beginnings, events, diversities, wars, vocal in
Making its rivers, lakes, bays, embouchure in him,
Mississippi with yearly freshets and changing chutes--Columbia,
Niagara, Hudson, spending themselves lovingly in him, 80
If the Atlantic coast stretch, or the Pacific coast stretch, he
stretching with them north or south,
Spanning between them, east and west, and touching whatever is
between them,
Growths growing from him to offset the growth of pine, cedar,
hemlock, live-oak, locust, chestnut, hickory, cottonwood,
orange, magnolia,
Tangles as tangled in him as any cane-brake or swamp,
He likening sides and peaks of mountains, forests coated with
northern transparent ice,
Off him pasturage, sweet and natural as savanna, upland, prairie,
Through him flights, whirls, screams, answering those of the fish-
hawk, mocking-bird, night-heron, and eagle;
His spirit surrounding his country's spirit, unclosed to good and
Surrounding the essences of real things, old times and present times,
Surrounding just found shores, islands, tribes of red aborigines, 90
Weather-beaten vessels, landings, settlements, embryo stature and
The haughty defiance of the Year 1--war, peace, the formation of the
The separate States, the simple, elastic scheme, the immigrants,
The Union, always swarming with blatherers, and always sure and
The unsurvey'd interior, log-houses, clearings, wild animals,
hunters, trappers;
Surrounding the multiform agriculture, mines, temperature, the
gestation of new States,
Congress convening every Twelfth-month, the members duly coming up
from the uttermost parts;
Surrounding the noble character of mechanics and farmers, especially
the young men,
Responding their manners, speech, dress, friendships--the gait they
have of persons who never knew how it felt to stand in the
presence of superiors,
The freshness and candor of their physiognomy, the copiousness and
decision of their phrenology, 100
The picturesque looseness of their carriage, their fierceness when
The fluency of their speech, their delight in music, their curiosity,
good temper, and open-handedness--the whole composite make,
The prevailing ardor and enterprise, the large amativeness,
The perfect equality of the female with the male, the fluid movement
of the population,
The superior marine, free commerce, fisheries, whaling, gold-digging,
Wharf-hemm'd cities, railroad and steamboat lines, intersecting all
Factories, mercantile life, labor-saving machinery, the north-east,
north-west, south-west,
Manhattan firemen, the Yankee swap, southern plantation life,
Slavery--the murderous, treacherous conspiracy to raise it upon the
ruins of all the rest;
On and on to the grapple with it--Assassin! then your life or ours be
the stake--and respite no more. 110

(Lo! high toward heaven, this day,
Libertad! from the conqueress' field return'd,
I mark the new aureola around your head;
No more of soft astral, but dazzling and fierce,
With war's flames, and the lambent lightnings playing,
And your port immovable where you stand;
With still the inextinguishable glance, and the clench'd and lifted
And your foot on the neck of the menacing one, the scorner, utterly
crush'd beneath you;
The menacing, arrogant one, that strode and advanced with his
senseless scorn, bearing the murderous knife;
--Lo! the wide swelling one, the braggart, that would yesterday do so
much! 120
To-day a carrion dead and damn'd, the despised of all the earth!
An offal rank, to the dunghill maggots spurn'd.)

Others take finish, but the Republic is ever constructive, and ever
keeps vista;
Others adorn the past--but you, O days of the present, I adorn you!
O days of the future, I believe in you! I isolate myself for your
O America, because you build for mankind, I build for you!
O well-beloved stone-cutters! I lead them who plan with decision and
I lead the present with friendly hand toward the future.

Bravas to all impulses sending sane children to the next age!
But damn that which spends itself, with no thought of the stain,
pains, dismay, feebleness it is bequeathing. 130

I listened to the Phantom by Ontario's shore,
I heard the voice arising, demanding bards;
By them, all native and grand--by them alone can The States be fused
into the compact organism of a Nation.

To hold men together by paper and seal, or by compulsion, is no
That only holds men together which aggregates all in a living
principle, as the hold of the limbs of the body, or the fibres
of plants.

Of all races and eras, These States, with veins full of poetical
stuff, most need poets, and are to have the greatest, and use
them the greatest;
Their Presidents shall not be their common referee so much as their
poets shall.

(Soul of love, and tongue of fire!
Eye to pierce the deepest deeps, and sweep the world!
--Ah, mother! prolific and full in all besides--yet how long barren,
barren?) 140

Of These States, the poet is the equable man,
Not in him, but off from him, things are grotesque, eccentric, fail
of their full returns,
Nothing out of its place is good, nothing in its place is bad,
He bestows on every object or quality its fit proportion, neither
more nor less,
He is the arbiter of the diverse, he is the key,
He is the equalizer of his age and land,
He supplies what wants supplying--he checks what wants checking,
In peace, out of him speaks the spirit of peace, large, rich,
thrifty, building populous towns, encouraging agriculture,
arts, commerce, lighting the study of man, the Soul, health,
immortality, government;
In war, he is the best backer of the war--he fetches artillery as
good as the engineer's--he can make every word he speaks draw
The years straying toward infidelity, he withholds by his steady
faith, 150
He is no argurer, he is judgment--(Nature accepts him absolutely;)
He judges not as the judge judges, but as the sun falling round a
helpless thing;
As he sees the farthest, he has the most faith,
His thoughts are the hymns of the praise of things,
In the dispute on God and eternity he is silent,
He sees eternity less like a play with a prologue and denouement,
He sees eternity in men and women--he does not see men and women as
dreams or dots.

For the great Idea, the idea of perfect and free individuals,
For that idea the bard walks in advance, leader of leaders,
The attitude of him cheers up slaves and horrifies foreign
despots. 160

Without extinction is Liberty! without retrograde is Equality!
They live in the feelings of young men, and the best women;
Not for nothing have the indomitable heads of the earth been always
ready to fall for Liberty.

For the great Idea!
That, O my brethren--that is the mission of Poets.

Songs of stern defiance, ever ready,
Songs of the rapid arming, and the march,
The flag of peace quick-folded, and instead, the flag we know,
Warlike flag of the great Idea.

(Angry cloth I saw there leaping! 170
I stand again in leaden rain, your flapping folds saluting;
I sing you over all, flying, beckoning through the fight--O the hard-
contested fight!
O the cannons ope their rosy-flashing muzzles! the hurtled balls

The battle-front forms amid the smoke--the volleys pour incessant
from the line;
Hark! the ringing word, Charge!--now the tussle, and the furious
maddening yells;
Now the corpses tumble curl'd upon the ground,
Cold, cold in death, for precious life of you,
Angry cloth I saw there leaping.)

Are you he who would assume a place to teach, or be a poet here in
The States?
The place is august--the terms obdurate. 180

Who would assume to teach here, may well prepare himself, body and
He may well survey, ponder, arm, fortify, harden, make lithe,
He shall surely be question'd beforehand by me with many and stern

Who are you, indeed, who would talk or sing to America?
Have you studied out the land, its idioms and men?
Have you learn'd the physiology, phrenology, politics, geography,
pride, freedom, friendship, of the land? its substratums and
Have you consider'd the organic compact of the first day of the first
year of Independence, sign'd by the Commissioners, ratified by
The States, and read by Washington at the head of the army?
Have you possess'd yourself of the Federal Constitution?
Do you see who have left all feudal processes and poems behind them,
and assumed the poems and processes of Democracy?
Are you faithful to things? do you teach as the land and sea, the
bodies of men, womanhood, amativeness, angers, teach? 190
Have you sped through fleeting customs, popularities?
Can you hold your hand against all seductions, follies, whirls,
fierce contentions? are you very strong? are you really of the
whole people?
Are you not of some coterie? some school or mere religion?
Are you done with reviews and criticisms of life? animating now to
life itself?
Have you vivified yourself from the maternity of These States?
Have you too the old, ever-fresh forbearance and impartiality?
Do you hold the like love for those hardening to maturity; for the
last-born? little and big? and for the errant?

What is this you bring my America?
Is it uniform with my country?
Is it not something that has been better told or done before? 200
Have you not imported this, or the spirit of it, in some ship?
Is it not a mere tale? a rhyme? a prettiness? is the good old cause
in it?
Has it not dangled long at the heels of the poets, politicians,
literats, of enemies' lands?
Does it not assume that what is notoriously gone is still here?
Does it answer universal needs? will it improve manners?
Does it sound, with trumpet-voice, the proud victory of the Union, in
that secession war?
Can your performance face the open fields and the seaside?
Will it absorb into me as I absorb food, air--to appear again in my
strength, gait, face?
Have real employments contributed to it? original makers--not mere
Does it meet modern discoveries, calibers, facts face to face? 210
What does it mean to me? to American persons, progresses, cities?
Chicago, Kanada, Arkansas? the planter, Yankee, Georgian,
native, immigrant, sailors, squatters, old States, new States?
Does it encompass all The States, and the unexceptional rights of all
the men and women of the earth? (the genital impulse of These
Does it see behind the apparent custodians, the real custodians,
standing, menacing, silent--the mechanics, Manhattanese,
western men, southerners, significant alike in their apathy,
and in the promptness of their love?
Does it see what finally befalls, and has always finally befallen,
each temporizer, patcher, outsider, partialist, alarmist,
infidel, who has ever ask'd anything of America?
What mocking and scornful negligence?
The track strew'd with the dust of skeletons;
By the roadside others disdainfully toss'd.

Rhymes and rhymers pass away--poems distill'd from foreign poems pass
The swarms of reflectors and the polite pass, and leave ashes;
Admirers, importers, obedient persons, make but the soul of
literature; 220
America justifies itself, give it time--no disguise can deceive it,
or conceal from it--it is impassive enough,
Only toward the likes of itself will it advance to meet them,
If its poets appear, it will in due time advance to meet them--there
is no fear of mistake,
(The proof of a poet shall be sternly deferr'd, till his country
absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorb'd it.)

He masters whose spirit masters--he tastes sweetest who results
sweetest in the long run;
The blood of the brawn beloved of time is unconstraint;
In the need of poems, philosophy, politics, manners, engineering, an
appropriate native grand-opera, shipcraft, any craft, he or she
is greatest who contributes the greatest original practical

Already a nonchalant breed, silently emerging, appears on the
People's lips salute only doers, lovers, satisfiers, positive
knowers; There will shortly be no more priests--I say their
work is done, 230
Death is without emergencies here, but life is perpetual emergencies
Are your body, days, manners, superb? after death you shall be
Justice, health, self-esteem, clear the way with irresistible power;
How dare you place anything before a man?

Fall behind me, States!
A man before all--myself, typical before all.

Give me the pay I have served for!
Give me to sing the song of the great Idea! take all the rest;
I have loved the earth, sun, animals--I have despised riches,
I have given alms to every one that ask'd, stood up for the stupid
and crazy, devoted my income and labor to others, 240
I have hated tyrants, argued not concerning God, had patience and
indulgence toward the people, taken off my hat to nothing known
or unknown,
I have gone freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the
young, and with the mothers of families,
I have read these leaves to myself in the open air--I have tried them
by trees, stars, rivers,
I have dismiss'd whatever insulted my own Soul or defiled my Body,
I have claim'd nothing to myself which I have not carefully claim'd
for others on the same terms,
I have sped to the camps, and comrades found and accepted from every
(In war of you, as well as peace, my suit is good, America--sadly I
Upon this breast has many a dying soldier lean'd, to breathe his
This arm, this hand, this voice, have nourish'd, rais'd, restored,
To life recalling many a prostrate form:) 250
--I am willing to wait to be understood by the growth of the taste of
I reject none, I permit all.

(Say, O mother! have I not to your thought been faithful?
Have I not, through life, kept you and yours before me?)

I swear I begin to see the meaning of these things!
It is not the earth, it is not America, who is so great,
It is I who am great, or to be great--it is you up there, or any one;
It is to walk rapidly through civilizations, governments, theories,
Through poems, pageants, shows, to form great individuals.

Underneath all, individuals! 260
I swear nothing is good to me now that ignores individuals,
The American compact is altogether with individuals,
The only government is that which makes minute of individuals,
The whole theory of the universe is directed to one single
individual--namely, to You.

(Mother! with subtle sense severe--with the naked sword in your hand,
I saw you at last refuse to treat but directly with individuals.)

Underneath all, nativity,
I swear I will stand by my own nativity--pious or impious, so be it;
I swear I am charm'd with nothing except nativity,
Men, women, cities, nations, are only beautiful from nativity. 270

Underneath all is the need of the expression of love for men and
I swear I have seen enough of mean and impotent modes of expressing
love for men and women,
After this day I take my own modes of expressing love for men and

I swear I will have each quality of my race in myself,
(Talk as you like, he only suits These States whose manners favor the
audacity and sublime turbulence of The States.)

Underneath the lessons of things, spirits, Nature, governments,
ownerships, I swear I perceive other lessons,
Underneath all, to me is myself--to you, yourself--(the same
monotonous old song.)

O I see now, flashing, that this America is only you and me,
Its power, weapons, testimony, are you and me,
Its crimes, lies, thefts, defections, slavery, are you and me, 280
Its Congress is you and me--the officers, capitols, armies, ships,
are you and me,
Its endless gestations of new States are you and me,
The war--that war so bloody and grim--the war I will henceforth
forget--was you and me,
Natural and artificial are you and me,
Freedom, language, poems, employments, are you and me,
Past, present, future, are you and me.

I swear I dare not shirk any part of myself,
Not any part of America, good or bad,
Not the promulgation of Liberty--not to cheer up slaves and horrify
foreign despots,
Not to build for that which builds for mankind, 290
Not to balance ranks, complexions, creeds, and the sexes,
Not to justify science, nor the march of equality,
Nor to feed the arrogant blood of the brawn beloved of time.

I swear I am for those that have never been master'd!
For men and women whose tempers have never been master'd,
For those whom laws, theories, conventions, can never master.

I swear I am for those who walk abreast with the whole earth!
Who inaugurate one, to inaugurate all.

I swear I will not be outfaced by irrational things!
I will penetrate what it is in them that is sarcastic upon me! 300
I will make cities and civilizations defer to me!
This is what I have learnt from America--it is the amount--and it I
teach again.

(Democracy! while weapons were everywhere aim'd at your breast,
I saw you serenely give birth to immortal children--saw in dreams
your dilating form;
Saw you with spreading mantle covering the world.)

I will confront these shows of the day and night!
I will know if I am to be less than they!
I will see if I am not as majestic as they!
I will see if I am not as subtle and real as they!
I will see if I am to be less generous than they! 310
I will see if I have no meaning, while the houses and ships have
I will see if the fishes and birds are to be enough for themselves,
and I am not to be enough for myself.

I match my spirit against yours, you orbs, growths, mountains,
Copious as you are, I absorb you all in myself, and become the master

America isolated, yet embodying all, what is it finally except
These States--what are they except myself?

I know now why the earth is gross, tantalizing, wicked--it is for my
I take you to be mine, you beautiful, terrible, rude forms.

(Mother! bend down, bend close to me your face!
I know not what these plots and wars, and deferments are for; 320
I know not fruition's success--but I know that through war and peace
your work goes on, and must yet go on.)

.... Thus, by blue Ontario's shore,
While the winds fann'd me, and the waves came trooping toward me,
I thrill'd with the Power's pulsations--and the charm of my theme was
upon me,
Till the tissues that held me, parted their ties upon me.

And I saw the free Souls of poets;
The loftiest bards of past ages strode before me,
Strange, large men, long unwaked, undisclosed, were disclosed to me.

O my rapt verse, my call--mock me not!
Not for the bards of the past--not to invoke them have I launch'd you
forth, 330
Not to call even those lofty bards here by Ontario's shores,
Have I sung so capricious and loud, my savage song.

Bards for my own land, only, I invoke;
(For the war, the war is over--the field is clear'd,)
Till they strike up marches henceforth triumphant and onward,
To cheer, O mother, your boundless, expectant soul.

Bards grand as these days so grand!
Bards of the great Idea! Bards of the peaceful inventions! (for the
war, the war is over!)
Yet Bards of the latent armies--a million soldiers waiting, ever-
Bards towering like hills--(no more these dots, these pigmies, these
little piping straws, these gnats, that fill the hour, to pass
for poets;) 340
Bards with songs as from burning coals, or the lightning's fork'd
Ample Ohio's bards--bards for California! inland bards--bards of the
(As a wheel turns on its axle, so I find my chants turning finally on
the war;)
Bards of pride! Bards tallying the ocean's roar, and the swooping
eagle's scream!
You, by my charm, I invoke!