Here The Frailest Leaves Of Me
HERE the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-lasting:
Here I shade and hide my thoughts--I myself do not expose them,
And yet they expose me more than all my other poems.
Red Jacket (From Aloft)
Upon this scene, this show,
Yielded to-day by fashion, learning, wealth,
(Nor in caprice alone- some grains of deepest meaning,)
Haply, aloft, (who knows?) from distant sky-clouds' blended shapes,
As some old tree, or rock or cliff, thrill'd with its soul,
Product of Nature's sun, stars, earth direct- a towering human form,
In hunting-shirt of film, arm'd with the rifle, a half-ironical
smile curving its phantom lips,
Like one of Ossian's ghosts looks down.
Bivouac On A Mountain Side
I see before me now a traveling army halting,
Below a fertile valley spread, with barns and the orchards of summer,
Behind, the terraced sides of a mountain, abrupt, in places rising high,
Broken, with rocks, with clinging cedars, with tall shapes dingily seen,
The numerous camp-fires scatter'd near and far, some away up on the mountain,
The shadowy forms of men and horses, looming, large-sized, flickering,
And over all the sky--the sky! far, far out of reach, Studded, breaking out, the eternal stars.
Cavalry Crossing A Ford
A LINE in long array, where they wind betwixt green islands;
They take a serpentine course--their arms flash in the sun--Hark to
the musical clank;
Behold the silvery river--in it the splashing horses, loitering, stop
Behold the brown-faced men--each group, each person, a picture--the
negligent rest on the saddles;
Some emerge on the opposite bank--others are just entering the ford--
Scarlet, and blue, and snowy white,
The guidon flags flutter gaily in the wind.
Vicouac On A Mountain Side
I SEE before me now, a traveling army halting;
Below, a fertile valley spread, with barns, and the orchards of
Behind, the terraced sides of a mountain, abrupt in places, rising
Broken, with rocks, with clinging cedars, with tall shapes, dingily
The numerous camp-fires scatter'd near and far, some away up on the
The shadowy forms of men and horses, looming, large-sized flickering;
And over all, the sky--the sky! far, far out of reach, studded,
breaking out, the eternal stars.
To A Common Prostitute
To a Common Prostitute
BE composed--be at ease with me--I am Walt Whitman, liberal and lusty
Not till the sun excludes you, do I exclude you;
Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you, and the leaves to
rustle for you, do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for
My girl, I appoint with you an appointment--and I charge you that you
make preparation to be worthy to meet me,
And I charge you that you be patient and perfect till I come.
Till then, I salute you with a significant look, that you do not
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.)
Song Of Myself, I
I Celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and
their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,
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 without check with original energy.
Song Of Myself, XXXIX
The friendly and flowing savage, who is he?
Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and mastering it?
Is he some Southwesterner rais'd out-doors? is he Kanadian?
Is he from the Mississippi country? Iowa, Oregon, California?
The mountains? prairie-life, bush-life? or sailor from the sea?
Wherever he goes men and women accept and desire him,
They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to them, stay with them.
Behavior lawless as snow-flakes, words simple as grass, uncomb'd head, laughter, and naivetè,
Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes and emanations,
They descend in new forms from the tips of his fingers,
They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath, they fly out of the glance of his eyes.
Not Heat Flames Up And Consumes
NOT heat flames up and consumes,
Not sea-waves hurry in and out,
Not the air, delicious and dry, the air of the ripe summer, bears
lightly along white down-balls of myriads of seeds,
Wafted, sailing gracefully, to drop where they may;
Not these--O none of these, more than the flames of me, consuming,
burning for his love whom I love!
O none, more than I, hurrying in and out:
--Does the tide hurry, seeking something, and never give up? O I the
O nor down-balls, nor perfumes, nor the high, rain-emitting clouds,
are borne through the open air,
Any more than my Soul is borne through the open air,
Wafted in all directions, O love, for friendship, for you. 10
The Prairie-Grass Dividing
THE prairie-grass dividing--its special odor breathing,
I demand of it the spiritual corresponding,
Demand the most copious and close companionship of men,
Demand the blades to rise of words, acts, beings,
Those of the open atmosphere, coarse, sunlit, fresh, nutritious,
Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with freedom and
command--leading, not following,
Those with a never-quell'd audacity--those with sweet and lusty
flesh, clear of taint,
Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents and Governors,
as to say, Who are you?
Those of earth-born passion, simple, never-constrain'd, never
Those of inland America. 10
As Toilsome I Wander'D Virginia's Woods
As toilsome I wander'd Virginia's woods,
To the music of rustling leaves kick'd by my feet, (for 'twas autumn,)
I mark'd at the foot of a tree the grave of a soldier;
Mortally wounded he and buried on the retreat, (easily all I could understand,)
The halt of a midday hour, when up! no time to lose--yet this sign left,
On a tablet scrawl'd and nail'd on the tree by the grave,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.
Long, long I muse, then on my way go wandering,
Many a changeful season to follow, and many a scene of life,
Yet at times through changeful season and scene, abrupt, alone, or in the crowded street,
Comes before me the unknown soldier's grave, come the inscription rude in Virginia's woods.
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.
WILD, wild the storm, and the sea high running,
Steady the roar of the gale, with incessant undertone muttering,
Shouts of demoniac laughter fitfully piercing and pealing,
Waves, air, midnight, their savagest trinity lashing,
Out in the shadows there milk-white combs careering,
On beachy slush and sand spirts of snow fierce slanting,
Where through the murk the easterly death-wind breasting,
Through cutting swirl and spray watchful and firm advancing,
(That in the distance! is that a wreck? is the red signal flaring?)
Slush and sand of the beach tireless till daylight wending, 10
Steadily, slowly, through hoarse roar never remitting,
Along the midnight edge by those milk-white combs careering,
A group of dim, weird forms, struggling, the night confronting,
That savage trinity warily watching.
After The Sea-Ship
AFTER the Sea-Ship--after the whistling winds;
After the white-gray sails, taut to their spars and ropes,
Below, a myriad, myriad waves, hastening, lifting up their necks,
Tending in ceaseless flow toward the track of the ship:
Waves of the ocean, bubbling and gurgling, blithely prying,
Waves, undulating waves--liquid, uneven, emulous waves,
Toward that whirling current, laughing and buoyant, with curves,
Where the great Vessel, sailing and tacking, displaced the surface;
Larger and smaller waves, in the spread of the ocean, yearnfully
The wake of the Sea-Ship, after she passes--flashing and frolicsome,
under the sun, 10
A motley procession, with many a fleck of foam, and many fragments,
Following the stately and rapid Ship--in the wake following.
By Broad Potomac's Shore
BY broad Potomac's shore--again, old tongue!
(Still uttering--still ejaculating--canst never cease this babble?)
Again, old heart so gay--again to you, your sense, the full flush
Again the freshness and the odors--again Virginia's summer sky,
pellucid blue and silver,
Again the forenoon purple of the hills,
Again the deathless grass, so noiseless, soft and green,
Again the blood-red roses blooming.
Perfume this book of mine, O blood-red roses!
Lave subtly with your waters every line, Potomac!
Give me of you, O spring, before I close, to put between its
O forenoon purple of the hills, before I close, of you!
O smiling earth--O summer sun, give me of you!
O deathless grass, of you!
Song Of Myself, LII
The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
So Far And So Far, And On Toward The End
SO far, and so far, and on toward the end,
Singing what is sung in this book, from the irresistible impulses of
But whether I continue beyond this book, to maturity,
Whether I shall dart forth the true rays, the ones that wait unfired,
(Did you think the sun was shining its brightest?
No--it has not yet fully risen;)
Whether I shall complete what is here started,
Whether I shall attain my own height, to justify these, yet
Whether I shall make THE POEM OF THE NEW WORLD, transcending all
others--depends, rich persons, upon you,
Depends, whoever you are now filling the current Presidentiad, upon
Upon you, Governor, Mayor, Congressman,
And you, contemporary America.
Whitman, Walt. 1900. Leaves of Grass.
ME imperturbe, standing at ease in Nature,
Master of all, or mistress of all--aplomb in the midst of irrational
Imbued as they--passive, receptive, silent as they,
Finding my occupation, poverty, notoriety, foibles, crimes, less
important than I thought;
Me private, or public, or menial, or solitary--all these subordinate,
(I am eternally equal with the best--I am not subordinate;)
Me toward the Mexican Sea, or in the Mannahatta, or the Tennessee, or
far north, or inland,
A river man, or a man of the woods, or of any farm-life in These
States, or of the coast, or the lakes, or Kanada,
Me, wherever my life is lived, O to be
O to confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as
the trees and animals do.
As Toilsome I Wander'D
AS TOILSOME I wander'd Virginia's woods,
To the music of rustling leaves, kick'd by my feet, (for 'twas
I mark'd at the foot of a tree the grave of a soldier,
Mortally wounded he, and buried on the retreat, (easily all could I
The halt of a mid-day hour, when up! no time to lose--yet this sign
On a tablet scrawl'd and nail'd on the tree by the grave,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.
Long, long I muse, then on my way go wandering;
Many a changeful season to follow, and many a scene of life;
Yet at times through changeful season and scene, abrupt, alone, or in
the crowded street, 10
Comes before me the unknown soldier's grave--comes the inscription
rude in Virginia's woods,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.
O Sun Of Real Peace
O SUN of real peace! O hastening light!
O free and extatic! O what I here, preparing, warble for!
O the sun of the world will ascend, dazzling, and take his height--
and you too, O my Ideal, will surely ascend!
O so amazing and broad--up there resplendent, darting and burning!
O vision prophetic, stagger'd with weight of light! with pouring
O lips of my soul, already becoming powerless!
O ample and grand Presidentiads! Now the war, the war is over!
New history! new heroes! I project you!
Visions of poets! only you really last! sweep on! sweep on!
O heights too swift and dizzy yet! 10
O purged and luminous! you threaten me more than I can stand!
(I must not venture--the ground under my feet menaces me--it will not
O future too immense,)--O present, I return, while yet I may, to you.
Italian Music In Dakota
THROUGH the soft evening air enwrinding all,
Rocks, woods, fort, cannon, pacing sentries, endless wilds,
In dulcet streams, in flutes' and cornets' notes,
Electric, pensive, turbulent artificial,
(Yet strangely fitting even here, meanings unknown before,
Subtler than ever, more harmony, as if born here, related here,
Not to the city's fresco'd rooms, not to the audience of the opera
Sounds, echoes, wandering strains, as really here at home,
Sonnambula's innocent love, trios with Norma's anguish,
And thy ecstatic chorus Poliuto;) 10
Ray'd in the limpid yellow slanting sundown,
Music, Italian music in Dakota.
While Nature, sovereign of this gnarl'd realm,
Lurking in hidden barbaric grim recesses,
Acknowledging rapport however far remov'd,
(As some old root or soil of earth its last-born flower or fruit,)
Listens well pleas'd.
Roots And Leaves Themselves Alone
ROOTS and leaves themselves alone are these;
Scents brought to men and women from the wild woods, and from the
Breast-sorrel and pinks of love--fingers that wind around tighter
Gushes from the throats of birds, hid in the foliage of trees, as the
sun is risen;
Breezes of land and love--breezes set from living shores out to you
on the living sea--to you, O sailors!
Frost-mellow'd berries, and Third-month twigs, offer'd fresh to young
persons wandering out in the fields when the winter breaks up,
Love-buds, put before you and within you, whoever you are,
Buds to be unfolded on the old terms;
If you bring the warmth of the sun to them, they will open, and bring
form, color, perfume, to you;
If you become the aliment and the wet, they will become flowers,
fruits, tall blanches and trees. 10
The World Below The Brine
THE world below the brine;
Forests at the bottom of the sea--the branches and leaves,
Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds--the thick
tangle, the openings, and the pink turf,
Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white, and gold--the
play of light through the water,
Dumb swimmers there among the rocks--coral, gluten, grass, rushes--
and the aliment of the swimmers,
Sluggish existences grazing there, suspended, or slowly crawling
close to the bottom,
The sperm-whale at the surface, blowing air and spray, or disporting
with his flukes,
The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the hairy sea-leopard,
and the sting-ray;
Passions there--wars, pursuits, tribes--sight in those ocean-depths--
breathing that thick-breathing air, as so many do;
The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle air breathed
by beings like us, who walk this sphere; 10
The change onward from ours, to that of beings who walk other
To The Man-Of-War-Bird
THOU who hast slept all night upon the storm,
Waking renew'd on thy prodigious pinions,
(Burst the wild storm? above it thou ascended'st,
And rested on the sky, thy slave that cradled thee,)
Now a blue point, far, far in heaven floating,
As to the light emerging here on deck I watch thee,
(Myself a speck, a point on the world's floating vast.)
Far, far at sea,
After the night's fierce drifts have strewn the shores with wrecks,
With re-appearing day as now so happy and serene, 10
The rosy and elastic dawn, the flashing sun,
The limpid spread of air cerulean,
Thou also re-appearest.
Thou born to match the gale, (thou art all wings,)
To cope with heaven and earth and sea and hurricane,
Thou ship of air that never furl'st thy sails,
Days, even weeks untired and onward, through spaces, realms gyrating,
At dusk that look'st on Senegal, at morn America,
That sport'st amid the lightning-flash and thunder-cloud,
In them, in thy experience, had'st thou my soul, 20
What joys! what joys were thine!
Song Of Myself, XXXVI
Stretch'd and still lies the midnight,
Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness,
Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass to the one we have conquer'd,
The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet,
Near by the corpse of the child that serv'd in the cabin,
The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curl'd whiskers,
The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and below,
The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty,
Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars,
Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves,
Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent,
A few large stars overhead, silent and mournful shining,
Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore, death-messages given in charge to survivors,
The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw,
Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long, dull, tapering groan,
These so, these irretrievable.
Song Of Myself, V
I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to you,
And you must not be abased to the other.
Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valvèd voice.
I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,
How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn'd over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
And reach'd till you felt my beard, and reach'd till you held my feet.
Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love,
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap'd stones, elder, mullein and poke-weed.
Or From That Sea Of Time
OR, from that Sea of Time,
Spray, blown by the wind--a double winrow-drift of weeds and shells;
(O little shells, so curious-convolute! so limpid-cold and voiceless!
Yet will you not, to the tympans of temples held,
Murmurs and echoes still bring up--Eternity's music, faint and far,
Wafted inland, sent from Atlantica's rim--strains for the Soul of the
Whisper'd reverberations--chords for the ear of the West, joyously
Your tidings old, yet ever new and untranslatable;)
Infinitessimals out of my life, and many a life,
(For not my life and years alone I give--all, all I give;) 10
These thoughts and Songs--waifs from the deep--here, cast high and
Wash'd on America's shores.
Currents of starting a Continent new,
Overtures sent to the solid out of the liquid,
Fusion of ocean and land--tender and pensive waves,
(Not safe and peaceful only--waves rous'd and ominous too.
Out of the depths, the storm's abysms--Who knows whence? Death's
Raging over the vast, with many a broken spar and tatter'd sail.)
Election Day, November, 1884
If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
‘Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing
Nor Oregon's white cones—nor Huron's belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi's stream:
—This seething hemisphere's humanity, as now, I'd name—the still small voice vibrating—America's
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous'd—sea-board and inland—Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome's wars of old, or modern Napoleon's:) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.
WHO includes diversity, and is Nature,
Who is the amplitude of the earth, and the coarseness and sexuality
of the earth, and the great charity of the earth, and the
Who has not look'd forth from the windows, the eyes, for nothing, or
whose brain held audience with messengers for nothing;
Who contains believers and disbelievers--Who is the most majestic
Who holds duly his or her triune proportion of realism, spiritualism,
and of the aesthetic, or intellectual,
Who, having consider'd the Body, finds all its organs and parts good;
Who, out of the theory of the earth, and of his or her body,
understands by subtle analogies all other theories,
The theory of a city, a poem, and of the large politics of These
Who believes not only in our globe, with its sun and moon, but in
other globes, with their suns and moons;
Who, constructing the house of himself or herself, not for a day, but
for all time, sees races, eras, dates, generations, 10
The past, the future, dwelling there, like space, inseparable
Song Of Myself, XLIX
And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me.
To his work without flinching the accoucheur comes,
I see the elder-hand pressing receiving supporting,
I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors,
And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape.
And as to you Corpse I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me,
I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing,
I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polish'd breasts of melons.
And as to you Life I reckon you are the leavings of many deaths,
(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.)
I hear you whispering there O stars of heaven,
O suns—O grass of graves—O perpetual transfers and pro- motions,
If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing?
Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest,
Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing twilight,
Toss, sparkles of day and dusk—toss on the black stems that decay in the muck,
Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs.
I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night,
I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sunbeams reflected,
And debouch to the steady and central from the offspring great or small.
To The Leaven'D Soil They Trod
TO the leaven'd soil they trod, calling, I sing, for the last;
(Not cities, nor man alone, nor war, nor the dead,
But forth from my tent emerging for good--loosing, untying the tent-
In the freshness, the forenoon air, in the far-stretching circuits
and vistas, again to peace restored,
To the fiery fields emanative, and the endless vistas beyond--to the
south and the north;
To the leaven'd soil of the general western world, to attest my
(To the average earth, the wordless earth, witness of war and peace,)
To the Alleghanian hills, and the tireless Mississippi,
To the rocks I, calling, sing, and all the trees in the woods,
To the plain of the poems of heroes, to the prairie spreading
To the far-off sea, and the unseen winds, and the same impalpable
... And responding, they answer all, (but not in words,)
The average earth, the witness of war and peace, acknowledges mutely;
The prairie draws me close, as the father, to bosom broad, the son;
The Northern ice and rain, that began me, nourish me to the end;
But the hot sun of the South is to ripen my songs.
ARM’D year! year of the struggle!
No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you, terrible year!
Not you as some pale poetling, seated at a desk, lisping cadenzas
But as a strong man, erect, clothed in blue clothes, advancing,
carrying a rifle on your shoulder,
With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands–with a knife in
the belt at your side,
As I heard you shouting loud–your sonorous voice ringing across the
Your masculine voice, O year, as rising amid the great cities,
Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you, as one of the workmen, the
dwellers in Manhattan;
Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois and
Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and descending the
Or down from the great lakes, or in Pennsylvania, or on deck along
the Ohio river;
Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers, or at
Chattanooga on the mountain top,
Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs, clothed in blue, bearing
weapons, robust year;
Heard your determin’d voice, launch’d forth again and again;
Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-lipp’d cannon,
I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.
Song Of Myself, XXXI
I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue,
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.
I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots,
And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over,
And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons,
But call any thing back again when I desire it.
In vain the speeding or shyness,
In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach,
In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder'd bones,
In vain objects stand leagues off and assume manifold shapes,
In vain the ocean settling in hollows and the great monsters lying low,
In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky,
In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs,
In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods,
In vain the razor-bill'd auk sails far north to Labrador,
I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff.
We Two-How Long We Were Fool'D
WE two--how long we were fool'd!
Now transmuted, we swiftly escape, as Nature escapes;
We are Nature--long have we been absent, but now we return;
We become plants, leaves, foliage, roots, bark;
We are bedded in the ground--we are rocks;
We are oaks--we grow in the openings side by side;
We browse--we are two among the wild herds, spontaneous as any;
We are two fishes swimming in the sea together;
We are what the locust blossoms are--we drop scent around the lanes,
mornings and evenings;
We are also the coarse smut of beasts, vegetables, minerals; 10
We are two predatory hawks--we soar above, and look down;
We are two resplendent suns--we it is who balance ourselves, orbic
and stellar--we are as two comets;
We prowl fang'd and four-footed in the woods--we spring on prey;
We are two clouds, forenoons and afternoons, driving overhead;
We are seas mingling--we are two of those cheerful waves, rolling
over each other, and interwetting each other;
We are what the atmosphere is, transparent, receptive, pervious,
We are snow, rain, cold, darkness--we are each product and influence
of the globe;
We have circled and circled till we have arrived home again--we two
We have voided all but freedom, and all but our own joy.
Pensive On Her Dead Gazing, I Heard The Mother Of All
PENSIVE, on her dead gazing, I heard the Mother of All,
Desperate, on the torn bodies, on the forms covering the battle-
(As the last gun ceased--but the scent of the powder-smoke linger'd;)
As she call'd to her earth with mournful voice while she stalk'd:
Absorb them well, O my earth, she cried--I charge you, lose not my
sons! lose not an atom;
And you streams, absorb them well, taking their dear blood;
And you local spots, and you airs that swim above lightly,
And all you essences of soil and growth--and you, my rivers' depths;
And you, mountain sides--and the woods where my dear children's
blood, trickling, redden'd;
And you trees, down in your roots, to bequeath to all future
My dead absorb--my young men's beautiful bodies absorb--and their
precious, precious, precious blood;
Which holding in trust for me, faithfully back again give me, many a
In unseen essence and odor of surface and grass, centuries hence;
In blowing airs from the fields, back again give me my darlings--give
my immortal heroes;
Exhale me them centuries hence--breathe me their breath--let not an
atom be lost;
O years and graves! O air and soil! O my dead, an aroma sweet!
Exhale them perennial, sweet death, years, centuries hence.
Song Of Myself, XXI
I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,
The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.
I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,
And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,
And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.
I chant the chant of dilation or pride,
We have had ducking and deprecating about enough,
I show that size is only development.
Have you outstript the rest? are you the President?
It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and still pass on.
I am he that walks with the tender and growing night,
I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night.
Press close bare-bosom'd night—press close magnetic nourishing night!
Night of south winds—night of the large few stars!
Still nodding night—mad naked summer night.
Smile O voluptuous cool-breath'd earth!
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!
Earth of departed sunset—earth of the mountains misty-topt!
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue!
Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river!
Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake!
Far-swooping elbow'd earth—rich apple-blossom'd earth!
Smile, for your lover comes.
Prodigal, you have given me love—therefore I to you give love!
O unspeakable passionate love.
Out From Behind His Mask
OUT from behind this bending, rough-cut Mask,
(All straighter, liker Masks rejected--this preferr'd,)
This common curtain of the face, contain'd in me for me, in you for
you, in each for each,
(Tragedies, sorrows, laughter, tears--O heaven!
The passionate, teeming plays this curtain hid!)
This glaze of God's serenest, purest sky,
This film of Satan's seething pit,
This heart's geography's map--this limitless small continent--this
Out from the convolutions of this globe,
This subtler astronomic orb than sun or moon--than Jupiter, Venus,
This condensation of the Universe--(nay, here the only Universe,
Here the IDEA--all in this mystic handful wrapt;)
These burin'd eyes, flashing to you, to pass to future time,
To launch and spin through space revolving, sideling--from these to
To You, whoe'er you are--a Look.
A Traveler of thoughts and years--of peace and war,
Of youth long sped, and middle age declining,
(As the first volume of a tale perused and laid away, and this the
Songs, ventures, speculations, presently to close,)
Lingering a moment, here and now, to You I opposite turn, 20
As on the road, or at some crevice door, by chance, or open'd window,
Pausing, inclining, baring my head, You specially I greet,
To draw and clench your Soul, for once, inseparably with mine,
Then travel, travel on.
Thou Orb Aloft Full-Dazzling
THOU orb aloft full-dazzling! thou hot October noon!
Flooding with sheeny light the gray beach sand,
The sibilant near sea with vistas far and foam,
And tawny streaks and shades and spreading blue;
O sun of noon rufulgent! my special word to thee.
Hear me illustrious!
Thy lover me, for always I have loved thee,
Even as basking babe, then happy boy alone by some wood edge, thy
touching-distant beams enough,
Or man matured, or young or old, as now to thee I launch my
(Thou canst not with thy dumbness me deceive, 10
I know before the fitting man all Nature yields,
Though answering not in words, the skies, trees, hear his voice--and
thou O sun,
As for thy throes, thy perturbations, sudden breaks and shafts of
I understand them, I know those flames, those perturbations well.)
Thou that with fructifying heat and light,
O'er myriad farms, o'er lands and waters North and South,
O'er Mississippi's endless course, o'er Texas' grassy plains,
O'er all the globe that turns its face to thee shining in space,
Thou that impartially infoldest all, not only continents, seas,
Thou that to grapes and weeds and little wild flowers givest so
Shed, shed thyself on mine and me, with but a fleeting ray out of thy
Strike through these chants.
Nor only launch thy subtle dazzle and thy strength for these,
Prepare the later afternoon of me myself--prepare my lengthening
Prepare my starry nights.
Song Of Myself, II
Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.
The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine,
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the pass- ing of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides,
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.
Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look
through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
In Cabin'D Ships At Sea
IN cabin'd ships, at sea,
The boundless blue on every side expanding,
With whistling winds and music of the waves--the large imperious
Or some lone bark, buoy'd on the dense marine,
Where, joyous, full of faith, spreading white sails,
She cleaves the ether, mid the sparkle and the foam of day, or under
many a star at night,
By sailors young and old, haply will I, a reminiscence of the land,
In full rapport at last.
Here are our thoughts--voyagers' thoughts,
Here not the land, firm land, alone appears, may then by them be
The sky o'erarches here--we feel the undulating deck beneath our
We feel the long pulsation--ebb and flow of endless motion;
The tones of unseen mystery--the vague and vast suggestions of the
briny world--the liquid-flowing syllables,
The perfume, the faint creaking of the cordage, the melancholy
The boundless vista, and the horizon far and dim, are all here,
And this is Ocean's poem.
Then falter not, O book! fulfil your destiny!
You, not a reminiscence of the land alone,
You too, as a lone bark, cleaving the ether--purpos'd I know
not whither--yet ever full of faith, 20
Consort to every ship that sails--sail you!
Bear forth to them, folded, my love--(Dear mariners! for you I fold
it here, in every leaf;)
Speed on, my Book! spread your white sails, my little bark, athwart
the imperious waves!
Chant on--sail on--bear o'er the boundless blue, from me, to every
This song for mariners and all their ships.