Digital American Literature Anthology

Version 1.5

Edited by Dr. Michael O'Conner, Millikin University

Unit Ten Readings:  Dickinson and Whitman

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

[image] Emily Dickinson, one of the United States' great poets, was born December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts. As a member of a prominent family, she received an extensive formal education. At fifteen, Dickinson attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary for one year, where she was placed in the "without hope" category for religious potential, when she declined to profess herself as a believing Christian. She returned home and became a virtual recluse for the rest of her life, accepting few visitors outside the immediate family. She read deeply and widely from her home.  She traveled only briefly in 1864 and 1865, to nearby Boston, and almost never afterward. Since Dickinson was so reclusive, she communicated to the outside world through letters and correspondence, many of which have now been published. She developed a series of friendships through her letters, with Benjamin Newton, a law student, with Charles Wadsworth, a Philadelphia minister, and with Thomas Higginson, a literary critic. She also had many such exchanges with Samuel Bowles, a newspaper editor. Within the household, Susan Gilbert Dickinson, her brother's wife, became one of Dickinson's closest friends. There is speculation that Gilbert was among Dickinson's unrequited loves, but evidence is inconclusive on the matter.  During her lifetime, only a dozen of Dickinson's poems were ever published. She died on May 15, 1886. After her death, to the surprise of her family, roughly 1800 poems were found in her room within forty hand-bound volumes, called fascicles, which the poet had constructed. These poems contained unconventional punctuation marks and capitalizations, which were highly edited when they were first published. Eventually, more recent editors restored the integrity of Dickinson's original work, accomplished by restoring her dashes and her fragmented syntax and by restoring her unique capitalization. Since her poems are untitled, Dickinson's two most recent editors, Thomas H. Johnson and R. W. Franklin, have both assigned each poem a number, based upon their research of the order in which the poems were written.  Since their numbering system does not coincide, care must be taken when referring to the poems by number. Some sources use the more authoritative Franklin numbers and some the Johnson numbers. Three key biographies include Richard B. Sewell's The Life of Emily Dickinson (1974), Cynthia Griffin Wolff'sEmily Dickinson (1986), and Alfred Habegger's My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson (2001). There are numerous book-length studies and critical collections on this poet.  Students will find valuable Wendy Martin's The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson (2002) and Jane D. Eberwein's An Emily Dickinson Encyclopedia (1998).

Dickinson Resources
- see for more authoritative editions of these poems

Dickinson, Emily. Poems by Emily Dickinson. Edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and T.W. Higginson. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890.

source of electronic texts: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/12242

Editor's note: Scholars and students of Dickinson's works should note that what are considered definitive versions of these poems, with a much greater attention to the original intentions (and punctuation) of the author, are available in published formats currently under copyright protection. Those versions could not be included in a free open source textbook such as this one. The poems included here have been edited and punctuated by Todd and Higginson and are mostly considered flawed by scholars today. See the Dickinson Resources page for links to more authoritative versions of many of these poems.

I never lost as much but twice

I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod;
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!

Angels, twice descending,
Reimbursed my store.
Burglar, banker, father,
I am poor once more!

Success is counted sweetest

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory,

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear!

These are the days when birds come back

These are the days when birds come back,
A very few, a bird or two,
To take a backward look.

These are the days when skies put on
The old, old sophistries of June, —
A blue and gold mistake.

Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee,
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief,

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear,
And softly through the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf!

Oh, sacrament of summer days,
Oh, last communion in the haze,
Permit a child to join,

Thy sacred emblems to partake,
Thy consecrated bread to break,
Taste thine immortal wine!

Faith is a Fine Invention

FAITH is a Fine Invention
For gentlemen who see;
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency!

I taste a liquor never brewed

I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove's door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to windows run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun!

I'm nobody! Who are you?

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there 's a pair of us — don't tell!
They 'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Wild nights! Wild nights!

Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port, —
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!

I like a look of agony

I like a look of agony,
Because I know it's true;
Men do not sham convulsion,
Nor simulate a throe.

The eyes glaze once, and that is death.
Impossible to feign
The beads upon the forehead
By homely anguish strung.

I felt a funeral in my brain

I felt a funeral in my brain,
And mourners, to and fro,
Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
That sense was breaking through.

And when they all were seated,
A service like a drum
Kept beating, beating, till I thought
My mind was going numb.

And then I heard them lift a box,
And creak across my soul
With those same boots of lead, again.
Then space began to toll

As all the heavens were a bell,
And Being but an ear,
And I and silence some strange race,
Wrecked, solitary, here.

Because I could not stop for Death

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 't is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me, —
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.

Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

I heard a fly buzz when I died

I heard a fly buzz when I died;
The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry,
And breaths were gathering sure
For that last onset, when the king
Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away
What portion of me I
Could make assignable, — and then
There interposed a fly,

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed, and then
I could not see to see.

The brain is wider than the sky

The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.

The brain is deeper than the sea,
For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
As sponges, buckets do.

The brain is just the weight of God,
For, lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.

Much madness is divinest sense

Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
'T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, — you're straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

My Life had Stood - a Loaded Gun -

Wikisource version

A narrow fellow in the grass

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him, — did you not,
His notice sudden is.

The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen;
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn.
Yet when a child, and barefoot,
I more than once, at morn,

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash
Unbraiding in the sun, —
When, stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled, and was gone.

Several of nature's people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality;

But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.

Tell All the Truth but tell it slant -

Wikisource version

A route of evanescence

A route of evanescence
With a revolving wheel;
A resonance of emerald,
A rush of cochineal;
And every blossom on the bush
Adjusts its tumbled head, —
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy morning's ride.

Apparently with no surprise

Apparently with no surprise
To any happy flower,
The frost beheads it at its play
In accidental power.
The blond assassin passes on,
The sun proceeds unmoved
To measure off another day
For an approving God.

My life closed twice before its close

My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

[image] Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819 to working-class parents in West Hills, New York, as one of seven siblings. The family moved to Brooklyn in 1823, where Whitman would receive only six years of formal schooling. In 1830, he worked as an office boy and, soon after, entered the printing trade as an apprentice. He also worked as a teacher for a short time. He became a journalist, employed by various newspapers in New York City and Brooklyn through the 1840s, and served a brief stint as a newspaper editor in New Orleans. Starting in 1850, Whitman chose to concentrate most of his efforts on reading literature and writing poetry. He was intent on creating a great American epic in his verse and he succeeded. His revolutionary Leaves of Grass was written, rewritten, and revised over two decades, going through six different editions from 1855 to 1881. It marked a groundbreaking shift in American poetry, written in free verse, emphasizing repetition, and incorporating subject matter that many thought shocking and profane. Later editions of Leaves of Grass included poems that were sexually explicit in their depictions of heterosexual and homosexual situations and content. During and after the Civil War, Whitman's many visits to the sick, wounded, and dying in Washington DC hospitals had a profound and lasting effect upon him and his writing. A stroke, and the death of his mother, both in 1873, along with failing health thereafter, provided challenges to Whitman, though he was able to finish a final definitive version of Leaves of Grass in 1881. He died on March 26, 1892, in Camden, New Jersey where he had lived for the last twenty years of his life. Whitman was prolific as a poet and prose writer, often revising his previous work while penning new material. Other key collections include the Civil War inspired Drum-Taps (1865), Passage to India (1870), Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891), along with prose pieces, Democratic Vistas (1871) and Specimen Days (1881). Whitman's importance to American literature cannot be overstated. Many critics would argue that his works would have more of an influence on the shape, content, and purposes of the literature that followed, than that of any other writer. Always attempting to be the "democratic poet" of the country, Whitman was inspired to include nearly everything in his materials, high and low subjects, examinations of the body and the soul, and the full diversity of American life as he saw it. He, perhaps better than any other writer, fulfilled Emerson's call for a truly original American voice. Three important Whitman biographies are Gay Wilson Allen's The Solitary Singer (1967), Justin Kaplan's Walt Whitman: A Life (1980), and David S. Reynold's Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography (1995). Critical examinations of Whitman's works are plentiful. Two key overviews are M. Jimmie Killingsworth's The Cambridge Introduction to Walt Whitman (1995) and the online site, The Walt Whitman Archive (2012), compiled and edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

I Hear America Singing

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891-2.

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

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

Song of Myself

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

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, this air, 
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 forgotten, 
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, 
Nature without check with original energy.

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with 
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 
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing 
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 
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.

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the 
beginning and the end, 
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now, 
Nor any more youth or age than there is now, 
And will never be any more perfection than there is now, 
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge, 
Always the procreant urge of the world.

Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and 
increase, always sex, 
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of 
To elaborate is no avail, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is so.

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well 
entretied, braced in the beams, 
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical, 
I and this mystery here we stand.

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not 
my soul.

Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen, 
Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age, 
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they 
discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty 
and clean, 
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be 
less familiar than the rest.

I am satisfied - I see, dance, laugh, sing; 
As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the 
night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy 
Leaving me baskets cover'd with white towels swelling the house with 
their plenty, 
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my 
That they turn from gazing after and down the road, 
And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent, 
Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and which is 

Trippers and askers surround me, 
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and 
city I live in, or the nation, 
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old 
and new, 
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues, 
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love, 
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss 
or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations, 
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, 
the fitful events; 
These come to me days and nights and go from me again, 
But they are not the Me myself.

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am, 
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary, 
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest, 
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next, 
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with 
linguists and contenders, 
I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.

I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to 
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 valved 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 

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 

A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; 
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more 
than he.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues, 
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for 

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and 
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken 
soon out of their laps.

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

They are alive and well somewhere, 
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death, 
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the 
end to arrest it, 
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

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

Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? 
I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know 

I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash'd babe, and 
am not contain'd between my hat and boots, 
And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good, 
The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth, 
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and 
fathomless as myself, 
(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female, 
For me those that have been boys and that love women, 
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted, 
For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the 
mothers of mothers, 
For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears, 
For me children and the begetters of children.

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

The little one sleeps in its cradle, 
I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies 
with my hand.

The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill, 
I peeringly view them from the top.

The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom, 
I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol 
has fallen.

The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of 
the promenaders, 
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the 
clank of the shod horses on the granite floor, 
The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-balls, 
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd mobs, 
The flap of the curtain'd litter, a sick man inside borne to the 
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall, 
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his 
passage to the centre of the crowd, 
The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes, 
What groans of over-fed or half-starv'd who fall sunstruck or in 
What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and 
give birth to babes, 
What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls 
restrain'd by decorum, 
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances, 
rejections with convex lips, 
I mind them or the show or resonance of them-I come and I depart.

The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready, 
The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon, 
The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged, 
The armfuls are pack'd to the sagging mow.

I am there, I help, I came stretch'd atop of the load, 
I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other, 
I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and timothy, 
And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps.

Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt, 
Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee, 
In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night, 
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill'd game, 
Falling asleep on the gather'd leaves with my dog and gun by my 

The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails, she cuts the sparkle 
and scud, 
My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from 
the deck.

The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me, 
I tuck'd my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time; 
You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle.

I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west, 
the bride was a red girl, 
Her father and his friends sat near cross-legged and dumbly smoking, 
they had moccasins to their feet and large thick blankets 
hanging from their shoulders, 
On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins, his 
luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck, he held his bride 
by the hand, 
She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight locks 
descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach'd to her 

The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside, 
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile, 
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and 
And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him, 
And brought water and fill'd a tub for his sweated body and bruis'd 
And gave him a room that enter'd from my own, and gave him some 
coarse clean clothes, 
And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness, 
And remember putting piasters on the galls of his neck and ankles; 
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass'd north, 
I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean'd in the corner.

Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore, 
Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly; 
Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.

She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank, 
She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.

Which of the young men does she like the best? 
Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you, 
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.

Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth 
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.

The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it ran from their 
long hair, 
Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.

An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies, 
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.

The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the 
sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them, 
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending 
They do not think whom they souse with spray.

The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or sharpens his knife 
at the stall in the market, 
I loiter enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and break-down.

Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil, 
Each has his main-sledge, they are all out, there is a great heat in 
the fire.

From the cinder-strew'd threshold I follow their movements, 
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms, 
Overhand the hammers swing, overhand so slow, overhand so sure, 
They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.

The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags 
underneath on its tied-over chain, 
The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and 
tall he stands pois'd on one leg on the string-piece, 
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over 
his hip-band, 
His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat 
away from his forehead, 
The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of 
his polish'd and perfect limbs.

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

In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as 
forward sluing, 
To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing, 
Absorbing all to myself and for this song.

Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade, what 
is that you express in your eyes? 
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.

My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck on my distant and 
day-long ramble, 
They rise together, they slowly circle around.

I believe in those wing'd purposes, 
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me, 
And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional, 
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something 
And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well 
to me, 
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.

The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night, 
Ya-honk he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation, 
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close, 
Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky.

The sharp-hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the 
chickadee, the prairie-dog, 
The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats, 
The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings, 
I see in them and myself the same old law.

The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections, 
They scorn the best I can do to relate them.

I am enamour'd of growing out-doors, 
Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods, 
Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and 
mauls, and the drivers of horses, 
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.

What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me, 
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns, 
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me, 
Not asking the sky to come down to my good will, 
Scattering it freely forever.

The pure contralto sings in the organ loft, 
The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane 
whistles its wild ascending lisp, 
The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiving 
The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong arm, 
The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon are 
The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches, 
The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the altar, 
The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel, 
The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loafe and 
looks at the oats and rye, 
The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm'd case, 
(He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother's 
The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case, 
He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blurr with the 
The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table, 
What is removed drops horribly in a pail; 
The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand, the drunkard nods by 
the bar-room stove, 
The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his beat, 
the gate-keeper marks who pass, 
The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him, though I do 
not know him;) 
The half-breed straps on his light boots to compete in the race, 
The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some lean on their 
rifles, some sit on logs, 
Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels 
his piece; 
The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee, 
As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them 
from his saddle, 
The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their 
partners, the dancers bow to each other, 
The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof'd garret and harks to the 
musical rain, 
The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron, 
The squaw wrapt in her yellow-hemm'd cloth is offering moccasins and 
bead-bags for sale, 
The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut 
eyes bent sideways, 
As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is thrown for 
the shore-going passengers, 
The young sister holds out the skein while the elder sister winds it 
off in a ball, and stops now and then for the knots, 
The one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago borne 
her first child, 
The clean-hair'd Yankee girl works with her sewing-machine or in the 
factory or mill, 
The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer, the reporter's lead 
flies swiftly over the note-book, the sign-painter is lettering 
with blue and gold, 
The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts at his 
desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread, 
The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers follow 
The child is baptized, the convert is making his first professions, 
The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, (how the white 
sails sparkle!) 
The drover watching his drove sings out to them that would stray, 
The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser higgling 
about the odd cent;) 
The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock 
moves slowly, 
The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open'd lips, 
The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and 
pimpled neck, 
The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to 
each other, 
(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;) 
The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the great 
On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined 
The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the 
The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his cattle, 
As the fare-collector goes through the train he gives notice by the 
jingling of loose change, 
The floor-men are laying the floor, the tinners are tinning the 
roof, the masons are calling for mortar, 
In single file each shouldering his hod pass onward the laborers; 
Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is gather'd, it 
is the fourth of Seventh-month, (what salutes of cannon and 
small arms!) 
Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the mower mows, 
and the winter-grain falls in the ground; 
Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in 
the frozen surface, 
The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep 
with his axe, 
Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood or 
Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river or through 
those drain'd by the Tennessee, or through those of the Arkansas, 
Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or 
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grandsons 
around them, 
In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after 
their day's sport, 
The city sleeps and the country sleeps, 
The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time, 
The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by 
his wife; 
And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them, 
And such as it is to be of these more or less I am, 
And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.

I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise, 
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others, 
Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man, 
Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stuff 
that is fine, 
One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the 
largest the same, 
A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and 
hospitable down by the Oconee I live, 
A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest 
joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth, 
A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin 
leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian, 
A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, 
At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen 
off Newfoundland, 
At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and 
At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the 
Texan ranch, 
Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving 
their big proportions,) 
Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands 
and welcome to drink and meat, 
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest, 
A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons, 
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion, 
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker, 
Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.

I resist any thing better than my own diversity, 
Breathe the air but leave plenty after me, 
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

(The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place, 
The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their 
The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.)

These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they 
are not original with me, 
If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to 
If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are 
If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.

This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is, 
This the common air that bathes the globe.

With music strong I come, with my cornets and my drums, 
I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for 
conquer'd and slain persons.

Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? 
I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit 
in which they are won.

I beat and pound for the dead, 
I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for them.

Vivas to those who have fail'd! 
And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea! 
And to those themselves who sank in the sea! 
And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes! 
And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes 

This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger, 
It is for the wicked just same as the righteous, I make appointments 
with all, 
I will not have a single person slighted or left away, 
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited, 
The heavy-lipp'd slave is invited, the venerealee is invited; 
There shall be no difference between them and the rest.

This is the press of a bashful hand, this the float and odor of 
This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning, 
This the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face, 
This the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again.

Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? 
Well I have, for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the 
side of a rock has.

Do you take it I would astonish? 
Does the daylight astonish? does the early redstart twittering 
through the woods? 
Do I astonish more than they?

This hour I tell things in confidence, 
I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.

Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude; 
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?

What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you?

All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own, 
Else it were time lost listening to me.

I do not snivel that snivel the world over, 
That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth.

Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids, conformity 
goes to the fourth-remov'd, 
I wear my hat as I please indoors or out.

Why should I pray? why should I venerate and be ceremonious?

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

In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn 
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.

I know I am solid and sound, 
To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow, 
All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.

I know I am deathless, 
I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter's compass, 
I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with a burnt 
stick at night.

I know I am august, 
I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood, 
I see that the elementary laws never apologize, 
(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, 
after all.)

I exist as I am, that is enough, 
If no other in the world be aware I sit content, 
And if each and all be aware I sit content.

One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself, 
And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten 
million years, 
I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.

My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite, 
I laugh at what you call dissolution, 
And I know the amplitude of time.

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 
The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate 
into 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 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 
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.

You sea! I resign myself to you also - I guess what you mean, 
I behold from the beach your crooked fingers, 
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me, 
We must have a turn together, I undress, hurry me out of sight of 
the land, 
Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse, 
Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you.

Sea of stretch'd ground-swells, 
Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths, 
Sea of the brine of life and of unshovell'd yet always-ready graves, 
Howler and scooper of storms, capricious and dainty sea, 
I am integral with you, I too am of one phase and of all phases.

Partaker of influx and efflux I, extoller of hate and conciliation, 
Extoller of amies and those that sleep in each others' arms.

I am he attesting sympathy, 
(Shall I make my list of things in the house and skip the house that 
supports them?)

I am not the poet of goodness only, I do not decline to be the poet 
of wickedness also.

What blurt is this about virtue and about vice? 
Evil propels me and reform of evil propels me, I stand indifferent, 
My gait is no fault-finder's or rejecter's gait, 
I moisten the roots of all that has grown.

Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging pregnancy? 
Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work'd over and 

I find one side a balance and the antipedal side a balance, 
Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine, 
Thoughts and deeds of the present our rouse and early start.

This minute that comes to me over the past decillions, 
There is no better than it and now.

What behaved well in the past or behaves well to-day is not such 
The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean man or an 

Endless unfolding of words of ages! 
And mine a word of the modern, the word En-Masse.

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

It alone is without flaw, it alone rounds and completes all, 
That mystic baffling wonder alone completes all.

I accept Reality and dare not question it, 
Materialism first and last imbuing.

Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demonstration! 
Fetch stonecrop mixt with cedar and branches of lilac, 
This is the lexicographer, this the chemist, this made a grammar of 
the old cartouches, 
These mariners put the ship through dangerous unknown seas. 
This is the geologist, this works with the scalper, and this is a 

Gentlemen, to you the first honors always! 
Your facts are useful, and yet they are not my dwelling, 
I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.

Less the reminders of properties told my words, 
And more the reminders they of life untold, and of freedom and 
And make short account of neuters and geldings, and favor men and 
women fully equipt, 
And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives and them that 
plot and conspire.

Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son, 
Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding, 
No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from 
No more modest than immodest.

Unscrew the locks from the doors! 
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

Whoever degrades another degrades me, 
And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.

Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the current 
and index.

I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy, 
By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their 
counterpart of on the same terms.

Through me many long dumb voices, 
Voices of the interminable generations of prisoners and slaves, 
Voices of the diseas'd and despairing and of thieves and dwarfs, 
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion, 
And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs and of the 
And of the rights of them the others are down upon, 
Of the deform'd, trivial, flat, foolish, despised, 
Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.

Through me forbidden voices, 
Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove the veil, 
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur'd.

I do not press my fingers across my mouth, 
I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and 
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

I believe in the flesh and the appetites, 
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me 
is a miracle.

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am 
touch'd from, 
The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer, 
This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.

If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of 
my own body, or any part of it, 
Translucent mould of me it shall be you! 
Shaded ledges and rests it shall be you! 
Firm masculine colter it shall be you! 
Whatever goes to the tilth of me it shall be you! 
You my rich blood! your milky stream pale strippings of my life! 
Breast that presses against other breasts it shall be you! 
My brain it shall be your occult convolutions! 
Root of wash'd sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of guarded 
duplicate eggs! it shall be you! 
Mix'd tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you! 
Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it shall be you! 
Sun so generous it shall be you! 
Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be you! 
You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you! 
Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me it shall be you! 
Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving lounger in my 
winding paths, it shall be you! 
Hands I have taken, face I have kiss'd, mortal I have ever touch'd, 
it shall be you.

I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious, 
Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy, 
I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my 
faintest wish, 
Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the 
friendship I take again.

That I walk up my stoop, I pause to consider if it really be, 
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics 
of books.

To behold the day-break! 
The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows, 
The air tastes good to my palate.

Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols silently rising 
freshly exuding, 
Scooting obliquely high and low.

Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs, 
Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.

The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close of their junction, 
The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over my head, 
The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be master!

Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun-rise would kill me, 
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.

We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun, 
We found our own O my soul in the calm and cool of the daybreak.

My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach, 
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes of 

Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself, 
It provokes me forever, it says sarcastically, 
Walt you contain enough, why don't you let it out then?

Come now I will not be tantalized, you conceive too much of 
Do you not know O speech how the buds beneath you are folded? 
Waiting in gloom, protected by frost, 
The dirt receding before my prophetical screams, 
I underlying causes to balance them at last, 
My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with the meaning of all 
Happiness, (which whoever hears me let him or her set out in search 
of this day.)

My final merit I refuse you, I refuse putting from me what I really 
Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me, 
I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking toward you.

Writing and talk do not prove me, 
I carry the plenum of proof and every thing else in my face, 
With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic.

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

I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, 
clack of sticks cooking my meals, 
I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice, 
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following, 
Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and 
Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh of 
work-people at their meals, 
The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the 
The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing 
a death-sentence, 
The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the 
refrain of the anchor-lifters, 
The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of 
swift-streaking engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles 
and color'd lights, 
The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars, 
The slow march play'd at the head of the association marching two 
and two, 
(They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are draped with black 

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

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

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

I hear the train'd soprano (what work with hers is this?) 
The orchestra whirls me wider than Uranus flies, 
It wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possess'd them, 
It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are lick'd by the indolent 
I am cut by bitter and angry hail, I lose my breath, 
Steep'd amid honey'd morphine, my windpipe throttled in fakes of 
At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles, 
And that we call Being.

To be in any form, what is that? 
(Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,) 
If nothing lay more develop'd the quahaug in its callous shell were 

Mine is no callous shell, 
I have instant conductors all over me whether I pass or stop, 
They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me.

I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy, 
To touch my person to some one else's is about as much as I can 

Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity, 
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins, 
Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them, 
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly 
different from myself, 
On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs, 
Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip, 
Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial, 
Depriving me of my best as for a purpose, 
Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist, 
Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and 
Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away, 
They bribed to swap off with touch and go and graze at the edges of 
No consideration, no regard for my draining strength or my anger, 
Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a while, 
Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry me.

The sentries desert every other part of me, 
They have left me helpless to a red marauder, 
They all come to the headland to witness and assist against me.

I am given up by traitors, 
I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody else am the 
greatest traitor, 
I went myself first to the headland, my own hands carried me there.

You villain touch! what are you doing? my breath is tight in its 
Unclench your floodgates, you are too much for me.

Blind loving wrestling touch, sheath'd hooded sharp-tooth'd touch! 
Did it make you ache so, leaving me?

Parting track'd by arriving, perpetual payment of perpetual loan, 
Rich showering rain, and recompense richer afterward.

Sprouts take and accumulate, stand by the curb prolific and vital, 
Landscapes projected masculine, full-sized and golden.

All truths wait in all things, 
They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it, 
They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon, 
The insignificant is as big to me as any, 
(What is less or more than a touch?)

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

(Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so, 
Only what nobody denies is so.)

A minute and a drop of me settle my brain, 
I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps, 
And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman, 
And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each 
And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it 
becomes omnific, 
And until one and all shall delight us, and we them.

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the 
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 
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.

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and 
I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition, 
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins, 
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, 
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of 
owning things, 
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of 
years ago, 
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

So they show their relations to me and I accept them, 
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their 

I wonder where they get those tokens, 
Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them?

Myself moving forward then and now and forever, 
Gathering and showing more always and with velocity, 
Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them, 
Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers, 
Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly 

A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my 
Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears, 
Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground, 
Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly moving.

His nostrils dilate as my heels embrace him, 
His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure as we race around and 

I but use you a minute, then I resign you, stallion, 
Why do I need your paces when I myself out-gallop them? 
Even as I stand or sit passing faster than you.

Space and Time! now I see it is true, what I guess'd at, 
What I guess'd when I loaf'd on the grass, 
What I guess'd while I lay alone in my bed, 
And again as I walk'd the beach under the paling stars of the 

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

By the city's quadrangular houses - in log huts, camping with 
Along the ruts of the turnpike, along the dry gulch and rivulet bed, 
Weeding my onion-patch or hosing rows of carrots and parsnips, 
crossing savannas, trailing in forests, 
Prospecting, gold-digging, girdling the trees of a new purchase, 
Scorch'd ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my boat down the 
shallow river, 
Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead, where the 
buck turns furiously at the hunter, 
Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock, where the 
otter is feeding on fish, 
Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the bayou, 
Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey, where the 
beaver pats the mud with his paddle-shaped tall; 
Over the growing sugar, over the yellow-flower'd cotton plant, over 
the rice in its low moist field, 
Over the sharp-peak'd farm house, with its scallop'd scum and 
slender shoots from the gutters, 
Over the western persimmon, over the long-leav'd corn, over the 
delicate blue-flower flax, 
Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and buzzer there with 
the rest, 
Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades in the 
Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, holding on by low 
scragged limbs, 
Walking the path worn in the grass and beat through the leaves of 
the brush, 
Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods and the wheat-lot, 
Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve, where the great 
goldbug drops through the dark, 
Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to 
the meadow, 
Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous 
shuddering of their hides, 
Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where andirons straddle 
the hearth-slab, where cobwebs fall in festoons from the rafters; 
Where trip-hammers crash, where the press is whirling its cylinders, 
Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes under its ribs, 
Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, (floating in it 
myself and looking composedly down,) 
Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose, where the heat 
hatches pale-green eggs in the dented sand, 
Where the she-whale swims with her calf and never forsakes it, 
Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long pennant of smoke, 
Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of the water, 
Where the half-burn'd brig is riding on unknown currents, 
Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the dead are corrupting 
Where the dense-starr'd flag is borne at the head of the regiments, 
Approaching Manhattan up by the long-stretching island, 
Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance, 
Upon a door-step, upon the horse-block of hard wood outside, 
Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs or a good game of 
At he-festivals, with blackguard gibes, ironical license, 
bull-dances, drinking, laughter, 
At the cider-mill tasting the sweets of the brown mash, sucking the 
juice through a straw, 
At apple-peelings wanting kisses for all the red fruit I find, 
At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, house-raisings; 
Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles, 
screams, weeps, 
Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard, where the dry-stalks are 
scatter'd, where the brood-cow waits in the hovel, 
Where the bull advances to do his masculine work, where the stud to 
the mare, where the cock is treading the hen, 
Where the heifers browse, where geese nip their food with short 
Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless and lonesome 
Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles 
far and near, 
Where the humming-bird shimmers, where the neck of the long-lived 
swan is curving and winding, 
Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where she laughs her 
near-human laugh, 
Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden half hid by the 
high weeds, 
Where band-neck'd partridges roost in a ring on the ground with 
their heads out, 
Where burial coaches enter the arch'd gates of a cemetery, 
Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees, 
Where the yellow-crown'd heron comes to the edge of the marsh at 
night and feeds upon small crabs, 
Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools the warm noon, 
Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on the walnut-tree over 
the well, 
Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver-wired leaves, 
Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under conical firs, 
Through the gymnasium, through the curtain'd saloon, through the 
office or public hall; 
Pleas'd with the native and pleas'd with the foreign, pleas'd with 
the new and old, 
Pleas'd with the homely woman as well as the handsome, 
Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and talks 
Pleas'd with the tune of the choir of the whitewash'd church, 
Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist preacher, 
impress'd seriously at the camp-meeting; 
Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the whole forenoon, 
flatting the flesh of my nose on the thick plate glass, 
Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn'd up to the clouds, 
or down a lane or along the beach, 
My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, and I in the 
Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek'd bush-boy, (behind me 
he rides at the drape of the day,) 
Far from the settlements studying the print of animals' feet, or the 
moccasin print, 
By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a feverish patient, 
Nigh the coffin'd corpse when all is still, examining with a candle; 
Voyaging to every port to dicker and adventure, 
Hurrying with the modern crowd as eager and fickle as any, 
Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife him, 
Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from me a 
long while, 
Walking the old hills of Judaea with the beautiful gentle God by my 
Speeding through space, speeding through heaven and the stars, 
Speeding amid the seven satellites and the broad ring, and the 
diameter of eighty thousand miles, 
Speeding with tail'd meteors, throwing fire-balls like the rest, 
Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full mother in its 
Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning, 
Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing, 
I tread day and night such roads.

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

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

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

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

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

I ascend to the foretruck, 
I take my place late at night in the crow's-nest, 
We sail the arctic sea, it is plenty light enough, 
Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the wonderful 
The enormous masses of ice pass me and I pass them, the scenery is 
plain in all directions, 
The white-topt mountains show in the distance, I fling out my 
fancies toward them, 
We are approaching some great battle-field in which we are soon to 
be engaged, 
We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment, we pass with still 
feet and caution, 
Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin'd city, 
The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities 
of the globe.

I am a free companion, I bivouac by invading watchfires, 
I turn the bridgroom out of bed and stay with the bride myself, 
I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.

My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the rail of the stairs, 
They fetch my man's body up dripping and drown'd.

I understand the large hearts of heroes, 
The courage of present times and all times, 
How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the 
steamship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm, 
How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was faithful of 
days and faithful of nights, 
And chalk'd in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer, we will 
not desert you; 
How he follow'd with them and tack'd with them three days and 
would not give it up, 
How he saved the drifting company at last, 
How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when boated from the 
side of their prepared graves, 
How the silent old-faced infants and the lifted sick, and the 
sharp-lipp'd unshaved men; 
All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it becomes mine, 
I am the man, I suffer'd, I was there.

The disdain and calmness of martyrs, 
The mother of old, condemn'd for a witch, burnt with dry wood, her 
children gazing on, 
The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence, 
blowing, cover'd with sweat, 
The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the murderous 
buckshot and the bullets, 
All these I feel or am.

I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs, 
Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen, 
I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd with the 
ooze of my skin, 
I fall on the weeds and stones, 
The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close, 
Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with 

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

I am the mash'd fireman with breast-bone broken, 
Tumbling walls buried me in their debris, 
Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling shouts of my 
I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels, 
They have clear'd the beams away, they tenderly lift me forth.

I lie in the night air in my red shirt, the pervading hush is for my 
Painless after all I lie exhausted but not so unhappy, 
White and beautiful are the faces around me, the heads are bared 
of their fire-caps, 
The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the torches.

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

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

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

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

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

Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth, 
(I tell not the fall of Alamo, 
Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo, 
The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo,) 
'Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and twelve 
young men.

Retreating they had form'd in a hollow square with their baggage for 
Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemies, nine times their 
number, was the price they took in advance, 
Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone, 
They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv'd writing and 
seal, gave up their arms and march'd back prisoners of war.

They were the glory of the race of rangers, 
Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship, 
Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affectionate, 
Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters, 
Not a single one over thirty years of age.

The second First-day morning they were brought out in squads and 
massacred, it was beautiful early summer, 
The work commenced about five o'clock and was over by eight.

None obey'd the command to kneel, 
Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and straight, 
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and dead 
lay together, 
The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers saw them 
Some half-kill'd attempted to crawl away, 
These were despatch'd with bayonets or batter'd with the blunts of 
A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till two more 
came to release him, 
The three were all torn and cover'd with the boy's blood.

At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies; 
That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young 

Would you hear of an old-time sea-fight? 
Would you learn who won by the light of the moon and stars? 
List to the yarn, as my grandmother's father the sailor told it to 

Our foe was no sulk in his ship I tell you, (said he,) 
His was the surly English pluck, and there is no tougher or truer, 
and never was, and never will be; 
Along the lower'd eve he came horribly raking us.

We closed with him, the yards entangled, the cannon touch'd, 
My captain lash'd fast with his own hands.

We had receiv'd some eighteen pound shots under the water, 
On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at the first fire, 
killing all around and blowing up overhead.

Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark, 
Ten o'clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks on the gain, 
and five feet of water reported, 
The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in the after-hold 
to give them a chance for themselves.

The transit to and from the magazine is now stopt by the sentinels, 
They see so many strange faces they do not know whom to trust.

Our frigate takes fire, 
The other asks if we demand quarter? 
If our colors are struck and the fighting done?

Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my little captain, 
We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just begun our part 
of the fighting.

Only three guns are in use, 
One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy's 
Two well serv'd with grape and canister silence his musketry and 
clear his decks.

The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially 
the main-top, 
They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.

Not a moment's cease, 
The leaks gain fast on the pumps, the fire eats toward the 

One of the pumps has been shot away, it is generally thought we are 

Serene stands the little captain, 
He is not hurried, his voice is neither high nor low, 
His eyes give more light to us than our battle-lanterns.

Toward twelve there in the beams of the moon they surrender to us.

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 
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.

You laggards there on guard! look to your arms! 
In at the conquer'd doors they crowd! I am possess'd! 
Embody all presences outlaw'd or suffering, 
See myself in prison shaped like another man, 
And feel the dull unintermitted pain.

For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep 
It is I let out in the morning and barr'd at night.

Not a mutineer walks handcuff'd to jail but I am handcuff'd to him 
and walk by his side, 
(I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat 
on my twitching lips.)

Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried 
and sentenced.

Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the 
last gasp, 
My face is ash-color'd, my sinews gnarl, away from me people 

Askers embody themselves in me and I am embodied in them, 
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg.

Enough! enough! enough! 
Somehow I have been stunn'd. Stand back! 
Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers, dreams, 
I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.

That I could forget the mockers and insults! 
That I could forget the trickling tears and the blows of the 
bludgeons and hammers! 
That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and 
bloody crowning.

I remember now, 
I resume the overstaid fraction, 
The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it, or to any 
Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me.

I troop forth replenish'd with supreme power, one of an average 
unending procession, 
Inland and sea-coast we go, and pass all boundary lines, 
Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole earth, 
The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years.

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

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 naivete, 
Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes and emanations, 
They descend in new forms from the tips of his fingers, 
They are waited with the odor of his body or breath, they fly out of 
the glance of his eyes.

Flaunt of the sunshine I need not your bask - lie over! 
You light surfaces only, I force surfaces and depths also.

Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands, 
Say, old top-knot, what do you want?

Man or woman, I might tell how I like you, but cannot, 
And might tell what it is in me and what it is in you, but cannot, 
And might tell that pining I have, that pulse of my nights and 

Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity, 
When I give I give myself.

You there, impotent, loose in the knees, 
Open your scarf'd chops till I blow grit within you, 
Spread your palms and lift the flaps of your pockets, 
I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores plenty and to spare, 
And any thing I have I bestow.

I do not ask who you are, that is not important to me, 
You can do nothing and be nothing but what I will infold you.

To cotton-field drudge or cleaner of privies I lean, 
On his right cheek I put the family kiss, 
And in my soul I swear I never will deny him.

On women fit for conception I start bigger and nimbler babes. 
(This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arrogant republics.)

To any one dying, thither I speed and twist the knob of the door. 
Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed, 
Let the physician and the priest go home.

I seize the descending man and raise him with resistless will, 
O despairer, here is my neck, 
By God, you shall not go down! hang your whole weight upon me.

I dilate you with tremendous breath, I buoy you up, 
Every room of the house do I fill with an arm'd force, 
Lovers of me, bafflers of graves.

Sleep - I and they keep guard all night, 
Not doubt, not decease shall dare to lay finger upon you, 
I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to myself, 
And when you rise in the morning you will find what I tell you is 

I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on their backs, 
And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed help.

I heard what was said of the universe, 
Heard it and heard it of several thousand years; 
It is middling well as far as it goes - but is that all?

Magnifying and applying come I, 
Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters, 
Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah, 
Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules his grandson, 
Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha, 
In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the crucifix 
With Odin and the hideous-faced Mexitli and every idol and image, 
Taking them all for what they are worth and not a cent more, 
Admitting they were alive and did the work of their days, 
(They bore mites as for unfledg'd birds who have now to rise and fly 
and sing for themselves,) 
Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself, 
bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see, 
Discovering as much or more in a framer framing a house, 
Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd-up sleeves 
driving the mallet and chisel, 
Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or 
a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation, 
Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes no less to me 
than the gods of the antique wars, 
Minding their voices peal through the crash of destruction, 
Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd laths, their white 
foreheads whole and unhurt out of the flames; 
By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple interceding for 
every person born, 
Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three lusty angels 
with shirts bagg'd out at their waists, 
The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins past and to 
Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee lawyers for his 
brother and sit by him while he is tried for forgery; 
What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square rod about me, and 
not filling the square rod then, 
The bull and the bug never worshipp'd half enough, 
Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd, 
The supernatural of no account, myself waiting my time to be one of 
the supremes, 
The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as the 
best, and be as prodigious; 
By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator, 
Putting myself here and now to the ambush'd womb of the shadows.

A call in the midst of the crowd, 
My own voice, orotund sweeping and final.

Come my children, 
Come my boys and girls, my women, household and intimates, 
Now the performer launches his nerve, he has pass'd his prelude on 
the reeds within.

Easily written loose-finger'd chords - I feel the thrum of your 
climax and close.

My head slues round on my neck, 
Music rolls, but not from the organ, 
Folks are around me, but they are no household of mine.

Ever the hard unsunk ground, 
Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and downward sun, ever 
the air and the ceaseless tides, 
Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, real, 
Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorn'd thumb, that 
breath of itches and thirsts, 
Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly one hides 
and bring him forth, 
Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life, 
Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the trestles of death.

Here and there with dimes on the eyes walking, 
To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally spooning, 
Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never once going, 
Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff for payment 
A few idly owning, and they the wheat continually claiming.

This is the city and I am one of the citizens, 
Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars, markets, 
newspapers, schools, 
The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships, factories, 
stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate.

The little plentiful manikins skipping around in collars and tail'd 
I am aware who they are, (they are positively not worms or fleas,) 
I acknowledge the duplicates of myself, the weakest and shallowest 
is deathless with me, 
What I do and say the same waits for them, 
Every thought that flounders in me the same flounders in them.

I know perfectly well my own egotism, 
Know my omnivorous lines and must not write any less, 
And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.

Not words of routine this song of mine, 
But abruptly to question, to leap beyond yet nearer bring; 
This printed and bound book - but the printer and the 
printing-office boy? 
The well-taken photographs - but your wife or friend close and solid 
in your arms? 
The black ship mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in her turrets - but 
the pluck of the captain and engineers? 
In the houses the dishes and fare and furniture - but the host and 
hostess, and the look out of their eyes? 
The sky up there - yet here or next door, or across the way? 
The saints and sages in history - but you yourself? 
Sermons, creeds, theology - but the fathomless human brain, 
And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?

I do not despise you priests, all time, the world over, 
My faith is the greatest of faiths and the least of faiths, 
Enclosing worship ancient and modern and all between ancient and 
Believing I shall come again upon the earth after five thousand 
Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the gods, saluting the sun, 
Making a fetich of the first rock or stump, powowing with sticks in 
the circle of obis, 
Helping the llama or brahmin as he trims the lamps of the idols, 
Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic procession, rapt and 
austere in the woods a gymnosophist, 
Drinking mead from the skull-cap, to Shastas and Vedas admirant, 
minding the Koran, 
Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the stone and knife, 
beating the serpent-skin drum, 
Accepting the Gospels, accepting him that was crucified, knowing 
assuredly that he is divine, 
To the mass kneeling or the puritan's prayer rising, or sitting 
patiently in a pew, 
Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting dead-like till 
my spirit arouses me, 
Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of pavement and land, 
Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.

One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang I turn and talk like 
man leaving charges before a journey.

Down-hearted doubters dull and excluded, 
Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten'd, 
I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair 
and unbelief.

How the flukes splash! 
How they contort rapid as lightning, with spasms and spouts of 

Be at peace bloody flukes of doubters and sullen mopers, 
I take my place among you as much as among any, 
The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the same, 
And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me, all, precisely 
the same.

I do not know what is untried and afterward, 
But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and cannot fail.

Each who passes is consider'd, each who stops is consider'd, not 
single one can it fall.

It cannot fall the young man who died and was buried, 
Nor the young woman who died and was put by his side, 
Nor the little child that peep'd in at the door, and then drew back 
and was never seen again, 
Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and feels it with 
bitterness worse than gall, 
Nor him in the poor house tubercled by rum and the bad disorder, 
Nor the numberless slaughter'd and wreck'd, nor the brutish koboo 
call'd the ordure of humanity, 
Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths for food to slip in, 
Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest graves of the 
Nor any thing in the myriads of spheres, nor the myriads of myriads 
that inhabit them, 
Nor the present, nor the least wisp that is known.

It is time to explain myself - let us stand up.

What is known I strip away, 
I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.

The clock indicates the moment - but what does eternity indicate?

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

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

I do not call one greater and one smaller, 
That which fills its period and place is equal to any.

Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my brother, my sister? 
I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or jealous upon me, 
All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with lamentation, 
(What have I to do with lamentation?)

I am an acme of things accomplish'd, and I an encloser of things to 

My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs, 
On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps, 
All below duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount.

Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me, 
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there, 
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist, 
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.

Long I was hugg'd close - long and long.

Immense have been the preparations for me, 
Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me.

Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful boatmen, 
For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings, 
They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.

Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me, 
My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it.

For it the nebula cohered to an orb, 
The long slow strata piled to rest it on, 
Vast vegetables gave it sustenance, 
Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it 
with care.

All forces have been steadily employ'd to complete and delight me, 
Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.

O span of youth! ever-push'd elasticity! 
O manhood, balanced, florid and full.

My lovers suffocate me, 
Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin, 
Jostling me through streets and public halls, coming naked to me at 
Crying by day, Ahoy! from the rocks of the river, swinging and 
chirping over my head, 
Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled underbrush, 
Lighting on every moment of my life, 
Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses, 
Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts and giving them to 
be mine.

Old age superbly rising! O welcome, ineffable grace of dying days!

Every condition promulges not only itself, it promulges what grows 
after and out of itself, 
And the dark hush promulges as much as any.

I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled systems, 
And all I see multiplied as high as I can cipher edge but the rim of 
the farther systems.

Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always expanding, 
Outward and outward and forever outward.

My sun has his sun and round him obediently wheels, 
He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit, 
And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest inside them.

There is no stoppage and never can be stoppage, 
If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon their surfaces, 
were this moment reduced back to a pallid float, it would 
not avail the long run, 
We should surely bring up again where we now stand, 
And surely go as much farther, and then farther and farther.

A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic leagues, do 
not hazard the span or make it impatient, 
They are but parts, any thing is but a part.

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

My rendezvous is appointed, it is certain, 
The Lord will be there and wait till I come on perfect terms, 
The great Camerado, the lover true for whom I pine will be there.

I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and 
never will be measured.

I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!) 
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the 
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair, 
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy, 
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange, 
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll, 
My left hand hooking you round the waist, 
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public 

Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you, 
You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far, it is within reach, 
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know, 
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten 
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.

If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand 
on my hip, 
And in due time you shall repay the same service to me, 
For after we start we never lie by again.

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the crowded 
And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs, 
and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we 
be fill'd and satisfied then? 
And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue 

You are also asking me questions and I hear you, 
I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.

Sit a while dear son, 
Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink, 
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss 
you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress 

Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams, 
Now I wash the gum from your eyes, 
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every 
moment of your life.

Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore, 
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer, 
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, 
and laughingly dash with your hair.

I am the teacher of athletes, 
He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width 
of my own, 
He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.

The boy I love, the same becomes a man not through derived power, 
but in his own right, 
Wicked rather than virtuous out of conformity or fear, 
Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak, 
Unrequited love or a slight cutting him worse than sharp steel cuts, 
First-rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull's eye, to sail a 
skiff, to sing a song or play on the banjo, 
Preferring scars and the beard and faces pitted with small-pox over 
all latherers, 
And those well-tann'd to those that keep out of the sun.

I teach straying from me, yet who can stray from me? 
I follow you whoever you are from the present hour, 
My words itch at your ears till you understand them.

I do not say these things for a dollar or to fill up the time while 
I wait for a boat, 
(It is you talking just as much as myself, I act as the tongue of 
Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen'd.)

I swear I will never again mention love or death inside a house, 
And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only to him or her 
who privately stays with me in the open air.

If you would understand me go to the heights or water-shore, 
The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or motion of waves 
The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words.

No shutter'd room or school can commune with me, 
But roughs and little children better than they.

The young mechanic is closest to me, he knows me well, 
The woodman that takes his axe and jug with him shall take me with 
him all day, 
The farm-boy ploughing in the field feels good at the sound of my 
In vessels that sail my words sail, I go with fishermen and seamen 
and love them.

The soldier camp'd or upon the march is mine, 
On the night ere the pending battle many seek me, and I do not fail 
On that solemn night (it may be their last) those that know me seek 
My face rubs to the hunter's face when he lies down alone in his 
The driver thinking of me does not mind the jolt of his wagon, 
The young mother and old mother comprehend me, 
The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment and forget where they 
They and all would resume what I have told them.

I have said that the soul is not more than the body, 
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, 
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is, 
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own 
funeral drest in his shroud, 
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the 
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the 
learning of all times, 
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it 
may become a hero, 
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel'd 
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed 
before a million universes.

And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God, 
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God, 
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and 
about death.)

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the 
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.

Why should I wish to see God better than this day? 
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment 
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the 
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd 
by God's name, 
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go, 
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

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 

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 promotions, 
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 

There is that in me - I do not know what it is - but I know it is in 

Wrench'd and sweaty - calm and cool then my body becomes, 
I sleep - I sleep long.

I do not know it - it is without name - it is a word unsaid, 
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.

Something it swings on more than the earth I swing on, 
To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me.

Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for my brothers and 

Do you see O my brothers and sisters? 
It is not chaos or death - it is form, union, plan - it is eternal 
life - it is Happiness.

The past and present wilt - I have fill'd them, emptied them. 
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

Listener up there! what have you to confide to me? 
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening, 
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute 

Do I contradict myself? 
Very well then I contradict myself, 
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.

Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through with his 
Who wishes to walk with me?

Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?

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 yaws 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 
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.

I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891-2.

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

I SAW in Louisiana a live-oak growing, 
All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches, 
Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous of dark green, 
And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself, 
But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone there 
without its friend near, for I knew I could not, 
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it and 
twined around it a little moss, 
And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room, 
It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends, 
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,) 
Yet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me think of manly 
For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana 
solitary in a wide in a wide flat space, 
Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near, 
I know very well I could not.

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

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

It avails not, time nor place - distance avails not, 
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence, 
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-stemm'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.

I too many and many a time cross'd the river of old, 
Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, 
Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, 
Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south, 
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 round the shape of my head in the sunlit water, 
Look'd on the haze on the hills southward and south-westward, 
Look'd on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet, 
Look'd toward the lower bay to notice the vessels arriving, 
Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me, 
Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw the ships at anchor, 
The sailors at work in the rigging or out astride the spars, 
The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender serpentine pennants, 
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their pilothouses, 
The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the wheels, 
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sunset, 
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the frolic-some crests and glistening, 
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of the granite storehouses 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 streets.

These and all else were to me the same as they are to you, 
I loved well those cities, 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 not, 
I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine, 
I too walk'd the streets of Manhattan island, and bathed in the waters around it, 
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within 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 me, 
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 its patches down upon me also, 
The best I had done seem'd to me blank and suspicious, 
My great thoughts as I supposed them, were they not in reality meagre? 
Nor is it 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 wanting,

Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these wanting, 
Was one with the rest, the days and haps of the rest, 
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, sleeping, 
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 like, 
Or as small as we like, or both great and small.

Closer yet I approach you, 
What thought you have of me now, I had as much of you - I laid in my stores in advance, 
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, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me?

Ah, what can ever be more stately and admirable to me than mast-hemm'd Manhattan? 
River and sunset and scallop-edg'd waves of flood-tide? 
The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in the twilight, and the belated lighter? 
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 approach? 
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?

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 sunset! 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 Brooklyn! 
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers! 
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution! 
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house or street or public assembly! 
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my nighest name! 
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or actress! 
Play the old role, the role that is great or small 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 sunlit 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 houses! 
Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you are, 
You necessary film, continue to envelop the soul, 
About my body for me, and your body for you, be hung our divinest aromas, 
Thrive, cities-bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and sufficient rivers, 
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual, 
Keep your places, objects than which none else is more lasting.

You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers, 
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate henceforward, 
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.

Pioneers! O Pioneers!

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

OUT of the cradle endlessly rocking, 
Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle, 
Out of the Ninth-month midnight, 
Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond, where the child 
leaving his bed wander'd alone, bareheaded, barefoot, 
Down from the shower'd halo, 
Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as if they 
were alive, 
Out from the patches of briers and blackberries, 
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me, 
From your memories sad brother, from the fitful risings and fallings 
I heard, 
From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen as if with 
From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in the mist, 
From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease, 
From the myriad thence-arous'd words, 
From the word stronger and more delicious than any, 
From such as now they start the scene revisiting, 
As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing, 
Borne hither, ere all eludes me, hurriedly, 
A man, yet by these tears a little boy again, 
Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves, 
I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter, 
Taking all hints to use them, but swiftly leaping beyond them, 
A reminiscence sing.

Once Paumanok, 
When the lilac-scent was in the air and Fifth-month grass was 
Up this seashore in some briers, 
Two feather'd guests from Alabama, two together, 
And their nest, and four light-green eggs spotted with brown, 
And every day the he-bird to and fro near at hand, 
And every day the she-bird crouch'd on her nest, silent, with bright 
And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never disturbing 
Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.

Shine! shine! shine! 
Pour down your warmth, great sun.' 
While we bask, we two together.

Two together! 
Winds blow south, or winds blow north, 
Day come white, or night come black, 
Home, or rivers and mountains from home, 
Singing all time, minding no time, 
While we two keep together.

Till of a sudden, 
May-be kill'd, unknown to her mate, 
One forenoon the she-bird crouch'd not on the nest, 
Nor return'd that afternoon, nor the next, 
Nor ever appear'd again.

And thenceforward all summer in the sound of the sea, 
And at night under the full of the moon in calmer weather, 
Over the hoarse surging of the sea, 
Or flitting from brier to brier by day, 
I saw, I heard at intervals the remaining one, the he-bird, 
The solitary guest from Alabama.

Blow! blow! blow! 
Blow up sea-winds along Paumanok's shore,- 
I wait and I wait till you blow my mate to me.

Yes, when the stars glisten'd, 
All night long on the prong of a moss-scallop'd stake, 
Down almost amid the slapping waves, 
Sat the lone singer wonderful causing tears.

He call'd on his mate, 
He pour'd forth the meanings which I of all men know.

Yes my brother I know, 
The rest might not, but I have treasur'd every note, 
For more than once dimly down to the beach gliding, 
Silent, avoiding the moonbeams, blending myself with the shadows, 
Recalling now the obscure shapes, the echoes, the sounds and sights 
after their sorts, 
The white arms out in the breakers tirelessly tossing, 
I, with bare feet, a child, the wind waiting my hair, 
Listen'd long and long.

Listen'd to keep, to sing, now translating the notes, 
Following you my brother.

Soothe! soothe! soothe! 
Close on its wave soothes the wave behind, 
And again another behind embracing and lapping, every one close, 
But my love soothes not me, not me.

Low hangs the moon, it rose late, 
It is lagging-O I think it is heavy with love, with love.

O madly the sea pushes upon the land, 
With love, with love.

O night! do I not see my love fluttering out among the breakers? 
What is that little black thing I see there in the white?

Loud! loud! loud! 
Loud I call to you, my love! 
High and clear I shoot my voice over the waves, 
Surely you must know who is here, is here, 
You must know who I am, my love.

Low-hanging moon! 
What is that dusky spot in your brown yellow? 
O it is the shape, the shape of my mate.' 
O moon do not keep her from me any longer.

Land! land! O land! 
Whichever way I turn, O I think you could give me my mate back again 
if you only would, 
For I am almost sure I see her dimly whichever way I look.

O rising stars! 
Perhaps the one I want so much will rise, will rise with some of 

O throat! O trembling throat! 
Sound clearer through the atmosphere! 
Pierce the woods, the earth, 
Somewhere listening to catch you must be the one I want.

Shake out carols! 
Solitary here, the night's carols! 
Carols of lonesome love! death's carols! 
Carols under that lagging, yellow, waning moon! 
O under that moon where she droops almost down into the sea! 
O reckless despairing carols.

But soft! sink low! 
Soft! let me just murmur, 
And do you wait a moment you husky-nois'd sea, 
For somewhere I believe I heard my mate responding to me, 
So faint, I must be still, be still to listen, 
But not altogether still, for then she might not come immediately to 

Hither my love! 
Here I am! here! 
With this just-sustain'd note I announce myself to you, 
This gentle call is for you my love, for you.

Do not be decoy'd elsewhere, 
That is the whistle of the wind, it is not my voice, 
That is the fluttering, the fluttering of the spray, 
Those are the shadows of leaves.

O darkness! O in vain! 
O I am very sick and sorrowful

O brown halo in the sky near the moon, drooping upon the sea! 
O troubled reflection in the sea! 
O throat! O throbbing heart! 
And I singing uselessly, uselessly all the night.

O past! O happy life! O songs of joy! 
In the air, in the woods, over fields, 
Loved! loved! loved! loved! loved! 
But my mate no more, no more with me! 
We two together no more.

The aria sinking, 
All else continuing, the stars shining, 
The winds blowing, the notes of the bird continuous echoing, 
With angry moans the fierce old mother incessantly moaning, 
On the sands of Paumanok's shore gray and rustling, 
The yellow half-moon enlarged, sagging down, drooping, the face of 
the sea almost touching, 
The boy ecstatic, with his bare feet the waves, with his hair the 
atmosphere dallying, 
The love in the heart long pent, now loose, now at last tumultuously 
The aria's meaning, the ears, the soul, swiftly depositing, 
The strange tears down the cheeks coursing, 
The colloquy there, the trio, each uttering, 
The undertone, the savage old mother incessantly crying, 
To the boy's soul's questions sullenly timing, some drown'd secret 
To the outsetting bard.

Demon or bird! (said the boy's soul,) 
Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it really to me? 
For I, that was a child, my tongue's use sleeping, now I have heard 
Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake, 
And already a thousand singers, a thousand songs, clearer, louder 
and more sorrowful than yours, 
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within me, never to 

O you singer solitary, singing by yourself, projecting me, 
O solitary me listening, never more shall I cease perpetuating you, 
Never more shall I escape, never more the reverberations, 
Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me, 
Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what 
there in the night, 
By the sea under the yellow and sagging moon, 
The messenger there arous'd, the fire, the sweet hell within, 
The unknown want, the destiny of me.

O give me the clew! (it lurks in the night here somewhere,) 
O if I am to have so much, let me have more! 
A word then, (for I will conquer it,) 
The word final, superior to all, 
Subtle, sent up-what is it?-I listen; 
Are you whispering it, and have been all the time, you sea-waves? 
Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands?

Whereto answering, the sea, 
Delaying not, hurrying not, 
Whisper'd me through the night, and very plainly before daybreak, 
Lisp'd to me the low and delicious word death, 
And again death, death, death, death 
Hissing melodious, neither like the bird nor like my arous'd child's 
But edging near as privately for me rustling at my feet, 
Creeping thence steadily up to my ears and laving me softly all 
Death, death, death, death, death.

Which I do not forget. 
But fuse the song of my dusky demon and brother, 
That he sang to me in the moonlight on Paumanok's gray beach, 
With the thousand responsive songs at random, 
My own songs awaked from that hour, 
And with them the key, the word up from the waves, 
The word of the sweetest song and all songs, 
That strong and delicious word which, creeping to my feet, 
(Or like some old crone rocking the cradle, swathed in sweet 
garments, bending aside,) 
The sea whisper'd me.

Cavalry Crossing a Ford

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

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 to drink, 
Behold the brown-faced men, each group, each person a picture, the negligent rest on the saddles, 
Some emerge on the opposite bank, others are just entering the ford- while, 
Scarlet and blue and snowy white, 
The guidon flags flutter gayly in the wind.

Bivouac on a Mountain Side

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

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.

The Wound-Dresser

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

AN old man bending I come among new faces, 
Years looking backward resuming in answer to children, 
Come tell us old man, as from young men and maidens that love me, 
(Arous'd and angry, I'd thought to beat the alarum, and urge 
relentless war, 
But soon my fingers fail'd me, my face droop'd and I resign'd 
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead;) 
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions, these 
Of unsurpass'd heroes, (was one side so brave? the other was equally 
Now be witness again, paint the mightiest armies of earth, 
Of those armies so rapid so wondrous what saw you to tell us? 
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics, 
Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest 

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

But in silence, in dreams' projections, 
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on, 
So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the 
With hinged knees returning I enter the doors, (while for you up 
Whoever you are, follow without noise and be of strong heart.)

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

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

On, on I go, (open doors of time! open hospital doors!) 
The crush'd head I dress, (poor crazed hand tear not the bandage 
The neck of the cavalry-man with the bullet through and through 
Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye, yet life 
struggles hard, 
(Come sweet death! be persuaded O beautiful death! 
In mercy come quickly.)

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

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

I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet-wound, 
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening, so 
While the attendant stands behind aside me holding the tray and 

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

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

When Lilacs Last in Dooryard Bloom'd

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O what shall I hang on the chamber walls? 
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls, 
To adorn the burial-house of him I love? 
Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes, 
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and 
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking 
sun, burning, expanding the air, 
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves 
of the trees prolific, 
In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a 
wind-dapple here and there, 
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, 
and shadows, 
And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and stacks of 
And all the scenes of life and the workshops, and the workmen 
homeward returning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O Captain! My Captain!

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, 
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won, 
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, 
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; 
But O heart! heart! heart! 
O the bleeding drops of red, 
Where on the deck my Captain lies, 
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; 
Rise up - for you the flag is flung - for you the bugle trills, 
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths - for you the shores 
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; 
Here Captain! dear father! 
This arm beneath your head! 
It is some dream that on the deck, 
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, 
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, 
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, 
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; 
Exult O shores, and ring O bells! 
But I with mournful tread, 
Walk the deck my Captain lies, 
Fallen cold and dead.

There Was a Child Went Forth

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

THERE was a child went forth every day, 
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became, 
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of 
the day, 
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child, 
And grass and white and red morning-glories, and white and red 
clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird, 
And the Third-month lambs and the sow's pink-faint litter, and the 
mare's foal and the cow's calf, 
And the noisy brood of the barnyard or by the mire of the 
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there, and the 
beautiful curious liquid, 
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads, all became part 
of him.

The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of 
Winter-grain sprouts and those of the light-yellow corn, and the 
esculent roots of the garden, 
And the apple-trees cover'd with blossoms and the fruit afterward, 
and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road, 
And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the 
tavern whence he had lately risen, 
And the schoolmistress that pass'd on her way to the school, 
And the friendly boys that pass'd, and the quarrelsome boys, 
And the tidy and fresh-cheek'd girls, and the barefoot negro boy and 
And all the changes of city and country wherever he went.

His own parents, he that had father'd him and she that had conceiv'd 
him in her womb and birth'd him, 
They gave this child more of themselves than that, 
They gave him afterward every day, they became part of him.

The mother at home quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table, 
The mother with mild words, clean her cap and gown, a wholesome 
odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by, 
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger'd, unjust, 
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure, 
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture, the 
yearning and swelling heart, 
Affection that will not be gainsay'd, the sense of what is real, the 
thought if after all it should prove unreal, 
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time, the curious 
whether and how, 
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and 
Men and women crowding fast in the streets, if they are not flashes 
and specks what are they? 
The streets themselves and the facades of houses, and goods in the 
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank'd wharves, the huge crossing at the 
The village on the highland seen from afar at sunset, the river 
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables of 
white or brown two miles off, 
The schooner near by sleepily dropping down the tide, the little 
boat slack-tow'd astern, 
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping, 
The strata of color'd clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint away 
solitary by itself, the spread of purity it lies motionless in, 
The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh 
and shore mud, 
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who 
now goes, and will always go forth every day.

A Noiseless Patient Spider

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

A NOISELESS patient spider, 
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated, 
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding, 
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament out of itself, 
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand, 
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, 
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them, 
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold, 
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Good-Bye My Fancy!

Resources for Whitman

Source of electronic texts: The Walt Whitman Archive, edited by Ed Folsom and Kenneth M. Price.

GOOD-BYE my Fancy! 
Farewell dear mate, dear love! 
I'm going away, I know not where, 
Or to what fortune, or whether I may ever see you again, 
So Good-bye my Fancy.

Now for my last - let me look back a moment; 
The slower fainter ticking of the clock is in me, 
Exit, nightfall, and soon the heart-thud stopping.

Long have we lived, joy'd, caress'd together; 
Delightful! - now separation - Good-bye my Fancy.

Yet let me not be too hasty, 
Long indeed have we lived, slept, filter'd, become really blended into one; 
Then if we die we die together, (yes, we'll remain one,) 
If we go anywhere we'll go together to meet what happens, 
May-be we'll be better off and blither, and learn something, 
May-be it is yourself now really ushering me to the true songs, (who knows?) 
May-be it is you the mortal knob really undoing, turning-so now finally, 
Good-bye-and hail! my Fancy.

DALA: Digital American Literature Anthology
Edited by Dr. Michael O'Conner, Millikin University
Unit 10: Dickinson and Whitman



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