What widens within you Walt Whitman? What waves and soils exuding? What climes? what persons and cities are here? Who are the infants, some playing, some slumbering? Who are the girls? who are the married women? Who are the groups of old men going slowly with their arms about each other's necks? What rivers are these? what forests and fruits are these? What are the mountains call'd that rise so high in the mists? What myriads of dwellings are they fill'd with dwellers?
2 Within me latitude widens, longitude lengthens, Asia, Africa, Europe, are to the east—America is provided for in the west, Banding the bulge of the earth winds the hot equator, Curiously north and south turn the axis-ends, Within me is the longest day, the sun wheels in slanting rings, it does not set for months, Stretch'd in due time within me the midnight sun just rises above the horizon and sinks again, Within me zones, seas, cataracts, forests, volcanoes, groups, Malaysia, Polynesia, and the great West Indian islands.
3 What do you hear Walt Whitman?
I hear the workman singing and the farmer's wife singing, I hear in the distance the sounds of children and of animals early in the day, I hear emulous shouts of Australians pursuing the wild horse, I hear the Spanish dance with castanets in the chestnut shade, to the rebeck and guitar, I hear continual echoes from the Thames, I hear fierce French liberty songs, I hear of the Italian boat-sculler the musical recitative of old poems, I hear the locusts in Syria as they strike the grain and grass with the showers of their terrible clouds, I hear the Coptic refrain toward sundown, pensively falling on the breast of the black venerable vast mother the Nile, I hear the chirp of the Mexican muleteer, and the bells of the mule, I hear the Arab muezzin calling from the top of the mosque, I hear the Christian priests at the altars of their churches, I hear the responsive base and soprano, I hear the cry of the Cossack, and the sailor's voice putting to sea at Okotsk, I hear the wheeze of the slave-coffle as the slaves march on, as the husky gangs pass on by twos and threes, fasten'd together with wrist-chains and ankle-chains, I hear the Hebrew reading his records and psalms, I hear the rhythmic myths of the Greeks, and the strong legends of the Romans, I hear the tale of the divine life and bloody death of the beautiful God the Christ, I hear the Hindoo teaching his favorite pupil the loves, wars, adages, transmitted safely to this day from poets who wrote three thousand years ago.
4 What do you see Walt Whitman? Who are they you salute, and that one after another salute you? I see a great round wonder rolling through space, I see diminute farms, hamlets, ruins, graveyards, jails, factories, palaces, hovels, huts of barbarians, tents of nomads upon the surface, I see the shaded part on one side where the sleepers are sleeping, and the sunlit part on the other side, I see the curious rapid change of the light and shade, I see distant lands, as real and near to the inhabitants of them as my land is to me.
I see plenteous waters, I see mountain peaks, I see the sierras of Andes where they range, I see plainly the Himalayas, Chian Shahs, Altays, Ghauts, I see the giant pinnacles of Elbruz, Kazbek, Bazardjusi, I see the Styrian Alps, and the Karnac Alps, I see the Pyrenees, Balks, Carpathians, and to the north the Dofrafields, and off at sea mount Hecla, I see Vesuvius and Etna, the mountains of the Moon, and the Red mountains of Madagascar, I see the Lybian, Arabian, and Asiatic deserts, I see huge dreadful Arctic and Antarctic icebergs, I see the superior oceans and the inferior ones, the Atlantic and Pacific, the sea of Mexico, the Brazilian sea, and the sea of Peru, The waters of Hindustan, the China sea, and the gulf of Guinea, The Japan waters, the beautiful bay of Nagasaki land-lock'd in its mountains, The spread of the Baltic, Caspian, Bothnia, the British shores, and the bay of Biscay, The clear-sunn'd Mediterranean, and from one to another of its islands, The White sea, and the sea around Greenland.
I behold the mariners of the world, Some are in storms, some in the night with the watch on the lookout, Some drifting helplessly, some with contagious diseases.
I behold the sail and steamships of the world, some in clusters in port, some on their voyages, Some double the cape of Storms, some cape Verde, others capes Guardafui, Bon, or Bajadore, Others Dondra head, others pass the straits of Sunda, others cape Lopatka, others Behring's straits, Others cape Horn, others sail the gulf of Mexico or along Cuba or Hayti, others Hudson's bay or Baffin's bay, Others pass the straits of Dover, others enter the Wash, others the firth of Solway, others round cape Clear, others the Land's End, Others traverse the Zuyder Zee or the Scheld, Others as comers and goers at Gibraltar or the Dardanelles, Others sternly push their way through the northern winter-packs, Others descend or ascend the Obi or the Lena, Others the Niger or the Congo, others the Indus, the Burampooter and Cambodia, Others wait steam'd up ready to start in the ports of Australia, Wait at Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin, Marseilles, Lisbon, Naples, Hamburg, Bremen, Bordeaux, the Hague, Copenhagen, Wait at Valparaiso, Rio Janeiro, Panama.
5 I see the tracks of the railroads of the earth, I see them in Great Britain, I see them in Europe, I see them in Asia and in Africa.
I see the electric telegraphs of the earth, I see the filaments of the news of the wars, deaths, losses, gains, passions, of my race.
I see the long river-stripes of the earth, I see the Amazon and the Paraguay, I see the four great rivers of China, the Amour, the Yellow River, the Yiang-tse, and the Pearl, I see where the Seine flows, and where the Danube, the Loire, the Rhone, and the Guadalquiver flow, I see the windings of the Volga, the Dnieper, the Oder, I see the Tuscan going down the Arno, and the Venetian along the Po, I see the Greek seaman sailing out of Egina bay.
6 I see the site of the old empire of Assyria, and that of Persia, and that of India, I see the falling of the Ganges over the high rim of Saukara.
I see the place of the idea of the Deity incarnated by avatars in human forms, I see the spots of the successions of priests on the earth, oracles, sacrificers, brahmins, sabians, llamas, monks, muftis, exhorters, I see where druids walk'd the groves of Mona, I see the mistletoe and vervain, I see the temples of the deaths of the bodies of Gods, I see the old signifiers.
I see Christ eating the bread of his last supper in the midst of youths and old persons, I see where the strong divine young man the Hercules toil'd faithfully and long and then died, I see the place of the innocent rich life and hapless fate of the beautiful nocturnal son, the full-limb'd Bacchus, I see Kneph, blooming, drest in blue, with the crown of feathers on his head, I see Hermes, unsuspected, dying, well-belov'd, saying to the people Do not weep for me, This is not my true country, I have lived banish'd from my true country, I now go back there, I return to the celestial sphere where every one goes in his turn.
7 I see the battle-fields of the earth, grass grows upon them and blossoms and corn, I see the tracks of ancient and modern expeditions.
I see the nameless masonries, venerable messages of the unknown events, heroes, records of the earth.
I see the places of the sagas, I see pine-trees and fir-trees torn by northern blasts, I see granite bowlders and cliffs, I see green meadows and lakes, I see the burial-cairns of Scandinavian warriors, I see them raised high with stones by the marge of restless oceans, that the dead men's spirits when they wearied of their quiet graves might rise up through the mounds and gaze on the tossing billows, and be refresh'd by storms, immensity, liberty, action.
I see the steppes of Asia, I see the tumuli of Mongolia, I see the tents of Kalmucks and Baskirs, I see the nomadic tribes with herds of oxen and cows, I see the table-lands notch'd with ravines, I see the jungles and deserts, I see the camel, the wild steed, the bustard, the fat-tail'd sheep, the antelope, and the burrowing wolf
I see the highlands of Abyssinia, I see flocks of goats feeding, and see the fig-tree, tamarind, date, And see fields of teff-wheat and places of verdure and gold.
I see the Brazilian vaquero, I see the Bolivian ascending mount Sorata, I see the Wacho crossing the plains, I see the incomparable rider of horses with his lasso on his arm, I see over the pampas the pursuit of wild cattle for their hides.
8 I see the regions of snow and ice, I see the sharp-eyed Samoiede and the Finn, I see the seal-seeker in his boat poising his lance, I see the Siberian on his slight-built sledge drawn by dogs, I see the porpoise-hunters, I see the whale-crews of the south Pacific and the north Atlantic, I see the cliffs, glaciers, torrents, valleys, of Switzerland—I mark the long winters and the isolation.
I see the cities of the earth and make myself at random a part of them, I am a real Parisian, I am a habitan of Vienna, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Constantinople, I am of Adelaide, Sidney, Melbourne, I am of London, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Limerick, I am of Madrid, Cadiz, Barcelona, Oporto, Lyons, Brussels, Berne, Frankfort, Stuttgart, Turin, Florence, I belong in Moscow, Cracow, Warsaw, or northward in Christiania or Stockholm, or in Siberian Irkutsk, or in some street in Iceland, I descend upon all those cities, and rise from them again.
10 I see vapors exhaling from unexplored countries, I see the savage types, the bow and arrow, the poison'd splint, the fetich, and the obi. I see African and Asiatic towns, I see Algiers, Tripoli, Derne, Mogadore, Timbuctoo, Monrovia, I see the swarms of Pekin, Canton, Benares, Delhi, Calcutta, Tokio, I see the Kruman in his hut, and the Dahoman and Ashantee-man in their huts, I see the Turk smoking opium in Aleppo, I see the picturesque crowds at the fairs of Khiva and those of Herat, I see Teheran, I see Muscat and Medina and the intervening sands, see the caravans toiling onward, I see Egypt and the Egyptians, I see the pyramids and obelisks. I look on chisell'd histories, records of conquering kings, dynasties, cut in slabs of sand-stone, or on granite-blocks, I see at Memphis mummy-pits containing mummies embalm'd, swathed in linen cloth, lying there many centuries, I look on the fall'n Theban, the large-ball'd eyes, the side-drooping neck, the hands folded across the breast.
I see all the menials of the earth, laboring, I see all the prisoners in the prisons, I see the defective human bodies of the earth, The blind, the deaf and dumb, idiots, hunchbacks, lunatics, The pirates, thieves, betrayers, murderers, slave-makers of the earth, The helpless infants, and the helpless old men and women.
I see male and female everywhere, I see the serene brotherhood of philosophs, I see the constructiveness of my race, I see the results of the perseverance and industry of my race, I see ranks, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, I go among them, I mix indiscriminately, And I salute all the inhabitants of the earth.
11 You whoever you are! You daughter or son of England! You of the mighty Slavic tribes and empires! you Russ in Russia! You dim-descended, black, divine-soul'd African, large, fine-headed, nobly-form'd, superbly destin'd, on equal terms with me! You Norwegian! Swede! Dane! Icelander! you Prussian! You Spaniard of Spain! you Portuguese! You Frenchwoman and Frenchman of France! You Belge! you liberty-lover of the Netherlands! (you stock whence I myself have descended;) You sturdy Austrian! you Lombard! Hun! Bohemian! farmer of Styria! You neighbor of the Danube! You working-man of the Rhine, the Elbe, or the Weser! you working-woman too! You Sardinian! you Bavarian! Swabian! Saxon! Wallachian! Bulgarian! You Roman! Neapolitan! you Greek! You lithe matador in the arena at Seville! You mountaineer living lawlessly on the Taurus or Caucasus! You Bokh horse-herd watching your mares and stallions feeding! You beautiful-bodied Persian at full speed in the saddle shooting arrows to the mark! You Chinaman and Chinawoman of China! you Tartar of Tartary! You women of the earth subordinated at your tasks! You Jew journeying in your old age through every risk to stand once on Syrian ground! You other Jews waiting in all lands for your Messiah! You thoughtful Armenian pondering by some stream of the Euphrates! you peering amid the ruins of Nineveh! you ascending mount Ararat! You foot-worn pilgrim welcoming the far-away sparkle of the minarets of Mecca! You sheiks along the stretch from Suez to Bab-el-mandeb ruling your families and tribes! You olive-grower tending your fruit on fields of Nazareth, Damascus, or lake Tiberias! You Thibet trader on the wide inland or bargaining in the shops of Lassa! You Japanese man or woman! you liver in Madagascar, Ceylon, Sumatra, Borneo! All you continentals of Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, indifferent of place! All you on the numberless islands of the archipelagoes of the sea! And you of centuries hence when you listen to me! And you each and everywhere whom I specify not, but include just the same! Health to you! good will to you all, from me and America sent!
Each of us inevitable, Each of us limitless—each of us with his or her right upon the earth, Each of us allow'd the eternal purports of the earth, Each of us here as divinely as any is here.
12 You Hottentot with clicking palate! you woolly-hair'd hordes! You own'd persons dropping sweat-drops or blood-drops! You human forms with the fathomless ever-impressive countenances of brutes! You poor koboo whom the meanest of the rest look down upon for all your glimmering language and spirituality! You dwarf'd Kamtschatkan, Greenlander, Lapp! You Austral negro, naked, red, sooty, with protrusive lip, groveling, seeking your food! You Caffre, Berber, Soudanese! You haggard, uncouth, untutor'd Bedowee! You plague-swarms in Madras, Nankin, Kaubul, Cairo! You benighted roamer of Amazonia! you Patagonian! you Feejeeman! I do not prefer others so very much before you either, I do not say one word against you, away back there where you stand, (You will come forward in due time to my side.)
13 My spirit has pass'd in compassion and determination around the whole earth, I have look'd for equals and lovers and found them ready for me in all lands, I think some divine rapport has equalized me with them.
You vapors, I think I have risen with you, moved away to distant continents, and fallen down there, for reasons, I think I have blown with you you winds; You waters I have finger'd every shore with you, I have run through what any river or strait of the globe has run through, I have taken my stand on the bases of peninsulas and on the high embedded rocks, to cry thence:
What cities the light or warmth penetrates I penetrate those cities myself, All islands to which birds wing their way I wing my way myself.
Toward you all, in America's name, I raise high the perpendicular hand, I make the signal, To remain after me in sight forever, For all the haunts and homes of men.
Song of the Open Road
1 Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me, The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, Strong and content I travel the open road.
The earth, that is sufficient, I do not want the constellations any nearer, I know they are very well where they are, I know they suffice for those who belong to them.
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens, I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go, I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them, I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.)
2 You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here, I believe that much unseen is also here.
Here the profound lesson of reception, nor preference nor denial, The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas'd, the illiterate person, are not denied; The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar's tramp, the drunkard's stagger, the laughing party of mechanics, The escaped youth, the rich person's carriage, the fop, the eloping couple, The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture into the town, the return back from the town, They pass, I also pass, any thing passes, none can be interdicted, None but are accepted, none but shall be dear to me.
3 You air that serves me with breath to speak! You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape! You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers! You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides! I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.
You flagg'd walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges! You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined side! you distant ships! You rows of houses! you window-pierc'd facades! you roofs! You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards! You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much! You doors and ascending steps! you arches! You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings! From all that has touch'd you I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me, From the living and the dead you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.
4 The earth expanding right hand and left hand, The picture alive, every part in its best light, The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted, The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.
O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me? Do you say Venture not—if you leave me you are lost? Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?
O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you, You express me better than I can express myself, You shall be more to me than my poem.
I think heroic deeds were all conceiv'd in the open air, and all free poems also, I think I could stop here myself and do miracles, I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me, I think whoever I see must be happy.
5 From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, Going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space, The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.
I am larger, better than I thought, I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me, can repeat over to men and women You have done such good to me I would do the same to you, I will recruit for myself and you as I go, I will scatter myself among men and women as I go, I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them, Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me, Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.
6 Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear it would not amaze me, Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear'd it would not astonish me.
Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons, It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.
Here a great personal deed has room, (Such a deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men, Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law and mocks all authority and all argument against it.)
Here is the test of wisdom, Wisdom is not finally tested in schools, Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it to another not having it, Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof, Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content, Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things; Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.
Now I re-examine philosophies and religions, They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents.
Here is realization, Here is a man tallied—he realizes here what he has in him, The past, the future, majesty, love—if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.
Only the kernel of every object nourishes; Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me? Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me?
Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion'd, it is apropos; Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers? Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?
7 Here is the efflux of the soul, The efflux of the soul comes from within through embower'd gates, ever provoking questions, These yearnings why are they? these thoughts in the darkness why are they? Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands my blood? Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank? Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me? (I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees and always drop fruit as I pass;) What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers? What with some driver as I ride on the seat by his side? What with some fisherman drawing his seine by the shore as I walk by and pause? What gives me to be free to a woman's and man's good-will? what gives them to be free to mine?
8 The efflux of the soul is happiness, here is happiness, I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times, Now it flows unto us, we are rightly charged.
Here rises the fluid and attaching character, The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman, (The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day out of the roots of themselves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet continually out of itself.)
Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the love of young and old, From it falls distill'd the charm that mocks beauty and attainments, Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.
9 Allons! whoever you are come travel with me! Traveling with me you find what never tires.
The earth never tires, The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first, Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop'd, I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
Allons! we must not stop here, However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here, However shelter'd this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here, However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.
10 Allons! the inducements shall be greater, We will sail pathless and wild seas, We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.
Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements, Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity; Allons! from all formules! From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic priests.
The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the burial waits no longer.
Allons! yet take warning! He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance, None may come to the trial till he or she bring courage and health, Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself, Only those may come who come in sweet and determin'd bodies, No diseas'd person, no rum-drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.
(I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes, We convince by our presence.)
11 Listen! I will be honest with you, I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes, These are the days that must happen to you: You shall not heap up what is call'd riches, You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve, You but arrive at the city to which you were destin'd, you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction before you are call'd by an irresistible call to depart, You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you, What beckonings of love you receive you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting, You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach'd hands toward you.
12 Allons! after the great Companions, and to belong to them! They too are on the road—they are the swift and majestic men—they are the greatest women, Enjoyers of calms of seas and storms of seas, Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of land, Habitues of many distant countries, habitues of far-distant dwellings, Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, solitary toilers, Pausers and contemplators of tufts, blossoms, shells of the shore, Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides, tender helpers of children, bearers of children, Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves, lowerers-down of coffins, Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the years, the curious years each emerging from that which preceded it, Journeyers as with companions, namely their own diverse phases, Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days, Journeyers gayly with their own youth, journeyers with their bearded and well-grain'd manhood, Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsurpass'd, content, Journeyers with their own sublime old age of manhood or womanhood, Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe, Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.
13 Allons! to that which is endless as it was beginningless, To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights, To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to, Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys, To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it, To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it, To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you, however long but it stretches and waits for you, To see no being, not God's or any, but you also go thither, To see no possession but you may possess it, enjoying all without labor or purchase, abstracting the feast yet not abstracting one particle of it, To take the best of the farmer's farm and the rich man's elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens, To take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass through, To carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever you go, To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them, to gather the love out of their hearts, To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind you, To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.
All parts away for the progress of souls, All religion, all solid things, arts, governments—all that was or is apparent upon this globe or any globe, falls into niches and corners before the procession of souls along the grand roads of the universe.
Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads of the universe, all other progress is the needed emblem and sustenance.
Forever alive, forever forward, Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied, Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men, They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they go, But I know that they go toward the best—toward something great.
Whoever you are, come forth! or man or woman come forth! You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you.
Out of the dark confinement! out from behind the screen! It is useless to protest, I know all and expose it.
Behold through you as bad as the rest, Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of people, Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those wash'd and trimm'd faces, Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.
No husband, no wife, no friend, trusted to hear the confession, Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and hiding it goes, Formless and wordless through the streets of the cities, polite and bland in the parlors, In the cars of railroads, in steamboats, in the public assembly, Home to the houses of men and women, at the table, in the bedroom, everywhere, Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright, death under the breast-bones, hell under the skull-bones, Under the broadcloth and gloves, under the ribbons and artificial flowers, Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a syllable of itself, Speaking of any thing else but never of itself.
14 Allons! through struggles and wars! The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.
Have the past struggles succeeded? What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? Nature? Now understand me well—it is provided in the essence of things that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.
My call is the call of battle, I nourish active rebellion, He going with me must go well arm'd, He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry enemies, desertions.
15 Allons! the road is before us! It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain'd! Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen'd! Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn'd! Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher! Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.
Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you my love more precious than money, I give you myself before preaching or law; Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.)
5 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.
6 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.
7 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?
8 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?
9 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.
Song of the Answerer
1 Now list to my morning's romanza, I tell the signs of the Answerer, To the cities and farms I sing as they spread in the sunshine before me.
A young man comes to me bearing a message from his brother, How shall the young man know the whether and when of his brother? Tell him to send me the signs. And I stand before the young man face to face, and take his right hand in my left hand and his left hand in my right hand, And I answer for his brother and for men, and I answer for him that answers for all, and send these signs.
Him all wait for, him all yield up to, his word is decisive and final, Him they accept, in him lave, in him perceive themselves as amid light, Him they immerse and he immerses them.
Beautiful women, the haughtiest nations, laws, the landscape, people, animals, The profound earth and its attributes and the unquiet ocean, (so tell I my morning's romanza,) All enjoyments and properties and money, and whatever money will buy, The best farms, others toiling and planting and he unavoidably reaps, The noblest and costliest cities, others grading and building and he domiciles there, Nothing for any one but what is for him, near and far are for him, the ships in the offing, The perpetual shows and marches on land are for him if they are for anybody.
He puts things in their attitudes, He puts to-day out of himself with plasticity and love, He places his own times, reminiscences, parents, brothers and sisters, associations, employment, politics, so that the rest never shame them afterward, nor assume to command them.
He is the Answerer, What can be answer'd he answers, and what cannot be answer'd he shows how it cannot be answer'd.
A man is a summons and challenge, (It is vain to skulk—do you hear that mocking and laughter? do you hear the ironical echoes?)
Books, friendships, philosophers, priests, action, pleasure, pride, beat up and down seeking to give satisfaction, He indicates the satisfaction, and indicates them that beat up and down also.
Whichever the sex, whatever the season or place, he may go freshly and gently and safely by day or by night, He has the pass-key of hearts, to him the response of the prying of hands on the knobs.
His welcome is universal, the flow of beauty is not more welcome or universal than he is, The person he favors by day or sleeps with at night is blessed.
Every existence has its idiom, every thing has an idiom and tongue, He resolves all tongues into his own and bestows it upon men, and any man translates, and any man translates himself also, One part does not counteract another part, he is the joiner, he sees how they join.
He says indifferently and alike How are you friend? to the President at his levee, And he says Good-day my brother, to Cudge that hoes in the sugar-field, And both understand him and know that his speech is right.
He walks with perfect ease in the capitol, He walks among the Congress, and one Representative says to another, Here is our equal appearing and new.
Then the mechanics take him for a mechanic, And the soldiers suppose him to be a soldier, and the sailors that he has follow'd the sea, And the authors take him for an author, and the artists for an artist, And the laborers perceive he could labor with them and love them, No matter what the work is, that he is the one to follow it or has follow'd it, No matter what the nation, that he might find his brothers and sisters there.
The English believe he comes of their English stock, A Jew to the Jew he seems, a Russ to the Russ, usual and near, removed from none.
Whoever he looks at in the traveler's coffee-house claims him, The Italian or Frenchman is sure, the German is sure, the Spaniard is sure, and the island Cuban is sure, The engineer, the deck-hand on the great lakes, or on the Mississippi or St. Lawrence or Sacramento, or Hudson or Paumanok sound, claims him.
The gentleman of perfect blood acknowledges his perfect blood, The insulter, the prostitute, the angry person, the beggar, see themselves in the ways of him, he strangely transmutes them, They are not vile any more, they hardly know themselves they are so grown.
2 The indications and tally of time, Perfect sanity shows the master among philosophs, Time, always without break, indicates itself in parts, What always indicates the poet is the crowd of the pleasant company of singers, and their words, The words of the singers are the hours or minutes of the light or dark, but the words of the maker of poems are the general light and dark, The maker of poems settles justice, reality, immortality, His insight and power encircle things and the human race, He is the glory and extract thus far of things and of the human race.
The singers do not beget, only the Poet begets, The singers are welcom'd, understood, appear often enough, but rare has the day been, likewise the spot, of the birth of the maker of poems, the Answerer, (Not every century nor every five centuries has contain'd such a day, for all its names.)
The singers of successive hours of centuries may have ostensible names, but the name of each of them is one of the singers, The name of each is, eye-singer, ear-singer, head-singer, sweet-singer, night-singer, parlor-singer, love-singer, weird-singer, or something else.
All this time and at all times wait the words of true poems, The words of true poems do not merely please, The true poets are not followers of beauty but the august masters of beauty; The greatness of sons is the exuding of the greatness of mothers and fathers, The words of true poems are the tuft and final applause of science.
Divine instinct, breadth of vision, the law of reason, health, rudeness of body, withdrawnness, Gayety, sun-tan, air-sweetness, such are some of the words of poems.
The sailor and traveler underlie the maker of poems, the Answerer, The builder, geometer, chemist, anatomist, phrenologist, artist, all these underlie the maker of poems, the Answerer.
The words of the true poems give you more than poems, They give you to form for yourself poems, religions, politics, war, peace, behavior, histories, essays, daily life, and every thing else, They balance ranks, colors, races, creeds, and the sexes, They do not seek beauty, they are sought, Forever touching them or close upon them follows beauty, longing, fain, love-sick.
They prepare for death, yet are they not the finish, but rather the outset, They bring none to his or her terminus or to be content and full, Whom they take they take into space to behold the birth of stars, to learn one of the meanings, To launch off with absolute faith, to sweep through the ceaseless rings and never be quiet again.
Our Old Feuillage
Always our old feuillage! Always Florida's green peninsula—always the priceless delta of Louisiana—always the cotton-fields of Alabama and Texas, Always California's golden hills and hollows, and the silver mountains of New Mexico—always soft-breath'd Cuba, Always the vast slope drain'd by the Southern sea, inseparable with the slopes drain'd by the Eastern and Western seas, The area the eighty-third year of these States, the three and a half millions of square miles, The eighteen thousand miles of sea-coast and bay-coast on the main, the thirty thousand miles of river navigation, The seven millions of distinct families and the same number of dwellings— always these, and more, branching forth into numberless branches, Always the free range and diversity—always the continent of Democracy; Always the prairies, pastures, forests, vast cities, travelers, Kanada, the snows; Always these compact lands tied at the hips with the belt stringing the huge oval lakes; Always the West with strong native persons, the increasing density there, the habitans, friendly, threatening, ironical, scorning invaders; All sights, South, North, East—all deeds, promiscuously done at all times, All characters, movements, growths, a few noticed, myriads unnoticed, Through Mannahatta's streets I walking, these things gathering, On interior rivers by night in the glare of pine knots, steamboats wooding up, Sunlight by day on the valley of the Susquehanna, and on the valleys of the Potomac and Rappahannock, and the valleys of the Roanoke and Delaware, In their northerly wilds beasts of prey haunting the Adirondacks the hills, or lapping the Saginaw waters to drink, In a lonesome inlet a sheldrake lost from the flock, sitting on the water rocking silently, In farmers' barns oxen in the stable, their harvest labor done, they rest standing, they are too tired, Afar on arctic ice the she-walrus lying drowsily while her cubs play around, The hawk sailing where men have not yet sail'd, the farthest polar sea, ripply, crystalline, open, beyond the floes, White drift spooning ahead where the ship in the tempest dashes, On solid land what is done in cities as the bells strike midnight together, In primitive woods the sounds there also sounding, the howl of the wolf, the scream of the panther, and the hoarse bellow of the elk, In winter beneath the hard blue ice of Moosehead lake, in summer visible through the clear waters, the great trout swimming, In lower latitudes in warmer air in the Carolinas the large black buzzard floating slowly high beyond the tree tops, Below, the red cedar festoon'd with tylandria, the pines and cypresses growing out of the white sand that spreads far and flat, Rude boats descending the big Pedee, climbing plants, parasites with color'd flowers and berries enveloping huge trees, The waving drapery on the live-oak trailing long and low, noiselessly waved by the wind, The camp of Georgia wagoners just after dark, the supper-fires and the cooking and eating by whites and negroes, Thirty or forty great wagons, the mules, cattle, horses, feeding from troughs, The shadows, gleams, up under the leaves of the old sycamore-trees, the flames with the black smoke from the pitch-pine curling and rising; Southern fishermen fishing, the sounds and inlets of North Carolina's coast, the shad-fishery and the herring-fishery, the large sweep-seines, the windlasses on shore work'd by horses, the clearing, curing, and packing-houses; Deep in the forest in piney woods turpentine dropping from the incisions in the trees, there are the turpentine works, There are the negroes at work in good health, the ground in all directions is cover'd with pine straw; In Tennessee and Kentucky slaves busy in the coalings, at the forge, by the furnace-blaze, or at the corn-shucking, In Virginia, the planter's son returning after a long absence, joyfully welcom'd and kiss'd by the aged mulatto nurse, On rivers boatmen safely moor'd at nightfall in their boats under shelter of high banks, Some of the younger men dance to the sound of the banjo or fiddle, others sit on the gunwale smoking and talking; Late in the afternoon the mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing in the Great Dismal Swamp, There are the greenish waters, the resinous odor, the plenteous moss, the cypress-tree, and the juniper-tree; Northward, young men of Mannahatta, the target company from an excursion returning home at evening, the musket-muzzles all bear bunches of flowers presented by women; Children at play, or on his father's lap a young boy fallen asleep, (how his lips move! how he smiles in his sleep!) The scout riding on horseback over the plains west of the Mississippi, he ascends a knoll and sweeps his eyes around; California life, the miner, bearded, dress'd in his rude costume, the stanch California friendship, the sweet air, the graves one in passing meets solitary just aside the horse-path; Down in Texas the cotton-field, the negro-cabins, drivers driving mules or oxen before rude carts, cotton bales piled on banks and wharves; Encircling all, vast-darting up and wide, the American Soul, with equal hemispheres, one Love, one Dilation or Pride; In arriere the peace-talk with the Iroquois the aborigines, the calumet, the pipe of good-will, arbitration, and indorsement, The sachem blowing the smoke first toward the sun and then toward the earth, The drama of the scalp-dance enacted with painted faces and guttural exclamations, The setting out of the war-party, the long and stealthy march, The single file, the swinging hatchets, the surprise and slaughter of enemies; All the acts, scenes, ways, persons, attitudes of these States, reminiscences, institutions, All these States compact, every square mile of these States without excepting a particle; Me pleas'd, rambling in lanes and country fields, Paumanok's fields, Observing the spiral flight of two little yellow butterflies shuffling between each other, ascending high in the air, The darting swallow, the destroyer of insects, the fall traveler southward but returning northward early in the spring, The country boy at the close of the day driving the herd of cows and shouting to them as they loiter to browse by the roadside, The city wharf, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, San Francisco, The departing ships when the sailors heave at the capstan; Evening—me in my room—the setting sun, The setting summer sun shining in my open window, showing the swarm of flies, suspended, balancing in the air in the centre of the room, darting athwart, up and down, casting swift shadows in specks on the opposite wall where the shine is; The athletic American matron speaking in public to crowds of listeners, Males, females, immigrants, combinations, the copiousness, the individuality of the States, each for itself—the moneymakers, Factories, machinery, the mechanical forces, the windlass, lever, pulley, all certainties, The certainty of space, increase, freedom, futurity, In space the sporades, the scatter'd islands, the stars—on the firm earth, the lands, my lands, O lands! all so dear to me—what you are, (whatever it is,) I putting it at random in these songs, become a part of that, whatever it is, Southward there, I screaming, with wings slow flapping, with the myriads of gulls wintering along the coasts of Florida, Otherways there atwixt the banks of the Arkansaw, the Rio Grande, the Nueces, the Brazos, the Tombigbee, the Red River, the Saskatchawan or the Osage, I with the spring waters laughing and skipping and running, Northward, on the sands, on some shallow bay of Paumanok, I with parties of snowy herons wading in the wet to seek worms and aquatic plants, Retreating, triumphantly twittering, the king-bird, from piercing the crow with its bill, for amusement—and I triumphantly twittering, The migrating flock of wild geese alighting in autumn to refresh themselves, the body of the flock feed, the sentinels outside move around with erect heads watching, and are from time to time reliev'd by other sentinels—and I feeding and taking turns with the rest, In Kanadian forests the moose, large as an ox, corner'd by hunters, rising desperately on his hind-feet, and plunging with his fore-feet, the hoofs as sharp as knives—and I, plunging at the hunters, corner'd and desperate, In the Mannahatta, streets, piers, shipping, store-houses, and the countless workmen working in the shops, And I too of the Mannahatta, singing thereof—and no less in myself than the whole of the Mannahatta in itself, Singing the song of These, my ever-united lands—my body no more inevitably united, part to part, and made out of a thousand diverse contributions one identity, any more than my lands are inevitably united and made ONE IDENTITY; Nativities, climates, the grass of the great pastoral Plains, Cities, labors, death, animals, products, war, good and evil—these me, These affording, in all their particulars, the old feuillage to me and to America, how can I do less than pass the clew of the union of them, to afford the like to you? Whoever you are! how can I but offer you divine leaves, that you also be eligible as I am? How can I but as here chanting, invite you for yourself to collect bouquets of the incomparable feuillage of these States?
A Song of Joys
O to make the most jubilant song! Full of music—full of manhood, womanhood, infancy! Full of common employments—full of grain and trees.
O for the voices of animals—O for the swiftness and balance of fishes! O for the dropping of raindrops in a song! O for the sunshine and motion of waves in a song!
O the joy of my spirit—it is uncaged—it darts like lightning! It is not enough to have this globe or a certain time, I will have thousands of globes and all time.
O the engineer's joys! to go with a locomotive! To hear the hiss of steam, the merry shriek, the steam-whistle, the laughing locomotive! To push with resistless way and speed off in the distance.
O the gleesome saunter over fields and hillsides! The leaves and flowers of the commonest weeds, the moist fresh stillness of the woods, The exquisite smell of the earth at daybreak, and all through the forenoon.
O the horseman's and horsewoman's joys! The saddle, the gallop, the pressure upon the seat, the cool gurgling by the ears and hair.
O the fireman's joys! I hear the alarm at dead of night, I hear bells, shouts! I pass the crowd, I run! The sight of the flames maddens me with pleasure.
O the joy of the strong-brawn'd fighter, towering in the arena in perfect condition, conscious of power, thirsting to meet his opponent.
O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which only the human soul is capable of generating and emitting in steady and limitless floods.
O the mother's joys! The watching, the endurance, the precious love, the anguish, the patiently yielded life.
O the of increase, growth, recuperation, The joy of soothing and pacifying, the joy of concord and harmony.
O to go back to the place where I was born, To hear the birds sing once more, To ramble about the house and barn and over the fields once more, And through the orchard and along the old lanes once more.
O to have been brought up on bays, lagoons, creeks, or along the coast, To continue and be employ'd there all my life, The briny and damp smell, the shore, the salt weeds exposed at low water, The work of fishermen, the work of the eel-fisher and clam-fisher; I come with my clam-rake and spade, I come with my eel-spear, Is the tide out? I Join the group of clam-diggers on the flats, I laugh and work with them, I joke at my work like a mettlesome young man; In winter I take my eel-basket and eel-spear and travel out on foot on the ice—I have a small axe to cut holes in the ice, Behold me well-clothed going gayly or returning in the afternoon, my brood of tough boys accompanying me, My brood of grown and part-grown boys, who love to be with no one else so well as they love to be with me, By day to work with me, and by night to sleep with me.
Another time in warm weather out in a boat, to lift the lobster-pots where they are sunk with heavy stones, (I know the buoys,) O the sweetness of the Fifth-month morning upon the water as I row just before sunrise toward the buoys, I pull the wicker pots up slantingly, the dark green lobsters are desperate with their claws as I take them out, I insert wooden pegs in the 'oints of their pincers,
I go to all the places one after another, and then row back to the shore, There in a huge kettle of boiling water the lobsters shall be boil'd till their color becomes scarlet.
Another time mackerel-taking, Voracious, mad for the hook, near the surface, they seem to fill the water for miles; Another time fishing for rock-fish in Chesapeake bay, I one of the brown-faced crew; Another time trailing for blue-fish off Paumanok, I stand with braced body, My left foot is on the gunwale, my right arm throws far out the coils of slender rope, In sight around me the quick veering and darting of fifty skiffs, my companions.
O boating on the rivers, The voyage down the St. Lawrence, the superb scenery, the steamers, The ships sailing, the Thousand Islands, the occasional timber-raft and the raftsmen with long-reaching sweep-oars, The little huts on the rafts, and the stream of smoke when they cook supper at evening.
(O something pernicious and dread! Something far away from a puny and pious life! Something unproved! something in a trance! Something escaped from the anchorage and driving free.)
O to work in mines, or forging iron, Foundry casting, the foundry itself, the rude high roof, the ample and shadow'd space, The furnace, the hot liquid pour'd out and running.
O to resume the joys of the soldier! To feel the presence of a brave commanding officer—to feel his sympathy! To behold his calmness—to be warm'd in the rays of his smile! To go to battle—to hear the bugles play and the drums beat! To hear the crash of artillery—to see the glittering of the bayonets and musket-barrels in the sun!
To see men fall and die and not complain! To taste the savage taste of blood—to be so devilish! To gloat so over the wounds and deaths of the enemy.
O the whaleman's joys! O I cruise my old cruise again! I feel the ship's motion under me, I feel the Atlantic breezes fanning me, I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-head, There—she blows! Again I spring up the rigging to look with the rest—we descend, wild with excitement, I leap in the lower'd boat, we row toward our prey where he lies, We approach stealthy and silent, I see the mountainous mass, lethargic, basking, I see the harpooneer standing up, I see the weapon dart from his vigorous arm; O swift again far out in the ocean the wounded whale, settling, running to windward, tows me, Again I see him rise to breathe, we row close again, I see a lance driven through his side, press'd deep, turn'd in the wound, Again we back off, I see him settle again, the life is leaving him fast, As he rises he spouts blood, I see him swim in circles narrower and narrower, swiftly cutting the water—I see him die, He gives one convulsive leap in the centre of the circle, and then falls flat and still in the bloody foam.
O the old manhood of me, my noblest joy of all! My children and grand-children, my white hair and beard, My largeness, calmness, majesty, out of the long stretch of my life.
O ripen'd joy of womanhood! O happiness at last! I am more than eighty years of age, I am the most venerable mother, How clear is my mind—how all people draw nigh to me! What attractions are these beyond any before? what bloom more than the bloom of youth? What beauty is this that descends upon me and rises out of me?
O the orator's joys! To inflate the chest, to roll the thunder of the voice out from the ribs and throat, To make the people rage, weep, hate, desire, with yourself, To lead America—to quell America with a great tongue.
O the joy of my soul leaning pois'd on itself, receiving identity through materials and loving them, observing characters and absorbing them, My soul vibrated back to me from them, from sight, hearing, touch, reason, articulation, comparison, memory, and the like, The real life of my senses and flesh transcending my senses and flesh, My body done with materials, my sight done with my material eyes, Proved to me this day beyond cavil that it is not my material eyes which finally see, Nor my material body which finally loves, walks, laughs, shouts, embraces, procreates.
O the farmer's joys! Ohioan's, Illinoisian's, Wisconsinese', Kanadian's, Iowan's, Kansian's, Missourian's, Oregonese' joys! To rise at peep of day and pass forth nimbly to work, To plough land in the fall for winter-sown crops, To plough land in the spring for maize, To train orchards, to graft the trees, to gather apples in the fall.
O to bathe in the swimming-bath, or in a good place along shore, To splash the water! to walk ankle-deep, or race naked along the shore.
O to realize space! The plenteousness of all, that there are no bounds, To emerge and be of the sky, of the sun and moon and flying clouds, as one with them.
O the joy a manly self-hood! To be servile to none, to defer to none, not to any tyrant known or unknown, To walk with erect carriage, a step springy and elastic, To look with calm gaze or with a flashing eye, To speak with a full and sonorous voice out of a broad chest, To confront with your personality all the other personalities of the earth.
Knowist thou the excellent joys of youth? Joys of the dear companions and of the merry word and laughing face? Joy of the glad light-beaming day, joy of the wide-breath'd games? Joy of sweet music, joy of the lighted ball-room and the dancers? Joy of the plenteous dinner, strong carouse and drinking?
Yet O my soul supreme! Knowist thou the joys of pensive thought? Joys of the free and lonesome heart, the tender, gloomy heart? Joys of the solitary walk, the spirit bow'd yet proud, the suffering and the struggle? The agonistic throes, the ecstasies, joys of the solemn musings day or night? Joys of the thought of Death, the great spheres Time and Space? Prophetic joys of better, loftier love's ideals, the divine wife, the sweet, eternal, perfect comrade? Joys all thine own undying one, joys worthy thee O soul.
O while I live to be the ruler of life, not a slave, To meet life as a powerful conqueror, No fumes, no ennui, no more complaints or scornful criticisms, To these proud laws of the air, the water and the ground, proving my interior soul impregnable, And nothing exterior shall ever take command of me.
For not life's joys alone I sing, repeating—the joy of death! The beautiful touch of Death, soothing and benumbing a few moments, for reasons, Myself discharging my excrementitious body to be burn'd, or render'd to powder, or buried, My real body doubtless left to me for other spheres, My voided body nothing more to me, returning to the purifications, further offices, eternal uses of the earth.
O to attract by more than attraction! How it is I know not—yet behold! the something which obeys none of the rest, It is offensive, never defensive—yet how magnetic it draws.
O to struggle against great odds, to meet enemies undaunted! To be entirely alone with them, to find how much one can stand! To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, face to face! To mount the scaffold, to advance to the muzzles of guns with perfect nonchalance! To be indeed a God!
O to sail to sea in a ship! To leave this steady unendurable land, To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, the sidewalks and the houses, To leave you O you solid motionless land, and entering a ship, To sail and sail and sail!
O to have life henceforth a poem of new joys! To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on, float on! To be a sailor of the world bound for all ports, A ship itself, (see indeed these sails I spread to the sun and air,) A swift and swelling ship full of rich words, full of joys.
Song of the Broad-Axe
1 Weapon shapely, naked, wan, Head from the mother's bowels drawn, Wooded flesh and metal bone, limb only one and lip only one, Gray-blue leaf by red-heat grown, helve produced from a little seed sown, Resting the grass amid and upon, To be lean'd and to lean on.
Strong shapes and attributes of strong shapes, masculine trades, sights and sounds. Long varied train of an emblem, dabs of music, Fingers of the organist skipping staccato over the keys of the great organ.
2 Welcome are all earth's lands, each for its kind, Welcome are lands of pine and oak, Welcome are lands of the lemon and fig, Welcome are lands of gold, Welcome are lands of wheat and maize, welcome those of the grape, Welcome are lands of sugar and rice, Welcome the cotton-lands, welcome those of the white potato and sweet potato, Welcome are mountains, flats, sands, forests, prairies, Welcome the rich borders of rivers, table-lands, openings, Welcome the measureless grazing-lands, welcome the teeming soil of orchards, flax, honey, hemp; Welcome just as much the other more hard-faced lands, Lands rich as lands of gold or wheat and fruit lands, Lands of mines, lands of the manly and rugged ores, Lands of coal, copper, lead, tin, zinc, Lands of iron—lands of the make of the axe.
3 The log at the wood-pile, the axe supported by it, The sylvan hut, the vine over the doorway, the space clear'd for garden, The irregular tapping of rain down on the leaves after the storm is lull'd, The walling and moaning at intervals, the thought of the sea, The thought of ships struck in the storm and put on their beam ends, and the cutting away of masts, The sentiment of the huge timbers of old-fashion'd houses and barns, The remember'd print or narrative, the voyage at a venture of men, families, goods, The disembarkation, the founding of a new city, The voyage of those who sought a New England and found it, the outset anywhere, The settlements of the Arkansas, Colorado, Ottawa, Willamette, The slow progress, the scant fare, the axe, rifle, saddle-bags; The beauty of all adventurous and daring persons, The beauty of wood-boys and wood-men with their clear untrimm'd faces, The beauty of independence, departure, actions that rely on themselves, The American contempt for statutes and ceremonies, the boundless impatience of restraint, The loose drift of character, the inkling through random types, the solidification; The butcher in the slaughter-house, the hands aboard schooners and sloops, the raftsman, the pioneer, Lumbermen in their winter camp, daybreak in the woods, stripes of snow on the limbs of trees, the occasional snapping, The glad clear sound of one's own voice, the merry song, the natural life of the woods, the strong day's work, The blazing fire at night, the sweet taste of supper, the talk, the bed of hemlock-boughs and the bear-skin; The house-builder at work in cities or anywhere, The preparatory jointing, squaring, sawing, mortising, The hoist-up of beams, the push of them in their places, laying them regular, Setting the studs by their tenons in the mortises according as they were prepared, The blows of mallets and hammers, the attitudes of the men, their curv'd limbs, Bending, standing, astride the beams, driving in pins, holding on by posts and braces, The hook'd arm over the plate, the other arm wielding the axe, The floor-men forcing the planks close to be nail'd, Their postures bringing their weapons downward on the bearers, The echoes resounding through the vacant building: The huge storehouse carried up in the city well under way, The six framing-men, two in the middle and two at each end, carefully bearing on their shoulders a heavy stick for a cross-beam, The crowded line of masons with trowels in their right hands rapidly laying the long side-wall, two hundred feet from front to rear, The flexible rise and fall of backs, the continual click of the trowels striking the bricks, The bricks one after another each laid so workmanlike in its place, and set with a knock of the trowel-handle, The piles of materials, the mortar on the mortar-boards, and the steady replenishing by the hod-men; Spar-makers in the spar-yard, the swarming row of well-grown apprentices, The swing of their axes on the square-hew'd log shaping it toward the shape of a mast, The brisk short crackle of the steel driven slantingly into the pine, The butter-color'd chips flying off in great flakes and slivers, The limber motion of brawny young arms and hips in easy costumes, The constructor of wharves, bridges, piers, bulk-heads, floats, stays against the sea; The city fireman, the fire that suddenly bursts forth in the close-pack'd square, The arriving engines, the hoarse shouts, the nimble stepping and daring, The strong command through the fire-trumpets, the falling in line, the rise and fall of the arms forcing the water, The slender, spasmic, blue-white jets, the bringing to bear of the hooks and ladders and their execution, The crash and cut away of connecting wood-work, or through floors if the fire smoulders under them, The crowd with their lit faces watching, the glare and dense shadows; The forger at his forge-furnace and the user of iron after him, The maker of the axe large and small, and the welder and temperer, The chooser breathing his breath on the cold steel and trying the edge with his thumb, The one who clean-shapes the handle and sets it firmly in the socket; The shadowy processions of the portraits of the past users also, The primal patient mechanics, the architects and engineers, The far-off Assyrian edifice and Mizra edifice, The Roman lictors preceding the consuls, The antique European warrior with his axe in combat, The uplifted arm, the clatter of blows on the helmeted head, The death-howl, the limpsy tumbling body, the rush of friend and foe thither, The siege of revolted lieges determin'd for liberty, The summons to surrender, the battering at castle gates, the truce and parley, The sack of an old city in its time, The bursting in of mercenaries and bigots tumultuously and disorderly, Roar, flames, blood, drunkenness, madness, Goods freely rifled from houses and temples, screams of women in the gripe of brigands, Craft and thievery of camp-followers, men running, old persons despairing, The hell of war, the cruelties of creeds, The list of all executive deeds and words just or unjust, The power of personality just or unjust.
4 Muscle and pluck forever! What invigorates life invigorates death, And the dead advance as much as the living advance, And the future is no more uncertain than the present, For the roughness of the earth and of man encloses as much as the delicatesse of the earth and of man, And nothing endures but personal qualities.
What do you think endures? Do you think a great city endures? Or a teeming manufacturing state? or a prepared constitution? or the best built steamships? Or hotels of granite and iron? or any chef-d'oeuvres of engineering, forts, armaments?
Away! these are not to be cherish'd for themselves, They fill their hour, the dancers dance, the musicians play for them, The show passes, all does well enough of course, All does very well till one flash of defiance.
A great city is that which has the greatest men and women, If it be a few ragged huts it is still the greatest city in the whole world.
5 The place where a great city stands is not the place of stretch'd wharves, docks, manufactures, deposits of produce merely, Nor the place of ceaseless salutes of new-comers or the anchor-lifters of the departing, Nor the place of the tallest and costliest buildings or shops selling goods from the rest of the earth, Nor the place of the best libraries and schools, nor the place where money is plentiest, Nor the place of the most numerous population.
Where the city stands with the brawniest breed of orators and bards, Where the city stands that is belov'd by these, and loves them in return and understands them, Where no monuments exist to heroes but in the common words and deeds, Where thrift is in its place, and prudence is in its place, Where the men and women think lightly of the laws, Where the slave ceases, and the master of slaves ceases, Where the populace rise at once against the never-ending audacity of elected persons, Where fierce men and women pour forth as the sea to the whistle of death pours its sweeping and unript waves, Where outside authority enters always after the precedence of inside authority, Where the citizen is always the head and ideal, and President, Mayor, Governor and what not, are agents for pay, Where children are taught to be laws to themselves, and to depend on themselves, Where equanimity is illustrated in affairs, Where speculations on the soul are encouraged, Where women walk in public processions in the streets the same as the men, Where they enter the public assembly and take places the same as the men; Where the city of the faithfulest friends stands, Where the city of the cleanliness of the sexes stands, Where the city of the healthiest fathers stands, Where the city of the best-bodied mothers stands, There the great city stands.
6 How beggarly appear arguments before a defiant deed! How the floridness of the materials of cities shrivels before a man's or woman's look!
All waits or goes by default till a strong being appears; A strong being is the proof of the race and of the ability of the universe, When he or she appears materials are overaw'd, The dispute on the soul stops, The old customs and phrases are confronted, turn'd back, or laid away.
What is your money-making now? what can it do now? What is your respectability now? What are your theology, tuition, society, traditions, statute-books, now? Where are your jibes of being now? Where are your cavils about the soul now?
7 A sterile landscape covers the ore, there is as good as the best for all the forbidding appearance, There is the mine, there are the miners, The forge-furnace is there, the melt is accomplish'd, the hammersmen are at hand with their tongs and hammers, What always served and always serves is at hand.
Than this nothing has better served, it has served all, Served the fluent-tongued and subtle-sensed Greek, and long ere the Greek, Served in building the buildings that last longer than any, Served the Hebrew, the Persian, the most ancient Hindustanee, Served the mound-raiser on the Mississippi, served those whose relics remain in Central America, Served Albic temples in woods or on plains, with unhewn pillars and the druids, Served the artificial clefts, vast, high, silent, on the snow-cover'd hills of Scandinavia, Served those who time out of mind made on the granite walls rough sketches of the sun, moon, stars, ships, ocean waves, Served the paths of the irruptions of the Goths, served the pastoral tribes and nomads, Served the long distant Kelt, served the hardy pirates of the Baltic, Served before any of those the venerable and harmless men of Ethiopia, Served the making of helms for the galleys of pleasure and the making of those for war, Served all great works on land and all great works on the sea, For the mediaeval ages and before the mediaeval ages, Served not the living only then as now, but served the dead.
8 I see the European headsman, He stands mask'd, clothed in red, with huge legs and strong naked arms, And leans on a ponderous axe.
(Whom have you slaughter'd lately European headsman? Whose is that blood upon you so wet and sticky?)
I see the clear sunsets of the martyrs, I see from the scaffolds the descending ghosts, Ghosts of dead lords, uncrown'd ladies, impeach'd ministers, rejected kings, Rivals, traitors, poisoners, disgraced chieftains and the rest.
I see those who in any land have died for the good cause, The seed is spare, nevertheless the crop shall never run out, (Mind you O foreign kings, O priests, the crop shall never run out.)
I see the blood wash'd entirely away from the axe, Both blade and helve are clean, They spirt no more the blood of European nobles, they clasp no more the necks of queens.
I see the headsman withdraw and become useless, I see the scaffold untrodden and mouldy, I see no longer any axe upon it,
I see the mighty and friendly emblem of the power of my own race, the newest, largest race.
9 (America! I do not vaunt my love for you, I have what I have.)
The axe leaps! The solid forest gives fluid utterances, They tumble forth, they rise and form, Hut, tent, landing, survey, Flail, plough, pick, crowbar, spade, Shingle, rail, prop, wainscot, lamb, lath, panel, gable, Citadel, ceiling, saloon, academy, organ, exhibition-house, library, Cornice, trellis, pilaster, balcony, window, turret, porch, Hoe, rake, pitchfork, pencil, wagon, staff, saw, jack-plane, mallet, wedge, rounce, Chair, tub, hoop, table, wicket, vane, sash, floor, Work-box, chest, string'd instrument, boat, frame, and what not, Capitols of States, and capitol of the nation of States, Long stately rows in avenues, hospitals for orphans or for the poor or sick, Manhattan steamboats and clippers taking the measure of all seas.
The shapes arise! Shapes of the using of axes anyhow, and the users and all that neighbors them, Cutters down of wood and haulers of it to the Penobscot or Kenebec, Dwellers in cabins among the Californian mountains or by the little lakes, or on the Columbia, Dwellers south on the banks of the Gila or Rio Grande, friendly gatherings, the characters and fun, Dwellers along the St. Lawrence, or north in Kanada, or down by the Yellowstone, dwellers on coasts and off coasts, Seal-fishers, whalers, arctic seamen breaking passages through the ice.
The shapes arise! Shapes of factories, arsenals, foundries, markets, Shapes of the two-threaded tracks of railroads, Shapes of the sleepers of bridges, vast frameworks, girders, arches, Shapes of the fleets of barges, tows, lake and canal craft, river craft, Ship-yards and dry-docks along the Eastern and Western seas, and in many a bay and by-place, The live-oak kelsons, the pine planks, the spars, the hackmatack-roots for knees, The ships themselves on their ways, the tiers of scaffolds, the workmen busy outside and inside, The tools lying around, the great auger and little auger, the adze, bolt, line, square, gouge, and bead-plane.
10 The shapes arise! The shape measur'd, saw'd, jack'd, join'd, stain'd, The coffin-shape for the dead to lie within in his shroud, The shape got out in posts, in the bedstead posts, in the posts of the bride's bed, The shape of the little trough, the shape of the rockers beneath, the shape of the babe's cradle, The shape of the floor-planks, the floor-planks for dancers' feet, The shape of the planks of the family home, the home of the friendly parents and children, The shape of the roof of the home of the happy young man and woman, the roof over the well-married young man and woman, The roof over the supper joyously cook'd by the chaste wife, and joyously eaten by the chaste husband, content after his day's work.
The shapes arise! The shape of the prisoner's place in the court-room, and of him or her seated in the place, The shape of the liquor-bar lean'd against by the young rum-drinker and the old rum-drinker, The shape of the shamed and angry stairs trod by sneaking foot- steps, The shape of the sly settee, and the adulterous unwholesome couple, The shape of the gambling-board with its devilish winnings and losings, The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted and sentenced murderer, the murderer with haggard face and pinion'd arms, The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent and white-lipp'd crowd, the dangling of the rope.
The shapes arise! Shapes of doors giving many exits and entrances, The door passing the dissever'd friend flush'd and in haste, The door that admits good news and bad news, The door whence the son left home confident and puff'd up, The door he enter'd again from a long and scandalous absence, diseas'd, broken down, without innocence, without means.
11 Her shape arises, She less guarded than ever, yet more guarded than ever, The gross and soil'd she moves among do not make her gross and soil'd, She knows the thoughts as she passes, nothing is conceal'd from her, She is none the less considerate or friendly therefor, She is the best belov'd, it is without exception, she has no reason to fear and she does not fear, Oaths, quarrels, hiccupp'd songs, smutty expressions, are idle to her as she passes, She is silent, she is possess'd of herself, they do not offend her, She receives them as the laws of Nature receive them, she is strong, She too is a law of Nature—there is no law stronger than she is.
12 The main shapes arise! Shapes of Democracy total, result of centuries, Shapes ever projecting other shapes, Shapes of turbulent manly cities, Shapes of the friends and home-givers of the whole earth, Shapes bracing the earth and braced with the whole earth.
Song of the Exposition
1 (Ah little recks the laborer, How near his work is holding him to God, The loving Laborer through space and time.)
After all not to create only, or found only, But to bring perhaps from afar what is already founded, To give it our own identity, average, limitless, free, To fill the gross the torpid bulk with vital religious fire, Not to repel or destroy so much as accept, fuse, rehabilitate, To obey as well as command, to follow more than to lead, These also are the lessons of our New World; While how little the New after all, how much the Old, Old World!
Long and long has the grass been growing, Long and long has the rain been falling, Long has the globe been rolling round.
2 Come Muse migrate from Greece and Ionia, Cross out please those immensely overpaid accounts, That matter of Troy and Achilles' wrath, and AEneas', Odysseus' wanderings, Placard "Removed" and "To Let" on the rocks of your snowy Parnassus, Repeat at Jerusalem, place the notice high on jaffa's gate and on Mount Moriah, The same on the walls of your German, French and Spanish castles, and Italian collections, For know a better, fresher, busier sphere, a wide, untried domain awaits, demands you.
3 Responsive to our summons, Or rather to her long-nurs'd inclination, Join'd with an irresistible, natural gravitation, She comes! I hear the rustling of her gown, I scent the odor of her breath's delicious fragrance, I mark her step divine, her curious eyes a-turning, rolling, Upon this very scene.
The dame of dames! can I believe then, Those ancient temples, sculptures classic, could none of them retain her? Nor shades of Virgil and Dante, nor myriad memories, poems, old associations, magnetize and hold on to her? But that she's left them all—and here?
Yes, if you will allow me to say so, I, my friends, if you do not, can plainly see her, The same undying soul of earth's, activity's, beauty's, heroism's expression, Out from her evolutions hither come, ended the strata of her former themes, Hidden and cover'd by to-day's, foundation of to-day's, Ended, deceas'd through time, her voice by Castaly's fountain, Silent the broken-lipp'd Sphynx in Egypt, silent all those century- baffling tombs, Ended for aye the epics of Asia's, Europe's helmeted warriors, ended the primitive call of the muses, Calliope's call forever closed, Clio, Melpomene, Thalia dead, Ended the stately rhythmus of Una and Oriana, ended the quest of the holy Graal, Jerusalem a handful of ashes blown by the wind, extinct, The Crusaders' streams of shadowy midnight troops sped with the sunrise, Amadis, Tancred, utterly gone, Charlemagne, Roland, Oliver gone, Palmerin, ogre, departed, vanish'd the turrets that Usk from its waters reflected, Arthur vanish'd with all his knights, Merlin and Lancelot and Galahad, all gone, dissolv'd utterly like an exhalation; Pass'd! pass'd! for us, forever pass'd, that once so mighty world, now void, inanimate, phantom world, Embroider'd, dazzling, foreign world, with all its gorgeous legends, myths, Its kings and castles proud, its priests and warlike lords and courtly dames, Pass'd to its charnel vault, coffin'd with crown and armor on, Blazon'd with Shakspere's purple page, And dirged by Tennyson's sweet sad rhyme.
I say I see, my friends, if you do not, the illustrious emigre, (having it is true in her day, although the same, changed, journey'd considerable,) Making directly for this rendezvous, vigorously clearing a path for herself, striding through the confusion, By thud of machinery and shrill steam-whistle undismay'd, Bluff'd not a bit by drain-pipe, gasometers, artificial fertilizers, Smiling and pleas'd with palpable intent to stay, She's here, install'd amid the kitchen ware!
4 But hold—don't I forget my manners? To introduce the stranger, (what else indeed do I live to chant for?) to thee Columbia; In liberty's name welcome immortal! clasp hands, And ever henceforth sisters dear be both.
Fear not O Muse! truly new ways and days receive, surround you, I candidly confess a queer, queer race, of novel fashion, And yet the same old human race, the same within, without, Faces and hearts the same, feelings the same, yearnings the same, The same old love, beauty and use the same.
5 We do not blame thee elder World, nor really separate ourselves from thee, (Would the son separate himself from the father?) Looking back on thee, seeing thee to thy duties, grandeurs, through past ages bending, building, We build to ours to-day.
Mightier than Egypt's tombs, Fairer than Grecia's, Roma's temples, Prouder than Milan's statued, spired cathedral, More picturesque than Rhenish castle-keeps, We plan even now to raise, beyond them all, Thy great cathedral sacred industry, no tomb, A keep for life for practical invention.
As in a waking vision, E'en while I chant I see it rise, I scan and prophesy outside and in, Its manifold ensemble.
Around a palace, loftier, fairer, ampler than any yet, Earth's modern wonder, history's seven outstripping, High rising tier on tier with glass and iron facades, Gladdening the sun and sky, enhued in cheerfulest hues, Bronze, lilac, robin's-egg, marine and crimson, Over whose golden roof shall flaunt, beneath thy banner Freedom, The banners of the States and flags of every land, A brood of lofty, fair, but lesser palaces shall cluster.
Somewhere within their walls shall all that forwards perfect human life be started, Tried, taught, advanced, visibly exhibited.
Not only all the world of works, trade, products, But all the workmen of the world here to be represented.
Here shall you trace in flowing operation, In every state of practical, busy movement, the rills of civilization, Materials here under your eye shall change their shape as if by magic, The cotton shall be pick'd almost in the very field, Shall be dried, clean'd, ginn'd, baled, spun into thread and cloth before you, You shall see hands at work at all the old processes and all the new ones, You shall see the various grains and how flour is made and then bread baked by the bakers, You shall see the crude ores of California and Nevada passing on and on till they become bullion, You shall watch how the printer sets type, and learn what a composing-stick is, You shall mark in amazement the Hoe press whirling its cylinders, shedding the printed leaves steady and fast, The photograph, model, watch, pin, nail, shall be created before you.
In large calm halls, a stately museum shall teach you the infinite lessons of minerals, In another, woods, plants, vegetation shall be illustrated—in another animals, animal life and development.
One stately house shall be the music house, Others for other arts—learning, the sciences, shall all be here, None shall be slighted, none but shall here be honor'd, help'd, exampled.
6 (This, this and these, America, shall be your pyramids and obelisks, Your Alexandrian Pharos, gardens of Babylon, Your temple at Olympia.)
The male and female many laboring not, Shall ever here confront the laboring many, With precious benefits to both, glory to all, To thee America, and thee eternal Muse.
And here shall ye inhabit powerful Matrons! In your vast state vaster than all the old, Echoed through long, long centuries to come, To sound of different, prouder songs, with stronger themes, Practical, peaceful life, the people's life, the People themselves, Lifted, illumin'd, bathed in peace—elate, secure in peace.
7 Away with themes of war! away with war itself! Hence from my shuddering sight to never more return that show of blacken'd, mutilated corpses! That hell unpent and raid of blood, fit for wild tigers or for lop-tongued wolves, not reasoning men, And in its stead speed industry's campaigns, With thy undaunted armies, engineering, Thy pennants labor, loosen'd to the breeze, Thy bugles sounding loud and clear.
Away with old romance! Away with novels, plots and plays of foreign courts, Away with love-verses sugar'd in rhyme, the intrigues, amours of idlers, Fitted for only banquets of the night where dancers to late music slide, The unhealthy pleasures, extravagant dissipations of the few, With perfumes, heat and wine, beneath the dazzling chandeliers.
To you ye reverent sane sisters, I raise a voice for far superber themes for poets and for art, To exalt the present and the real, To teach the average man the glory of his daily walk and trade, To sing in songs how exercise and chemical life are never to be baffled, To manual work for each and all, to plough, hoe, dig, To plant and tend the tree, the berry, vegetables, flowers, For every man to see to it that he really do something, for every woman too; To use the hammer and the saw, (rip, or cross-cut,) To cultivate a turn for carpentering, plastering, painting, To work as tailor, tailoress, nurse, hostler, porter, To invent a little, something ingenious, to aid the washing, cooking, cleaning, And hold it no disgrace to take a hand at them themselves.
I say I bring thee Muse to-day and here, All occupations, duties broad and close, Toil, healthy toil and sweat, endless, without cessation, The old, old practical burdens, interests, joys, The family, parentage, childhood, husband and wife, The house-comforts, the house itself and all its belongings, Food and its preservation, chemistry applied to it, Whatever forms the average, strong, complete, sweet-blooded man or woman, the perfect longeve personality, And helps its present life to health and happiness, and shapes its soul, For the eternal real life to come.
With latest connections, works, the inter-transportation of the world, Steam-power, the great express lines, gas, petroleum, These triumphs of our time, the Atlantic's delicate cable, The Pacific railroad, the Suez canal, the Mont Cenis and Gothard and Hoosac tunnels, the Brooklyn bridge, This earth all spann'd with iron rails, with lines of steamships threading in every sea, Our own rondure, the current globe I bring.
8 And thou America, Thy offspring towering e'er so high, yet higher Thee above all towering, With Victory on thy left, and at thy right hand Law; Thou Union holding all, fusing, absorbing, tolerating all, Thee, ever thee, I sing.
Thou, also thou, a World, With all thy wide geographies, manifold, different, distant, Rounded by thee in one—one common orbic language, One common indivisible destiny for All.
And by the spells which ye vouchsafe to those your ministers in earnest, I here personify and call my themes, to make them pass before ye.
Behold, America! (and thou, ineffable guest and sister!) For thee come trooping up thy waters and thy lands; Behold! thy fields and farms, thy far-off woods and mountains, As in procession coming.
Behold, the sea itself, And on its limitless, heaving breast, the ships; See, where their white sails, bellying in the wind, speckle the green and blue, See, the steamers coming and going, steaming in or out of port, See, dusky and undulating, the long pennants of smoke.
Behold, in Oregon, far in the north and west, Or in Maine, far in the north and east, thy cheerful axemen, Wielding all day their axes.
Behold, on the lakes, thy pilots at their wheels, thy oarsmen, How the ash writhes under those muscular arms!
There by the furnace, and there by the anvil, Behold thy sturdy blacksmiths swinging their sledges, Overhand so steady, overhand they turn and fall with joyous clank, Like a tumult of laughter.
Mark the spirit of invention everywhere, thy rapid patents, Thy continual workshops, foundries, risen or rising, See, from their chimneys how the tall flame-fires stream.
Mark, thy interminable farms, North, South, Thy wealthy daughter-states, Eastern and Western, The varied products of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Georgia, Texas, and the rest, Thy limitless crops, grass, wheat, sugar, oil, corn, rice, hemp, hops, Thy barns all fill'd, the endless freight-train and the bulging store-house, The grapes that ripen on thy vines, the apples in thy orchards, Thy incalculable lumber, beef, pork, potatoes, thy coal, thy gold and silver, The inexhaustible iron in thy mines.
All thine O sacred Union! Ships, farms, shops, barns, factories, mines, City and State, North, South, item and aggregate, We dedicate, dread Mother, all to thee!
Protectress absolute, thou! bulwark of all! For well we know that while thou givest each and all, (generous as God,) Without thee neither all nor each, nor land, home, Nor ship, nor mine, nor any here this day secure, Nor aught, nor any day secure.
9 And thou, the Emblem waving over all! Delicate beauty, a word to thee, (it may be salutary,) Remember thou hast not always been as here to-day so comfortably ensovereign'd, In other scenes than these have I observ'd thee flag, Not quite so trim and whole and freshly blooming in folds of stainless silk, But I have seen thee bunting, to tatters torn upon thy splinter'd staff, Or clutch'd to some young color-bearer's breast with desperate hands, Savagely struggled for, for life or death, fought over long, 'Mid cannons' thunder-crash and many a curse and groan and yell, and rifle-volleys cracking sharp, And moving masses as wild demons surging, and lives as nothing risk'd, For thy mere remnant grimed with dirt and smoke and sopp'd in blood, For sake of that, my beauty, and that thou might'st dally as now secure up there, Many a good man have I seen go under.
Now here and these and hence in peace, all thine O Flag! And here and hence for thee, O universal Muse! and thou for them! And here and hence O Union, all the work and workmen thine! None separate from thee—henceforth One only, we and thou, (For the blood of the children, what is it, only the blood maternal? And lives and works, what are they all at last, except the roads to faith and death?)