Ah who shall soothe these feverish children? Who Justify these restless explorations? Who speak the secret of impassive earth? Who bind it to us? what is this separate Nature so unnatural? What is this earth to our affections? (unloving earth, without a throb to answer ours, Cold earth, the place of graves.)
Yet soul be sure the first intent remains, and shall be carried out, Perhaps even now the time has arrived.
After the seas are all cross'd, (as they seem already cross'd,) After the great captains and engineers have accomplish'd their work, After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the geologist, ethnologist, Finally shall come the poet worthy that name, The true son of God shall come singing his songs.
Then not your deeds only O voyagers, O scientists and inventors, shall be justified, All these hearts as of fretted children shall be sooth'd, All affection shall be fully responded to, the secret shall be told, All these separations and gaps shall be taken up and hook'd and link'd together, The whole earth, this cold, impassive, voiceless earth, shall be completely Justified, Trinitas divine shall be gloriously accomplish'd and compacted by the true son of God, the poet, (He shall indeed pass the straits and conquer the mountains, He shall double the cape of Good Hope to some purpose,) Nature and Man shall be disjoin'd and diffused no more, The true son of God shall absolutely fuse them.
6 Year at whose wide-flung door I sing! Year of the purpose accomplish'd! Year of the marriage of continents, climates and oceans! (No mere doge of Venice now wedding the Adriatic,) I see O year in you the vast terraqueous globe given and giving all, Europe to Asia, Africa join'd, and they to the New World, The lands, geographies, dancing before you, holding a festival garland, As brides and bridegrooms hand in hand.
Passage to India! Cooling airs from Caucasus far, soothing cradle of man, The river Euphrates flowing, the past lit up again.
Lo soul, the retrospect brought forward, The old, most populous, wealthiest of earth's lands, The streams of the Indus and the Ganges and their many affluents, (I my shores of America walking to-day behold, resuming all,) The tale of Alexander on his warlike marches suddenly dying, On one side China and on the other side Persia and Arabia, To the south the great seas and the bay of Bengal, The flowing literatures, tremendous epics, religions, castes, Old occult Brahma interminably far back, the tender and junior Buddha, Central and southern empires and all their belongings, possessors, The wars of Tamerlane,the reign of Aurungzebe, The traders, rulers, explorers, Moslems, Venetians, Byzantium, the Arabs, Portuguese, The first travelers famous yet, Marco Polo, Batouta the Moor, Doubts to be solv'd, the map incognita, blanks to be fill'd, The foot of man unstay'd, the hands never at rest, Thyself O soul that will not brook a challenge.
The mediaeval navigators rise before me, The world of 1492, with its awaken'd enterprise, Something swelling in humanity now like the sap of the earth in spring, The sunset splendor of chivalry declining.
And who art thou sad shade? Gigantic, visionary, thyself a visionary, With majestic limbs and pious beaming eyes, Spreading around with every look of thine a golden world, Enhuing it with gorgeous hues.
As the chief histrion, Down to the footlights walks in some great scena, Dominating the rest I see the Admiral himself, (History's type of courage, action, faith,) Behold him sail from Palos leading his little fleet, His voyage behold, his return, his great fame, His misfortunes, calumniators, behold him a prisoner, chain'd, Behold his dejection, poverty, death.
(Curious in time I stand, noting the efforts of heroes, Is the deferment long? bitter the slander, poverty, death? Lies the seed unreck'd for centuries in the ground? lo, to God's due occasion, Uprising in the night, it sprouts, blooms, And fills the earth with use and beauty.)
7 Passage indeed O soul to primal thought, Not lands and seas alone, thy own clear freshness, The young maturity of brood and bloom, To realms of budding bibles.
O soul, repressless, I with thee and thou with me, Thy circumnavigation of the world begin, Of man, the voyage of his mind's return, To reason's early paradise, Back, back to wisdom's birth, to innocent intuitions, Again with fair creation.
8 O we can wait no longer, We too take ship O soul, Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas, Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to sail, Amid the wafting winds, (thou pressing me to thee, I thee to me, O soul,) Caroling free, singing our song of God, Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.
With laugh and many a kiss, (Let others deprecate, let others weep for sin, remorse, humiliation,) O soul thou pleasest me, I thee.
Ah more than any priest O soul we too believe in God, But with the mystery of God we dare not dally.
O soul thou pleasest me, I thee, Sailing these seas or on the hills, or waking in the night, Thoughts, silent thoughts, of Time and Space and Death, like waters flowing, Bear me indeed as through the regions infinite, Whose air I breathe, whose ripples hear, lave me all over, Bathe me O God in thee, mounting to thee, I and my soul to range in range of thee.
O Thou transcendent, Nameless, the fibre and the breath, Light of the light, shedding forth universes, thou centre of them, Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving, Thou moral, spiritual fountain—affection's source—thou reservoir, (O pensive soul of me—O thirst unsatisfied—waitest not there? Waitest not haply for us somewhere there the Comrade perfect?) Thou pulse—thou motive of the stars, suns, systems, That, circling, move in order, safe, harmonious, Athwart the shapeless vastnesses of space, How should I think, how breathe a single breath, how speak, if, out of myself, I could not launch, to those, superior universes?
Swiftly I shrivel at the thought of God, At Nature and its wonders, Time and Space and Death, But that I, turning, call to thee O soul, thou actual Me, And lo, thou gently masterest the orbs, Thou matest Time, smilest content at Death, And fillest, swellest full the vastnesses of Space.
Greater than stars or suns, Bounding O soul thou journeyest forth; What love than thine and ours could wider amplify? What aspirations, wishes, outvie thine and ours O soul? What dreams of the ideal? what plans of purity, perfection, strength? What cheerful willingness for others' sake to give up all? For others' sake to suffer all?
Reckoning ahead O soul, when thou, the time achiev'd, The seas all cross'd, weather'd the capes, the voyage done, Surrounded, copest, frontest God, yieldest, the aim attain'd, As fill'd with friendship, love complete, the Elder Brother found, The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.
9 Passage to more than India! Are thy wings plumed indeed for such far flights? O soul, voyagest thou indeed on voyages like those? Disportest thou on waters such as those? Soundest below the Sanscrit and the Vedas? Then have thy bent unleash'd.
Passage to you, your shores, ye aged fierce enigmas! Passage to you, to mastership of you, ye strangling problems! You, strew'd with the wrecks of skeletons, that, living, never reach'd you.
Passage to more than India! O secret of the earth and sky! Of you O waters of the sea! O winding creeks and rivers! Of you O woods and fields! of you strong mountains of my land! Of you O prairies! of you gray rocks! O morning red! O clouds! O rain and snows! O day and night, passage to you!
O sun and moon and all you stars! Sirius and Jupiter! Passage to you!
Passage, immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail! Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough? Have we not grovel'd here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes? Have we not darken'd and dazed ourselves with books long enough?
Sail forth—steer for the deep waters only, Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me, For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
O my brave soul! O farther farther sail! O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of God? O farther, farther, farther sail!
Prayer of Columbus
A batter'd, wreck'd old man, Thrown on this savage shore, far, far from home, Pent by the sea and dark rebellious brows, twelve dreary months, Sore, stiff with many toils, sicken'd and nigh to death, I take my way along the island's edge, Venting a heavy heart.
I am too full of woe! Haply I may not live another day; I cannot rest O God, I cannot eat or drink or sleep, Till I put forth myself, my prayer, once more to Thee, Breathe, bathe myself once more in Thee, commune with Thee, Report myself once more to Thee.
Thou knowest my years entire, my life, My long and crowded life of active work, not adoration merely; Thou knowest the prayers and vigils of my youth, Thou knowest my manhood's solemn and visionary meditations, Thou knowest how before I commenced I devoted all to come to Thee, Thou knowest I have in age ratified all those vows and strictly kept them, Thou knowest I have not once lost nor faith nor ecstasy in Thee, In shackles, prison'd, in disgrace, repining not, Accepting all from Thee, as duly come from Thee.
All my emprises have been fill'd with Thee, My speculations, plans, begun and carried on in thoughts of Thee, Sailing the deep or journeying the land for Thee; Intentions, purports, aspirations mine, leaving results to Thee.
O I am sure they really came from Thee, The urge, the ardor, the unconquerable will, The potent, felt, interior command, stronger than words, A message from the Heavens whispering to me even in sleep, These sped me on.
By me and these the work so far accomplish'd, By me earth's elder cloy'd and stifled lands uncloy'd, unloos'd, By me the hemispheres rounded and tied, the unknown to the known.
The end I know not, it is all in Thee, Or small or great I know not—haply what broad fields, what lands, Haply the brutish measureless human undergrowth I know, Transplanted there may rise to stature, knowledge worthy Thee, Haply the swords I know may there indeed be turn'd to reaping-tools, Haply the lifeless cross I know, Europe's dead cross, may bud and blossom there.
One effort more, my altar this bleak sand; That Thou O God my life hast lighted, With ray of light, steady, ineffable, vouchsafed of Thee, Light rare untellable, lighting the very light, Beyond all signs, descriptions, languages; For that O God, be it my latest word, here on my knees, Old, poor, and paralyzed, I thank Thee.
My terminus near, The clouds already closing in upon me, The voyage balk'd, the course disputed, lost, I yield my ships to Thee.
My hands, my limbs grow nerveless, My brain feels rack'd, bewilder'd, Let the old timbers part, I will not part, I will cling fast to Thee, O God, though the waves buffet me, Thee, Thee at least I know.
Is it the prophet's thought I speak, or am I raving? What do I know of life? what of myself? I know not even my own work past or present, Dim ever-shifting guesses of it spread before me, Of newer better worlds, their mighty parturition, Mocking, perplexing me.
And these things I see suddenly, what mean they? As if some miracle, some hand divine unseal'd my eyes, Shadowy vast shapes smile through the air and sky, And on the distant waves sail countless ships, And anthems in new tongues I hear saluting me.
1 I wander all night in my vision, Stepping with light feet, swiftly and noiselessly stepping and stopping, Bending with open eyes over the shut eyes of sleepers, Wandering and confused, lost to myself, ill-assorted, contradictory, Pausing, gazing, bending, and stopping.
How solemn they look there, stretch'd and still, How quiet they breathe, the little children in their cradles.
The wretched features of ennuyes, the white features of corpses, the livid faces of drunkards, the sick-gray faces of onanists, The gash'd bodies on battle-fields, the insane in their strong-door'd rooms, the sacred idiots, the new-born emerging from gates, and the dying emerging from gates, The night pervades them and infolds them.
The married couple sleep calmly in their bed, he with his palm on the hip of the wife, and she with her palm on the hip of the husband, The sisters sleep lovingly side by side in their bed, The men sleep lovingly side by side in theirs, And the mother sleeps with her little child carefully wrapt.
The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep, The prisoner sleeps well in the prison, the runaway son sleeps, The murderer that is to be hung next day, how does he sleep? And the murder'd person, how does he sleep?
The female that loves unrequited sleeps, And the male that loves unrequited sleeps, The head of the money-maker that plotted all day sleeps, And the enraged and treacherous dispositions, all, all sleep.
I stand in the dark with drooping eyes by the worst-suffering and the most restless, I pass my hands soothingly to and fro a few inches from them, The restless sink in their beds, they fitfully sleep.
Now I pierce the darkness, new beings appear, The earth recedes from me into the night, I saw that it was beautiful, and I see that what is not the earth is beautiful.
I go from bedside to bedside, I sleep close with the other sleepers each in turn, I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers, And I become the other dreamers.
I am a dance—play up there! the fit is whirling me fast!
I am the ever-laughing—it is new moon and twilight, I see the hiding of douceurs, I see nimble ghosts whichever way look, Cache and cache again deep in the ground and sea, and where it is neither ground nor sea.
Well do they do their jobs those journeymen divine, Only from me can they hide nothing, and would not if they could, I reckon I am their boss and they make me a pet besides, And surround me and lead me and run ahead when I walk, To lift their cunning covers to signify me with stretch'd arms, and resume the way; Onward we move, a gay gang of blackguards! with mirth-shouting music and wild-flapping pennants of joy!
I am the actor, the actress, the voter, the politician, The emigrant and the exile, the criminal that stood in the box, He who has been famous and he who shall be famous after to-day, The stammerer, the well-form'd person, the wasted or feeble person.
I am she who adorn'd herself and folded her hair expectantly, My truant lover has come, and it is dark.
Double yourself and receive me darkness, Receive me and my lover too, he will not let me go without him.
I roll myself upon you as upon a bed, I resign myself to the dusk.
He whom I call answers me and takes the place of my lover, He rises with me silently from the bed.
Darkness, you are gentler than my lover, his flesh was sweaty and panting, I feel the hot moisture yet that he left me.
My hands are spread forth, I pass them in all directions, I would sound up the shadowy shore to which you are journeying.
Be careful darkness! already what was it touch'd me? I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he are one, I hear the heart-beat, I follow, I fade away.
2 I descend my western course, my sinews are flaccid, Perfume and youth course through me and I am their wake.
It is my face yellow and wrinkled instead of the old woman's, I sit low in a straw-bottom chair and carefully darn my grandson's stockings.
It is I too, the sleepless widow looking out on the winter midnight, I see the sparkles of starshine on the icy and pallid earth.
A shroud I see and I am the shroud, I wrap a body and lie in the coffin, It is dark here under ground, it is not evil or pain here, it is blank here, for reasons.
(It seems to me that every thing in the light and air ought to be happy, Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave let him know he has enough.)
3 I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer swimming naked through the eddies of the sea, His brown hair lies close and even to his head, he strikes out with courageous arms, he urges himself with his legs, I see his white body, I see his undaunted eyes, I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash him head-foremost on the rocks.
What are you doing you ruffianly red-trickled waves? Will you kill the courageous giant? will you kill him in the prime of his middle age?
Steady and long he struggles, He is baffled, bang'd, bruis'd, he holds out while his strength holds out, The slapping eddies are spotted with his blood, they bear him away, they roll him, swing him, turn him, His beautiful body is borne in the circling eddies, it is continually bruis'd on rocks, Swiftly and ought of sight is borne the brave corpse.
4 I turn but do not extricate myself, Confused, a past-reading, another, but with darkness yet.
The beach is cut by the razory ice-wind, the wreck-guns sound, The tempest lulls, the moon comes floundering through the drifts.
I look where the ship helplessly heads end on, I hear the burst as she strikes, I hear the howls of dismay, they grow fainter and fainter.
I cannot aid with my wringing fingers, I can but rush to the surf and let it drench me and freeze upon me.
I search with the crowd, not one of the company is wash'd to us alive, In the morning I help pick up the dead and lay them in rows in a barn.
5 Now of the older war-days, the defeat at Brooklyn, Washington stands inside the lines, he stands on the intrench'd hills amid a crowd of officers. His face is cold and damp, he cannot repress the weeping drops, He lifts the glass perpetually to his eyes, the color is blanch'd from his cheeks, He sees the slaughter of the southern braves confided to him by their parents.
The same at last and at last when peace is declared, He stands in the room of the old tavern, the well-belov'd soldiers all pass through, The officers speechless and slow draw near in their turns, The chief encircles their necks with his arm and kisses them on the cheek, He kisses lightly the wet cheeks one after another, he shakes hands and bids good-by to the army.
6 Now what my mother told me one day as we sat at dinner together, Of when she was a nearly grown girl living home with her parents on the old homestead.
A red squaw came one breakfast-time to the old homestead, On her back she carried a bundle of rushes for rush-bottoming chairs, Her hair, straight, shiny, coarse, black, profuse, half-envelop'd her face, Her step was free and elastic, and her voice sounded exquisitely as she spoke.
My mother look'd in delight and amazement at the stranger, She look'd at the freshness of her tall-borne face and full and pliant limbs, The more she look'd upon her she loved her, Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty and purity, She made her sit on a bench by the jamb of the fireplace, she cook'd food for her, She had no work to give her, but she gave her remembrance and fondness.
The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward the middle of the afternoon she went away, O my mother was loth to have her go away, All the week she thought of her, she watch'd for her many a month, She remember'd her many a winter and many a summer, But the red squaw never came nor was heard of there again.
7 A show of the summer softness—a contact of something unseen—an amour of the light and air, I am jealous and overwhelm'd with friendliness, And will go gallivant with the light and air myself.
O love and summer, you are in the dreams and in me, Autumn and winter are in the dreams, the farmer goes with his thrift, The droves and crops increase, the barns are well-fill'd.
Elements merge in the night, ships make tacks in the dreams, The sailor sails, the exile returns home, The fugitive returns unharm'd, the immigrant is back beyond months and years, The poor Irishman lives in the simple house of his childhood with the well known neighbors and faces, They warmly welcome him, he is barefoot again, he forgets he is well off, The Dutchman voyages home, and the Scotchman and Welshman voyage home, and the native of the Mediterranean voyages home, To every port of England, France, Spain, enter well-fill'd ships, The Swiss foots it toward his hills, the Prussian goes his way, the Hungarian his way, and the Pole his way, The Swede returns, and the Dane and Norwegian return.
The homeward bound and the outward bound, The beautiful lost swimmer, the ennuye, the onanist, the female that loves unrequited, the money-maker, The actor and actress, those through with their parts and those waiting to commence, The affectionate boy, the husband and wife, the voter, the nominee that is chosen and the nominee that has fail'd, The great already known and the great any time after to-day, The stammerer, the sick, the perfect-form'd, the homely, The criminal that stood in the box, the judge that sat and sentenced him, the fluent lawyers, the jury, the audience, The laugher and weeper, the dancer, the midnight widow, the red squaw, The consumptive, the erysipalite, the idiot, he that is wrong'd, The antipodes, and every one between this and them in the dark, I swear they are averaged now—one is no better than the other, The night and sleep have liken'd them and restored them.
I swear they are all beautiful, Every one that sleeps is beautiful, every thing in the dim light is beautiful, The wildest and bloodiest is over, and all is peace.
Peace is always beautiful, The myth of heaven indicates peace and night.
The myth of heaven indicates the soul, The soul is always beautiful, it appears more or it appears less, it comes or it lags behind, It comes from its embower'd garden and looks pleasantly on itself and encloses the world, Perfect and clean the genitals previously jetting,and perfect and clean the womb cohering, The head well-grown proportion'd and plumb, and the bowels and joints proportion'd and plumb.
The soul is always beautiful, The universe is duly in order, every thing is in its place, What has arrived is in its place and what waits shall be in its place, The twisted skull waits, the watery or rotten blood waits, The child of the glutton or venerealee waits long, and the child of the drunkard waits long, and the drunkard himself waits long, The sleepers that lived and died wait, the far advanced are to go on in their turns, and the far behind are to come on in their turns, The diverse shall be no less diverse, but they shall flow and unite— they unite now.
8 The sleepers are very beautiful as they lie unclothed, They flow hand in hand over the whole earth from east to west as they lie unclothed, The Asiatic and African are hand in hand, the European and American are hand in hand, Learn'd and unlearn'd are hand in hand, and male and female are hand in hand, The bare arm of the girl crosses the bare breast of her lover, they press close without lust, his lips press her neck, The father holds his grown or ungrown son in his arms with measureless love, and the son holds the father in his arms with measureless love, The white hair of the mother shines on the white wrist of the daughter, The breath of the boy goes with the breath of the man, friend is inarm'd by friend, The scholar kisses the teacher and the teacher kisses the scholar, the wrong 'd made right, The call of the slave is one with the master's call, and the master salutes the slave, The felon steps forth from the prison, the insane becomes sane, the suffering of sick persons is reliev'd, The sweatings and fevers stop, the throat that was unsound is sound, the lungs of the consumptive are resumed, the poor distress'd head is free, The joints of the rheumatic move as smoothly as ever, and smoother than ever, Stiflings and passages open, the paralyzed become supple, The swell'd and convuls'd and congested awake to themselves in condition, They pass the invigoration of the night and the chemistry of the night, and awake.
I too pass from the night, I stay a while away O night, but I return to you again and love you.
Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you? I am not afraid, I have been well brought forward by you, I love the rich running day, but I do not desert her in whom I lay so long, I know not how I came of you and I know not where I go with you, but I know I came well and shall go well.
I will stop only a time with the night, and rise betimes, I will duly pass the day O my mother, and duly return to you.
Let the reformers descend from the stands where they are forever bawling—let an idiot or insane person appear on each of the stands; Let judges and criminals be transposed—let the prison-keepers be put in prison—let those that were prisoners take the keys; Let them that distrust birth and death lead the rest.
To Think of Time
1 To think of time—of all that retrospection, To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward.
Have you guess'd you yourself would not continue? Have you dreaded these earth-beetles? Have you fear'd the future would be nothing to you?
Is to-day nothing? is the beginningless past nothing? If the future is nothing they are just as surely nothing.
To think that the sun rose in the east—that men and women were flexible, real, alive—that every thing was alive, To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our part, To think that we are now here and bear our part.
2 Not a day passes, not a minute or second without an accouchement, Not a day passes, not a minute or second without a corpse.
The dull nights go over and the dull days also, The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over, The physician after long putting off gives the silent and terrible look for an answer, The children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters are sent for, Medicines stand unused on the shelf, (the camphor-smell has long pervaded the rooms,) The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the dying, The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying, The breath ceases and the pulse of the heart ceases, The corpse stretches on the bed and the living look upon it, It is palpable as the living are palpable.
The living look upon the corpse with their eyesight, But without eyesight lingers a different living and looks curiously on the corpse.
3 To think the thought of death merged in the thought of materials, To think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking great interest in them, and we taking no interest in them.
To think how eager we are in building our houses, To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent.
(I see one building the house that serves him a few years, or seventy or eighty years at most, I see one building the house that serves him longer than that.)
Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earth—they never cease—they are the burial lines, He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall surely be buried.
4 A reminiscence of the vulgar fate, A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen, Each after his kind.
Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf, posh and ice in the river, half-frozen mud in the streets, A gray discouraged sky overhead, the short last daylight of December, A hearse and stages, the funeral of an old Broadway stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers.
Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, The gate is pass'd, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living alight, the hearse uncloses, The coffin is pass'd out, lower'd and settled, the whip is laid on the coffin, the earth is swiftly shovel'd in, The mound above is flatted with the spades—silence, A minute—no one moves or speaks—it is done, He is decently put away—is there any thing more?
He was a good fellow, free-mouth'd, quick-temper'd, not bad-looking, Ready with life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate hearty, drank hearty, Had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited toward the last, sicken'd, was help'd by a contribution, Died, aged forty-one years—and that was his funeral.
Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves, strap, wet-weather clothes, whip carefully chosen, Boss, spotter, starter, hostler, somebody loafing on you, you loafing on somebody, headway, man before and man behind, Good day's work, bad day's work, pet stock, mean stock, first out, last out, turning-in at night, To think that these are so much and so nigh to other drivers, and he there takes no interest in them.
5 The markets, the government, the working-man's wages, to think what account they are through our nights and days, To think that other working-men will make just as great account of them, yet we make little or no account.
The vulgar and the refined, what you call sin and what you call goodness, to think how wide a difference, To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie beyond the difference.
To think how much pleasure there is, Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or planning a nomination and election? or with your wife and family? Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the beautiful maternal cares? These also flow onward to others, you and I flow onward, But in due time you and I shall take less interest in them.
Your farm, profits, crops—to think how engross'd you are, To think there will still be farms, profits, crops, yet for you of what avail?
6 What will be will be well, for what is is well, To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well.
The domestic joys, the dally housework or business, the building of houses, are not phantasms, they have weight, form, location, Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them phantasms, The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion, The earth is not an echo, man and his life and all the things of his life are well-consider'd.
You are not thrown to the winds, you gather certainly and safely around yourself, Yourself! yourself!. yourself, for ever and ever!
7 It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and father, it is to identify you, It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided, Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form'd in you, You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes.
The threads that were spun are gather'd, the wet crosses the warp, the pattern is systematic.
The preparations have every one been justified, The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal.
The guest that was coming, he waited long, he is now housed, He is one of those who are beautiful and happy, he is one of those that to look upon and be with is enough.
The law of the past cannot be eluded, The law of the present and future cannot be eluded, The law of the living cannot be eluded, it is eternal, The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded, The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded, The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons, not one iota thereof can be eluded.
8 Slow moving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth, Northerner goes carried and Southerner goes carried, and they on the Atlantic side and they on the Pacific, And they between, and all through the Mississippi country, and all over the earth.
The great masters and kosmos are well as they go, the heroes and good-doers are well, The known leaders and inventors and the rich owners and pious and distinguish'd may be well, But there is more account than that, there is strict account of all.
The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing, The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing, The perpetual successions of shallow people are not nothing as they go.
Of and in all these things, I have dream'd that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law of us changed, I have dream'd that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present and past law, And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present and past law, For I have dream'd that the law they are under now is enough.
And I have dream'd that the purpose and essence of the known life, the transient, Is to form and decide identity for the unknown life, the permanent.
If all came but to ashes of dung, If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray'd, Then indeed suspicion of death.
Do you suspect death? if I were to suspect death I should die now, Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward annihilation?
Pleasantly and well-suited I walk, Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good, The whole universe indicates that it is good, The past and the present indicate that it is good.
How beautiful and perfect are the animals! How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it! What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just as perfect, The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable fluids perfect; Slowly and surely they have pass'd on to this, and slowly and surely they yet pass on.
9 I swear I think now that every thing without exception has an eternal soul! The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have! the animals!
I swear I think there is nothing but immortality! That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is for it, and the cohering is for it! And all preparation is for it—and identity is for it—and life and materials are altogether for it!
BOOK XXX. WHISPERS OF HEAVENLY DEATH
Darest Thou Now O Soul
Darest thou now O soul, Walk out with me toward the unknown region, Where neither ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?
No map there, nor guide, Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand, Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.
I know it not O soul, Nor dost thou, all is a blank before us, All waits undream'd of in that region, that inaccessible land.
Till when the ties loosen, All but the ties eternal, Time and Space, Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds bounding us.
Then we burst forth, we float, In Time and Space O soul, prepared for them, Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil O soul.
Whispers of Heavenly Death
Whispers of heavenly death murmur'd I hear, Labial gossip of night, sibilant chorals, Footsteps gently ascending, mystical breezes wafted soft and low, Ripples of unseen rivers, tides of a current flowing, forever flowing, (Or is it the plashing of tears? the measureless waters of human tears?)
I see, just see skyward, great cloud-masses, Mournfully slowly they roll, silently swelling and mixing, With at times a half-dimm'd sadden'd far-off star, Appearing and disappearing.
(Some parturition rather, some solemn immortal birth; On the frontiers to eyes impenetrable, Some soul is passing over.)
Chanting the Square Deific
1 Chanting the square deific, out of the One advancing, out of the sides, Out of the old and new, out of the square entirely divine, Solid, four-sided, (all the sides needed,) from this side Jehovah am I, Old Brahm I, and I Saturnius am; Not Time affects me—I am Time, old, modern as any, Unpersuadable, relentless, executing righteous judgments, As the Earth, the Father, the brown old Kronos, with laws, Aged beyond computation, yet never new, ever with those mighty laws rolling, Relentless I forgive no man—whoever sins dies—I will have that man's life; Therefore let none expect mercy—have the seasons, gravitation, the appointed days, mercy? no more have I, But as the seasons and gravitation, and as all the appointed days that forgive not, I dispense from this side judgments inexorable without the least remorse.
2 Consolator most mild, the promis'd one advancing, With gentle hand extended, the mightier God am I, Foretold by prophets and poets in their most rapt prophecies and poems, From this side, lo! the Lord Christ gazes—lo! Hermes I—lo! mine is Hercules' face, All sorrow, labor, suffering, I, tallying it, absorb in myself, Many times have I been rejected, taunted, put in prison, and crucified, and many times shall be again, All the world have I given up for my dear brothers' and sisters' sake, for the soul's sake, Wanding my way through the homes of men, rich or poor, with the kiss of affection, For I am affection, I am the cheer-bringing God, with hope and all-enclosing charity, With indulgent words as to children, with fresh and sane words, mine only, Young and strong I pass knowing well I am destin'd myself to an early death; But my charity has no death—my wisdom dies not, neither early nor late, And my sweet love bequeath'd here and elsewhere never dies.
3 Aloof, dissatisfied, plotting revolt, Comrade of criminals, brother of slaves, Crafty, despised, a drudge, ignorant, With sudra face and worn brow, black, but in the depths of my heart, proud as any, Lifted now and always against whoever scorning assumes to rule me, Morose, full of guile, full of reminiscences, brooding, with many wiles, (Though it was thought I was baffled, and dispel'd, and my wiles done, but that will never be,) Defiant, I, Satan, still live, still utter words, in new lands duly appearing, (and old ones also,) Permanent here from my side, warlike, equal with any, real as any, Nor time nor change shall ever change me or my words.
4 Santa Spirita, breather, life, Beyond the light, lighter than light, Beyond the flames of hell, joyous, leaping easily above hell, Beyond Paradise, perfumed solely with mine own perfume, Including all life on earth, touching, including God, including Saviour and Satan, Ethereal, pervading all, (for without me what were all? what were God?) Essence of forms, life of the real identities, permanent, positive, (namely the unseen,) Life of the great round world, the sun and stars, and of man, I, the general soul, Here the square finishing, the solid, I the most solid, Breathe my breath also through these songs.
Of Him I Love Day and Night
Of him I love day and night I dream'd I heard he was dead, And I dream'd I went where they had buried him I love, but he was not in that place, And I dream'd I wander'd searching among burial-places to find him, And I found that every place was a burial-place; The houses full of life were equally full of death, (this house is now,) The streets, the shipping, the places of amusement, the Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, the Mannahatta, were as full of the dead as of the living, And fuller, O vastly fuller of the dead than of the living; And what I dream'd I will henceforth tell to every person and age, And I stand henceforth bound to what I dream'd, And now I am willing to disregard burial-places and dispense with them, And if the memorials of the dead were put up indifferently everywhere, even in the room where I eat or sleep, I should be satisfied, And if the corpse of any one I love, or if my own corpse, be duly render'd to powder and pour'd in the sea, I shall be satisfied, Or if it be distributed to the winds I shall be satisfied.
Yet, Yet, Ye Downcast Hours
Yet, yet, ye downcast hours, I know ye also, Weights of lead, how ye clog and cling at my ankles, Earth to a chamber of mourning turns—I hear the o'erweening, mocking voice, Matter is conqueror—matter, triumphant only, continues onward.
Despairing cries float ceaselessly toward me, The call of my nearest lover, putting forth, alarm'd, uncertain, The sea I am quickly to sail, come tell me, Come tell me where I am speeding, tell me my destination.
I understand your anguish, but I cannot help you, I approach, hear, behold, the sad mouth, the look out of the eyes, your mute inquiry, Whither I go from the bed I recline on, come tell me,— Old age, alarm'd, uncertain—a young woman's voice, appealing to me for comfort; A young man's voice, Shall I not escape?
As If a Phantom Caress'd Me
As if a phantom caress'd me, I thought I was not alone walking here by the shore; But the one I thought was with me as now I walk by the shore, the one I loved that caress'd me, As I lean and look through the glimmering light, that one has utterly disappear'd. And those appear that are hateful to me and mock me.
I need no assurances, I am a man who is preoccupied of his own soul; I do not doubt that from under the feet and beside the hands and face I am cognizant of, are now looking faces I am not cognizant of, calm and actual faces, I do not doubt but the majesty and beauty of the world are latent in any iota of the world, I do not doubt I am limitless, and that the universes are limitless, in vain I try to think how limitless, I do not doubt that the orbs and the systems of orbs play their swift sports through the air on purpose, and that I shall one day be eligible to do as much as they, and more than they, I do not doubt that temporary affairs keep on and on millions of years, I do not doubt interiors have their interiors, and exteriors have their exteriors, and that the eyesight has another eyesight, and the hearing another hearing, and the voice another voice, I do not doubt that the passionately-wept deaths of young men are provided for, and that the deaths of young women and the deaths of little children are provided for, (Did you think Life was so well provided for, and Death, the purport of all Life, is not well provided for?) I do not doubt that wrecks at sea, no matter what the horrors of them, no matter whose wife, child, husband, father, lover, has gone down, are provided for, to the minutest points, I do not doubt that whatever can possibly happen anywhere at any time, is provided for in the inherences of things, I do not think Life provides for all and for Time and Space, but I believe Heavenly Death provides for all.
Quicksand years that whirl me I know not whither, Your schemes, politics, fail, lines give way, substances mock and elude me, Only the theme I sing, the great and strong-possess'd soul, eludes not, One's-self must never give way—that is the final substance—that out of all is sure, Out of politics, triumphs, battles, life, what at last finally remains? When shows break up what but One's-Self is sure?
That Music Always Round Me
That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning, yet long untaught I did not hear, But now the chorus I hear and am elated, A tenor, strong, ascending with power and health, with glad notes of daybreak I hear, A soprano at intervals sailing buoyantly over the tops of immense waves, A transparent base shuddering lusciously under and through the universe, The triumphant tutti, the funeral wailings with sweet flutes and violins, all these I fill myself with, I hear not the volumes of sound merely, I am moved by the exquisite meanings, I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving, contending with fiery vehemence to excel each other in emotion; I do not think the performers know themselves—but now I think begin to know them.
What Ship Puzzled at Sea
What ship puzzled at sea, cons for the true reckoning? Or coming in, to avoid the bars and follow the channel a perfect pilot needs? Here, sailor! here, ship! take aboard the most perfect pilot, Whom, in a little boat, putting off and rowing, I hailing you offer.
A Noiseless Patient Spider
A noiseless patient spider, I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated, Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding, It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament out of itself, Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand, Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them, Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold, Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
O Living Always, Always Dying
O living always, always dying! O the burials of me past and present, O me while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperious as ever; O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not, I am content;) O to disengage myself from those corpses of me, which I turn and look at where I cast them, To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the corpses behind.
To One Shortly to Die
From all the rest I single out you, having a message for you, You are to die—let others tell you what they please, I cannot prevaricate, I am exact and merciless, but I love you—there is no escape for you.
Softly I lay my right hand upon you, you 'ust feel it, I do not argue, I bend my head close and half envelop it, I sit quietly by, I remain faithful, I am more than nurse, more than parent or neighbor, I absolve you from all except yourself spiritual bodily, that is eternal, you yourself will surely escape, The corpse you will leave will be but excrementitious.
The sun bursts through in unlooked-for directions, Strong thoughts fill you and confidence, you smile, You forget you are sick, as I forget you are sick, You do not see the medicines, you do not mind the weeping friends, I am with you, I exclude others from you, there is nothing to be commiserated, I do not commiserate, I congratulate you.
Night on the Prairies
Night on the prairies, The supper is over, the fire on the ground burns low, The wearied emigrants sleep, wrapt in their blankets; I walk by myself—I stand and look at the stars, which I think now never realized before.
Now I absorb immortality and peace, I admire death and test propositions.
How plenteous! how spiritual! how resume! The same old man and soul—the same old aspirations, and the same content.
I was thinking the day most splendid till I saw what the not-day exhibited, I was thinking this globe enough till there sprang out so noiseless around me myriads of other globes.
Now while the great thoughts of space and eternity fill me I will measure myself by them, And now touch'd with the lives of other globes arrived as far along as those of the earth, Or waiting to arrive, or pass'd on farther than those of the earth, I henceforth no more ignore them than I ignore my own life, Or the lives of the earth arrived as far as mine, or waiting to arrive.
O I see now that life cannot exhibit all to me, as the day cannot, I see that I am to wait for what will be exhibited by death.
As I sit with others at a great feast, suddenly while the music is playing, To my mind, (whence it comes I know not,) spectral in mist of a wreck at sea, Of certain ships, how they sail from port with flying streamers and wafted kisses, and that is the last of them, Of the solemn and murky mystery about the fate of the President, Of the flower of the marine science of fifty generations founder'd off the Northeast coast and going down—of the steamship Arctic going down, Of the veil'd tableau-women gather'd together on deck, pale, heroic, waiting the moment that draws so close—O the moment!
A huge sob—a few bubbles—the white foam spirting up—and then the women gone, Sinking there while the passionless wet flows on—and I now pondering, Are those women indeed gone? Are souls drown'd and destroy'd so? Is only matter triumphant?
The Last Invocation
At the last, tenderly, From the walls of the powerful fortress'd house, From the clasp of the knitted locks, from the keep of the well-closed doors, Let me be wafted.
Let me glide noiselessly forth; With the key of softness unlock the locks—with a whisper, Set ope the doors O soul.
Tenderly—be not impatient, (Strong is your hold O mortal flesh, Strong is your hold O love.)
As I Watch the Ploughman Ploughing
As I watch'd the ploughman ploughing, Or the sower sowing in the fields, or the harvester harvesting, I saw there too, O life and death, your analogies; (Life, life is the tillage, and Death is the harvest according.)
Pensive and Faltering
Pensive and faltering, The words the Dead I write, For living are the Dead, (Haply the only living, only real, And I the apparition, I the spectre.)
Thou Mother with Thy Equal Brood
1 Thou Mother with thy equal brood, Thou varied chain of different States, yet one identity only, A special song before I go I'd sing o'er all the rest, For thee, the future.
I'd sow a seed for thee of endless Nationality, I'd fashion thy ensemble including body and soul, I'd show away ahead thy real Union, and how it may be accomplish'd.
The paths to the house I seek to make, But leave to those to come the house itself.
Belief I sing, and preparation; As Life and Nature are not great with reference to the present only, But greater still from what is yet to come, Out of that formula for thee I sing.
2 As a strong bird on pinions free, Joyous, the amplest spaces heavenward cleaving, Such be the thought I'd think of thee America, Such be the recitative I'd bring for thee.
The conceits of the poets of other lands I'd bring thee not, Nor the compliments that have served their turn so long, Nor rhyme, nor the classics, nor perfume of foreign court or indoor library; But an odor I'd bring as from forests of pine in Maine, or breath of an Illinois prairie, With open airs of Virginia or Georgia or Tennessee, or from Texas uplands, or Florida's glades, Or the Saguenay's black stream, or the wide blue spread of Huron, With presentment of Yellowstone's scenes, or Yosemite, And murmuring under, pervading all, I'd bring the rustling sea-sound, That endlessly sounds from the two Great Seas of the world.
And for thy subtler sense subtler refrains dread Mother, Preludes of intellect tallying these and thee, mind-formulas fitted for thee, real and sane and large as these and thee, Thou! mounting higher, diving deeper than we knew, thou transcendental Union! By thee fact to be justified, blended with thought, Thought of man justified, blended with God, Through thy idea, lo, the immortal reality! Through thy reality, lo, the immortal idea!
3 Brain of the New World, what a task is thine, To formulate the Modern—out of the peerless grandeur of the modern, Out of thyself, comprising science, to recast poems, churches, art, (Recast, may-be discard them, end them—maybe their work is done, who knows?) By vision, hand, conception, on the background of the mighty past, the dead, To limn with absolute faith the mighty living present.
And yet thou living present brain, heir of the dead, the Old World brain, Thou that lay folded like an unborn babe within its folds so long, Thou carefully prepared by it so long—haply thou but unfoldest it, only maturest it, It to eventuate in thee—the essence of the by-gone time contain'd in thee, Its poems, churches, arts, unwitting to themselves, destined with reference to thee; Thou but the apples, long, long, long a-growing, The fruit of all the Old ripening to-day in thee.
4 Sail, sail thy best, ship of Democracy, Of value is thy freight, 'tis not the Present only, The Past is also stored in thee, Thou holdest not the venture of thyself alone, not of the Western continent alone, Earth's resume entire floats on thy keel O ship, is steadied by thy spars, With thee Time voyages in trust, the antecedent nations sink or swim with thee, With all their ancient struggles, martyrs, heroes, epics, wars, thou bear'st the other continents, Theirs, theirs as much as thine, the destination-port triumphant; Steer then with good strong hand and wary eye O helmsman, thou carriest great companions, Venerable priestly Asia sails this day with thee, And royal feudal Europe sails with thee.
5 Beautiful world of new superber birth that rises to my eyes, Like a limitless golden cloud filling the westernr sky, Emblem of general maternity lifted above all, Sacred shape of the bearer of daughters and sons, Out of thy teeming womb thy giant babes in ceaseless procession issuing, Acceding from such gestation, taking and giving continual strength and life, World of the real—world of the twain in one, World of the soul, born by the world of the real alone, led to identity, body, by it alone, Yet in beginning only, incalculable masses of composite precious materials, By history's cycles forwarded, by every nation, language, hither sent, Ready, collected here, a freer, vast, electric world, to be constructed here, (The true New World, the world of orbic science, morals, literatures to come,) Thou wonder world yet undefined, unform'd, neither do I define thee, How can I pierce the impenetrable blank of the future? I feel thy ominous greatness evil as well as good, I watch thee advancing, absorbing the present, transcending the past, I see thy light lighting, and thy shadow shadowing, as if the entire globe, But I do not undertake to define thee, hardly to comprehend thee, I but thee name, thee prophesy, as now, I merely thee ejaculate!
Thee in thy future, Thee in thy only permanent life, career, thy own unloosen'd mind, thy soaring spirit, Thee as another equally needed sun, radiant, ablaze, swift-moving, fructifying all, Thee risen in potent cheerfulness and joy, in endless great hilarity, Scattering for good the cloud that hung so long, that weigh'd so long upon the mind of man, The doubt, suspicion, dread, of gradual, certain decadence of man; Thee in thy larger, saner brood of female, male—thee in thy athletes, moral, spiritual, South, North, West, East, (To thy immortal breasts, Mother of All, thy every daughter, son, endear'd alike, forever equal,) Thee in thy own musicians, singers, artists, unborn yet, but certain, Thee in thy moral wealth and civilization, (until which thy proudest material civilization must remain in vain,) Thee in thy all-supplying, all-enclosing worship—thee in no single bible, saviour, merely, Thy saviours countless, latent within thyself, thy bibles incessant within thyself, equal to any, divine as any, (Thy soaring course thee formulating, not in thy two great wars, nor in thy century's visible growth, But far more in these leaves and chants, thy chants, great Mother!) Thee in an education grown of thee, in teachers, studies, students, born of thee, Thee in thy democratic fetes en-masse, thy high original festivals, operas, lecturers, preachers, Thee in thy ultimate, (the preparations only now completed, the edifice on sure foundations tied,) Thee in thy pinnacles, intellect, thought, thy topmost rational joys, thy love and godlike aspiration, In thy resplendent coming literati, thy full-lung'd orators, thy sacerdotal bards, kosmic savans, These! these in thee, (certain to come,) to-day I prophesy.
6 Land tolerating all, accepting all, not for the good alone, all good for thee, Land in the realms of God to be a realm unto thyself, Under the rule of God to be a rule unto thyself.
(Lo, where arise three peerless stars, To be thy natal stars my country, Ensemble, Evolution, Freedom, Set in the sky of Law.)
Land of unprecedented faith, God's faith, Thy soil, thy very subsoil, all upheav'd, The general inner earth so long so sedulously draped over, now hence for what it is boldly laid bare, Open'd by thee to heaven's light for benefit or bale.
Not for success alone, Not to fair-sail unintermitted always, The storm shall dash thy face, the murk of war and worse than war shall cover thee all over, (Wert capable of war, its tug and trials? be capable of peace, its trials, For the tug and mortal strain of nations come at last in prosperous peace, not war;) In many a smiling mask death shall approach beguiling thee, thou in disease shalt swelter, The livid cancer spread its hideous claws, clinging upon thy breasts, seeking to strike thee deep within, Consumption of the worst, moral consumption, shall rouge thy face with hectic, But thou shalt face thy fortunes, thy diseases, and surmount them all, Whatever they are to-day and whatever through time they may be, They each and all shall lift and pass away and cease from thee, While thou, Time's spirals rounding, out of thyself, thyself still extricating, fusing, Equable, natural, mystical Union thou, (the mortal with immortal blent,) Shalt soar toward the fulfilment of the future, the spirit of the body and the mind, The soul, its destinies.
The soul, its destinies, the real real, (Purport of all these apparitions of the real;) In thee America, the soul, its destinies, Thou globe of globes! thou wonder nebulous! By many a throe of heat and cold convuls'd, (by these thyself solidifying,) Thou mental, moral orb—thou New, indeed new, Spiritual World! The Present holds thee not—for such vast growth as thine, For such unparallel'd flight as thine, such brood as thine, The FUTURE only holds thee and can hold thee.
A Paumanok Picture
Two boats with nets lying off the sea-beach, quite still, Ten fishermen waiting—they discover a thick school of mossbonkers —they drop the join'd seine-ends in the water, The boats separate and row off, each on its rounding course to the beach, enclosing the mossbonkers, The net is drawn in by a windlass by those who stop ashore, Some of the fishermen lounge in their boats, others stand ankle-deep in the water, pois'd on strong legs, The boats partly drawn up, the water slapping against them, Strew'd on the sand in heaps and windrows, well out from the water, the green-back'd spotted mossbonkers.
BOOK XXXII. FROM NOON TO STARRY NIGHT
Thou Orb Aloft Full-Dazzling
Thou orb aloft full-dazzling! thou hot October noon! Flooding with sheeny light the gray beach sand, The sibilant near sea with vistas far and foam, And tawny streaks and shades and spreading blue; O sun of noon refulgent! my special word to thee.
Hear me illustrious! Thy lover me, for always I have loved thee, Even as basking babe, then happy boy alone by some wood edge, thy touching-distant beams enough, Or man matured, or young or old, as now to thee I launch my invocation.
(Thou canst not with thy dumbness me deceive, I know before the fitting man all Nature yields, Though answering not in words, the skies, trees, hear his voice—and thou O sun, As for thy throes, thy perturbations, sudden breaks and shafts of flame gigantic, I understand them, I know those flames, those perturbations well.)
Thou that with fructifying heat and light, O'er myriad farms, o'er lands and waters North and South, O'er Mississippi's endless course, o'er Texas' grassy plains, Kanada's woods, O'er all the globe that turns its face to thee shining in space, Thou that impartially enfoldest all, not only continents, seas, Thou that to grapes and weeds and little wild flowers givest so liberally, Shed, shed thyself on mine and me, with but a fleeting ray out of thy million millions, Strike through these chants.
Nor only launch thy subtle dazzle and thy strength for these, Prepare the later afternoon of me myself—prepare my lengthening shadows, Prepare my starry nights.
1 Sauntering the pavement or riding the country by-road, faces! Faces of friendship, precision, caution, suavity, ideality, The spiritual-prescient face, the always welcome common benevolent face, The face of the singing of music, the grand faces of natural lawyers and judges broad at the back-top, The faces of hunters and fishers bulged at the brows, the shaved blanch'd faces of orthodox citizens, The pure, extravagant, yearning, questioning artist's face, The ugly face of some beautiful soul, the handsome detested or despised face, The sacred faces of infants, the illuminated face of the mother of many children, The face of an amour, the face of veneration, The face as of a dream, the face of an immobile rock, The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a castrated face, A wild hawk, his wings clipp'd by the clipper, A stallion that yielded at last to the thongs and knife of the gelder.
Sauntering the pavement thus, or crossing the ceaseless ferry, faces and faces and faces, I see them and complain not, and am content with all.
2 Do you suppose I could be content with all if I thought them their own finale?
This now is too lamentable a face for a man, Some abject louse asking leave to be, cringing for it, Some milk-nosed maggot blessing what lets it wrig to its hole.
This face is a dog's snout sniffing for garbage, Snakes nest in that mouth, I hear the sibilant threat.
This face is a haze more chill than the arctic sea, Its sleepy and wobbling icebergs crunch as they go.
This is a face of bitter herbs, this an emetic, they need no label, And more of the drug-shelf, laudanum, caoutchouc, or hog's-lard.
This face is an epilepsy, its wordless tongue gives out the unearthly cry, Its veins down the neck distend, its eyes roll till they show nothing but their whites, Its teeth grit, the palms of the hands are cut by the turn'd-in nails, The man falls struggling and foaming to the ground, while he speculates well.
This face is bitten by vermin and worms, And this is some murderer's knife with a half-pull'd scabbard.
This face owes to the sexton his dismalest fee, An unceasing death-bell tolls there.
3 Features of my equals would you trick me with your creas'd and cadaverous march? Well, you cannot trick me.
I see your rounded never-erased flow, I see 'neath the rims of your haggard and mean disguises.
Splay and twist as you like, poke with the tangling fores of fishes or rats, You'll be unmuzzled, you certainly will.
I saw the face of the most smear'd and slobbering idiot they had at the asylum, And I knew for my consolation what they knew not, I knew of the agents that emptied and broke my brother, The same wait to clear the rubbish from the fallen tenement, And I shall look again in a score or two of ages, And I shall meet the real landlord perfect and unharm'd, every inch as good as myself.
4 The Lord advances, and yet advances, Always the shadow in front, always the reach'd hand bringing up the laggards.
Out of this face emerge banners and horses—O superb! I see what is coming, I see the high pioneer-caps, see staves of runners clearing the way, I hear victorious drums.
This face is a life-boat, This is the face commanding and bearded, it asks no odds of the rest, This face is flavor'd fruit ready for eating, This face of a healthy honest boy is the programme of all good.
These faces bear testimony slumbering or awake, They show their descent from the Master himself.
Off the word I have spoken I except not one—red, white, black, are all deific, In each house is the ovum, it comes forth after a thousand years.
Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb me, Tall and sufficient stand behind and make signs to me, I read the promise and patiently wait.
This is a full-grown lily's face, She speaks to the limber-hipp'd man near the garden pickets, Come here she blushingly cries, Come nigh to me limber-hipp'd man, Stand at my side till I lean as high as I can upon you, Fill me with albescent honey, bend down to me, Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my breast and shoulders.
5 The old face of the mother of many children, Whist! I am fully content.
Lull'd and late is the smoke of the First-day morning, It hangs low over the rows of trees by the fences, It hangs thin by the sassafras and wild-cherry and cat-brier under them.
I saw the rich ladies in full dress at the soiree, I heard what the singers were singing so long, Heard who sprang in crimson youth from the white froth and the water-blue.
Behold a woman! She looks out from her quaker cap, her face is clearer and more beautiful than the sky.
She sits in an armchair under the shaded porch of the farmhouse, The sun just shines on her old white head.
Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen, Her grandsons raised the flax, and her grand-daughters spun it with the distaff and the wheel.
The melodious character of the earth, The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go and does not wish to go, The justified mother of men.
The Mystic Trumpeter
1 Hark, some wild trumpeter, some strange musician, Hovering unseen in air, vibrates capricious tunes to-night.
I hear thee trumpeter, listening alert I catch thy notes, Now pouring, whirling like a tempest round me, Now low, subdued, now in the distance lost.
2 Come nearer bodiless one, haply in thee resounds Some dead composer, haply thy pensive life Was fill'd with aspirations high, unform'd ideals, Waves, oceans musical, chaotically surging, That now ecstatic ghost, close to me bending, thy cornet echoing, pealing, Gives out to no one's ears but mine, but freely gives to mine, That I may thee translate.
3 Blow trumpeter free and clear, I follow thee, While at thy liquid prelude, glad, serene, The fretting world, the streets, the noisy hours of day withdraw, A holy calm descends like dew upon me, I walk in cool refreshing night the walks of Paradise, I scent the grass, the moist air and the roses; Thy song expands my numb'd imbonded spirit, thou freest, launchest me, Floating and basking upon heaven's lake.
4 Blow again trumpeter! and for my sensuous eyes, Bring the old pageants, show the feudal world.
What charm thy music works! thou makest pass before me, Ladies and cavaliers long dead, barons are in their castle halls, the troubadours are singing, Arm'd knights go forth to redress wrongs, some in quest of the holy Graal; I see the tournament, I see the contestants incased in heavy armor seated on stately champing horses, I hear the shouts, the sounds of blows and smiting steel; I see the Crusaders' tumultuous armies—hark, how the cymbals clang, Lo, where the monks walk in advance, bearing the cross on high.
5 Blow again trumpeter! and for thy theme, Take now the enclosing theme of all, the solvent and the setting, Love, that is pulse of all, the sustenance and the pang, The heart of man and woman all for love, No other theme but love—knitting, enclosing, all-diffusing love.
O how the immortal phantoms crowd around me! I see the vast alembic ever working, I see and know the flames that heat the world, The glow, the blush, the beating hearts of lovers, So blissful happy some, and some so silent, dark, and nigh to death; Love, that is all the earth to lovers—love, that mocks time and space, Love, that is day and night—love, that is sun and moon and stars, Love, that is crimson, sumptuous, sick with perfume, No other words but words of love, no other thought but love.
6 Blow again trumpeter—conjure war's alarums.
Swift to thy spell a shuddering hum like distant thunder rolls, Lo, where the arm'd men hasten—lo, mid the clouds of dust the glint of bayonets, I see the grime-faced cannoneers, I mark the rosy flash amid the smoke, I hear the cracking of the guns; Nor war alone—thy fearful music-song, wild player, brings every sight of fear, The deeds of ruthless brigands, rapine, murder—I hear the cries for help! I see ships foundering at sea, I behold on deck and below deck the terrible tableaus.
7 O trumpeter, methinks I am myself the instrument thou playest, Thou melt'st my heart, my brain—thou movest, drawest, changest them at will; And now thy sullen notes send darkness through me, Thou takest away all cheering light, all hope, I see the enslaved, the overthrown, the hurt, the opprest of the whole earth, I feel the measureless shame and humiliation of my race, it becomes all mine, Mine too the revenges of humanity, the wrongs of ages, baffled feuds and hatreds, Utter defeat upon me weighs—all lost—the foe victorious, (Yet 'mid the ruins Pride colossal stands unshaken to the last, Endurance, resolution to the last.)
8 Now trumpeter for thy close, Vouchsafe a higher strain than any yet, Sing to my soul, renew its languishing faith and hope, Rouse up my slow belief, give me some vision of the future, Give me for once its prophecy and joy.
O glad, exulting, culminating song! A vigor more than earth's is in thy notes, Marches of victory—man disenthral'd—the conqueror at last, Hymns to the universal God from universal man—all joy! A reborn race appears—a perfect world, all joy! Women and men in wisdom innocence and health—all joy! Riotous laughing bacchanals fill'd with joy! War, sorrow, suffering gone—the rank earth purged—nothing but joy left! The ocean fill'd with joy—the atmosphere all joy! Joy! joy! in freedom, worship, love! joy in the ecstasy of life! Enough to merely be! enough to breathe! Joy! joy! all over joy!
To a Locomotive in Winter
Thee for my recitative, Thee in the driving storm even as now, the snow, the winter-day declining, Thee in thy panoply, thy measur'd dual throbbing and thy beat convulsive, Thy black cylindric body, golden brass and silvery steel, Thy ponderous side-bars, parallel and connecting rods, gyrating, shuttling at thy sides, Thy metrical, now swelling pant and roar, now tapering in the distance, Thy great protruding head-light fix'd in front, Thy long, pale, floating vapor-pennants, tinged with delicate purple, The dense and murky clouds out-belching from thy smoke-stack, Thy knitted frame, thy springs and valves, the tremulous twinkle of thy wheels, Thy train of cars behind, obedient, merrily following, Through gale or calm, now swift, now slack, yet steadily careering; Type of the modern—emblem of motion and power—pulse of the continent, For once come serve the Muse and merge in verse, even as here I see thee, With storm and buffeting gusts of wind and falling snow, By day thy warning ringing bell to sound its notes, By night thy silent signal lamps to swing.
Fierce-throated beauty! Roll through my chant with all thy lawless music, thy swinging lamps at night, Thy madly-whistled laughter, echoing, rumbling like an earthquake, rousing all, Law of thyself complete, thine own track firmly holding, (No sweetness debonair of tearful harp or glib piano thine,) Thy trills of shrieks by rocks and hills return'd, Launch'd o'er the prairies wide, across the lakes, To the free skies unpent and glad and strong.
O magnet-south! O glistening perfumed South! my South! O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse and love! good and evil! O all dear to me! O dear to me my birth-things—all moving things and the trees where I was born—the grains, plants, rivers, Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they flow, distant, over flats of slivery sands or through swamps, Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altamahaw, the Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee, the Coosa and the Sabine, O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my soul to haunt their banks again, Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes, I float on the Okeechobee, I cross the hummock-land or through pleasant openings or dense forests, I see the parrots in the woods, I see the papaw-tree and the blossoming titi; Again, sailing in my coaster on deck, I coast off Georgia, I coast up the Carolinas, I see where the live-oak is growing, I see where the yellow-pine, the scented bay-tree, the lemon and orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto, I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico sound through an inlet, and dart my vision inland; O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar, hemp! The cactus guarded with thorns, the laurel-tree with large white flowers, The range afar, the richness and barrenness, the old woods charged with mistletoe and trailing moss, The piney odor and the gloom, the awful natural stillness, (here in these dense swamps the freebooter carries his gun, and the fugitive has his conceal'd hut;) O the strange fascination of these half-known half-impassable swamps, infested by reptiles, resounding with the bellow of the alligator, the sad noises of the night-owl and the wild-cat, and the whirr of the rattlesnake, The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all the forenoon, singing through the moon-lit night, The humming-bird, the wild turkey, the raccoon, the opossum; A Kentucky corn-field, the tall, graceful, long-leav'd corn, slender, flapping, bright green, with tassels, with beautiful ears each well-sheath'd in its husk; O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs, I can stand them not, I will depart; O to be a Virginian where I grew up! O to be a Carolinian! O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Tennessee and never wander more.
I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city, Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.
Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient, I see that the word of my city is that word from of old, Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays, superb, Rich, hemm'd thick all around with sailships and steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded, Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies, Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown, The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining islands, the heights, the villas, The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters, the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model'd, The down-town streets, the jobbers' houses of business, the houses of business of the ship-merchants and money-brokers, the river-streets, Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week, The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses, the brown-faced sailors, The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing clouds aloft, The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or ebb-tide, The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form'd, beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes, Trottoirs throng'd, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the shops and shows, A million people—manners free and superb—open voices—hospitality— the most courageous and friendly young men, City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts! City nested in bays! my city!
All Is Truth
O me, man of slack faith so long, Standing aloof, denying portions so long, Only aware to-day of compact all-diffused truth, Discovering to-day there is no lie or form of lie, and can be none, but grows as inevitably upon itself as the truth does upon itself, Or as any law of the earth or any natural production of the earth does.
(This is curious and may not be realized immediately, but it must be realized, I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with the rest, And that the universe does.)
Where has fail'd a perfect return indifferent of lies or the truth? Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the spirit of man? or in the meat and blood?
Meditating among liars and retreating sternly into myself, I see that there are really no liars or lies after all, And that nothing fails its perfect return, and that what are called lies are perfect returns, And that each thing exactly represents itself and what has preceded it, And that the truth includes all, and is compact just as much as space is compact, And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of the truth—but that all is truth without exception; And henceforth I will go celebrate any thing I see or am, And sing and laugh and deny nothing.
A Riddle Song
That which eludes this verse and any verse, Unheard by sharpest ear, unform'd in clearest eye or cunningest mind, Nor lore nor fame, nor happiness nor wealth, And yet the pulse of every heart and life throughout the world incessantly, Which you and I and all pursuing ever ever miss, Open but still a secret, the real of the real, an illusion, Costless, vouchsafed to each, yet never man the owner, Which poets vainly seek to put in rhyme, historians in prose, Which sculptor never chisel'd yet, nor painter painted, Which vocalist never sung, nor orator nor actor ever utter'd, Invoking here and now I challenge for my song.
Indifferently, 'mid public, private haunts, in solitude, Behind the mountain and the wood, Companion of the city's busiest streets, through the assemblage, It and its radiations constantly glide.
In looks of fair unconscious babes, Or strangely in the coffin'd dead, Or show of breaking dawn or stars by night, As some dissolving delicate film of dreams, Hiding yet lingering.
Two little breaths of words comprising it, Two words, yet all from first to last comprised in it.
How ardently for it! How many ships have sail'd and sunk for it!
How many travelers started from their homes and neer return'd! How much of genius boldly staked and lost for it! What countless stores of beauty, love, ventur'd for it! How all superbest deeds since Time began are traceable to it—and shall be to the end! How all heroic martyrdoms to it! How, justified by it, the horrors, evils, battles of the earth! How the bright fascinating lambent flames of it, in every age and land, have drawn men's eyes, Rich as a sunset on the Norway coast, the sky, the islands, and the cliffs, Or midnight's silent glowing northern lights unreachable.
Haply God's riddle it, so vague and yet so certain, The soul for it, and all the visible universe for it, And heaven at last for it.
Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther, And who has been just? for I would be the most just person of the earth, And who most cautious? for I would be more cautious, And who has been happiest? O I think it is I—I think no one was ever happier than I, And who has lavish'd all? for I lavish constantly the best I have, And who proudest? for I think I have reason to be the proudest son alive—for I am the son of the brawny and tall-topt city, And who has been bold and true? for I would be the boldest and truest being of the universe, And who benevolent? for I would show more benevolence than all the rest, And who has receiv'd the love of the most friends? for I know what it is to receive the passionate love of many friends, And who possesses a perfect and enamour'd body? for I do not believe any one possesses a more perfect or enamour'd body than mine, And who thinks the amplest thoughts? for I would surround those thoughts, And who has made hymns fit for the earth? for I am mad with devouring ecstasy to make joyous hymns for the whole earth.
Ah Poverties, Wincings, and Sulky Retreats
Ah poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats, Ah you foes that in conflict have overcome me, (For what is my life or any man's life but a conflict with foes, the old, the incessant war?) You degradations, you tussle with passions and appetites, You smarts from dissatisfied friendships, (ah wounds the sharpest of all!) You toil of painful and choked articulations, you meannesses, You shallow tongue-talks at tables, (my tongue the shallowest of any;) You broken resolutions, you racking angers, you smother'd ennuis! Ah think not you finally triumph, my real self has yet to come forth, It shall yet march forth o'ermastering, till all lies beneath me, It shall yet stand up the soldier of ultimate victory.
Of public opinion, Of a calm and cool fiat sooner or later, (how impassive! how certain and final!) Of the President with pale face asking secretly to himself, What will the people say at last? Of the frivolous Judge—of the corrupt Congressman, Governor, Mayor—of such as these standing helpless and exposed, Of the mumbling and screaming priest, (soon, soon deserted,) Of the lessening year by year of venerableness, and of the dicta of officers, statutes, pulpits, schools, Of the rising forever taller and stronger and broader of the intuitions of men and women, and of Self-esteem and Personality; Of the true New World—of the Democracies resplendent en-masse, Of the conformity of politics, armies, navies, to them, Of the shining sun by them—of the inherent light, greater than the rest, Of the envelopment of all by them, and the effusion of all from them.
They shall arise in the States, They shall report Nature, laws, physiology, and happiness, They shall illustrate Democracy and the kosmos, They shall be alimentive, amative, perceptive, They shall be complete women and men, their pose brawny and supple, their drink water, their blood clean and clear, They shall fully enjoy materialism and the sight of products, they shall enjoy the sight of the beef, lumber, bread-stuffs, of Chicago the great city. They shall train themselves to go in public to become orators and oratresses, Strong and sweet shall their tongues be, poems and materials of poems shall come from their lives, they shall be makers and finders, Of them and of their works shall emerge divine conveyers, to convey gospels, Characters, events, retrospections, shall be convey'd in gospels, trees, animals, waters, shall be convey'd, Death, the future, the invisible faith, shall all be convey'd.
Weave in, My Hardy Life
Weave in, weave in, my hardy life, Weave yet a soldier strong and full for great campaigns to come, Weave in red blood, weave sinews in like ropes, the senses, sight weave in, Weave lasting sure, weave day and night the wet, the warp, incessant weave, tire not, (We know not what the use O life, nor know the aim, the end, nor really aught we know, But know the work, the need goes on and shall go on, the death-envelop'd march of peace as well as war goes on,) For great campaigns of peace the same the wiry threads to weave, We know not why or what, yet weave, forever weave.
Out of the murk of heaviest clouds, Out of the feudal wrecks and heap'd-up skeletons of kings, Out of that old entire European debris, the shatter'd mummeries, Ruin'd cathedrals, crumble of palaces, tombs of priests, Lo, Freedom's features fresh undimm'd look forth—the same immortal face looks forth; (A glimpse as of thy Mother's face Columbia, A flash significant as of a sword, Beaming towards thee.)
Nor think we forget thee maternal; Lag'd'st thou so long? shall the clouds close again upon thee? Ah, but thou hast thyself now appear'd to us—we know thee, Thou hast given us a sure proof, the glimpse of thyself, Thou waitest there as everywhere thy time.
By Broad Potomac's Shore
By broad Potomac's shore, again old tongue, (Still uttering, still ejaculating, canst never cease this babble?) Again old heart so gay, again to you, your sense, the full flush spring returning, Again the freshness and the odors, again Virginia's summer sky, pellucid blue and silver, Again the forenoon purple of the hills, Again the deathless grass, so noiseless soft and green, Again the blood-red roses blooming.
Perfume this book of mine O blood-red roses! Lave subtly with your waters every line Potomac! Give me of you O spring, before I close, to put between its pages! O forenoon purple of the hills, before I close, of you! O deathless grass, of you!
From Far Dakota's Canyons [June 25, 1876]
From far Dakota's canyons, Lands of the wild ravine, the dusky Sioux, the lonesome stretch, the silence, Haply to-day a mournful wall, haply a trumpet-note for heroes.
The battle-bulletin, The Indian ambuscade, the craft, the fatal environment, The cavalry companies fighting to the last in sternest heroism, In the midst of their little circle, with their slaughter'd horses for breastworks, The fall of Custer and all his officers and men.
Continues yet the old, old legend of our race, The loftiest of life upheld by death, The ancient banner perfectly maintain'd, O lesson opportune, O how I welcome thee!
As sitting in dark days, Lone, sulky, through the time's thick murk looking in vain for light, for hope, From unsuspected parts a fierce and momentary proof, (The sun there at the centre though conceal'd, Electric life forever at the centre,) Breaks forth a lightning flash.
Thou of the tawny flowing hair in battle, I erewhile saw, with erect head, pressing ever in front, bearing a bright sword in thy hand, Now ending well in death the splendid fever of thy deeds, (I bring no dirge for it or thee, I bring a glad triumphal sonnet,) Desperate and glorious, aye in defeat most desperate, most glorious, After thy many battles in which never yielding up a gun or a color, Leaving behind thee a memory sweet to soldiers, Thou yieldest up thyself.
In midnight sleep of many a face of anguish, Of the look at first of the mortally wounded, (of that indescribable look,) Of the dead on their backs with arms extended wide, I dream, I dream, I dream.
Of scenes of Nature, fields and mountains, Of skies so beauteous after a storm, and at night the moon so unearthly bright, Shining sweetly, shining down, where we dig the trenches and gather the heaps, I dream, I dream, I dream.
Long have they pass'd, faces and trenches and fields, Where through the carnage I moved with a callous composure, or away from the fallen, Onward I sped at the time—but now of their forms at night, I dream, I dream, I dream.
Thick-sprinkled bunting! flag of stars! Long yet your road, fateful flag—long yet your road, and lined with bloody death, For the prize I see at issue at last is the world, All its ships and shores I see interwoven with your threads greedy banner; Dream'd again the flags of kings, highest borne to flaunt unrival'd? O hasten flag of man—O with sure and steady step, passing highest flags of kings, Walk supreme to the heavens mighty symbol—run up above them all, Flag of stars! thick-sprinkled bunting!
What Best I See in Thee [To U. S. G. return'd from his World's Tour]
What best I see in thee, Is not that where thou mov'st down history's great highways, Ever undimm'd by time shoots warlike victory's dazzle, Or that thou sat'st where Washington sat, ruling the land in peace, Or thou the man whom feudal Europe feted, venerable Asia swarm'd upon, Who walk'd with kings with even pace the round world's promenade; But that in foreign lands, in all thy walks with kings, Those prairie sovereigns of the West, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio's, Indiana's millions, comrades, farmers, soldiers, all to the front, Invisibly with thee walking with kings with even pace the round world's promenade, Were all so justified.
Spirit That Form'd This Scene [Written in Platte Canyon, Colorado]
Spirit that form'd this scene, These tumbled rock-piles grim and red, These reckless heaven-ambitious peaks, These gorges, turbulent-clear streams, this naked freshness, These formless wild arrays, for reasons of their own, I know thee, savage spirit—we have communed together, Mine too such wild arrays, for reasons of their own; Wast charged against my chants they had forgotten art? To fuse within themselves its rules precise and delicatesse? The lyrist's measur'd beat, the wrought-out temple's grace—column and polish'd arch forgot? But thou that revelest here—spirit that form'd this scene, They have remember'd thee.
As I Walk These Broad Majestic Days
As I walk these broad majestic days of peace, (For the war, the struggle of blood finish'd, wherein, O terrific Ideal, Against vast odds erewhile having gloriously won, Now thou stridest on, yet perhaps in time toward denser wars, Perhaps to engage in time in still more dreadful contests, dangers, Longer campaigns and crises, labors beyond all others,) Around me I hear that eclat of the world, politics, produce, The announcements of recognized things, science, The approved growth of cities and the spread of inventions.
I see the ships, (they will last a few years,) The vast factories with their foremen and workmen, And hear the indorsement of all, and do not object to it.
But I too announce solid things, Science, ships, politics, cities, factories, are not nothing, Like a grand procession to music of distant bugles pouring, triumphantly moving, and grander heaving in sight, They stand for realities—all is as it should be.
Then my realities; What else is so real as mine? Libertad and the divine average, freedom to every slave on the face of the earth, The rapt promises and lumine of seers, the spiritual world, these centuries-lasting songs, And our visions, the visions of poets, the most solid announcements of any.
A Clear Midnight
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done, Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best, Night, sleep, death and the stars.
BOOK XXXIII. SONGS OF PARTING
As the Time Draws Nigh
As the time draws nigh glooming a cloud, A dread beyond of I know not what darkens me.
I shall go forth, I shall traverse the States awhile, but I cannot tell whither or how long, Perhaps soon some day or night while I am singing my voice will suddenly cease.
O book, O chants! must all then amount to but this? Must we barely arrive at this beginning of us? —and yet it is enough, O soul; O soul, we have positively appear'd—that is enough.
Years of the Modern
Years of the modern! years of the unperform'd! Your horizon rises, I see it parting away for more august dramas, I see not America only, not only Liberty's nation but other nations preparing, I see tremendous entrances and exits, new combinations, the solidarity of races, I see that force advancing with irresistible power on the world's stage, (Have the old forces, the old wars, played their parts? are the acts suitable to them closed?) I see Freedom, completely arm'd and victorious and very haughty, with Law on one side and Peace on the other, A stupendous trio all issuing forth against the idea of caste; What historic denouements are these we so rapidly approach? I see men marching and countermarching by swift millions, I see the frontiers and boundaries of the old aristocracies broken, I see the landmarks of European kings removed, I see this day the People beginning their landmarks, (all others give way;) Never were such sharp questions ask'd as this day, Never was average man, his soul, more energetic, more like a God, Lo, how he urges and urges, leaving the masses no rest! His daring foot is on land and sea everywhere, he colonizes the Pacific, the archipelagoes, With the steamship, the electric telegraph, the newspaper, the wholesale engines of war, With these and the world-spreading factories he interlinks all geography, all lands; What whispers are these O lands, running ahead of you, passing under the seas? Are all nations communing? is there going to be but one heart to the globe? Is humanity forming en-masse? for lo, tyrants tremble, crowns grow dim, The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a general divine war, No one knows what will happen next, such portents fill the days and nights; Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vainly try to pierce it, is full of phantoms, Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes around me, This incredible rush and heat, this strange ecstatic fever of dreams O years! Your dreams O years, how they penetrate through me! (I know not whether I sleep or wake;) The perform'd America and Europe grow dim, retiring in shadow behind me, The unperform'd, more gigantic than ever, advance, advance upon me.