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.
the haughtiest nations,
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,
brothers and sisters,
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?)
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 deck-hand on the great lakes,
or on the Mississippi or St. Lawrence or Sacramento,
or Hudson or Paumanok sound,
The gentleman of perfect blood acknowledges his perfect blood,
the angry person,
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,
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,
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,
appear often enough,
but rare has the day been,
likewise the spot,
of the birth of the maker of poems,
(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,
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.
breadth of vision,
the law of reason,
rudeness of body,
such are some of the words of poems.
The sailor and traveler underlie the maker of poems,
all these underlie the maker of poems,
The words of the true poems give you more than poems,
They give you to form for yourself poems,
and every thing else,
They balance ranks,
and the sexes,
They do not seek beauty,
they are sought,
Forever touching them or close upon them follows beauty,
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,
branching forth into numberless branches,
Always the free range and diversity --always the continent of Democracy;
Always the prairies,
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,
East --all deeds,
promiscuously done at all times,
a few noticed,
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,
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,
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,
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,
feeding from troughs,
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,
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,
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,
and the juniper-tree;
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;
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,
drivers driving mules or oxen before rude carts,
cotton bales piled on banks and wharves;
vast-darting up and wide,
the American Soul,
with equal hemispheres,
one Dilation or Pride;
In arriere the peace-talk with the Iroquois the aborigines,
the pipe of good-will,
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,
attitudes of these States,
All these States compact,
every square mile of these States without excepting a particle;
rambling in lanes and country 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,
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,
balancing in the air in the centre of the room,
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,
the individuality of the States,
each for itself --the moneymakers,
the mechanical forces,
The certainty of space,
In space the sporades,
the scatter'd islands,
the stars --on the firm earth,
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,
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 Red River,
the Saskatchawan or the Osage,
I with the spring waters laughing and skipping and running,
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,
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,
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;
the grass of the great pastoral Plains,
good and evil --these me,
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,
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 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 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,
I pass the crowd,
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 precious love,
the patiently yielded life.
O the of increase,
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,
or along the coast,
To continue and be employ'd there all my life,
The briny and damp smell,
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,
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,
O boating on the rivers,
The voyage down the St. Lawrence,
the superb scenery,
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 in a trance!
Something escaped from the anchorage and driving free.)
O to work in mines,
or forging iron,
the foundry itself,
the rude high roof,
the ample and shadow'd space,
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,
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,
running to windward,
Again I see him rise to breathe,
we row close again,
I see a lance driven through his side,
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,
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,
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,
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,
O the farmer's 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,
Joys of the solitary walk,
the spirit bow'd yet proud,
the suffering and the struggle?
The agonistic throes,
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,
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 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,
Myself discharging my excrementitious body to be burn'd,
or render'd to powder,
My real body doubtless left to me for other spheres,
My voided body nothing more to me,
returning to the purifications,
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,
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 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,
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,
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,
Welcome the rich borders of rivers,
Welcome the measureless grazing-lands,
welcome the teeming soil of orchards,
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,
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,
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,
The slow progress,
the scant fare,
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,
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 butcher in the slaughter-house,
the hands aboard schooners and sloops,
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 bed of hemlock-boughs and the bear-skin;
The house-builder at work in cities or anywhere,
The preparatory jointing,
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,
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,
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 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 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,
Goods freely rifled from houses and temples,
screams of women in the gripe of brigands,
Craft and thievery of camp-followers,
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,
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,
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,
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,
or laid away.
What is your money-making now?
what can it do now?
What is your respectability now?
What are your theology,
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 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,
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,
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,
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,
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,
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,
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,
the characters and fun,
Dwellers along the St. Lawrence,
or north in Kanada,
or down by the Yellowstone,
dwellers on coasts and off coasts,
arctic seamen breaking passages through the ice.
The shapes arise!
Shapes of factories,
Shapes of the two-threaded tracks of railroads,
Shapes of the sleepers of bridges,
Shapes of the fleets of barges,
lake and canal 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 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,
10 The shapes arise!
The shape measur'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,
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,
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,
To fill the gross the torpid bulk with vital religious fire,
Not to repel or destroy so much as accept,
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,
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,
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,
untried domain awaits,
3 Responsive to our summons,
Or rather to her long-nurs'd inclination,
Join'd with an irresistible,
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,
Upon this very scene.
The dame of dames!
can I believe then,
Those ancient temples,
could none of them retain her?
Nor shades of Virgil and Dante,
nor myriad memories,
magnetize and hold on to her?
But that she's left them all --and here?
if you will allow me to say so,
if you do not,
can plainly see her,
The same undying soul of earth's,
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,
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,
Ended the stately rhythmus of Una and Oriana,
ended the quest of the holy Graal,
Jerusalem a handful of ashes blown by the wind,
The Crusaders' streams of shadowy midnight troops sped with the sunrise,
vanish'd the turrets that Usk from its waters reflected,
Arthur vanish'd with all his knights,
Merlin and Lancelot and Galahad,
dissolv'd utterly like an exhalation;
that once so mighty world,
with all its gorgeous legends,
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,
if you do not,
the illustrious emigre,
(having it is true in her day,
although the same,
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,
Smiling and pleas'd with palpable intent to stay,
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!
And ever henceforth sisters dear be both.
Fear not O Muse!
truly new ways and days receive,
I candidly confess a queer,
of novel fashion,
And yet the same old human race,
the same within,
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,
through past ages bending,
We build to ours to-day.
Mightier than Egypt's tombs,
Fairer than Grecia's,
Prouder than Milan's statued,
More picturesque than Rhenish castle-keeps,
We plan even now to raise,
beyond them all,
Thy great cathedral sacred industry,
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,
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,
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,
but lesser palaces shall cluster.
Somewhere within their walls shall all that forwards perfect human life be started,
Not only all the world of works,
But all the workmen of the world here to be represented.
Here shall you trace in flowing operation,
In every state of practical,
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,
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,
shall be created before you.
In large calm halls,
a stately museum shall teach you the infinite lessons of minerals,
vegetation shall be illustrated --in another animals,
animal life and development.
One stately house shall be the music house,
Others for other arts --learning,
shall all be here,
None shall be slighted,
none but shall here be honor'd,
this and these,
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,
with stronger themes,
the people's life,
the People themselves,
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,
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,
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,
amours of idlers,
Fitted for only banquets of the night where dancers to late music slide,
The unhealthy pleasures,
extravagant dissipations of the few,
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 plant and tend the tree,
For every man to see to it that he really do something,
for every woman too;
To use the hammer and the saw,
or cross-cut,) To cultivate a turn for carpentering,
To work as tailor,
To invent a little,
to aid the washing,
And hold it no disgrace to take a hand at them themselves.
I say I bring thee Muse to-day and here,
duties broad and close,
healthy toil and sweat,
old practical burdens,
husband and wife,
the house itself and all its belongings,
Food and its preservation,
chemistry applied to it,
Whatever forms the average,
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,
the inter-transportation of the world,
the great express lines,
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,
With all thy wide geographies,
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.
ineffable guest and sister!) For thee come trooping up thy waters and thy lands;
thy fields and farms,
thy far-off woods and mountains,
As in procession coming.
the sea itself,
And on its limitless,
where their white sails,
bellying in the wind,
speckle the green and blue,
the steamers coming and going,
steaming in or out of port,
dusky and undulating,
the long pennants of smoke.
far in the north and west,
Or in Maine,
far in the north and east,
thy cheerful axemen,
Wielding all day their axes.
on the lakes,
thy pilots at their wheels,
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,
risen or rising,
from their chimneys how the tall flame-fires stream.
thy interminable farms,
Thy wealthy daughter-states,
Eastern and Western,
The varied products of Ohio,
and the rest,
Thy limitless crops,
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,
thy gold and silver,
The inexhaustible iron in thy mines.
All thine O sacred Union!
City and State,
item and aggregate,
all to thee!
bulwark of all!
For well we know that while thou givest each and all,
(generous as God,) Without thee neither all nor each,
nor any here this day secure,
nor any day secure.
9 And thou,
the Emblem waving over all!
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,
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?)
While we rehearse our measureless wealth,
it is for thee,
We own it all and several to-day indissoluble in thee;
Think not our chant,
merely for products gross or lucre -- it is for thee,
the soul in thee,
we own in thee!
cities and States in thee!
Our freedom all in thee!
our very lives in thee!
Song of the Redwood-Tree
1 A California song,
A prophecy and indirection,
a thought impalpable to breathe as air,
A chorus of dryads,
or hamadryads departing,
out of the earth and sky,
Voice of a mighty dying tree in the redwood forest dense.
Farewell my brethren,
Farewell O earth and sky,
farewell ye neighboring waters,
My time has ended,
my term has come.
Along the northern coast,
Just back from the rock-bound shore and the caves,
In the saline air from the sea in the Mendocino country,
With the surge for base and accompaniment low and hoarse,
With crackling blows of axes sounding musically driven by strong arms,
Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axes,
there in the redwood forest dense,
I heard the might tree its death-chant chanting.
The choppers heard not,
the camp shanties echoed not,
The quick-ear'd teamsters and chain and jack-screw men heard not,
As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand years to join the refrain,
But in my soul I plainly heard.
Murmuring out of its myriad leaves,
Down from its lofty top rising two hundred feet high,
Out of its stalwart trunk and limbs,
out of its foot-thick bark,
That chant of the seasons and time,
chant not of the past only but the future.
You untold life of me,
And all you venerable and innocent joys,
Perennial hardy life of me with joys
'mid rain and many a summer sun,
And the white snows and night and the wild winds;
O the great patient rugged joys,
my soul's strong joys unreck'd by man,
(For know I bear the soul befitting me,
I too have consciousness,
And all the rocks and mountains have,
and all the earth,) Joys of the life befitting me and brothers mine,
our term has come.
Nor yield we mournfully majestic brothers,
We who have grandly fill'd our time,
With Nature's calm content,
with tacit huge delight,
We welcome what we wrought for through the past,
And leave the field for them.
For them predicted long,
For a superber race,
they too to grandly fill their time,
For them we abdicate,
in them ourselves ye forest kings.'
In them these skies and airs,
these mountain peaks,
These huge precipitous cliffs,
To be in them absorb'd,
Then to a loftier strain,
more ecstatic rose the chant,
As if the heirs,
the deities of the West,
Joining with master-tongue bore part.
Not wan from Asia's fetiches,
Nor red from Europe's old dynastic slaughter-house,
(Area of murder-plots of thrones,
with scent left yet of wars and scaffolds everywhere,
But come from Nature's long and harmless throes,
peacefully builded thence,
These virgin lands,
lands of the Western shore,
To the new culminating man,
the empire new,
You promis'd long,
You occult deep volitions,
You average spiritual manhood,
purpose of all,
pois'd on yourself,
giving not taking law,
You womanhood divine,
mistress and source of all,
whence life and love and aught that comes from life and love,
You unseen moral essence of all the vast materials of America,
age upon age working in death the same as life,) You that,
really shape and mould the New World,
adjusting it to Time and Space,
You hidden national will lying in your abysms,
conceal'd but ever alert,
You past and present purposes tenaciously pursued,
may-be unconscious of yourselves,
Unswerv'd by all the passing errors,
perturbations of the surface;
beneath all creeds,
Here build your homes for good,
these areas entire,
lands of the Western shore,
we dedicate to you.
For man of you,
your characteristic race,
Here may he hardy,
here tower proportionate to Nature,
Here climb the vast pure spaces unconfined,
uncheck'd by wall or roof,
Here laugh with storm or sun,
here patiently inure,
Here heed himself,
(not others' formulas heed,) here fill his time,
To duly fall,
unreck'd at last,
Thus on the northern coast,
In the echo of teamsters' calls and the clinking chains,
and the music of choppers' axes,
The falling trunk and limbs,
the muffled shriek,
Such words combined from the redwood-tree,
as of voices ecstatic,
ancient and rustling,
All their recesses of forests and mountains leaving,
From the Cascade range to the Wahsatch,
or Idaho far,
To the deities of the modern henceforth yielding,
The chorus and indications,
the vistas of coming humanity,
In the Mendocino woods I caught.
2 The flashing and golden pageant of California,
The sudden and gorgeous drama,
the sunny and ample lands,
The long and varied stretch from Puget sound to Colorado south,
Lands bathed in sweeter,
valleys and mountain cliffs,
The fields of Nature long prepared and fallow,
The slow and steady ages plodding,
the unoccupied surface ripening,
the rich ores forming beneath;
At last the New arriving,
A swarming and busy race settling and organizing everywhere,
Ships coming in from the whole round world,
and going out to the whole world,
To India and China and Australia and the thousand island paradises of the Pacific,
the latest inventions,
the steamers on the rivers,
with many a thrifty farm,
And wool and wheat and the grape,
and diggings of yellow gold.
3 But more in you than these,
lands of the Western shore,
(These but the means,
the standing-ground,) I see in you,
certain to come,
the promise of thousands of years,
till now deferr'd,
Promis'd to be fulfill'd,
our common kind,
The new society at last,
proportionate to Nature,
In man of you,
more than your mountain peaks or stalwart trees imperial,
In woman more,
than all your gold or vines,
or even vital air.
to a new world indeed,
yet long prepared,
I see the genius of the modern,
child of the real and ideal,
Clearing the ground for broad humanity,
the true America,
heir of the past so grand,
To build a grander future.
A Song for Occupations
1 A song for occupations!
In the labor of engines and trades and the labor of fields I find the developments,
And find the eternal meanings.
Workmen and Workwomen!
Were all educations practical and ornamental well display'd out of me,
what would it amount to?
Were I as the head teacher,
what would it amount to?
Were I to you as the boss employing and paying you,
would that satisfy you?
and the usual terms,
A man like me and never the usual terms.
Neither a servant nor a master I,
I take no sooner a large price than a small price,
I will have my own whoever enjoys me,
I will be even with you and you shall be even with me.
If you stand at work in a shop I stand as nigh as the nighest in the same shop,
If you bestow gifts on your brother or dearest friend I demand as good as your brother or dearest friend,
If your lover,
is welcome by day or night,
I must be personally as welcome,
If you become degraded,
then I become so for your sake,
If you remember your foolish and outlaw'd deeds,
do you think I cannot remember my own foolish and outlaw'd deeds?
If you carouse at the table I carouse at the opposite side of the table,
If you meet some stranger in the streets and love him or her,
why I often meet strangers in the street and love them.
Why what have you thought of yourself?
Is it you then that thought yourself less?
Is it you that thought the President greater than you?
Or the rich better off than you?
or the educated wiser than you?
(Because you are greasy or pimpled,
or were once drunk,
or a thief,
Or that you are diseas'd,
or a prostitute,
Or from frivolity or impotence,
or that you are no scholar and never saw your name in print,
Do you give in that you are any less immortal?)
2 Souls of men and women!
it is not you I call unseen,
untouchable and untouching,
It is not you I go argue pro and con about,
and to settle whether you are alive or no,
I own publicly who you are,
if nobody else owns.
half-grown and babe,
of this country and every country,
in-doors and out-doors,
one just as much as the other,
And all else behind or through them.
and she is not one jot less than the husband,
and she is just as good as the son,
and she is every bit as much as the father.
Offspring of ignorant and poor,
boys apprenticed to trades,
Young fellows working on farms and old fellows working on farms,
All these I see,
but nigher and farther the same I see,
None shall escape me and none shall wish to escape me.
I bring what you much need yet always have,
but as good,
I send no agent or medium,
offer no representative of value,
but offer the value itself.
There is something that comes to one now and perpetually,
It is not what is printed,
it eludes discussion and print,
It is not to be put in a book,
it is not in this book,
It is for you whoever you are,
it is no farther from you than your hearing and sight are from you,
It is hinted by nearest,
it is ever provoked by them.
You may read in many languages,
yet read nothing about it,
You may read the President's message and read nothing about it there,
Nothing in the reports from the State department or Treasury department,
or in the daily papers or weekly papers,
Or in the census or revenue returns,
or any accounts of stock.
3 The sun and stars that float in the open air,
The apple-shaped earth and we upon it,
surely the drift of them is something grand,
I do not know what it is except that it is grand,
and that it is happiness,
And that the enclosing purport of us here is not a speculation or bon-mot or reconnoissance,
And that it is not something which by luck may turn out well for us,
and without luck must be a failure for us,
And not something which may yet be retracted in a certain contingency.
The light and shade,
the curious sense of body and identity,
the greed that with perfect complaisance devours all things,
The endless pride and outstretching of man,
unspeakable joys and sorrows,
The wonder every one sees in every one else he sees,
and the wonders that fill each minute of time forever,
What have you reckon'd them for,
Have you reckon'd them for your trade or farm-work?
or for the profits of your store?
Or to achieve yourself a position?
or to fill a gentleman's leisure,
or a lady's leisure?
Have you reckon'd that the landscape took substance and form that it might be painted in a picture?
Or men and women that they might be written of,
and songs sung?
Or the attraction of gravity,
and the great laws and harmonious combinations and the fluids of the air,
as subjects for the savans?
Or the brown land and the blue sea for maps and charts?
Or the stars to be put in constellations and named fancy names?
Or that the growth of seeds is for agricultural tables,
or agriculture itself?
and the practice handed along in manufactures,
will we rate them so high?
Will we rate our cash and business high?
I have no objection,
I rate them as high as the highest --then a child born of a woman and man I rate beyond all rate.
We thought our Union grand,
and our Constitution grand,
I do not say they are not grand and good,
for they are,
I am this day just as much in love with them as you,
Then I am in love with You,
and with all my fellows upon the earth.
We consider bibles and religions divine --I do not say they are not divine,
I say they have all grown out of you,
and may grow out of you still,
It is not they who give the life,
it is you who give the life,
Leaves are not more shed from the trees,
or trees from the earth,
than they are shed out of you.
4 The sum of all known reverence I add up in you whoever you are,
The President is there in the White House for you,
it is not you who are here for him,
The Secretaries act in their bureaus for you,
not you here for them,
The Congress convenes every Twelfth-month for you,
the forming of States,
the charters of cities,
the going and coming of commerce and malls,
are all for you.
List close my scholars dear,
politics and civilization exurge from you,
Sculpture and monuments and any thing inscribed anywhere are tallied in you,
The gist of histories and statistics as far back as the records reach is in you this hour,
and myths and tales the same,
If you were not breathing and walking here,
where would they all be?
The most renown'd poems would be ashes,
orations and plays would be vacuums.
All architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it,
(Did you think it was in the white or gray stone?
or the lines of the arches and cornices?)
All music is what awakes from you when you are reminded by the instruments,
It is not the violins and the cornets,
it is not the oboe nor the beating drums,
nor the score of the baritone singer singing his sweet romanza,
nor that of the men's chorus,
nor that of the women's chorus,
It is nearer and farther than they.
5 Will the whole come back then?
Can each see signs of the best by a look in the looking-glass?
is there nothing greater or more?
Does all sit there with you,
with the mystic unseen soul?
Strange and hard that paradox true I give,
Objects gross and the unseen soul are one.
sawing the boards,
flagging of sidewalks by flaggers,
the great derrick,
the coal-kiln and brickkiln,
Coal-mines and all that is down there,
the lamps in the darkness,
what vast native thoughts looking through smutch'd faces,
forge-fires in the mountains or by river-banks,
men around feeling the melt with huge crowbars,
lumps of ore,
the due combining of ore,
The blast-furnace and the puddling-furnace,
the loup-lump at the bottom of the melt at last,
the stumpy bars of pig-iron,
the strong clean-shaped Trail for railroads,
the great mills and factories,
shapely trimmings for facades or window or door-lintels,
the jib to protect the thumb,
the kettle of boiling vault-cement,
and the fire under the kettle,
the stevedore's hook,
the saw and buck of the sawyer,
the mould of the moulder,
the working-knife of the butcher,
and all the work with ice,
The work and tools of the rigger,
Goods of gutta-percha,
The veneer and glue-pot,
the confectioner's ornaments,
the decanter and glasses,
the shears and flat-iron,
The awl and knee-strap,
the pint measure and quart measure,
the counter and stool,
the writing-pen of quill or metal,
the making of all sorts of edged tools,
every thing that is done by brewers,
The cart of the carman,
the ponderous dray,
letting off color'd fireworks at night,
fancy figures and jets;
Beef on the butcher's stall,
the slaughter-house of the butcher,
the butcher in his killing-clothes,
The pens of live pork,
the scalder's tub,
the cutter's cleaver,
the packer's maul,
and the plenteous winterwork of pork-packing,
grinding of wheat,
the barrels and the half and quarter barrels,
the loaded barges,
the high piles on wharves and levees,
The men and the work of the men on ferries,
The hourly routine of your own or any man's life,
These shows all near you by day and night --workman!
whoever you are,
your daily life!
In that and them the heft of the heaviest --in that and them far more than you estimated,
(and far less also,) In them realities for you and me,
in them poems for you and me,
not yourself-you and your soul enclose all things,
regardless of estimation,
In them the development good --in them all themes,
I do not affirm that what you see beyond is futile,
I do not advise you to stop,
I do not say leadings you thought great are not great,
But I say that none lead to greater than these lead to.
6 Will you seek afar off?
you surely come back at last,
In things best known to you finding the best,
or as good as the best,
In folks nearest to you finding the sweetest,
not in another place but this place,
not for another hour but this hour,
Man in the first you see or touch,
always in friend,
nighest neighbor --woman in mother,
The popular tastes and employments taking precedence in poems or anywhere,
You workwomen and workmen of these States having your own divine and strong life,
And all else giving place to men and women like you.
When the psalm sings instead of the singer,
When the script preaches instead of the preacher,
When the pulpit descends and goes instead of the carver that carved the supporting desk,
When I can touch the body of books by night or by day,
and when they touch my body back again,
When a university course convinces like a slumbering woman and child convince,
When the minted gold in the vault smiles like the night-watchman's daughter,
When warrantee deeds loafe in chairs opposite and are my friendly companions,
I intend to reach them my hand,
and make as much of them as I do of men and women like you.
A Song of the Rolling Earth
1 A song of the rolling earth,
and of words according,
Were you thinking that those were the words,
those upright lines?
those are not the words,
the substantial words are in the ground and sea,
They are in the air,
they are in you.
Were you thinking that those were the words,
those delicious sounds out of your friends' mouths?
the real words are more delicious than they.
Human bodies are words,
myriads of words,
(In the best poems re-appears the body,
man's or woman's,
Every part able,
without shame or the need of shame.)
fire --those are words,
I myself am a word with them --my qualities interpenetrate with theirs --my name is nothing to them,
Though it were told in the three thousand languages,
what would air,
know of my name?
A healthy presence,
a friendly or commanding gesture,
The charms that go with the mere looks of some men and women,
are sayings and meanings also.
The workmanship of souls is by those inaudible words of the earth,
The masters know the earth's words and use them more than audible words.
Amelioration is one of the earth's words,
The earth neither lags nor hastens,
It has all attributes,
latent in itself from the jump,
It is not half beautiful only,
defects and excrescences show just as much as perfections show.
The earth does not withhold,
it is generous enough,
The truths of the earth continually wait,
they are not so conceal'd either,
They are calm,
untransmissible by print,
They are imbued through all things conveying themselves willingly,
Conveying a sentiment and invitation,
I utter and utter,
I speak not,
yet if you hear me not of what avail am I to you?
lacking these of what avail am I?
Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
Will you squat and stifle there?)
The earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic,
has no arrangements,
Does not scream,
Makes no discriminations,
has no conceivable failures,
shuts none out,
Of all the powers,
shuts none out.
The earth does not exhibit itself nor refuse to exhibit itself,
possesses still underneath,
Underneath the ostensible sounds,
the august chorus of heroes,
the wail of slaves,
Persuasions of lovers,
gasps of the dying,
laughter of young people,
accents of bargainers,
Underneath these possessing words that never fall.
To her children the words of the eloquent dumb great mother never fail,
The true words do not fail,
for motion does not fail and reflection does not fall,
Also the day and night do not fall,
and the voyage we pursue does not fall.
Of the interminable sisters,
Of the ceaseless cotillons of sisters,
Of the centripetal and centrifugal sisters,
the elder and younger sisters,
The beautiful sister we know dances on with the rest.
With her ample back towards every beholder,
With the fascinations of youth and the equal fascinations of age,
Sits she whom I too love like the rest,
Holding up in her hand what has the character of a mirror,
while her eyes glance back from it,
Glance as she sits,
Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before her own face.
Seen at hand or seen at a distance,
Duly the twenty-four appear in public every day,
Duly approach and pass with their companions or a companion,
Looking from no countenances of their own,
but from the countenances of those who are with them,
From the countenances of children or women or the manly countenance,
From the open countenances of animals or from inanimate things,
From the landscape or waters or from the exquisite apparition of the sky,
From our countenances,
mine and yours,
faithfully returning them,
Every day in public appearing without fall,
but never twice with the same companions.
proceed the three hundred and sixty-five resistlessly round the sun;
follow close three hundred and sixty-five offsets of the first,
sure and necessary as they.
Tumbling on steadily,
The soul's realization and determination still inheriting,
The fluid vacuum around and ahead still entering and dividing,
No balk retarding,
no anchor anchoring,
on no rock striking,
Of all able and ready at any time to give strict account,
The divine ship sails the divine sea.
2 Whoever you are!
motion and reflection are especially for you,
The divine ship sails the divine sea for you.
Whoever you are!
you are he or she for whom the earth is solid and liquid,
You are he or she for whom the sun and moon hang in the sky,
For none more than you are the present and the past,
For none more than you is immortality.
Each man to himself and each woman to herself,
is the word of the past and present,
and the true word of immortality;
No one can acquire for another --not one,
Not one can grow for another --not one.
The song is to the singer,
and comes back most to him,
The teaching is to the teacher,
and comes back most to him,
The murder is to the murderer,
and comes back most to him,
The theft is to the thief,
and comes back most to him,
The love is to the lover,
and comes back most to him,
The gift is to the giver,
and comes back most to him --it cannot fail,
The oration is to the orator,
the acting is to the actor and actress not to the audience,
And no man understands any greatness or goodness but his own,
or the indication of his own.
3 I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be complete,
The earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who remains jagged and broken.
I swear there is no greatness or power that does not emulate those of the earth,
There can be no theory of any account unless it corroborate the theory of the earth,
or what not,
is of account,
unless it compare with the amplitude of the earth,
Unless it face the exactness,
rectitude of the earth.
I swear I begin to see love with sweeter spasms than that which responds love,
It is that which contains itself,
which never invites and never refuses.
I swear I begin to see little or nothing in audible words,
All merges toward the presentation of the unspoken meanings of the earth,
Toward him who sings the songs of the body and of the truths of the earth,
Toward him who makes the dictionaries of words that print cannot touch.
I swear I see what is better than to tell the best,
It is always to leave the best untold.
When I undertake to tell the best I find I cannot,
My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots,
My breath will not be obedient to its organs,
I become a dumb man.
The best of the earth cannot be told anyhow,
all or any is best,
It is not what you anticipated,
it is cheaper,
Things are not dismiss'd from the places they held before,
The earth is just as positive and direct as it was before,
are as real as before,
But the soul is also real,
it too is positive and direct,
no proof has establish'd it,
Undeniable growth has establish'd it.
4 These to echo the tones of souls and the phrases of souls,
(If they did not echo the phrases of souls what were they then?
If they had not reference to you in especial what were they then?)
I swear I will never henceforth have to do with the faith that tells the best,
I will have to do only with that faith that leaves the best untold.
pile the words of the earth!
age after age,
nothing is to be lost,
It may have to wait long,
but it will certainly come in use,
When the materials are all prepared and ready,
the architects shall appear.
I swear to you the architects shall appear without fall,
I swear to you they will understand you and justify you,
The greatest among them shall be he who best knows you,
and encloses all and is faithful to all,
He and the rest shall not forget you,
they shall perceive that you are not an iota less than they,
You shall be fully glorified in them.
Old Age and Night
loving --youth full of grace,
Do you know that Old Age may come after you with equal grace,
Day full-blown and splendid-day of the immense sun,
The Night follows close with millions of suns,
and sleep and restoring darkness.
BIRDS OF PASSAGE
Song of the Universal
1 Come said the Muse,
Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
Sing me the universal.
In this broad earth of ours,
Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
Nestles the seed perfection.
By every life a share or more or less,
None born but it is born,
conceal'd or unconceal'd the seed is waiting.
keen-eyed towering science,
As from tall peaks the modern overlooking,
Successive absolute fiats issuing.
above all science,
For it has history gather'd like husks around the globe,
For it the entire star-myriads roll through the sky.
In spiral routes by long detours,
(As a much-tacking ship upon the sea,) For it the partial to the permanent flowing,
For it the real to the ideal tends.
For it the mystic evolution,
Not the right only justified,
what we call evil also justified.
Forth from their masks,
no matter what,
From the huge festering trunk,
from craft and guile and tears,
Health to emerge and joy,
Out of the bulk,
the morbid and the shallow,
Out of the bad majority,
the varied countless frauds of men and states,
Only the good is universal.
3 Over the mountain-growths disease and sorrow,
An uncaught bird is ever hovering,
High in the purer,
From imperfection's murkiest cloud,
Darts always forth one ray of perfect light,
One flash of heaven's glory.
To the mad Babel-din,
the deafening orgies,
Soothing each lull a strain is heard,
From some far shore the final chorus sounding.
O the blest eyes,
the happy hearts,
that know the guiding thread so fine,
Along the mighty labyrinth.
4 And thou America,
For the scheme's culmination,
its thought and its reality,
For these (not for thyself) thou hast arrived.
Thou too surroundest all,
Embracing carrying welcoming all,
thou too by pathways broad and new,
To the ideal tendest.
The measure'd faiths of other lands,
the grandeurs of the past,
Are not for thee,
but grandeurs of thine own,
Deific faiths and amplitudes,
All eligible to all.
all for immortality,
Love like the light silently wrapping all,
Nature's amelioration blessing all,
fruits of ages,
orchards divine and certain,
to spiritual images ripening.
Give me O God to sing that thought,
give him or her I love this quenchless faith,
In Thy ensemble,
whatever else withheld withhold not from us,
Belief in plan of Thee enclosed in Time and Space,
Is it a dream?
Nay but the lack of it the dream,
And failing it life's lore and wealth a dream,
And all the world a dream.
Come my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order,
get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols?
have you your sharp-edged axes?
For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings,
we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races,
all the rest on us depend,
O you youths,
full of action,
full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths,
see you tramping with the foremost,
Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson,
wearied over there beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal,
and the burden and the lesson,
All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize,
world of labor and the march,
We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges,
through the passes,
up the mountains steep,
venturing as we go the unknown ways,
We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming,
vexing we and piercing deep the mines within,
We the surface broad surveying,
we the virgin soil upheaving,
Colorado men are we,
From the peaks gigantic,
from the great sierras and the high plateaus,
From the mine and from the gully,
from the hunting trail we come,
Central inland race are we,
with the continental blood intervein'd,
All the hands of comrades clasping,
all the Southern,
all the Northern,
O resistless restless race!
O beloved race in all!
O my breast aches with tender love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult,
I am rapt with love for all,
Raise the mighty mother mistress,
Waving high the delicate mistress,
over all the starry mistress,
(bend your heads all,) Raise the fang'd and warlike mistress,
See my children,
By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or falter,
Ages back in ghostly millions frowning there behind us urging,
On and on the compact ranks,
With accessions ever waiting,
with the places of the dead quickly fill'd,
Through the battle,
moving yet and never stopping,
O to die advancing on!
Are there some of us to droop and die?
has the hour come?
Then upon the march we fittest die,
soon and sure the gap is fill'd.
All the pulses of the world,
Falling in they beat for us,
with the Western movement beat,
Holding single or together,
steady moving to the front,
all for us,
Life's involv'd and varied pageants,
All the forms and shows,
all the workmen at their work,
All the seamen and the landsmen,
all the masters with their slaves,
All the hapless silent lovers,
All the prisoners in the prisons,
all the righteous and the wicked,
All the joyous,
all the sorrowing,
all the living,
all the dying,
I too with my soul and body,
a curious trio,
wandering on our way,
Through these shores amid the shadows,
with the apparitions pressing,
the darting bowling orb!
the brother orbs around,
all the clustering suns and planets,
All the dazzling days,
all the mystic nights with dreams,
These are of us,
they are with us,
All for primal needed work,
while the followers there in embryo wait behind,
We to-day's procession heading,
we the route for travel clearing,
O you daughters of the West!
O you young and elder daughters!
O you mothers and you wives!
Never must you be divided,
in our ranks you move united,
Minstrels latent on the prairies!
(Shrouded bards of other lands,
you may rest,
you have done your work,) Soon I hear you coming warbling,
soon you rise and tramp amid us,
Not for delectations sweet,
Not the cushion and the slipper,
not the peaceful and the studious,
Not the riches safe and palling,
not for us the tame enjoyment,
Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep?
have they lock'd and bolted doors?
Still be ours the diet hard,
and the blanket on the ground,
Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome?
did we stop discouraged nodding on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,
Till with sound of trumpet,
far off the daybreak call --hark!
how loud and clear I hear it wind,
to the head of the army!
spring to your places,
Whoever you are,
I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and hands,
Even now your features,
dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me.
They stand forth out of affairs,
out of commerce,
Whoever you are,
now I place my hand upon you,
that you be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear.
I have loved many women and men,
but I love none better than you.
O I have been dilatory and dumb,
I should have made my way straight to you long ago,
I should have blabb'd nothing but you,
I should have chanted nothing but you.
I will leave all and come and make the hymns of you,
None has understood you,
but I understand you,
None has done justice to you,
you have not done justice to yourself,
None but has found you imperfect,
I only find no imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you,
I only am he who will never consent to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master,
beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.
Painters have painted their swarming groups and the centre-figure of all,
From the head of the centre-figure spreading a nimbus of gold-color'd light,
But I paint myriads of heads,
but paint no head without its nimbus of gold-color'd light,
From my hand from the brain of every man and woman it streams,
effulgently flowing forever.
O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are,
you have slumber'd upon yourself all your life,
Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time,
What you have done returns already in mockeries,
if they do not return in mockeries,
what is their return?)
The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk,
I pursue you where none else has pursued you,
the flippant expression,
the accustom'd routine,
if these conceal you from others or from yourself,
they do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face,
the unsteady eye,
the impure complexion,
if these balk others they do not balk me,
The pert apparel,
the deform'd attitude,
all these I part aside.
There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you,
There is no virtue,
no beauty in man or woman,
but as good is in you,
no endurance in others,
but as good is in you,
No pleasure waiting for others,
but an equal pleasure waits for you.
As for me,
I give nothing to any one except I give the like carefully to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none,
sooner than I sing the songs of the glory of you.
Whoever you are!
claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the East and West are tame compared to you,
These immense meadows,
these interminable rivers,
you are immense and interminable as they,
motions of Nature,
throes of apparent dissolution,
you are he or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature,
The hopples fall from your ankles,
you find an unfailing sufficiency,
Old or young,
male or female,
rejected by the rest,
whatever you are promulges itself,
the means are provided,
nothing is scanted,
what you are picks its way.
France [the 18th Year of these States
A great year and place A harsh discordant natal scream out-sounding,
to touch the mother's heart closer than any yet.
I walk'd the shores of my Eastern sea,
Heard over the waves the little voice,
Saw the divine infant where she woke mournfully wailing,
amid the roar of cannon,
crash of falling buildings,
Was not so sick from the blood in the gutters running,
nor from the single corpses,
nor those in heaps,
nor those borne away in the tumbrils,
Was not so desperate at the battues of death --was not so shock'd at the repeated fusillades of the guns.
what could I say to that long-accrued retribution?
Could I wish humanity different?
Could I wish the people made of wood and stone?
Or that there be no justice in destiny or time?
O mate for me!
Here too the blaze,
the grape-shot and the axe,
to fetch them out in case of need,
though long represt,
can never be destroy'd,
Here too could rise at last murdering and ecstatic,
Here too demanding full arrears of vengeance.
Hence I sign this salute over the sea,
And I do not deny that terrible red birth and baptism,
But remember the little voice that I heard wailing,
and wait with perfect trust,
no matter how long,
And from to-day sad and cogent I maintain the bequeath'd cause,
as for all lands,
And I send these words to Paris with my love,
And I guess some chansonniers there will understand them,
For I guess there is latent music yet in France,
floods of it,
O I hear already the bustle of instruments,
they will soon be drowning all that would interrupt them,
O I think the east wind brings a triumphal and free march,
It reaches hither,
it swells me to Joyful madness,
I will run transpose it in words,
to justify I will yet sing a song for you ma femme.
Myself and Mine
Myself and mine gymnastic ever,
To stand the cold or heat,
to take good aim with a gun,
to sail a boat,
to manage horses,
to beget superb children,
To speak readily and clearly,
to feel at home among common people,
And to hold our own in terrible positions on land and sea.
Not for an embroiderer,
(There will always be plenty of embroiderers,
I welcome them also,) But for the fibre of things and for inherent men and women.
Not to chisel ornaments,
But to chisel with free stroke the heads and limbs of plenteous supreme Gods,
that the States may realize them walking and talking.
Let me have my own way,
Let others promulge the laws,
I will make no account of the laws,
Let others praise eminent men and hold up peace,
I hold up agitation and conflict,
I praise no eminent man,
I rebuke to his face the one that was thought most worthy.
(Who are you?
and what are you secretly guilty of all your life?
Will you turn aside all your life?
will you grub and chatter all your life?
And who are you,
blabbing by rote,
Unwitting to-day that you do not know how to speak properly a single word?)
Let others finish specimens,
I never finish specimens,
I start them by exhaustless laws as Nature does,
fresh and modern continually.
I give nothing as duties,
What others give as duties I give as living impulses,
(Shall I give the heart's action as a duty?)
Let others dispose of questions,
I dispose of nothing,
I arouse unanswerable questions,
Who are they I see and touch,
and what about them?
What about these likes of myself that draw me so close by tender directions and indirections?
I call to the world to distrust the accounts of my friends,
but listen to my enemies,
as I myself do,
I charge you forever reject those who would expound me,
for I cannot expound myself,
I charge that there be no theory or school founded out of me,
I charge you to leave all free,
as I have left all free.
O I see life is not short,
but immeasurably long,
I henceforth tread the world chaste,
an early riser,
a steady grower,
Every hour the semen of centuries,
and still of centuries.
I must follow up these continual lessons of the air,
I perceive I have no time to lose.
Year of Meteors [1859-60
Year of meteors!
I would bind in words retrospective some of your deeds and signs,
I would sing your contest for the 19th Presidentiad,
I would sing how an old man,
with white hair,
mounted the scaffold in Virginia,
(I was at hand,
silent I stood with teeth shut close,
I stood very near you old man when cool and indifferent,
but trembling with age and your unheal'd wounds you mounted the scaffold;) I would sing in my copious song your census returns of the States,
The tables of population and products,
I would sing of your ships and their cargoes,
The proud black ships of Manhattan arriving,
some fill'd with immigrants,
some from the isthmus with cargoes of gold,
Songs thereof would I sing,
to all that hitherward comes would welcome give,
And you would I sing,
welcome to you from me,
young prince of England!
(Remember you surging Manhattan's crowds as you pass'd with your cortege of nobles?
There in the crowds stood I,
and singled you out with attachment;) Nor forget I to sing of the wonder,
the ship as she swam up my bay,
Well-shaped and stately the Great Eastern swam up my bay,
she was 600 feet long,
Her moving swiftly surrounded by myriads of small craft I forget not to sing;
Nor the comet that came unannounced out of the north flaring in heaven,
Nor the strange huge meteor-procession dazzling and clear shooting over our heads,
a moment long it sail'd its balls of unearthly light over our heads,
dropt in the night,
and was gone;) Of such,
and fitful as they,
I sing --with gleams from them would gleam and patch these chants,
O year all mottled with evil and good --year of forebodings!
Year of comets and meteors transient and strange --lo!
even here one equally transient and strange!
As I flit through you hastily,
soon to fall and be gone,
what is this chant,
What am I myself but one of your meteors?
1 With antecedents,
With my fathers and mothers and the accumulations of past ages,
With all which,
had it not been,
I would not now be here,
as I am,
Greece and Rome,
With the Kelt,
the Alb and the Saxon,
With antique maritime ventures,
wars and journeys,
With the poet,
and the oracle,
With the sale of slaves,
with the troubadour,
and the monk,
With those old continents whence we have come to this new continent,
With the fading kingdoms and kings over there,
With the fading religions and priests,
With the small shores we look back to from our own large and present shores,
With countless years drawing themselves onward and arrived at these years,
You and me arrived --America arrived and making this year,
sending itself ahead countless years to come.
2 O but it is not the years --it is I,
it is You,
We touch all laws and tally all antecedents,
We are the skald,
the monk and the knight,
we easily include them and more,
We stand amid time beginningless and endless,
we stand amid evil and good,
All swings around us,
there is as much darkness as light,
The very sun swings itself and its system of planets around us,
and its again,
all swing around us.
As for me,
amid these vehement days,) I have the idea of all,
and am all and believe in all,
I believe materialism is true and spiritualism is true,
I reject no part.
(Have I forgotten any part?
any thing in the past?
Come to me whoever and whatever,
till I give you recognition.)
I respect Assyria,
and the Hebrews,
I adopt each theory,
I see that the old accounts,
I assert that all past days were what they must have been,
And that they could no-how have been better than they were,
And that to-day is what it must be,
and that America is,
And that to-day and America could no-how be better than they are.
3 In the name of these States and in your and my name,
And in the name of these States and in your and my name,
the Present time.
I know that the past was great and the future will be great,
And I know that both curiously conjoint in the present time,
(For the sake of him I typify,
for the common average man's sake,
your sake if you are he,) And that where I am or you are this present day,
there is the centre of all days,
And there is the meaning to us of all that has ever come of races and days,
or ever will come.