Wisdom is not finally tested in the schools,
Wisdom cannot be passed from one having it to another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is it’s own proof.
Wisdom is not finally tested in the schools,
Wisdom cannot be passed from one having it to another not having it,
Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is it’s own proof.
I HEARD that you ask’d for something to prove this puzzle, the New
And to define America, her athletic Democracy;
Therefore I send you my poems, that you behold in them what you
WHO includes diversity, and is Nature,
Who is the amplitude of the earth, and the coarseness and sexuality
of the earth, and the great charity of the earth, and the
Who has not look’d forth from the windows, the eyes, for nothing, or
whose brain held audience with messengers for nothing;
Who contains believers and disbelievers–Who is the most majestic
Who holds duly his or her triune proportion of realism, spiritualism,
and of the aesthetic, or intellectual,
Who, having consider’d the Body, finds all its organs and parts good;
Who, out of the theory of the earth, and of his or her body,
understands by subtle analogies all other theories,
The theory of a city, a poem, and of the large politics of These
Who believes not only in our globe, with its sun and moon, but in
other globes, with their suns and moons;
Who, constructing the house of himself or herself, not for a day, but
for all time, sees races, eras, dates, generations, 10
The past, the future, dwelling there, like space, inseparable
BEHAVIOR–fresh, native, copious, each one for himself or herself,
Nature and the Soul expressed–America and freedom expressed–In it
the finest art,
In it pride, cleanliness, sympathy, to have their chance,
In it physique, intellect, faith–in it just as much as to manage an
army or a city, or to write a book–perhaps more,
The youth, the laboring person, the poor person, rivalling all the
rest–perhaps outdoing the rest,
The effects of the universe no greater than its;
For there is nothing in the whole universe that can be more effective
than a man’s or woman’s daily behavior can be,
In any position, in any one of These States.
THERE are who teach only the sweet lessons of peace and safety;
But I teach lessons of war and death to those I love,
That they readily meet invasions, when they come.
HE is wisest who has the most caution,
He only wins who goes far enough.
Any thing is as good as established, when that is established that
will produce it and continue it.
SAUNTERING the pavement, or riding the country by-road–lo! such
Faces of friendship, precision, caution, suavity, ideality;
The spiritual, prescient face–the always welcome, common, benevolent
The face of the singing of music–the grand faces of natural lawyers
and judges, broad at the back-top;
The faces of hunters and fishers, bulged at the brows–the shaved
blanch’d faces of orthodox citizens;
The pure, extravagant, yearning, questioning artist’s face;
The ugly face of some beautiful Soul, the handsome detested or
The sacred faces of infants, the illuminated face of the mother of
The face of an amour, the face of veneration;
The face as of a dream, the face of an immobile rock; 10
The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a castrated face;
A wild hawk, his wings clipp’d by the clipper;
A stallion that yielded at last to the thongs and knife of the
Sauntering the pavement, thus, or crossing the ceaseless ferry,
faces, and faces, and faces:
I see them, and complain not, and am content with all.
Do you suppose I could be content with all, if I thought them their
This now is too lamentable a face for a man;
Some abject louse, asking leave to be–cringing for it;
Some milk-nosed maggot, blessing what lets it wrig to its hole.
This face is a dog’s snout, sniffing for garbage; 20
Snakes nest in that mouth–I hear the sibilant threat.
This face is a haze more chill than the arctic sea;
Its sleepy and wobbling icebergs crunch as they go.
This is a face of bitter herbs–this an emetic–they need no label;
And more of the drug-shelf, laudanum, caoutchouc, or hog’s-lard.
This face is an epilepsy, its wordless tongue gives out the unearthly
Its veins down the neck distended, its eyes roll till they show
nothing but their whites,
Its teeth grit, the palms of the hands are cut by the turn’d-in
The man falls struggling and foaming to the ground while he
This face is bitten by vermin and worms, 30
And this is some murderer’s knife, with a half-pull’d scabbard.
This face owes to the sexton his dismalest fee;
An unceasing death-bell tolls there.
Those then are really men–the bosses and tufts of the great round
Features of my equals, would you trick me with your creas’d and
Well, you cannot trick me.
I see your rounded, never-erased flow;
I see neath the rims of your haggard and mean disguises.
Splay and twist as you like–poke with the tangling fores of fishes
You’ll be unmuzzled, you certainly will. 40
I saw the face of the most smear’d and slobbering idiot they had at
And I knew for my consolation what they knew not;
I knew of the agents that emptied and broke my brother,
The same wait to clear the rubbish from the fallen tenement;
And I shall look again in a score or two of ages,
And I shall meet the real landlord, perfect and unharm’d, every inch
as good as myself.
The Lord advances, and yet advances;
Always the shadow in front–always the reach’d hand bringing up the
Out of this face emerge banners and horses–O superb! I see what is
I see the high pioneer-caps–I see the staves of runners clearing the
I hear victorious drums.
This face is a life-boat;
This is the face commanding and bearded, it asks no odds of the rest;
This face is flavor’d fruit, ready for eating;
This face of a healthy honest boy is the programme of all good.
These faces bear testimony, slumbering or awake;
They show their descent from the Master himself.
Off the word I have spoken, I except not one–red, white, black, are
In each house is the ovum–it comes forth after a thousand years.
Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb me; 60
Tall and sufficient stand behind, and make signs to me;
I read the promise, and patiently wait.
This is a full-grown lily’s face,
She speaks to the limber-hipp’d man near the garden pickets,
Come here, she blushingly cries–Come nigh to me, limber-hipp’d man,
Stand at my side till I lean as high as I can upon you,
Fill me with albescent honey, bend down to me,
Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my breast and shoulders.
The old face of the mother of many children!
Whist! I am fully content. 70
Lull’d and late is the smoke of the First-day morning,
It hangs low over the rows of trees by the fences,
It hangs thin by the sassafras, the wild-cherry, and the cat-brier
I saw the rich ladies in full dress at the soiree,
I heard what the singers were singing so long,
Heard who sprang in crimson youth from the white froth and the water-
Behold a woman!
She looks out from her quaker cap–her face is clearer and more
beautiful than the sky.
She sits in an arm-chair, under the shaded porch of the farmhouse,
The sun just shines on her old white head. 80
Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen,
Her grandsons raised the flax, and her granddaughters spun it with
the distaff and the wheel.
The melodious character of the earth,
The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go, and does not wish to
The justified mother of men.
The supper is over–the fire on the ground burns low;
The wearied emigrants sleep, wrapt in their blankets:
I walk by myself–I stand and look at the stars, which I think now I
never realized before.
Now I absorb immortality and peace,
I admire death, and test propositions.
How plenteous! How spiritual! How resumé!
The same Old Man and Soul–the same old aspirations, and the same
I was thinking the day most splendid, till I saw what the not-day
I was thinking this globe enough, till there sprang out so noiseless
around me myriads of other globes. 10
Now, while the great thoughts of space and eternity fill me, I will
measure myself by them;
And now, touch’d with the lives of other globes, arrived as far along
as those of the earth,
Or waiting to arrive, or pass’d on farther than those of the earth,
I henceforth no more ignore them, than I ignore my own life,
Or the lives of the earth arrived as far as mine, or waiting to
O I see now that life cannot exhibit all to me–as the day cannot,
I see that I am to wait for what will be exhibited by death.
NATIVE moments! when you come upon me–Ah you are
here now! Give me now
libidinous joys only! Give me the drench of my passions! Give me life
coarse and rank! To-day, I go consort with nature’s darlings–to-night too;
I am for those who believe in loose delights–I share the midnight orgies
of young men; I dance with the dancers, and drink with the drinkers; The
echoes ring with our indecent calls; I take for my love some prostitute–I
pick out some low person for my dearest friend, He shall be lawless, rude,
illiterate–he shall be one condemn’d by others for deeds done; I will play
a part no longer–Why should I exile myself from my companions? 10 O you
shunn’d persons! I at least do not shun you, I come forthwith in your
midst–I will be your poet, I will be more to you than to any of the rest.
OVER the carnage rose prophetic a voice,
Be not dishearten’d–Affection shall solve the problems of Freedom
Those who love each other shall become invincible–they shall yet
make Columbia victorious.
Sons of the Mother of All! you shall yet be victorious!
You shall yet laugh to scorn the attacks of all the remainder of the
No danger shall balk Columbia’s lovers;
If need be, a thousand shall sternly immolate themselves for one.
One from Massachusetts shall be a Missourian’s comrade;
From Maine and from hot Carolina, and another, an Oregonese, shall be
More precious to each other than all the riches of the earth. 10
To Michigan, Florida perfumes shall tenderly come;
Not the perfumes of flowers, but sweeter, and wafted beyond death.
It shall be customary in the houses and streets to see manly
The most dauntless and rude shall touch face to face lightly;
The dependence of Liberty shall be lovers,
The continuance of Equality shall be comrades.
These shall tie you and band you stronger than hoops of iron;
I, extatic, O partners! O lands! with the love of lovers tie you.
(Were you looking to be held together by the lawyers?
Or by an agreement on a paper? or by arms? 20
–Nay–nor the world, nor any living thing, will so cohere.)
SINGING my days,
Singing the great achievements of the present,
Singing the strong, light works of engineers,
Our modern wonders, (the antique ponderous Seven outvied,)
In the Old World, the east, the Suez canal,
The New by its mighty railroad spann’d,
The seas inlaid with eloquent, gentle wires,
I sound, to commence, the cry, with thee, O soul,
The Past! the Past! the Past!
The Past! the dark, unfathom’d retrospect! 10
The teeming gulf! the sleepers and the shadows!
The past! the infinite greatness of the past!
For what is the present, after all, but a growth out of the past?
(As a projectile, form’d, impell’d, passing a certain line, still
So the present, utterly form’d, impell’d by the past.)
Passage, O soul, to India!
Eclaircise the myths Asiatic–the primitive fables.
Not you alone, proud truths of the world!
Nor you alone, ye facts of modern science!
But myths and fables of eld–Asia’s, Africa’s fables! 20
The far-darting beams of the spirit!–the unloos’d dreams!
The deep diving bibles and legends;
The daring plots of the poets–the elder religions;
–O you temples fairer than lilies, pour’d over by the rising sun!
O you fables, spurning the known, eluding the hold of the known,
mounting to heaven!
You lofty and dazzling towers, pinnacled, red as roses, burnish’d
Towers of fables immortal, fashion’d from mortal dreams!
You too I welcome, and fully, the same as the rest;
You too with joy I sing.
Passage to India! 30
Lo, soul! seest thou not God’s purpose from the first?
The earth to be spann’d, connected by net-work,
The people to become brothers and sisters,
The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,
The oceans to be cross’d, the distant brought near,
The lands to be welded together.
(A worship new, I sing;
You captains, voyagers, explorers, yours!
You engineers! you architects, machinists, your!
You, not for trade or transportation only, 40
But in God’s name, and for thy sake, O soul.)
Passage to India!
Lo, soul, for thee, of tableaus twain,
I see, in one, the Suez canal initiated, open’d,
I see the procession of steamships, the Empress Eugenie’s leading the
I mark, from on deck, the strange landscape, the pure sky, the level
sand in the distance;
I pass swiftly the picturesque groups, the workmen gather’d,
The gigantic dredging machines.
In one, again, different, (yet thine, all thine, O soul, the same,)
I see over my own continent the Pacific Railroad, surmounting every
I see continual trains of cars winding along the Platte, carrying
freight and passengers;
I hear the locomotives rushing and roaring, and the shrill steam-
I hear the echoes reverberate through the grandest scenery in the
I cross the Laramie plains–I note the rocks in grotesque shapes–the
I see the plentiful larkspur and wild onions–the barren, colorless,
I see in glimpses afar, or towering immediately above me, the great
mountains–I see the Wind River and the Wahsatch mountains;
I see the Monument mountain and the Eagle’s Nest–I pass the
Promontory–I ascend the Nevadas;
I scan the noble Elk mountain, and wind around its base;
I see the Humboldt range–I thread the valley and cross the river,
I see the clear waters of Lake Tahoe–I see forests of majestic
Or, crossing the great desert, the alkaline plains, I behold
enchanting mirages of waters and meadows;
Marking through these, and after all, in duplicate slender lines,
Bridging the three or four thousand miles of land travel,
Tying the Eastern to the Western sea,
The road between Europe and Asia.
(Ah Genoese, thy dream! thy dream!
Centuries after thou art laid in thy grave,
The shore thou foundest verifies thy dream!)
Passage to India!
Struggles of many a captain–tales of many a sailor dead! 70
Over my mood, stealing and spreading they come,
Like clouds and cloudlets in the unreach’d sky.
Along all history, down the slopes,
As a rivulet running, sinking now, and now again to the surface
A ceaseless thought, a varied train–Lo, soul! to thee, thy sight,
The plans, the voyages again, the expeditions:
Again Vasco de Gama sails forth;
Again the knowledge gain’d, the mariner’s compass,
Lands found, and nations born–thou born, America, (a hemisphere
For purpose vast, man’s long probation fill’d, 80
Thou, rondure of the world, at last accomplish’d.
O, vast Rondure, swimming in space!
Cover’d all over with visible power and beauty!
Alternate light and day, and the teeming, spiritual darkness;
Unspeakable, high processions of sun and moon, and countless stars,
Below, the manifold grass and waters, animals, mountains, trees;
With inscrutable purpose–some hidden, prophetic intention;
Now, first, it seems, my thought begins to span thee.
Down from the gardens of Asia, descending, radiating,
Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after them, 90
Wandering, yearning, curious–with restless explorations,
With questionings, baffled, formless, feverish–with never-happy
With that sad, incessant refrain, Wherefore, unsatisfied Soul? and
Whither, O mocking Life?
Ah, who shall soothe these feverish children?
Who justify these restless explorations?
Who speak the secret of impassive Earth?
Who bind it to us? What is this separate Nature, so unnatural?
What is this Earth, to our affections? (unloving earth, without a
throb to answer ours;
Cold earth, the place of graves.)
Yet, soul, be sure the first intent remains–and shall be carried
(Perhaps even now the time has arrived.)
After the seas are all cross’d, (as they seem already cross’d,)
After the great captains and engineers have accomplish’d their work,
After the noble inventors–after the scientists, the chemist, the
Finally shall come the Poet, worthy that name;
The true Son of God shall come, singing his songs.
Then, not your deeds only, O voyagers, O scientists and inventors,
shall be justified,
All these hearts, as of fretted children, shall be sooth’d,
All affection shall be fully responded to–the secret shall be told;
All these separations and gaps shall be taken up, and hook’d and
link’d together; 110
The whole Earth–this cold, impassive, voiceless Earth, shall be
Trinitas divine shall be gloriously accomplish’d and compacted by the
the Son of God, the poet,
(He shall indeed pass the straits and conquer the mountains,
He shall double the Cape of Good Hope to some purpose;)
Nature and Man shall be disjoin’d and diffused no more,
The true Son of God shall absolutely fuse them.
Year at whose open’d, wide-flung door I sing!
Year of the purpose accomplish’d!
Year of the marriage of continents, climates and oceans!
(No mere Doge of Venice now, wedding the Adriatic;) 120
I see, O year, in you, the vast terraqueous globe, given, and giving
Europe to Asia, Africa join’d, and they to the New World;
The lands, geographies, dancing before you, holding a festival
As brides and bridegrooms hand in hand.
Passage to India!
Cooling airs from Caucasus far, soothing cradle of man,
The river Euphrates flowing, the past lit up again.
Lo, soul, the retrospect, brought forward;
The old, most populous, wealthiest of Earth’s lands,
The streams of the Indus and the Ganges, and their many
(I, my shores of America walking to-day, behold, resuming all,)
The tale of Alexander, on his warlike marches, suddenly dying,
On one side China, and on the other side Persia and Arabia,
To the south the great seas, and the Bay of Bengal;
The flowing literatures, tremendous epics, religions, castes,
Old occult Brahma, interminably far back–the tender and junior
Central and southern empires, and all their belongings, possessors,
The wars of Tamerlane, the reign of Aurungzebe,
The traders, rulers, explorers, Moslems, Venetians, Byzantium, the
The first travelers, famous yet, Marco Polo, Batouta the Moor, 140
Doubts to be solv’d, the map incognita, blanks to be fill’d,
The foot of man unstay’d, the hands never at rest,
Thyself, O soul, that will not brook a challenge.
The medieval navigators rise before me,
The world of 1492, with its awaken’d enterprise;
Something swelling in humanity now like the sap of the earth in
The sunset splendor of chivalry declining.
And who art thou, sad shade?
Gigantic, visionary, thyself a visionary,
With majestic limbs, and pious, beaming eyes, 150
Spreading around, with every look of thine, a golden world,
Enhuing it with gorgeous hues.
As the chief histrion,
Down to the footlights walks, in some great scena,
Dominating the rest, I see the Admiral himself,
(History’s type of courage, action, faith;)
Behold him sail from Palos, leading his little fleet;
His voyage behold–his return–his great fame,
His misfortunes, calumniators–behold him a prisoner, chain’d,
Behold his dejection, poverty, death. 160
(Curious, in time, I stand, noting the efforts of heroes;
Is the deferment long? bitter the slander, poverty, death?
Lies the seed unreck’d for centuries in the ground? Lo! to God’s due
Uprising in the night, it sprouts, blooms,
And fills the earth with use and beauty.)
Passage indeed, O soul, to primal thought!
Not lands and seas alone–thy own clear freshness,
The young maturity of brood and bloom;
To realms of budding bibles.
O soul, repressless, I with thee, and thou with me, 170
Thy circumnavigation of the world begin;
Of man, the voyage of his mind’s return,
To reason’s early paradise,
Back, back to wisdom’s birth, to innocent intuitions,
Again with fair Creation.
O we can wait no longer!
We too take ship, O soul!
Joyous, we too launch out on trackless seas!
Fearless, for unknown shores, on waves of extasy to sail,
Amid the wafting winds, (thou pressing me to thee, I thee to me, O
Caroling free–singing our song of God,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.
With laugh, and many a kiss,
(Let others deprecate–let others weep for sin, remorse,
O soul, thou pleasest me–I thee.
Ah, more than any priest, O soul, we too believe in God;
But with the mystery of God we dare not dally.
O soul, thou pleasest me–I thee;
Sailing these seas, or on the hills, or waking in the night,
Thoughts, silent thoughts, of Time, and Space, and Death, like waters
Bear me, indeed, as through the regions infinite,
Whose air I breathe, whose ripples hear–lave me all over;
Bathe me, O God, in thee–mounting to thee,
I and my soul to range in range of thee.
O Thou transcendant!
Nameless–the fibre and the breath!
Light of the light–shedding forth universes–thou centre of them!
Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving!
Thou moral, spiritual fountain! affection’s source! thou reservoir!
(O pensive soul of me! O thirst unsatisfied! waitest not there? 200
Waitest not haply for us, somewhere there, the Comrade perfect?)
Thou pulse! thou motive of the stars, suns, systems,
That, circling, move in order, safe, harmonious,
Athwart the shapeless vastnesses of space!
How should I think–how breathe a single breath–how speak–if, out
I could not launch, to those, superior universes?
Swiftly I shrivel at the thought of God,
At Nature and its wonders, Time and Space and Death,
But that I, turning, call to thee, O soul, thou actual Me,
And lo! thou gently masterest the orbs, 210
Thou matest Time, smilest content at Death,
And fillest, swellest full, the vastnesses of Space.
Greater than stars or suns,
Bounding, O soul, thou journeyest forth;
–What love, than thine and ours could wider amplify?
What aspirations, wishes, outvie thine and ours, O soul?
What dreams of the ideal? what plans of purity, perfection, strength?
What cheerful willingness, for others’ sake, to give up all?
For others’ sake to suffer all?
Reckoning ahead, O soul, when thou, the time achiev’d, 220
(The seas all cross’d, weather’d the capes, the voyage done,)
Surrounded, copest, frontest God, yieldest, the aim attain’d,
As, fill’d with friendship, love complete, the Elder Brother found,
The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.
Passage to more than India!
Are thy wings plumed indeed for such far flights?
O Soul, voyagest thou indeed on voyages like these?
Disportest thou on waters such as these?
Soundest below the Sanscrit and the Vedas?
Then have thy bent unleash’d. 230
Passage to you, your shores, ye aged fierce enigmas!
Passage to you, to mastership of you, ye strangling problems!
You, strew’d with the wrecks of skeletons, that, living, never
Passage to more than India!
O secret of the earth and sky!
Of you, O waters of the sea! O winding creeks and rivers!
Of you, O woods and fields! Of you, strong mountains of my land!
Of you, O prairies! Of you, gray rocks!
O morning red! O clouds! O rain and snows!
O day and night, passage to you! 240
O sun and moon, and all you stars! Sirius and Jupiter!
Passage to you!
Passage–immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins!
Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers–haul out–shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?
Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me; 250
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!
NOT the pilot has charged himself to bring his ship into port, though
beaten back, and many times baffled;
Not the path-finder, penetrating inland, weary and long,
By deserts parch’d, snows-chill’d, rivers wet, perseveres till he
reaches his destination,
More than I have charged myself, heeded or unheeded, to compose a
free march for These States,
To be exhilarating music to them–a battle-call, rousing to arms, if
need be–years, centuries hence.
IN midnight sleep, of many a face of anguish,
Of the look at first of the mortally wounded–of that indescribable
Of the dead on their backs, with arms extended wide,
I dream, I dream, I dream.
Of scenes of nature, fields and mountains;
Of skies, so beauteous after a storm–and at night the moon so
Shining sweetly, shining down, where we dig the trenches and gather
I dream, I dream, I dream.
Long, long have they pass’d–faces and trenches and fields;
Where through the carnage I moved with a callous composure–or away
from the fallen,
Onward I sped at the time–But now of their forms at night,
I dream, I dream, I dream. 10
FORMS, qualities, lives, humanity, language, thoughts,
The ones known, and the ones unknown–the ones on the stars,
The stars themselves, some shaped, others unshaped,
Wonders as of those countries–the soil, trees, cities, inhabitants,
whatever they may be,
Splendid suns, the moons and rings, the countless combinations and
Such-like, and as good as such-like, visible here or anywhere, stand
provided for in a handful of space, which I extend my arm and
half enclose with my hand;
That contains the start of each and all–the virtue, the germs of
CITY of ships!
(O the black ships! O the fierce ships!
O the beautiful, sharp-bow’d steam-ships and sail-ships!)
City of the world! (for all races are here;
All the lands of the earth make contributions here;)
City of the sea! city of hurried and glittering tides!
City whose gleeful tides continually rush or recede, whirling in and
out, with eddies and foam!
City of wharves and stores! city of tall façades of marble and iron!
Proud and passionate city! mettlesome, mad, extravagant city!
Spring up, O city! not for peace alone, but be indeed yourself,
Fear not! submit to no models but your own, O city!
Behold me! incarnate me, as I have incarnated you!
I have rejected nothing you offer’d me–whom you adopted, I have
Good or bad, I never question you–I love all–I do not condemn
I chant and celebrate all that is yours–yet peace no more;
In peace I chanted peace, but now the drum of war is mine;
War, red war, is my song through your streets, O city!
CITY of orgies, walks and joys!
City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one day make
Not the pageants of you–not your shifting tableaux, your spectacles,
Not the interminable rows of your houses–nor the ships at the
Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright windows, with
goods in them;
Nor to converse with learn’d persons, or bear my share in the soiree
Not those–but, as I pass, O Manhattan! your frequent and swift flash
of eyes offering me love,
Offering response to my own–these repay me;
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.
THIS is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the
Away from books, away from art, the day
erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing,
pondering the themes thou
Night, sleep, death and the stars.
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother’s laps,
And here you are the mother’s laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and
They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
TO get betimes in Boston town, I rose this morning early;
Here’s a good place at the corner–I must stand and see the show.
Clear the way there, Jonathan!
Way for the President’s marshal! Way for the government cannon!
Way for the Federal foot and dragoons–and the apparitions copiously
I love to look on the stars and stripes–I hope the fifes will play
How bright shine the cutlasses of the foremost troops!
Every man holds his revolver, marching stiff through Boston town.
A fog follows–antiques of the same come limping,
Some appear wooden-legged, and some appear bandaged and bloodless. 10
Why this is indeed a show! It has called the dead out of the earth!
The old grave-yards of the hills have hurried to see!
Phantoms! phantoms countless by flank and rear!
Cock’d hats of mothy mould! crutches made of mist!
Arms in slings! old men leaning on young men’s shoulders!
What troubles you, Yankee phantoms? What is all this chattering of
Does the ague convulse your limbs? Do you mistake your crutches for
fire-locks, and level them?
If you blind your eyes with tears, you will not see the President’s
If you groan such groans, you might balk the government cannon.
For shame, old maniacs! Bring down those toss’d arms, and let your
white hair be; 20
Here gape your great grand-sons–their wives gaze at them from the
See how well dress’d–see how orderly they conduct themselves.
Worse and worse! Can’t you stand it? Are you retreating?
Is this hour with the living too dead for you?
Retreat then! Pell-mell!
To your graves! Back! back to the hills, old limpers!
I do not think you belong here, anyhow.
But there is one thing that belongs here–shall I tell you what it
is, gentlemen of Boston?
I will whisper it to the Mayor–he shall send a committee to England;
They shall get a grant from the Parliament, go with a cart to the
royal vault–haste! 30
Dig out King George’s coffin, unwrap him quick from the grave-
clothes, box up his bones for a journey;
Find a swift Yankee clipper–here is freight for you, black-bellied
Up with your anchor! shake out your sails! steer straight toward
Now call for the President’s marshal again, bring out the government
Fetch home the roarers from Congress, make another procession, guard
it with foot and dragoons.
This centre-piece for them:
Look! all orderly citizens–look from the windows, women!
The committee open the box, set up the regal ribs, glue those that
will not stay,
Clap the skull on top of the ribs, and clap a crown on top of the
You have got your revenge, old buster! The crown is come to its own,
and more than its own.
Stick your hands in your pockets, Jonathan–you are a made man from
this day; 40
You are mighty cute–and here is one of your bargains.
ARM’D year! year of the struggle! No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you, terrible year!
Not you as some pale poetling, seated at a desk, lisping cadenzas
But as a strong man, erect, clothed in blue clothes, advancing,
carrying a rifle on your shoulder,
With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands–with a knife in
the belt at your side,
As I heard you shouting loud–your sonorous voice ringing across the
Your masculine voice, O year, as rising amid the great cities,
Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you, as one of the workmen, the
dwellers in Manhattan;
Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois and
Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and descending the
Or down from the great lakes, or in Pennsylvania, or on deck along
the Ohio river;
Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers, or at
Chattanooga on the mountain top,
Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs, clothed in blue, bearing
weapons, robust year;
Heard your determin’d voice, launch’d forth again and again;
Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-lipp’d cannon,
I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.
A WOMAN waits for me–she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the
right man were lacking.
Sex contains all,
Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow’d persons of the earth,
These are contain’d in sex, as parts of itself, and justifications of
Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.
Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that
are warm-blooded and sufficient for me;
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me;
I see that they are worthy of me–I will be the robust husband of
They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann’d in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike,
retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right–they are calm, clear, well-
possess’d of themselves. 20
I draw you close to me, you women!
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for
Envelop’d in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.
It is I, you women–I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable–but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for These States–I
press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually–I listen to no entreaties, 30
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated
Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new
artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings,
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I
count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death,
immortality, I plant so lovingly now. 40
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