Song of Myself

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1I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
2And what I assume you shall assume,
3For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
4I loafe and invite my soul,
5I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
6My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
7Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
8I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
9Hoping to cease not till death.
10Creeds and schools in abeyance,
11Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
12I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
13Nature without check with original energy.
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14Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
15I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
16The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.
17The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless,
18It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
19I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
20I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
21The smoke of my own breath,
22Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine,
23My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs,
24The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,
25The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind,
26A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
27The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
28The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides,
29The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.
30Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?
31Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
32Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
33Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
34You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
35You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
36You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
37You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
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38I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end,
39But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
40There was never any more inception than there is now,
41Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
42And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
43Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
44Urge and urge and urge,
45Always the procreant urge of the world.
46Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,
47Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.
48To elaborate is no avail, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is so.
50Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
51I and this mystery here we stand.
52Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.
53Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen,
54Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.
55Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
56Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.
57Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean,
58Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest.
59I am satisfied -- I see, dance, laugh, sing;
60As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread,
61Leaving me baskets cover'd with white towels swelling the house with their plenty,
62Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my eyes,
63That they turn from gazing after and down the road,
64And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent,
65Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and which is ahead?
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66Trippers and askers surround me,
67People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation,
68The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,
69My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
70The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
71The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
72Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events;
73These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
74But they are not the Me myself.
75Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
76Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
77Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
78Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
79Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.
80Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,
81I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.
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82I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to you,
83And you must not be abased to the other.
84Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
85Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best,
86Only the lull I like, the hum of your valvèd voice.
87I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,
88How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn'd over upon me,
89And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
90And reach'd till you felt my beard, and reach'd till you held my feet.
91Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth,
92And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
93And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
94And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
96And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
97And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
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99A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
100How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.
101I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.
102Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
103A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
104Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?
105Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.
106Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
107And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
108Growing among black folks as among white,
110And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
111Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
112It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
113It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
114It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out of their mothers' laps,
115And here you are the mothers' laps.
116This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
117Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
118Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
119O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
120And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.
121I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
122And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
123What do you think has become of the young and old men?
124And what do you think has become of the women and children?
125They are alive and well somewhere,
126The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
127And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
128And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
129All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
130And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
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131Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
132I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
133I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash'd babe, and am not contain'd between my hat and boots,
134And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good,
135The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.
136I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
137I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself,
138(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)
139Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,
140For me those that have been boys and that love women,
141For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted,
142For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the mothers of mothers,
143For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,
144For me children and the begetters of children.
145Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
147And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away.
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148The little one sleeps in its cradle,
149I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand.
150The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill,
151I peeringly view them from the top.
152The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom,
153I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol has fallen.
155The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the granite floor,
156The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-balls,
157The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd mobs,
158The flap of the curtain'd litter, a sick man inside borne to the hospital,
159The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall,
160The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his passage to the centre of the crowd,
161The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes,
162What groans of over-fed or half-starv'd who fall sunstruck or in fits,
163What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and give birth to babes,
164What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls restrain'd by decorum,
166I mind them or the show or resonance of them -- I come and I depart.
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167The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready,
168The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon,
169The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged,
170The armfuls are pack'd to the sagging mow.
171I am there, I help, I came stretch'd atop of the load,
172I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other,
174And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps.
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175Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt,
176Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee,
177In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night,
178Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill'd game,
179Falling asleep on the gather'd leaves with my dog and gun by my side.
181My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from the deck.
182The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me,
183I tuck'd my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time;
184You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle.
187On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins, his luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck, he held his bride by the hand,
188She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight locks descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach'd to her feet.
189The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside,
190I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,
192And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him,
193And brought water and fill'd a tub for his sweated body and bruis'd feet,
194And gave him a room that enter'd from my own, and gave him some coarse clean clothes,
195And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,
196And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;
197He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass'd north,
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199Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
200Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
201Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.
202She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
203She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.
204Which of the young men does she like the best?
205Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.
206Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
207You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.
208Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather,
209The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.
210The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it ran from their long hair,
211Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.
212An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies,
213It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.
214The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,
215They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch,
216They do not think whom they souse with spray.
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217The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or sharpens his knife at the stall in the market,
220Each has his main-sledge, they are all out, there is a great heat in the fire.
221From the cinder-strew'd threshold I follow their movements,
222The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms,
223Overhand the hammers swing, overhand so slow, overhand so sure,
224They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.
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225The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags underneath on its tied-over chain,
227His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over his hip-band,
228His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat away from his forehead,
229The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of his polish'd and perfect limbs.
230I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop there,
231I go with the team also.
233To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing,
234Absorbing all to myself and for this song.
235Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade, what is that you express in your eyes?
236It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.
237My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck on my distant and day-long ramble,
238They rise together, they slowly circle around.
239I believe in those wing'd purposes,
240And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,
241And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional,
242And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else,
243And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me,
244And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.
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245The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,
246Ya-honk he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation,
247The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close,
248Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky.
249The sharp-hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog,
250The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats,
251The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings,
252I see in them and myself the same old law.
253The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections,
254They scorn the best I can do to relate them.
255I am enamour'd of growing out-doors,
256Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods,
257Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses,
258I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.
259What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me,
260Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,
261Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me,
262Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,
263Scattering it freely forever.
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264The pure contralto sings in the organ loft,
265The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane whistles its wild ascending lisp,
266The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiving dinner,
268The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon are ready,
269The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches,
270The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the altar,
271The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel,
273The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm'd case,
274(He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother's bed-room;)
277The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table,
278What is removed drops horribly in a pail;
280The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his beat, the gate-keeper marks who pass,
281The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him, though I do not know him;)
283The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some lean on their rifles, some sit on logs,
284Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels his piece;
286As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them from his saddle,
287The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their partners, the dancers bow to each other,
288The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof'd garret and harks to the musical rain,
290The squaw wrapt in her yellow-hemm'd cloth is offering moccasins and bead-bags for sale,
291The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut eyes bent sideways,
292As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is thrown for the shore-going passengers,
294The one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago borne her first child,
296The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer, the reporter's lead flies swiftly over the note-book, the sign-painter is lettering with blue and gold,
297The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts at his desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread,
298The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers follow him,
299The child is baptized, the convert is making his first professions,
302The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser higgling about the odd cent;)
303The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock moves slowly,
304The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open'd lips,
305The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck,
306The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to each other,
307(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;)
308The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the great Secretaries,
310The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the hold,
311The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his cattle,
312As the fare-collector goes through the train he gives notice by the jingling of loose change,
313The floor-men are laying the floor, the tinners are tinning the roof, the masons are calling for mortar,
316Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the ground;
317Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in the frozen surface,
318The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep with his axe,
319Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood or pecan-trees,
322Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grandsons around them,
324The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
325The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time,
326The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by his wife;
327And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,
328And such as it is to be of these more or less I am,
329And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.
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330I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
331Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
332Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
333Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stuff that is fine,
334One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the largest the same,
336A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,
339At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen off Newfoundland,
340At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking,
341At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the Texan ranch,
342Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving their big proportions,)
343Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands and welcome to drink and meat,
344A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,
345A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,
346Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
347A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
349I resist any thing better than my own diversity,
350Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
351And am not stuck up, and am in my place.
352(The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place,
353The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place,
354The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.)
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355These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me,
356If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing,
357If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing,
358If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.
359This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is,
360This the common air that bathes the globe.
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361With music strong I come, with my cornets and my drums,
362I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for conquer'd and slain persons.
363Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?
364I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.
365I beat and pound for the dead,
368And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea!
369And to those themselves who sank in the sea!
370And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes!
371And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known!
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372This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger,
373It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make appointments with all,
374I will not have a single person slighted or left away,
376The heavy-lipp'd slave is invited, the venerealee is invited;
377There shall be no difference between them and the rest.
378This is the press of a bashful hand, this the float and odor of hair,
379This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning,
380This the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face,
381This the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again.
382Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?
384Do you take it I would astonish?
386Do I astonish more than they?
387This hour I tell things in confidence,
388I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.
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389Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude;
390How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?
391What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you?
392All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own,
393Else it were time lost listening to me.
394I do not snivel that snivel the world over,
395That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth.
397I wear my hat as I please indoors or out.
398Why should I pray? why should I venerate and be ceremonious?
399Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsel'd with doctors and calculated close,
400I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.
401In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less,
402And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.
403I know I am solid and sound,
404To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,
405All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.
406I know I am deathless,
407I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter's compass,
409I know I am august,
410I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood,
411I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
412(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.)
413I exist as I am, that is enough,
414If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
415And if each and all be aware I sit content.
416One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,
417And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,
418I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.
419My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite,
420I laugh at what you call dissolution,
421And I know the amplitude of time.
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422I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,
423The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,
424The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.
425I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,
426And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,
427And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.
428I chant the chant of dilation or pride,
429We have had ducking and deprecating about enough,
430I show that size is only development.
431Have you outstript the rest? are you the President?
432It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and still pass on.
433I am he that walks with the tender and growing night,
434I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night.
435Press close bare-bosom'd night -- press close magnetic nourishing night!
436Night of south winds -- night of the large few stars!
437Still nodding night -- mad naked summer night.
438Smile O voluptuous cool-breath'd earth!
439Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!
440Earth of departed sunset -- earth of the mountains misty-topt!
442Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river!
443Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake!
444Far-swooping elbow'd earth -- rich apple-blossom'd earth!
445Smile, for your lover comes.
446Prodigal, you have given me love -- therefore I to you give love!
447O unspeakable passionate love.
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448You sea! I resign myself to you also -- I guess what you mean,
449I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers,
450I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me,
451We must have a turn together, I undress, hurry me out of sight of the land,
452Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse,
453Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you.
454Sea of stretch'd ground-swells,
455Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths,
456Sea of the brine of life and of unshovell'd yet always-ready graves,
457Howler and scooper of storms, capricious and dainty sea,
458I am integral with you, I too am of one phase and of all phases.
459Partaker of influx and efflux I, extoller of hate and conciliation,
460Extoller of amies and those that sleep in each others' arms.
461I am he attesting sympathy,
462(Shall I make my list of things in the house and skip the house that supports them?)
463I am not the poet of goodness only, I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also.
464What blurt is this about virtue and about vice?
465Evil propels me and reform of evil propels me, I stand indifferent,
466My gait is no fault-finder's or rejecter's gait,
467I moisten the roots of all that has grown.
469Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work'd over and rectified?
471Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine,
472Thoughts and deeds of the present our rouse and early start.
474There is no better than it and now.
475What behaved well in the past or behaves well to-day is not such a wonder,
476The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean man or an infidel.
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477Endless unfolding of words of ages!
478And mine a word of the modern, the word En-Masse.
479A word of the faith that never balks,
480Here or henceforward it is all the same to me, I accept Time absolutely.
481It alone is without flaw, it alone rounds and completes all,
482That mystic baffling wonder alone completes all.
483I accept Reality and dare not question it,
484Materialism first and last imbuing.
485Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demonstration!
488These mariners put the ship through dangerous unknown seas.
489This is the geologist, this works with the scalpel, and this is a mathematician.
490Gentlemen, to you the first honors always!
491Your facts are useful, and yet they are not my dwelling,
492I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.
493Less the reminders of properties told my words,
494And more the reminders they of life untold, and of freedom and extrication,
495And make short account of neuters and geldings, and favor men and women fully equipt,
496And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives and them that plot and conspire.
498Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding,
499No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them,
500No more modest than immodest.
501Unscrew the locks from the doors!
503Whoever degrades another degrades me,
504And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.
506I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy,
507By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms.
508Through me many long dumb voices,
509Voices of the interminable generations of prisoners and slaves,
510Voices of the diseas'd and despairing and of thieves and dwarfs,
511Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,
512And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs and of the father-stuff,
513And of the rights of them the others are down upon,
514Of the deform'd, trivial, flat, foolish, despised,
515Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.
516Through me forbidden voices,
517Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove the veil,
518Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur'd.
519I do not press my fingers across my mouth,
520I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,
521Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
522I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
523Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
524Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch'd from,
525The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,
526This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.
527If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it,
528Translucent mould of me it shall be you!
529Shaded ledges and rests it shall be you!
532You my rich blood! your milky stream pale strippings of my life!
533Breast that presses against other breasts it shall be you!
534My brain it shall be your occult convolutions!
536Mix'd tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you!
537Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it shall be you!
538Sun so generous it shall be you!
539Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be you!
540You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you!
541Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me it shall be you!
542Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving lounger in my winding paths, it shall be you!
543Hands I have taken, face I have kiss'd, mortal I have ever touch'd, it shall be you.
544I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious,
545Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy,
546I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my faintest wish,
547Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the friendship I take again.
548That I walk up my stoop, I pause to consider if it really be,
549A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
550To behold the day-break!
552The air tastes good to my palate.
553Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols silently rising freshly exuding,
554Scooting obliquely high and low.
555Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs,
556Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.
557The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close of their junction,
558The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over my head,
559The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be master!
##
560Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun-rise would kill me,
561If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.
562We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun,
563We found our own O my soul in the calm and cool of the daybreak.
564My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach,
565With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes of worlds.
566Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself,
567It provokes me forever, it says sarcastically,
568Walt you contain enough, why don't you let it out then?
569Come now I will not be tantalized, you conceive too much of articulation,
570Do you not know O speech how the buds beneath you are folded?
571Waiting in gloom, protected by frost,
572The dirt receding before my prophetical screams,
573I underlying causes to balance them at last,
574My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with the meaning of all things,
575Happiness, (which whoever hears me let him or her set out in search of this day.)
576My final merit I refuse you, I refuse putting from me what I really am,
577Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me,
578I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking toward you.
579Writing and talk do not prove me,
581With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic.
##
582Now I will do nothing but listen,
583To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute toward it.
584I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals,
585I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,
586I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following,
587Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night,
588Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh of work-people at their meals,
589The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the sick,
590The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence,
591The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters,
592The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color'd lights,
593The steam whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars,
594The slow march play'd at the head of the association marching two and two,
596I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man's heart's complaint,)
597I hear the key'd cornet, it glides quickly in through my ears,
598It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.
599I hear the chorus, it is a grand opera,
600Ah this indeed is music -- this suits me.
601A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me,
602The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full.
603I hear the train'd soprano (what work with hers is this?)
605It wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possess'd them,
606It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are lick'd by the indolent waves,
607I am cut by bitter and angry hail, I lose my breath,
609At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,
610And that we call Being.
##
611To be in any form, what is that?
612(Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,)
614Mine is no callous shell,
615I have instant conductors all over me whether I pass or stop,
616They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me.
617I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy,
618To touch my person to some one else's is about as much as I can stand.
##
619Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity,
620Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,
621Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them,
622My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly different from myself,
623On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs,
624Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip,
625Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial,
626Depriving me of my best as for a purpose,
627Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist,
628Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and pasture-fields,
629Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away,
630They bribed to swap off with touch and go and graze at the edges of me,
631No consideration, no regard for my draining strength or my anger,
632Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a while,
633Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry me.
634The sentries desert every other part of me,
635They have left me helpless to a red marauder,
636They all come to the headland to witness and assist against me.
637I am given up by traitors,
638I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody else am the greatest traitor,
639I went myself first to the headland, my own hands carried me there.
640You villain touch! what are you doing? my breath is tight in its throat,
641Unclench your floodgates, you are too much for me.
##
642Blind loving wrestling touch, sheath'd hooded sharp-tooth'd touch!
643Did it make you ache so, leaving me?
644Parting track'd by arriving, perpetual payment of perpetual loan,
645Rich showering rain, and recompense richer afterward.
646Sprouts take and accumulate, stand by the curb prolific and vital,
647Landscapes projected masculine, full-sized and golden.
##
648All truths wait in all things,
649They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,
650They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon,
651The insignificant is as big to me as any,
652(What is less or more than a touch?)
653Logic and sermons never convince,
654The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.
655(Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so,
656Only what nobody denies is so.)
657A minute and a drop of me settle my brain,
658I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps,
659And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman,
660And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other,
662And until one and all shall delight us, and we them.
##
663I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,
665And the tree-toad is a chef-d'œuvre for the highest,
666And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
667And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
668And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue,
671And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over,
672And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons,
673But call any thing back again when I desire it.
674In vain the speeding or shyness,
675In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach,
676In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder'd bones,
677In vain objects stand leagues off and assume manifold shapes,
678In vain the ocean settling in hollows and the great monsters lying low,
679In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky,
680In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs,
681In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods,
682In vain the razor-bill'd auk sails far north to Labrador,
683I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff.
##
684I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd,
685I stand and look at them long and long.
686They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
687They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
688They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
689Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
690Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
691Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
692So they show their relations to me and I accept them,
693They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession.
694I wonder where they get those tokens,
695Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them?
696Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
697Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
699Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers,
700Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms.
701A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses,
702Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears,
703Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
704Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly moving.
705His nostrils dilate as my heels embrace him,
706His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure as we race around and return.
707I but use you a minute, then I resign you, stallion,
708Why do I need your paces when I myself out-gallop them?
709Even as I stand or sit passing faster than you.
##
710Space and Time! now I see it is true, what I guess'd at,
711What I guess'd when I loaf'd on the grass,
712What I guess'd while I lay alone in my bed,
713And again as I walk'd the beach under the paling stars of the morning.
714My ties and ballasts leave me, my elbows rest in sea-gaps,
716I am afoot with my vision.
717By the city's quadrangular houses -- in log huts, camping with lumbermen,
718Along the ruts of the turnpike, along the dry gulch and rivulet bed,
720Prospecting, gold-digging, girdling the trees of a new purchase,
721Scorch'd ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my boat down the shallow river,
722Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead, where the buck turns furiously at the hunter,
723Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock, where the otter is feeding on fish,
725Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey, where the beaver pats the mud with his paddle-shaped tail;
726Over the growing sugar, over the yellow-flower'd cotton plant, over the rice in its low moist field,
727Over the sharp-peak'd farm house, with its scallop'd scum and slender shoots from the gutters,
729Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and buzzer there with the rest,
730Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades in the breeze;
731Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, holding on by low scragged limbs,
732Walking the path worn in the grass and beat through the leaves of the brush,
733Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods and the wheat-lot,
735Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow,
736Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous shuddering of their hides,
737Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where andirons straddle the hearth-slab, where cobwebs fall in festoons from the rafters;
738Where trip-hammers crash, where the press is whirling its cylinders,
739Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes under its ribs,
740Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, (floating in it myself and looking composedly down,)
742Where the she-whale swims with her calf and never forsakes it,
743Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long pennant of smoke,
744Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of the water,
745Where the half-burn'd brig is riding on unknown currents,
746Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the dead are corrupting below;
747Where the dense-starr'd flag is borne at the head of the regiments,
748Approaching Manhattan up by the long-stretching island,
749Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance,
750Upon a door-step, upon the horse-block of hard wood outside,
751Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs or a good game of base-ball,
753At the cider-mill tasting the sweets of the brown mash, sucking the juice through a straw,
754At apple-peelings wanting kisses for all the red fruit I find,
756Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles, screams, weeps,
758Where the bull advances to do his masculine work, where the stud to the mare, where the cock is treading the hen,
759Where the heifers browse, where geese nip their food with short jerks,
760Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless and lonesome prairie,
761Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles far and near,
762Where the humming-bird shimmers, where the neck of the long-lived swan is curving and winding,
763Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where she laughs her near-human laugh,
764Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden half hid by the high weeds,
765Where band-neck'd partridges roost in a ring on the ground with their heads out,
766Where burial coaches enter the arch'd gates of a cemetery,
767Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees,
768Where the yellow-crown'd heron comes to the edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs,
769Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools the warm noon,
771Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver-wired leaves,
772Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under conical firs,
773Through the gymnasium, through the curtain'd saloon, through the office or public hall;
774Pleas'd with the native and pleas'd with the foreign, pleas'd with the new and old,
775Pleas'd with the homely woman as well as the handsome,
776Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and talks melodiously,
777Pleas'd with the tune of the choir of the whitewash'd church,
778Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist preacher, impress'd seriously at the camp-meeting;
780Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn'd up to the clouds, or down a lane or along the beach,
781My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, and I in the middle;
782Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek'd bush-boy, (behind me he rides at the drape of the day,)
783Far from the settlements studying the print of animals' feet, or the moccasin print,
784By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a feverish patient,
785Nigh the coffin'd corpse when all is still, examining with a candle;
786Voyaging to every port to dicker and adventure,
787Hurrying with the modern crowd as eager and fickle as any,
788Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife him,
789Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from me a long while,
790Walking the old hills of Judæa with the beautiful gentle God by my side,
791Speeding through space, speeding through heaven and the stars,
792Speeding amid the seven satellites and the broad ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand miles,
793Speeding with tail'd meteors, throwing fire-balls like the rest,
794Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full mother in its belly,
795Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning,
796Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing,
797I tread day and night such roads.
798I visit the orchards of spheres and look at the product,
800I fly those flights of a fluid and swallowing soul,
801My course runs below the soundings of plummets.
802I help myself to material and immaterial,
803No guard can shut me off, no law prevent me.
804I anchor my ship for a little while only,
805My messengers continually cruise away or bring their returns to me.
808I take my place late at night in the crow's-nest,
809We sail the arctic sea, it is plenty light enough,
810Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the wonderful beauty,
811The enormous masses of ice pass me and I pass them, the scenery is plain in all directions,
812The white-topt mountains show in the distance, I fling out my fancies toward them,
813We are approaching some great battle-field in which we are soon to be engaged,
814We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment, we pass with still feet and caution,
815Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin'd city,
816The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities of the globe.
818I turn the bridegroom out of bed and stay with the bride myself,
819I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.
820My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the rail of the stairs,
821They fetch my man's body up dripping and drown'd.
822I understand the large hearts of heroes,
823The courage of present times and all times,
825How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was faithful of days and faithful of nights,
826And chalk'd in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer, we will not desert you;
828How he saved the drifting company at last,
829How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when boated from the side of their prepared graves,
830How the silent old-faced infants and the lifted sick, and the sharp-lipp'd unshaved men;
831All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it becomes mine,
832I am the man, I suffer'd, I was there.
833The disdain and calmness of martyrs,
834The mother of old, condemn'd for a witch, burnt with dry wood, her children gazing on,
835The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence, blowing, cover'd with sweat,
836The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the murderous buckshot and the bullets,
837All these I feel or am.
838I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs,
839Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen,
841I fall on the weeds and stones,
842The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close,
843Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks.
844Agonies are one of my changes of garments,
845I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person,
846My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe.
847I am the mash'd fireman with breast-bone broken,
848Tumbling walls buried me in their debris,
849Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling shouts of my comrades,
850I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels,
851They have clear'd the beams away, they tenderly lift me forth.
852I lie in the night air in my red shirt, the pervading hush is for my sake,
853Painless after all I lie exhausted but not so unhappy,
854White and beautiful are the faces around me, the heads are bared of their fire-caps,
855The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the torches.
856Distant and dead resuscitate,
857They show as the dial or move as the hands of me, I am the clock myself.
858I am an old artillerist, I tell of my fort's bombardment,
859I am there again.
860Again the long roll of the drummers,
861Again the attacking cannon, mortars,
862Again to my listening ears the cannon responsive.
863I take part, I see and hear the whole,
864The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aim'd shots,
865The ambulanza slowly passing trailing its red drip,
866Workmen searching after damages, making indispensable repairs,
867The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the fan-shaped explosion,
868The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in the air.
869Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general, he furiously waves with his hand,
870He gasps through the clot Mind not me -- mind -- the entrenchments.
##
871Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth,
872(I tell not the fall of Alamo,
873Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo,
874The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo,)
876Retreating they had form'd in a hollow square with their baggage for breastworks,
877Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's, nine times their number, was the price they took in advance,
878Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone,
879They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv'd writing and seal, gave up their arms and march'd back prisoners of war.
880They were the glory of the race of rangers,
881Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship,
882Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affectionate,
883Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters,
884Not a single one over thirty years of age.
885The second First-day morning they were brought out in squads and massacred, it was beautiful early summer,
886The work commenced about five o'clock and was over by eight.
887None obey'd the command to kneel,
888Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and straight,
889A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and dead lay together,
890The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers saw them there,
891Some half-kill'd attempted to crawl away,
892These were despatch'd with bayonets or batter'd with the blunts of muskets,
893A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till two more came to release him,
894The three were all torn and cover'd with the boy's blood.
895At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies;
896That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men.
898Would you learn who won by the light of the moon and stars?
899List to the yarn, as my grandmother's father the sailor told it to me.
903We closed with him, the yards entangled, the cannon touch'd,
904My captain lash'd fast with his own hands.
905We had receiv'd some eighteen pound shots under the water,
906On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at the first fire, killing all around and blowing up overhead.
907Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark,
909The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in the after-hold to give them a chance for themselves.
911They see so many strange faces they do not know whom to trust.
912Our frigate takes fire,
915Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my little captain,
916We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just begun our part of the fighting.
917Only three guns are in use,
918One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy's mainmast,
920The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially the main-top,
921They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.
922Not a moment's cease,
923The leaks gain fast on the pumps, the fire eats toward the powder-magazine.
924One of the pumps has been shot away, it is generally thought we are sinking.
925Serene stands the little captain,
926He is not hurried, his voice is neither high nor low,
927His eyes give more light to us than our battle-lanterns.
928Toward twelve there in the beams of the moon they surrender to us.
##
929Stretch'd and still lies the midnight,
930Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness,
931Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass to the one we have conquer'd,
932The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet,
933Near by the corpse of the child that serv'd in the cabin,
934The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curl'd whiskers,
935The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and below,
936The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty,
937Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars,
938Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves,
939Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent,
940A few large stars overhead, silent and mournful shining,
941Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore, death-messages given in charge to survivors,
942The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw,
943Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long, dull, tapering groan,
944These so, these irretrievable.
##
945You laggards there on guard! look to your arms!
946In at the conquer'd doors they crowd! I am possess'd!
947Embody all presences outlaw'd or suffering,
948See myself in prison shaped like another man,
949And feel the dull unintermitted pain.
950For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch,
951It is I let out in the morning and barr'd at night.
952Not a mutineer walks handcuff'd to jail but I am handcuff'd to him and walk by his side,
953(I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat on my twitching lips.)
954Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried and sentenced.
955Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the last gasp,
956My face is ash-color'd, my sinews gnarl, away from me people retreat.
957Askers embody themselves in me and I am embodied in them,
958I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg.
##
959Enough! enough! enough!
960Somehow I have been stunn'd. Stand back!
961Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers, dreams, gaping,
962I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.
963That I could forget the mockers and insults!
964That I could forget the trickling tears and the blows of the bludgeons and hammers!
965That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and bloody crowning.
966I remember now,
967I resume the overstaid fraction,
968The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it, or to any graves,
970I troop forth replenish'd with supreme power, one of an average unending procession,
971Inland and sea-coast we go, and pass all boundary lines,
972Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole earth,
973The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years.
975Continue your annotations, continue your questionings.
##
976The friendly and flowing savage, who is he?
977Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and mastering it?
978Is he some Southwesterner rais'd out-doors? is he Kanadian?
979Is he from the Mississippi country? Iowa, Oregon, California?
980The mountains? prairie-life, bush-life? or sailor from the sea?
981Wherever he goes men and women accept and desire him,
982They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to them, stay with them.
983Behavior lawless as snow-flakes, words simple as grass, uncomb'd head, laughter, and naivetè,
984Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes and emanations,
985They descend in new forms from the tips of his fingers,
986They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath, they fly out of the glance of his eyes.
##
987Flaunt of the sunshine I need not your bask -- lie over!
988You light surfaces only, I force surfaces and depths also.
989Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands,
991Man or woman, I might tell how I like you, but cannot,
992And might tell what it is in me and what it is in you, but cannot,
993And might tell that pining I have, that pulse of my nights and days.
994Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity,
995When I give I give myself.
996You there, impotent, loose in the knees,
998Spread your palms and lift the flaps of your pockets,
999I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores plenty and to spare,
1000And any thing I have I bestow.
1001I do not ask who you are, that is not important to me,
1002You can do nothing and be nothing but what I will infold you.
1004On his right cheek I put the family kiss,
1005And in my soul I swear I never will deny him.
1006On women fit for conception I start bigger and nimbler babes.
1007(This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arrogant republics.)
1008To any one dying, thither I speed and twist the knob of the door.
1009Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed,
1010Let the physician and the priest go home.
1011I seize the descending man and raise him with resistless will,
1012O despairer, here is my neck,
1013By God, you shall not go down! hang your whole weight upon me.
1014I dilate you with tremendous breath, I buoy you up,
1015Every room of the house do I fill with an arm'd force,
1016Lovers of me, bafflers of graves.
1017Sleep -- I and they keep guard all night,
1018Not doubt, not decease shall dare to lay finger upon you,
1019I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to myself,
1020And when you rise in the morning you will find what I tell you is so.
##
1021I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on their backs,
1022And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed help.
1023I heard what was said of the universe,
1024Heard it and heard it of several thousand years;
1025It is middling well as far as it goes -- but is that all?
1026Magnifying and applying come I,
1027Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,
1028Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah,
1033Taking them all for what they are worth and not a cent more,
1034Admitting they were alive and did the work of their days,
1035(They bore mites as for unfledg'd birds who have now to rise and fly and sing for themselves,)
1036Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself, bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see,
1037Discovering as much or more in a framer framing a house,
1038Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd-up sleeves driving the mallet and chisel,
1039Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation,
1040Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes no less to me than the gods of the antique wars,
1041Minding their voices peal through the crash of destruction,
1043By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple interceding for every person born,
1044Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three lusty angels with shirts bagg'd out at their waists,
1045The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins past and to come,
1047What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square rod about me, and not filling the square rod then,
1049Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd,
1050The supernatural of no account, myself waiting my time to be one of the supremes,
1051The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as the best, and be as prodigious;
1052By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator,
1053Putting myself here and now to the ambush'd womb of the shadows.
##
1054A call in the midst of the crowd,
1056Come my children,
1057Come my boys and girls, my women, household and intimates,
1058Now the performer launches his nerve, he has pass'd his prelude on the reeds within.
1059Easily written loose-finger'd chords -- I feel the thrum of your climax and close.
1060My head slues round on my neck,
1061Music rolls, but not from the organ,
1062Folks are around me, but they are no household of mine.
1063Ever the hard unsunk ground,
1064Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and downward sun, ever the air and the ceaseless tides,
1065Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, real,
1066Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorn'd thumb, that breath of itches and thirsts,
1067Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly one hides and bring him forth,
1068Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life,
1069Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the trestles of death.
1070Here and there with dimes on the eyes walking,
1071To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally spooning,
1072Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never once going,
1073Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff for payment receiving,
1074A few idly owning, and they the wheat continually claiming.
1075This is the city and I am one of the citizens,
1076Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars, markets, newspapers, schools,
1077The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate.
1079I am aware who they are, (they are positively not worms or fleas,)
1080I acknowledge the duplicates of myself, the weakest and shallowest is deathless with me,
1081What I do and say the same waits for them,
1082Every thought that flounders in me the same flounders in them.
1083I know perfectly well my own egotism,
1084Know my omnivorous lines and must not write any less,
1085And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.
1086Not words of routine this song of mine,
1087But abruptly to question, to leap beyond yet nearer bring;
1088This printed and bound book -- but the printer and the printing-office boy?
1089The well-taken photographs -- but your wife or friend close and solid in your arms?
1090The black ship mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in her turrets -- but the pluck of the captain and engineers?
1091In the houses the dishes and fare and furniture -- but the host and hostess, and the look out of their eyes?
1092The sky up there -- yet here or next door, or across the way?
1093The saints and sages in history -- but you yourself?
1094Sermons, creeds, theology -- but the fathomless human brain,
1095And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?
##
1096I do not despise you priests, all time, the world over,
1097My faith is the greatest of faiths and the least of faiths,
1098Enclosing worship ancient and modern and all between ancient and modern,
1099Believing I shall come again upon the earth after five thousand years,
1100Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the gods, saluting the sun,
1106Accepting the Gospels, accepting him that was crucified, knowing assuredly that he is divine,
1107To the mass kneeling or the puritan's prayer rising, or sitting patiently in a pew,
1108Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting dead-like till my spirit arouses me,
1109Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of pavement and land,
1110Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.
1111One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang I turn and talk like a man leaving charges before a journey.
1112Down-hearted doubters dull and excluded,
1113Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten'd, atheistical,
1114I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair and unbelief.
1116How they contort rapid as lightning, with spasms and spouts of blood!
1117Be at peace bloody flukes of doubters and sullen mopers,
1118I take my place among you as much as among any,
1119The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the same,
1120And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me, all, precisely the same.
1121I do not know what is untried and afterward,
1122But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and cannot fail.
1123Each who passes is consider'd, each who stops is consider'd, not a single one can it fail.
1124It cannot fail the young man who died and was buried,
1125Nor the young woman who died and was put by his side,
1126Nor the little child that peep'd in at the door, and then drew back and was never seen again,
1127Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and feels it with bitterness worse than gall,
1130Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths for food to slip in,
1131Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest graves of the earth,
1132Nor any thing in the myriads of spheres, nor the myriads of myriads that inhabit them,
1133Nor the present, nor the least wisp that is known.
##
1134It is time to explain myself -- let us stand up.
1135What is known I strip away,
1136I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.
1137The clock indicates the moment -- but what does eternity indicate?
1138We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers,
1139There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.
1140Births have brought us richness and variety,
1141And other births will bring us richness and variety.
1142I do not call one greater and one smaller,
1143That which fills its period and place is equal to any.
1144Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my brother, my sister?
1145I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or jealous upon me,
1146All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with lamentation,
1147(What have I to do with lamentation?)
1149My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs,
1150On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps,
1151All below duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount.
1152Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,
1153Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there,
1154I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist,
1155And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.
1156Long I was hugg'd close -- long and long.
1157Immense have been the preparations for me,
1158Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me.
1159Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful boatmen,
1160For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings,
1161They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.
1162Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me,
1163My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it.
1164For it the nebula cohered to an orb,
1165The long slow strata piled to rest it on,
1166Vast vegetables gave it sustenance,
1168All forces have been steadily employ'd to complete and delight me,
1169Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.
##
1170O span of youth! ever-push'd elasticity!
1171O manhood, balanced, florid and full.
1172My lovers suffocate me,
1173Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin,
1174Jostling me through streets and public halls, coming naked to me at night,
1175Crying by day Ahoy! from the rocks of the river, swinging and chirping over my head,
1176Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled underbrush,
1177Lighting on every moment of my life,
1179Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts and giving them to be mine.
1180Old age superbly rising! O welcome, ineffable grace of dying days!
1181Every condition promulges not only itself, it promulges what grows after and out of itself,
1182And the dark hush promulges as much as any.
1183I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled systems,
1184And all I see multiplied as high as I can cipher edge but the rim of the farther systems.
1185Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always expanding,
1186Outward and outward and forever outward.
1187My sun has his sun and round him obediently wheels,
1188He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit,
1189And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest inside them.
1190There is no stoppage and never can be stoppage,
1191If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon their surfaces, were this moment reduced back to a pallid float, it would not avail in the long run,
1192We should surely bring up again where we now stand,
1193And surely go as much farther, and then farther and farther.
1194A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic leagues, do not hazard the span or make it impatient,
1195They are but parts, any thing is but a part.
1196See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of that,
1197Count ever so much, there is limitless time around that.
1198My rendezvous is appointed, it is certain,
1199The Lord will be there and wait till I come on perfect terms,
##
1201I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.
1202I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
1203My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,
1204No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
1205I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
1206I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
1207But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
1208My left hand hooking you round the waist,
1209My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.
1210Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
1211You must travel it for yourself.
1212It is not far, it is within reach,
1213Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
1214Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
1215Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,
1216Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
1218And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,
1219For after we start we never lie by again.
1220This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the crowded heaven,
1221And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied then?
1222And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond.
1223You are also asking me questions and I hear you,
1224I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.
1225Sit a while dear son,
1226Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
1228Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams,
1229Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
1230You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.
1231Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
1232Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
1233To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.
##
1234I am the teacher of athletes,
1235He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width of my own,
1236He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.
1237The boy I love, the same becomes a man not through derived power, but in his own right,
1238Wicked rather than virtuous out of conformity or fear,
1239Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak,
1240Unrequited love or a slight cutting him worse than sharp steel cuts,
1241First-rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull's eye, to sail a skiff, to sing a song or play on the banjo,
1243And those well-tann'd to those that keep out of the sun.
1244I teach straying from me, yet who can stray from me?
1245I follow you whoever you are from the present hour,
1246My words itch at your ears till you understand them.
1247I do not say these things for a dollar or to fill up the time while I wait for a boat,
1248(It is you talking just as much as myself, I act as the tongue of you,
1249Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen'd.)
1250I swear I will never again mention love or death inside a house,
1251And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only to him or her who privately stays with me in the open air.
1252If you would understand me go to the heights or water-shore,
1253The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or motion of waves a key,
1254The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words.
1255No shutter'd room or school can commune with me,
1256But roughs and little children better than they.
1257The young mechanic is closest to me, he knows me well,
1258The woodman that takes his axe and jug with him shall take me with him all day,
1259The farm-boy ploughing in the field feels good at the sound of my voice,
1260In vessels that sail my words sail, I go with fishermen and seamen and love them.
1261The soldier camp'd or upon the march is mine,
1262On the night ere the pending battle many seek me, and I do not fail them,
1263On that solemn night (it may be their last) those that know me seek me.
1264My face rubs to the hunter's face when he lies down alone in his blanket,
1265The driver thinking of me does not mind the jolt of his wagon,
1266The young mother and old mother comprehend me,
1267The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment and forget where they are,
1268They and all would resume what I have told them.
##
1269I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
1270And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
1271And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is,
1272And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud,
1273And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth,
1274And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times,
1275And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero,
1276And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel'd universe,
1277And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
1278And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
1279For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
1280(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death.)
1281I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
1282Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
1283Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
1284I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
1285In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
1286I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd by God's name,
1287And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go,
1288Others will punctually come for ever and ever.
##
1289And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me.
1291I see the elder-hand pressing receiving supporting,
1292I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors,
1293And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape.
1294And as to you Corpse I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me,
1295I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing,
1296I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polish'd breasts of melons.
1297And as to you Life I reckon you are the leavings of many deaths,
1298(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.)
1299I hear you whispering there O stars of heaven,
1300O suns -- O grass of graves -- O perpetual transfers and promotions,
1301If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing?
1302Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest,
1303Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing twilight,
1304Toss, sparkles of day and dusk -- toss on the black stems that decay in the muck,
1305Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs.
1306I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night,
1307I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sunbeams reflected,
1308And debouch to the steady and central from the offspring great or small.
##
1309There is that in me -- I do not know what it is -- but I know it is in me.
1310Wrench'd and sweaty -- calm and cool then my body becomes,
1311I sleep -- I sleep long.
1312I do not know it -- it is without name -- it is a word unsaid,
1313It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.
1314Something it swings on more than the earth I swing on,
1315To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me.
1316Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for my brothers and sisters.
1317Do you see O my brothers and sisters?
1318It is not chaos or death -- it is form, union, plan -- it is eternal life -- it is Happiness.
##
1319The past and present wilt -- I have fill'd them, emptied them,
1320And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
1321Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
1322Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
1323(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)
1324Do I contradict myself?
1325Very well then I contradict myself,
1326(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
1327I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.
1328Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
1329Who wishes to walk with me?
1330Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?
##
1331The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.
1332I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
1333I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
1334The last scud of day holds back for me,
1335It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd wilds,
1336It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
1337I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
1338I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
1339I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
1340If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
1341You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
1342But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
1343And filter and fibre your blood.
1344Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
1345Missing me one place search another,
1346I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Notes

49] entretied: cross-braced. Back to Line
95] kelson: keelson, the timber supports for a ship's keel. Back to Line
98] mullein: tall flower-spiked plant.
poke-weed: poisonous red-berried weed Back to Line
109] Kanuck: Canuck, French Canadian.
Tuckahoe: tidewater Virginian.
Cuff: Afro-American. Back to Line
146] broadcloth and gingham: woolen or worsted woven cloth, and plain-woven cotton cloth. Back to Line
154] blab: clatter.
sluff: shuffling noise. Back to Line
165] convex: arched upwards. Back to Line
173] timothy: grass grown long for use as hay. Back to Line
180] scud: windblown spray. Back to Line
185] An allusion to Alfred Jacob Miller's painting "The Trapper's Bride." Back to Line
186] moccasins: Algonquian heelless leather shoes. Back to Line
191] limpsey: limp. Back to Line
198] fire-lock: gun that uses a slow match to fire the powder. Back to Line
218] shuffle: slow and sliding minstrels' dance.
break-down: fast minstrels' dance. Back to Line
219] environ: surround. Back to Line
226] dray: waggon.
string-piece: timber used in constructing bridges. Back to Line
232] sluing: swinging. Back to Line
267] king-pin: the pilot-wheel's extended spoke. Back to Line
272] First-day: Sunday (Quaker terminology). Back to Line
275] jour: journeyman printer.
case: wooden trays holding typeface. Back to Line
276] quid: wad. Back to Line
279] quadroon: one-quarter Afro-American. Back to Line
282] half-breed: half-native. Back to Line
285] levee: dike erected against flooding. Back to Line
289] Wolverine: native of Michigan.
Huron: one of the Great Lakes. Back to Line
293] skein: yarn wound on a reel. Back to Line
295] Yankee: northern US. Back to Line
300] regatta: sailboats. Back to Line
301] drover: driver of cattle or sheep. Back to Line
309] piazza: square or promenade. Back to Line
314] hod: tray with a pole-handle for carrying bricks, coal, etc. Back to Line
315] Seventh-month: July. Back to Line
320] Coon-seekers: raccoon-hunters.
Red: river on the border of Oklahoma and Texas, running south through Arkansas into Louisiana. Back to Line
321] Chattahooche: river flowing from Georgia into Lake Seminole.
Altamahaw: river in Georgia flowing into the estuary of the same name. Back to Line
323] adobie: clay-straw brick. Back to Line
335] Oconee: a river in Georgia. Back to Line
337] Elkhorn: river in northern Illinois? Back to Line
338] Hoosier: someone from Indiana.
Badger: someone from Wisconsin.
Buckeye: someone from Ohio. Back to Line
348] fancy-man: pimp. Back to Line
366] embouchures: mouthpieces. Back to Line
367] Vivas: hoo-rahs. Back to Line
375] sponger: parasite. Back to Line
383] Fourth-month: April. Back to Line
385] redstart: warbler. Back to Line
396] truckling: taking a subserviant position.
powders: medicinal drugs, in powdered form, wrapped in paper. Back to Line
408] carlacue: curlicue. Back to Line
441] vitreous: glassy. Back to Line
468] scrofula: swelling of the lymph glands. Back to Line
470] antipodal: opposed. Back to Line
473] decillions: ten to the 33rd power. Back to Line
486] stonecrop: sedum, a mossy evergreen, used medicinally. Back to Line
487] cartouches: scroll-like ornament, or tablet for writing. Back to Line
497] kosmos: universe. Back to Line
502] jambs: erect wood sides to which doors or windows are attached. Back to Line
505] afflatus: inspiration. Back to Line
530] colter: plowshare or blade (penis). Back to Line
531] tilth: cultivation. Back to Line
535] sweet-flag: calamus, a tall marsh plant.
pond-snipe: marsh bird. Back to Line
551] diaphanous: see-through, fine. Back to Line
580] plenum: full weight. Back to Line
595] muslin: sheer cotton fabric. Back to Line
604] Uranus: seventh planet. Back to Line
608] fakes: coiled ropes. Back to Line
613] quahaug: thick-shelled Atlantic clam. Back to Line
661] omnific: all-creating. Back to Line
664] pismire: ant. Back to Line
669] sextillions: 10 to the 36th power. Back to Line
670] esculent: edible. Back to Line
698] omnigenous: of all sorts. Back to Line
715] sierras: irregular mountain ranges. Back to Line
719] savannas: tropical grasslands. Back to Line
724] bayou: slow tributary creek. Back to Line
728] persimmon: ebony tree. Back to Line
734] Seventh-month: July. Back to Line
741] life-car: rope-drawn boat that transfers people from a damaged ship to shore. Back to Line
752] bull-dances: dances for men only. Back to Line
755] bees: assemblies of country folk to complete a job too big for one family (e.g., erecting a barn).
huskings: get-togethers of farming folk to husk harvested corn. Back to Line
757] hay-rick: outdoor pile of hay with a thatched roof. Back to Line
770] katy-did: large grasshopper. Back to Line
779] Broadway: major north-south street in Manhattan, celebrated for its theatres. Back to Line
799] quintillions: 10 to the 30th power. Back to Line
806] topples: overhanging ice. Back to Line
807] foretruck: look-out perch on a ship's mast. Back to Line
817] bivouac: make a bed. Back to Line
824] The ship San Francisco wrecked in the Atlantic off New York in late December 1853, as reported in the New York Weekly Tribune of January 21, 1854. Back to Line
827] tack'd: charted a zigzag course. Back to Line
840] dribs: dribbles. Back to Line
875] About three hundred American soldiers were captured by Mexican troops at Goliad in Texas and executed March 23, 1836. Back to Line
897] On September 23, 1779, John Paul Jones captained the Bon Homme Richard against the British ship Serapis. Back to Line
900] skulk: cowardly hider. Back to Line
901] pluck: courage. Back to Line
902] raking: sweeping across with weapons' fire. Back to Line
908] on the gain: increasing. Back to Line
910] magazine: building where gunpowder is stored. Back to Line
913] quarter: mercy following a surrender. Back to Line
914] struck: taken down. Back to Line
919] grape: clusters of small iron balls used as gunshot.
canister: encased shot. Back to Line
969] fastenings: bandages (?) Back to Line
974] Eleves: pupils (French). Back to Line
990] top-knot: native Indian. Back to Line
997] scarf'd: sealed. Back to Line
1003] privies: toilets. Back to Line
1029] Kronos: a Titan, defeated by Zeus, supreme among the Gods of ancient Greece. Back to Line
1030] Osiris, Isis: ancient Egyptian king, married to Isis, who avenged his murder. He became sun-god, and she moon-goddess.
Belus: Egyptian king.
Brahma: god in Hindu mythology, the creator.
Buddha: Sakyamuni, Gautama, or Siddartha, 5th-century B.C. teacher and founder of Buddhism. Back to Line
1031] Manito: Manitou, supernatural Algonquian life-force.
Allah: God of Islam. Back to Line
1032] Odin: supreme Old Norse god and creator, also known as Woden.
Mexitli: war deity of the Aztecs. Back to Line
1042] laths: wood strips. Back to Line
1046] fee: hire. Back to Line
1048] The bull and the bug: the animal worshipped by the Greeks, and the scarab worshipped by the Egyptians. Back to Line
1055] orotund: sonorous, "round-mouthed." Back to Line
1078] manikins: little men. Back to Line
1101] fetich: fetish.
powowing: holding a meeting (Algonquian).
obis: an "obi" is a West African sorcerer. Back to Line
1102] llama: Lamaist (Tibetan) monks.
brahmin: priest of Brahma. Back to Line
1103] gymnosophist: Hindu ascetic. Back to Line
1104] Shastas: Hindu scriptures.
Vedas: earliest Hindu hymns and sacred writings.
Koran: Muslim book of revelations made to Muhammad by Allah. Back to Line
1105] teokallis: Aztec temples. Back to Line
1115] flukes: the two parts of a whale's tail. Back to Line
1128] tubercled: affected by tuberculosis. Back to Line
1129] koboo: Kubu, of Palembang in Sumatra. Back to Line
1148] acme: perfection. Back to Line
1167] sauroids: dinosaurs. Back to Line
1178] Bussing: kissing. Back to Line
1200] Camerado: companion, comrade (perhaps from the Spanish `camarada'). Back to Line
1217] chuff: heel. Back to Line
1227] egress: exiting. Back to Line
1242] latherers: men who lather their beards and shave them off. Back to Line
1290] accoucheur: midwife or assistant at a birthing. Back to Line
Original Text: 
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891-92): 29-79. PS 3201 1891 Robarts Library.
Publication Start Year: 
1855
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Rhyme: