A Broadway Pageant

1 Over the Western sea hither from Niphon come,


the swart-cheek'd two-sworded envoys,

Leaning back in their open barouches,



Ride to-day through Manhattan.


I do not know whether others behold what I behold,

In the procession along with the nobles of Niphon,

the errand-bearers,

Bringing up the rear,

hovering above,


or in the ranks marching,

But I will sing you a song of what I behold Libertad.

When million-footed Manhattan unpent descends to her pavements,

When the thunder-cracking guns arouse me with the proud roar love,

When the round-mouth'd guns out of the smoke and smell I love spit their salutes,

When the fire-flashing guns have fully alerted me,

and heaven-clouds canopy my city with a delicate thin haze,

When gorgeous the countless straight stems,

the forests at the wharves,

thicken with colors,

When every ship richly drest carries her flag at the peak,

When pennants trail and street-festoons hang from the windows,

When Broadway is entirely given up to foot-passengers and foot-standers,

when the mass is densest,

When the facades of the houses are alive with people,

when eyes gaze riveted tens of thousands at a time,

When the guests from the islands advance,

when the pageant moves forward visible,

When the summons is made,

when the answer that waited thousands of years answers,

I too arising,


descend to the pavements,

merge with the crowd,

and gaze with them.

2 Superb-faced Manhattan!

Comrade Americanos!

to us,

then at last the Orient comes.

To us,

my city,

Where our tall-topt marble and iron beauties range on opposite sides,

to walk in the space between,

To-day our Antipodes comes.

The Originatress comes,

The nest of languages,

the bequeather of poems,

the race of eld,

Florid with blood,


rapt with musings,

hot with passion,

Sultry with perfume,

with ample and flowing garments,

With sunburnt visage,

with intense soul and glittering eyes,

The race of Brahma comes.

See my cantabile!

these and more are flashing to us from the procession,

As it moves changing,

a kaleidoscope divine it moves changing before us.

For not the envoys nor the tann'd Japanee from his island only,

Lithe and silent the Hindoo appears,

the Asiatic continent itself appears,

the past,

the dead,

The murky night-morning of wonder and fable inscrutable,

The envelop'd mysteries,

the old and unknown hive-bees,

The north,

the sweltering south,

eastern Assyria,

the Hebrews,

the ancient of ancients,

Vast desolated cities,

the gliding present,

all of these and more are in the pageant-procession.


the world,

is in it,

The Great Sea,

the brood of islands,


the coast beyond,

The coast you henceforth are facing --you Libertad!

from your Western golden shores,

The countries there with their populations,

the millions en-masse are curiously here,

The swarming market-places,

the temples with idols ranged along the sides or at the end,



and llama,





and fisherman,

The singing-girl and the dancing-girl,

the ecstatic persons,

the secluded emperors,

Confucius himself,

the great poets and heroes,

the warriors,

the castes,


Trooping up,

crowding from all directions,

from the Altay mountains,

From Thibet,

from the four winding and far-flowing rivers of China,

From the southern peninsulas and the demi-continental islands,

from Malaysia,

These and whatever belongs to them palpable show forth to me,

and are seiz'd by me,

And I am seiz'd by them,

and friendlily held by them,

Till as here them all I chant,


for themselves and for you.

For I too raising my voice join the ranks of this pageant,

I am the chanter,

I chant aloud over the pageant,

I chant the world on my Western sea,

I chant copious the islands beyond,

thick as stars in the sky,

I chant the new empire grander than any before,

as in a vision it comes to me,

I chant America the mistress,

I chant a greater supremacy,

I chant projected a thousand blooming cities yet in time on those groups of sea-islands,

My sail-ships and steam-ships threading the archipelagoes,

My stars and stripes fluttering in the wind,

Commerce opening,

the sleep of ages having done its work,

races reborn,



works resumed --the object I know not --but the old,

the Asiatic renew'd as it must be,

Commencing from this day surrounded by the world.

3 And you Libertad of the world!

You shall sit in the middle well-pois'd thousands and thousands of years,

As to-day from one side the nobles of Asia come to you,

As to-morrow from the other side the queen of England sends her eldest son to you.

The sign is reversing,

the orb is enclosed,

The ring is circled,

the journey is done,

The box-lid is but perceptibly open'd,

nevertheless the perfume pours copiously out of the whole box.

Young Libertad!

with the venerable Asia,

the all-mother,

Be considerate with her now and ever hot Libertad,

for you are all,

Bend your proud neck to the long-off mother now sending messages over the archipelagoes to you,

Bend your proud neck low for once,

young Libertad.

Here the children straying westward so long?

so wide the tramping?

Were the precedent dim ages debouching westward from Paradise so long?

Were the centuries steadily footing it that way,

all the while unknown,

for you,

for reasons?

They are justified,

they are accomplish'd,

they shall now be turn'd the other way also,

to travel toward you thence,

They shall now also march obediently eastward for your sake Libertad.



Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,

Out of the mocking-bird's throat,

the musical shuttle,

Out of the Ninth-month midnight,

Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond,

where the child leaving his bed wander'd alone,



Down from the shower'd halo,

Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as if they were alive,

Out from the patches of briers and blackberries,

From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,

From your memories sad brother,

from the fitful risings and fallings I heard,

From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen as if with tears,

From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in the mist,

From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease,

From the myriad thence-arous'd words,

From the word stronger and more delicious than any,

From such as now they start the scene revisiting,

As a flock,



or overhead passing,

Borne hither,

ere all eludes me,


A man,

yet by these tears a little boy again,

Throwing myself on the sand,

confronting the waves,


chanter of pains and joys,

uniter of here and hereafter,

Taking all hints to use them,

but swiftly leaping beyond them,

A reminiscence sing.

Once Paumanok,

When the lilac-scent was in the air and Fifth-month grass was growing,

Up this seashore in some briers,

Two feather'd guests from Alabama,

two together,

And their nest,

and four light-green eggs spotted with brown,

And every day the he-bird to and fro near at hand,

And every day the she-bird crouch'd on her nest,


with bright eyes,

And every day I,

a curious boy,

never too close,

never disturbing them,

Cautiously peering,






Pour down your warmth,

great sun.'

While we bask,

we two together.

Two together!

Winds blow south,

or winds blow north,

Day come white,

or night come black,


or rivers and mountains from home,

Singing all time,

minding no time,

While we two keep together.

Till of a sudden,

May-be kill'd,

unknown to her mate,

One forenoon the she-bird crouch'd not on the nest,

Nor return'd that afternoon,

nor the next,

Nor ever appear'd again.

And thenceforward all summer in the sound of the sea,

And at night under the full of the moon in calmer weather,

Over the hoarse surging of the sea,

Or flitting from brier to brier by day,

I saw,

I heard at intervals the remaining one,

the he-bird,

The solitary guest from Alabama.




Blow up sea-winds along Paumanok's shore;

I wait and I wait till you blow my mate to me.


when the stars glisten'd,

All night long on the prong of a moss-scallop'd stake,

Down almost amid the slapping waves,

Sat the lone singer wonderful causing tears.

He call'd on his mate,

He pour'd forth the meanings which I of all men know.

Yes my brother I know,

The rest might not,

but I have treasur'd every note,

For more than once dimly down to the beach gliding,


avoiding the moonbeams,

blending myself with the shadows,

Recalling now the obscure shapes,

the echoes,

the sounds and sights after their sorts,

The white arms out in the breakers tirelessly tossing,


with bare feet,

a child,

the wind wafting my hair,

Listen'd long and long.

Listen'd to keep,

to sing,

now translating the notes,

Following you my brother.




Close on its wave soothes the wave behind,

And again another behind embracing and lapping,

every one close,

But my love soothes not me,

not me.

Low hangs the moon,

it rose late,

It is lagging --O I think it is heavy with love,

with love.

O madly the sea pushes upon the land,

With love,

with love.

O night!

do I not see my love fluttering out among the breakers?

What is that little black thing I see there in the white?




Loud I call to you,

my love!

High and clear I shoot my voice over the waves,

Surely you must know who is here,

is here,

You must know who I am,

my love.

Low-hanging moon!

What is that dusky spot in your brown yellow?

O it is the shape,

the shape of my mate.'

O moon do not keep her from me any longer.



O land!

Whichever way I turn,

O I think you could give me my mate back again if you only would,

For I am almost sure I see her dimly whichever way I look.

O rising stars!

Perhaps the one I want so much will rise,

will rise with some of you.

O throat!

O trembling throat!

Sound clearer through the atmosphere!

Pierce the woods,

the earth,

Somewhere listening to catch you must be the one I want.

Shake out carols!

Solitary here,

the night's carols!

Carols of lonesome love!

death's carols!

Carols under that lagging,


waning moon!

O under that moon where she droops almost down into the sea!

O reckless despairing carols.

But soft!

sink low!


let me just murmur,

And do you wait a moment you husky-nois'd sea,

For somewhere I believe I heard my mate responding to me,

So faint,

I must be still,

be still to listen,

But not altogether still,

for then she might not come immediately to me.

Hither my love!

Here I am!


With this just-sustain'd note I announce myself to you,

This gentle call is for you my love,

for you.

Do not be decoy'd elsewhere,

That is the whistle of the wind,

it is not my voice,

That is the fluttering,

the fluttering of the spray,

Those are the shadows of leaves.

O darkness!

O in vain!

O I am very sick and sorrowful

O brown halo in the sky near the moon,

drooping upon the sea!

O troubled reflection in the sea!

O throat!

O throbbing heart!

And I singing uselessly,

uselessly all the night.

O past!

O happy life!

O songs of joy!

In the air,

in the woods,

over fields,






But my mate no more,

no more with me!

We two together no more.

The aria sinking,

All else continuing,

the stars shining,

The winds blowing,

the notes of the bird continuous echoing,

With angry moans the fierce old mother incessantly moaning,

On the sands of Paumanok's shore gray and rustling,

The yellow half-moon enlarged,

sagging down,


the face of the sea almost touching,

The boy ecstatic,

with his bare feet the waves,

with his hair the atmosphere dallying,

The love in the heart long pent,

now loose,

now at last tumultuously bursting,

The aria's meaning,

the ears,

the soul,

swiftly depositing,

The strange tears down the cheeks coursing,

The colloquy there,

the trio,

each uttering,

The undertone,

the savage old mother incessantly crying,

To the boy's soul's questions sullenly timing,

some drown'd secret hissing,

To the outsetting bard.

Demon or bird!

(said the boy's soul,) Is it indeed toward your mate you sing?

or is it really to me?

For I,

that was a child,

my tongue's use sleeping,

now I have heard you,

Now in a moment I know what I am for,

I awake,

And already a thousand singers,

a thousand songs,


louder and more sorrowful than yours,

A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within me,

never to die.

O you singer solitary,

singing by yourself,

projecting me,

O solitary me listening,

never more shall I cease perpetuating you,

Never more shall I escape,

never more the reverberations,

Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me,

Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what there in the night,

By the sea under the yellow and sagging moon,

The messenger there arous'd,

the fire,

the sweet hell within,

The unknown want,

the destiny of me.

O give me the clue!

(it lurks in the night here somewhere,) O if I am to have so much,

let me have more!

A word then,

(for I will conquer it,) The word final,

superior to all,


sent up --what is it?

--I listen;

Are you whispering it,

and have been all the time,

you sea-waves?

Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands?

Whereto answering,

the sea,

Delaying not,

hurrying not,

Whisper'd me through the night,

and very plainly before daybreak,

Lisp'd to me the low and delicious word death,

And again death,



death Hissing melodious,

neither like the bird nor like my arous'd child's heart,

But edging near as privately for me rustling at my feet,

Creeping thence steadily up to my ears and laving me softly all over,






Which I do not forget.

But fuse the song of my dusky demon and brother,

That he sang to me in the moonlight on Paumanok's gray beach,

With the thousand responsive songs at random,

My own songs awaked from that hour,

And with them the key,

the word up from the waves,

The word of the sweetest song and all songs,

That strong and delicious word which,

creeping to my feet,

(Or like some old crone rocking the cradle,

swathed in sweet garments,

bending aside,) The sea whisper'd me.

As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life

1 As I ebb'd with the ocean of life,

As I wended the shores I know,

As I walk'd where the ripples continually wash you Paumanok,

Where they rustle up hoarse and sibilant,

Where the fierce old mother endlessly cries for her castaways,

I musing late in the autumn day,

gazing off southward,

Held by this electric self out of the pride of which I utter poems,

Was seiz'd by the spirit that trails in the lines underfoot,

The rim,

the sediment that stands for all the water and all the land of the globe.


my eyes reverting from the south,


to follow those slender windrows,



splinters of wood,


and the sea-gluten,


scales from shining rocks,

leaves of salt-lettuce,

left by the tide,

Miles walking,

the sound of breaking waves the other side of me,

Paumanok there and then as I thought the old thought of likenesses,

These you presented to me you fish-shaped island,

As I wended the shores I know,

As I walk'd with that electric self seeking types.

2 As I wend to the shores I know not,

As I list to the dirge,

the voices of men and women wreck'd,

As I inhale the impalpable breezes that set in upon me,

As the ocean so mysterious rolls toward me closer and closer,

I too but signify at the utmost a little wash'd-up drift,

A few sands and dead leaves to gather,


and merge myself as part of the sands and drift.

O baffled,


bent to the very earth,

Oppress'd with myself that I have dared to open my mouth,

Aware now that amid all that blab whose echoes recoil upon me I have not once had the least idea who or what I am,

But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch'd,


altogether unreach'd,

Withdrawn far,

mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and bows,

With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written,

Pointing in silence to these songs,

and then to the sand beneath.

I perceive I have not really understood any thing,

not a single object,

and that no man ever can,

Nature here in sight of the sea taking advantage of me to dart upon me and sting me,

Because I have dared to open my mouth to sing at all.

3 You oceans both,

I close with you,

We murmur alike reproachfully rolling sands and drift,

knowing not why,

These little shreds indeed standing for you and me and all.

You friable shore with trails of debris,

You fish-shaped island,

I take what is underfoot,

What is yours is mine my father.

I too Paumanok,

I too have bubbled up,

floated the measureless float,

and been wash'd on your shores,

I too am but a trail of drift and debris,

I too leave little wrecks upon you,

you fish-shaped island.

I throw myself upon your breast my father,

I cling to you so that you cannot unloose me,

I hold you so firm till you answer me something.

Kiss me my father,

Touch me with your lips as I touch those I love,

Breathe to me while I hold you close the secret of the murmuring I envy.

4 Ebb,

ocean of life,

(the flow will return,) Cease not your moaning you fierce old mother,

Endlessly cry for your castaways,

but fear not,

deny not me,

Rustle not up so hoarse and angry against my feet as I touch you or gather from you.

I mean tenderly by you and all,

I gather for myself and for this phantom looking down where we lead,

and following me and mine.

Me and mine,

loose windrows,

little corpses,


snowy white,

and bubbles,


from my dead lips the ooze exuding at last,


the prismatic colors glistening and rolling,) Tufts of straw,



Buoy'd hither from many moods,

one contradicting another,

From the storm,

the long calm,

the darkness,

the swell,



a breath,

a briny tear,

a dab of liquid or soil,

Up just as much out of fathomless workings fermented and thrown,

A limp blossom or two,


just as much over waves floating,

drifted at random,

Just as much for us that sobbing dirge of Nature,

Just as much whence we come that blare of the cloud-trumpets,



brought hither we know not whence,

spread out before you,

You up there walking or sitting,

Whoever you are,

we too lie in drifts at your feet.





In the night,

in solitude,


On the white shore dripping,


suck'd in by the sand,


not a star shining,

all dark and desolate,

Moist tears from the eyes of a muffled head;

O who is that ghost?

that form in the dark,

with tears?

What shapeless lump is that,


crouch'd there on the sand?

Streaming tears,

sobbing tears,


choked with wild cries;

O storm,



careering with swift steps along the beach!

O wild and dismal night storm,

with wind --O belching and desperate!

O shade so sedate and decorous by day,

with calm countenance and regulated pace,

But away at night as you fly,

none looking --O then the unloosen'd ocean,

Of tears!



To the Man-of-War-Bird

Thou who hast slept all night upon the storm,

Waking renew'd on thy prodigious pinions,

(Burst the wild storm?

above it thou ascended'st,

And rested on the sky,

thy slave that cradled thee,) Now a blue point,


far in heaven floating,

As to the light emerging here on deck I watch thee,

(Myself a speck,

a point on the world's floating vast.)


far at sea,

After the night's fierce drifts have strewn the shore with wrecks,

With re-appearing day as now so happy and serene,

The rosy and elastic dawn,

the flashing sun,

The limpid spread of air cerulean,

Thou also re-appearest.

Thou born to match the gale,

(thou art all wings,) To cope with heaven and earth and sea and hurricane,

Thou ship of air that never furl'st thy sails,


even weeks untired and onward,

through spaces,

realms gyrating,

At dusk that lookist on Senegal,

at morn America,

That sport'st amid the lightning-flash and thunder-cloud,

In them,

in thy experiences,

had'st thou my soul,

What joys!

what joys were thine!

Aboard at a Ship's Helm

Aboard at a ship's helm,

A young steersman steering with care.

Through fog on a sea-coast dolefully ringing,

An ocean-bell --O a warning bell,

rock'd by the waves.

O you give good notice indeed,

you bell by the sea-reefs ringing,



to warn the ship from its wreck-place.

For as on the alert O steersman,

you mind the loud admonition,

The bows turn,

the freighted ship tacking speeds away under her gray sails,

The beautiful and noble ship with all her precious wealth speeds away gayly and safe.

But O the ship,

the immortal ship!

O ship aboard the ship!

Ship of the body,

ship of the soul,




On the Beach at Night

On the beach at night,

Stands a child with her father,

Watching the east,

the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,

While ravening clouds,

the burial clouds,

in black masses spreading,

Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,

Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,

Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,

And nigh at hand,

only a very little above,

Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.

From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,

Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,


silently weeps.

Weep not,


Weep not,

my darling,

With these kisses let me remove your tears,

The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,

They shall not long possess the sky,

they devour the stars only in apparition,

Jupiter shall emerge,

be patient,

watch again another night,

the Pleiades shall emerge,

They are immortal,

all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,

The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again,

they endure,

The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.

Then dearest child mournest thou only for jupiter?

Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?

Something there is,

(With my lips soothing thee,

adding I whisper,

I give thee the first suggestion,

the problem and indirection,) Something there is more immortal even than the stars,

(Many the burials,

many the days and nights,

passing away,) Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter Longer than sun or any revolving satellite,

Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades.

The World below the Brine

The world below the brine,

Forests at the bottom of the sea,

the branches and leaves,


vast lichens,

strange flowers and seeds,

the thick tangle openings,

and pink turf,

Different colors,

pale gray and green,



and gold,

the play of light through the water,

Dumb swimmers there among the rocks,





and the aliment of the swimmers,

Sluggish existences grazing there suspended,

or slowly crawling close to the bottom,

The sperm-whale at the surface blowing air and spray,

or disporting with his flukes,

The leaden-eyed shark,

the walrus,

the turtle,

the hairy sea-leopard,

and the sting-ray,

Passions there,




sight in those ocean-depths,

breathing that thick-breathing air,

as so many do,

The change thence to the sight here,

and to the subtle air breathed by beings like us who walk this sphere,

The change onward from ours to that of beings who walk other spheres.

On the Beach at Night Alone

On the beach at night alone,

As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,

As I watch the bright stars shining,

I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future.

A vast similitude interlocks all,

All spheres,








All distances of place however wide,

All distances of time,

all inanimate forms,

All souls,

all living bodies though they be ever so different,

or in different worlds,

All gaseous,



mineral processes,

the fishes,

the brutes,

All nations,





All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe,

or any globe,

All lives and deaths,

all of the past,



This vast similitude spans them,

and always has spann'd,

And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

Song for All Seas,

All Ships

1 To-day a rude brief recitative,

Of ships sailing the seas,

each with its special flag or ship-signal,

Of unnamed heroes in the ships --of waves spreading and spreading far as the eye can reach,

Of dashing spray,

and the winds piping and blowing,

And out of these a chant for the sailors of all nations,


like a surge.

Of sea-captains young or old,

and the mates,

and of all intrepid sailors,

Of the few,

very choice,


whom fate can never surprise nor death dismay.

Pick'd sparingly without noise by thee old ocean,

chosen by thee,

Thou sea that pickest and cullest the race in time,

and unitest nations,

Suckled by thee,

old husky nurse,

embodying thee,


untamed as thee.

(Ever the heroes on water or on land,

by ones or twos appearing,

Ever the stock preserv'd and never lost,

though rare,

enough for seed preserv'd.)

2 Flaunt out O sea your separate flags of nations!

Flaunt out visible as ever the various ship-signals!

But do you reserve especially for yourself and for the soul of man one flag above all the rest,

A spiritual woven signal for all nations,

emblem of man elate above death,

Token of all brave captains and all intrepid sailors and mates,

And all that went down doing their duty,

Reminiscent of them,

twined from all intrepid captains young or old,

A pennant universal,

subtly waving all time,

o'er all brave sailors,

All seas,

all ships.

Patroling Barnegat


wild the storm,

and the sea high running,

Steady the roar of the gale,

with incessant undertone muttering,

Shouts of demoniac laughter fitfully piercing and pealing,




their savagest trinity lashing,

Out in the shadows there milk-white combs careering,

On beachy slush and sand spirts of snow fierce slanting,

Where through the murk the easterly death-wind breasting,

Through cutting swirl and spray watchful and firm advancing,

(That in the distance!

is that a wreck?

is the red signal flaring?) Slush and sand of the beach tireless till daylight wending,



through hoarse roar never remitting,

Along the midnight edge by those milk-white combs careering,

A group of dim,

weird forms,


the night confronting,

That savage trinity warily watching.

After the Sea-Ship

After the sea-ship,

after the whistling winds,

After the white-gray sails taut to their spars and ropes,


a myriad myriad waves hastening,

lifting up their necks,

Tending in ceaseless flow toward the track of the ship,

Waves of the ocean bubbling and gurgling,

blithely prying,


undulating waves,



emulous waves,

Toward that whirling current,

laughing and buoyant,

with curves,

Where the great vessel sailing and tacking displaced the surface,

Larger and smaller waves in the spread of the ocean yearnfully flowing,

The wake of the sea-ship after she passes,

flashing and frolicsome under the sun,

A motley procession with many a fleck of foam and many fragments,

Following the stately and rapid ship,

in the wake following.



A Boston Ballad [1854]

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 tumbling.)

I love to look on the Stars and Stripes,

I hope the fifes will play Yankee Doodle.

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.

Why this is indeed a show --it has called the dead out of the earth!

The old graveyards of the hills have hurried to see!


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 bare gums?

Does the ague convulse your limbs?

do you mistake your crutches for firelocks and level them?

If you blind your eyes with tears you will not see the President's marshal,

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,

Here gape your great grandsons,

their wives gaze at them from the windows,

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,

Dig out King George's coffin,

unwrap him quick from the graveclothes,

box up his bones for a journey,

Find a swift Yankee clipper --here is freight for you,

black-bellied clipper,

Up with your anchor --shake out your sails --steer straight toward Boston bay.

Now call for the President's marshal again,

bring out the government cannon,

Fetch home the roarers from Congress,

make another procession,

guard it with foot and dragoons.

This centre-piece for them;


all orderly citizens --look from the windows,


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 skull.

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,

You are mighty cute --and here is one of your bargains.

Europe [The 72d and 73d Years of These States]

Suddenly out of its stale and drowsy lair,

the lair of slaves,

Like lightning it le'pt forth half startled at itself,

Its feet upon the ashes and the rags,

its hands tight to the throats of kings.

O hope and faith!

O aching close of exiled patriots' lives!

O many a sicken'd heart!

Turn back unto this day and make yourselves afresh.

And you,

paid to defile the People --you liars,


Not for numberless agonies,



For court thieving in its manifold mean forms,

worming from his simplicity the poor man's wages,

For many a promise sworn by royal lips and broken and laugh'd at in the breaking,

Then in their power not for all these did the blows strike revenge,

or the heads of the nobles fall;

The People scorn'd the ferocity of kings.

But the sweetness of mercy brew'd bitter destruction,

and the frighten'd monarchs come back,

Each comes in state with his train,








and sycophant.

Yet behind all lowering stealing,


a shape,

Vague as the night,

draped interminably,


front and form,

in scarlet folds,

Whose face and eyes none may see,

Out of its robes only this,

the red robes lifted by the arm,

One finger crook'd pointed high over the top,

like the head of a snake appears.

Meanwhile corpses lie in new-made graves,

bloody corpses of young men,

The rope of the gibbet hangs heavily,

the bullets of princes are flying,

the creatures of power laugh aloud,

And all these things bear fruits,

and they are good.

Those corpses of young men,

Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets,

those hearts pierc'd by the gray lead,

Cold and motionless as they seem live elsewhere with unslaughter'd vitality.

They live in other young men O kings!

They live in brothers again ready to defy you,

They were purified by death,

they were taught and exalted.

Not a grave of the murder'd for freedom but grows seed for freedom,

in its turn to bear seed,

Which the winds carry afar and re-sow,

and the rains and the snows nourish.

Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of tyrants let loose,

But it stalks invisibly over the earth,





let others despair of you --I never despair of you.

Is the house shut?

is the master away?


be ready,

be not weary of watching,

He will soon return,

his messengers come anon.

A Hand-Mirror

Hold it up sternly --see this it sends back,

(who is it?

is it you?) Outside fair costume,

within ashes and filth,

No more a flashing eye,

no more a sonorous voice or springy step,

Now some slave's eye,




A drunkard's breath,

unwholesome eater's face,

venerealee's flesh,

Lungs rotting away piecemeal,

stomach sour and cankerous,

Joints rheumatic,

bowels clogged with abomination,

Blood circulating dark and poisonous streams,

Words babble,

hearing and touch callous,

No brain,

no heart left,

no magnetism of sex;

Such from one look in this looking-glass ere you go hence,

Such a result so soon --and from such a beginning!


Lover divine and perfect Comrade,

Waiting content,

invisible yet,

but certain,

Be thou my God.



the Ideal Man,





and loving,

Complete in body and dilate in spirit,

Be thou my God.

O Death,

(for Life has served its turn,) Opener and usher to the heavenly mansion,

Be thou my God.


aught of mightiest,

best I see,


or know,

(To break the stagnant tie --thee,

thee to free,

O soul,) Be thou my God.

All great ideas,

the races' aspirations,

All heroisms,

deeds of rapt enthusiasts,

Be ye my Gods.

Or Time and Space,

Or shape of Earth divine and wondrous,

Or some fair shape I viewing,


Or lustrous orb of sun or star by night,

Be ye my Gods.








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,




whatever they may be,

Splendid suns,

the moons and rings,

the countless combinations and effects,


and as good as such-like,

visible here or anywhere,

stand provided for a handful of space,

which I extend my arm and half enclose with my hand,

That containing the start of each and all,

the virtue,

the germs of all.


Of ownership --as if one fit to own things could not at pleasure enter upon all,

and incorporate them into himself or herself;

Of vista --suppose some sight in arriere through the formative chaos,

presuming the growth,



now attain'd on the journey,

(But I see the road continued,

and the journey ever continued;) Of what was once lacking on earth,

and in due time has become supplied --and of what will yet be supplied,

Because all I see and know I believe to have its main purport in what will yet be supplied.

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,

When the proofs,

the figures,

were ranged in columns before me,

When I was shown the charts and diagrams,

to add,


and measure them,

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,

Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air,

and from time to time,

Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.


Only themselves understand themselves and the like of themselves,

As souls only understand souls.

O Me!

O Life!

O me!

O life!

of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless,

of cities fill'd with the foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself,

(for who more foolish than I,

and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light,

of the objects mean,

of the struggle ever renew'd,

Of the poor results of all,

of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest,

with the rest me intertwined,

The question,

O me!

so sad,

recurring --What good amid these,

O me,

O life?


That you are here --that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on,

and you may contribute a verse.

To a President

All you are doing and saying is to America dangled mirages,

You have not learn'd of Nature --of the politics of Nature you have not learn'd the great amplitude,



You have not seen that only such as they are for these States,

And that what is less than they must sooner or later lift off from these States.

I Sit and Look Out

I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world,

and upon all oppression and shame,

I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men at anguish with themselves,

remorseful after deeds done,

I see in low life the mother misused by her children,





I see the wife misused by her husband,

I see the treacherous seducer of young women,

I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love attempted to be hid,

I see these sights on the earth,

I see the workings of battle,



I see martyrs and prisoners,

I observe a famine at sea,

I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be kill'd to preserve the lives of the rest,

I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers,

the poor,

and upon negroes,

and the like;

All these --all the meanness and agony without end I sitting look out upon,



and am silent.

To Rich Givers

What you give me I cheerfully accept,

A little sustenance,

a hut and garden,

a little money,

as I rendezvous with my poems,

A traveler's lodging and breakfast as journey through the States,

-- why should I be ashamed to own such gifts?

why to advertise for them?

For I myself am not one who bestows nothing upon man and woman,

For I bestow upon any man or woman the entrance to all the gifts of the universe.

The Dalliance of the Eagles

Skirting the river road,

(my forenoon walk,

my rest,) Skyward in air a sudden muffled sound,

the dalliance of the eagles,

The rushing amorous contact high in space together,

The clinching interlocking claws,

a living,


gyrating wheel,

Four beating wings,

two beaks,

a swirling mass tight grappling,

In tumbling turning clustering loops,

straight downward falling,

Till o'er the river pois'd,

the twain yet one,

a moment's lull,

A motionless still balance in the air,

then parting,

talons loosing,

Upward again on slow-firm pinions slanting,

their separate diverse flight,

She hers,

he his,


Roaming in Thought [After reading Hegel]

Roaming in thought over the Universe,

I saw the little that is Good steadily hastening towards immortality,

And the vast all that is call'd Evil I saw hastening to merge itself and become lost and dead.

A Farm Picture

Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn,

A sunlit pasture field with cattle and horses feeding,

And haze and vista,

and the far horizon fading away.

A Child's Amaze

Silent and amazed even when a little boy,

I remember I heard the preacher every Sunday put God in his statements,

As contending against some being or influence.

The Runner

On a flat road runs the well-train'd runner,

He is lean and sinewy with muscular legs,

He is thinly clothed,

he leans forward as he runs,

With lightly closed fists and arms partially rais'd.

Beautiful Women

Women sit or move to and fro,

some old,

some young,

The young are beautiful --but the old are more beautiful than the young.

Mother and Babe

I see the sleeping babe nestling the breast of its mother,

The sleeping mother and babe --hush'd,

I study them long and long.


Of obedience,



As I stand aloof and look there is to me something profoundly affecting in large masses of men following the lead of those who do not believe in men.


A mask,

a perpetual natural disguiser of herself,

Concealing her face,

concealing her form,

Changes and transformations every hour,

every moment,

Falling upon her even when she sleeps.


Of justice --as If could be any thing but the same ample law,

expounded by natural judges and saviors,

As if it might be this thing or that thing,

according to decisions.

Gliding O'er all

Gliding o'er all,

through all,

Through Nature,


and Space,

As a ship on the waters advancing,

The voyage of the soul --not life alone,


many deaths I'll sing.

Hast Never Come to Thee an Hour

Hast never come to thee an hour,

A sudden gleam divine,


bursting all these bubbles,



These eager business aims --books,




To utter nothingness?


Of Equality --as if it harm'd me,

giving others the same chances and rights as myself --as if it were not indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same.

To Old Age

I see in you the estuary that enlarges and spreads itself grandly as it pours in the great sea.

Locations and Times

Locations and times --what is it in me that meets them all,

whenever and wherever,

and makes me at home?




odors --what is it in me that corresponds with them?


A thousand perfect men and women appear,

Around each gathers a cluster of friends,

and gay children and youths,

with offerings.

To The States [To Identify the 16th,


or 18th Presidentiad]

Why reclining,


why myself and all drowsing?

What deepening twilight-scum floating atop of the waters,

Who are they as bats and night-dogs askant in the capitol?

What a filthy Presidentiad!

(O South,

your torrid suns!

O North,

your arctic freezings!) Are those really Congressmen?

are those the great Judges?

is that the President?

Then I will sleep awhile yet,

for I see that these States sleep,

for reasons;

(With gathering murk,

with muttering thunder and lambent shoots we all duly awake,





inland and seaboard,

we will surely awake.)



First O Songs for a Prelude

First O songs for a prelude,

Lightly strike on the stretch'd tympanum pride and joy in my city,

How she led the rest to arms,

how she gave the cue,

How at once with lithe limbs unwaiting a moment she sprang,

(O superb!

O Manhattan,

my own,

my peerless!

O strongest you in the hour of danger,

in crisis!

O truer than steel!) How you sprang --how you threw off the costumes of peace with indifferent hand,

How your soft opera-music changed,

and the drum and fife were heard in their stead,

How you led to the war,

(that shall serve for our prelude,

songs of soldiers,) How Manhattan drum-taps led.

Forty years had I in my city seen soldiers parading,

Forty years as a pageant,

till unawares the lady of this teeming and turbulent city,

Sleepless amid her ships,

her houses,

her incalculable wealth,

With her million children around her,


At dead of night,

at news from the south,

Incens'd struck with clinch'd hand the pavement.

A shock electric,

the night sustain'd it,

Till with ominous hum our hive at daybreak pour'd out its myriads.

From the houses then and the workshops,

and through all the doorways,

Leapt they tumultuous,

and lo!

Manhattan arming.

To the drum-taps prompt,

The young men falling in and arming,

The mechanics arming,

(the trowel,

the jack-plane,

the blacksmith's hammer,

tost aside with precipitation,) The lawyer leaving his office and arming,

the judge leaving the court,

The driver deserting his wagon in the street,

jumping down,

throwing the reins abruptly down on the horses' backs,

The salesman leaving the store,

the boss,



all leaving;

Squads gather everywhere by common consent and arm,

The new recruits,

even boys,

the old men show them how to wear their accoutrements,

they buckle the straps carefully,

Outdoors arming,

indoors arming,

the flash of the musket-barrels,

The white tents cluster in camps,

the arm'd sentries around,

the sunrise cannon and again at sunset,

Arm'd regiments arrive every day,

pass through the city,

and embark from the wharves,

(How good they look as they tramp down to the river,


with their guns on their shoulders!

How I love them!

how I could hug them,

with their brown faces and their clothes and knapsacks cover'd with dust!) The blood of the city up-arm'd!


the cry everywhere,

The flags flung out from the steeples of churches and from all the public buildings and stores,

The tearful parting,

the mother kisses her son,

the son kisses his mother,

(Loth is the mother to part,

yet not a word does she speak to detain him,) The tumultuous escort,

the ranks of policemen preceding,

clearing the way,

The unpent enthusiasm,

the wild cheers of the crowd for their favorites,

The artillery,

the silent cannons bright as gold,

drawn along,

rumble lightly over the stones,

(Silent cannons,

soon to cease your silence,

Soon unlimber'd to begin the red business;) All the mutter of preparation,

all the determin'd arming,

The hospital service,

the lint,

bandages and medicines,

The women volunteering for nurses,

the work begun for in earnest,

no mere parade now;


an arm'd race is advancing!

the welcome for battle,

no turning away!


be it weeks,


or years,

an arm'd race is advancing to welcome it.

Mannahatta a-march --and it's O to sing it well!

It's O for a manly life in the camp.

And the sturdy artillery,

The guns bright as gold,

the work for giants,

to serve well the guns,

Unlimber them!

(no more as the past forty years for salutes for courtesies merely,

Put in something now besides powder and wadding.)

And you lady of ships,

you Mannahatta,

Old matron of this proud,


turbulent city,

Often in peace and wealth you were pensive or covertly frown'd amid all your children,

But now you smile with joy exulting old Mannahatta.

Eighteen Sixty-One

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 piano,

But as a strong man erect,

clothed in blue clothes,


carrying 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 continent,

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 Indiana,

Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait and descending the Allghanies,

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,




distracted year.










Through the windows --through doors --burst like a ruthless force,

Into the solemn church,

and scatter the congregation,

Into the school where the scholar is studying;

Leave not the bridegroom quiet --no happiness must he have now with his bride,

Nor the peaceful farmer any peace,

ploughing his field or gathering his grain,

So fierce you whirr and pound you drums --so shrill you bugles blow.







Over the traffic of cities --over the rumble of wheels in the streets;

Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses?

no sleepers must sleep in those beds,

No bargainers' bargains by day --no brokers or speculators --would they continue?

Would the talkers be talking?

would the singer attempt to sing?

Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?

Then rattle quicker,

heavier drums --you bugles wilder blow.







Make no parley --stop for no expostulation,

Mind not the timid --mind not the weeper or prayer,

Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,

Let not the child's voice be heard,

nor the mother's entreaties,

Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,

So strong you thump O terrible drums --so loud you bugles blow.

From Paumanok Starting I Fly Like a Bird

From Paumanok starting I fly like a bird,

Around and around to soar to sing the idea of all,

To the north betaking myself to sing there arctic songs,

To Kanada till I absorb Kanada in myself,

to Michigan then,

To Wisconsin,



to sing their songs,

(they are inimitable;) Then to Ohio and Indiana to sing theirs,

to Missouri and Kansas and Arkansas to sing theirs,

To Tennessee and Kentucky,

to the Carolinas and Georgia to sing theirs,

To Texas and so along up toward California,

to roam accepted everywhere;

To sing first,

(to the tap of the war-drum if need be,) The idea of all,

of the Western world one and inseparable,

And then the song of each member of these States.

Song of the Banner at Daybreak

Poet: O A new song,

a free song,





by sounds,

by voices clearer,

By the wind's voice and that of the drum,

By the banner's voice and child's voice and sea's voice and father's voice,

Low on the ground and high in the air,

On the ground where father and child stand,

In the upward air where their eyes turn,

Where the banner at daybreak is flapping.



what are you?

Words no more,

for hearken and see,

My song is there in the open air,

and I must sing,

With the banner and pennant a-flapping.

I'll weave the chord and twine in,

Man's desire and babe's desire,

I'll twine them in,

I'll put in life,

I'll put the bayonet's flashing point,

I'll let bullets and slugs whizz,

(As one carrying a symbol and menace far into the future,

Crying with trumpet voice,

Arouse and beware!

Beware and arouse!) I'll pour the verse with streams of blood,

full of volition,

full of joy,

Then loosen,

launch forth,

to go and compete,

With the banner and pennant a-flapping.

Pennant: Come up here,



Come up here,



Come up here,

dear little child,

To fly in the clouds and winds with me,

and play with the measureless light.

Child: Father what is that in the sky beckoning to me with long finger?

And what does it say to me all the while?

Father: Nothing my babe you see in the sky,

And nothing at all to you it says --but look you my babe,

Look at these dazzling things in the houses,

and see you the money- shops opening,

And see you the vehicles preparing to crawl along the streets with goods;


ah these,

how valued and toil'd for these!

How envied by all the earth.

Poet: Fresh and rosy red the sun is mounting high,

On floats the sea in distant blue careering through its channels,

On floats the wind over the breast of the sea setting in toward land,

The great steady wind from west or west-by-south,

Floating so buoyant with milk-white foam on the waters.

But I am not the sea nor the red sun,

I am not the wind with girlish laughter,

Not the immense wind which strengthens,

not the wind which lashes,

Not the spirit that ever lashes its own body to terror and death,

But I am that which unseen comes and sings,



Which babbles in brooks and scoots in showers on the land,

Which the birds know in the woods mornings and evenings,

And the shore-sands know and the hissing wave,

and that banner and pennant,

Aloft there flapping and flapping.

Child: O father it is alive --it is full of people --it has children,

O now it seems to me it is talking to its children,

I hear it --it talks to me --O it is wonderful!

O it stretches --it spreads and runs so fast --O my father,

It is so broad it covers the whole sky.

Father: Cease,


my foolish babe,

What you are saying is sorrowful to me,


't displeases me;

Behold with the rest again I say,

behold not banners and pennants aloft,

But the well-prepared pavements behold,

and mark the solid-wall'd houses.

Banner and Pennant: Speak to the child O bard out of Manhattan,

To our children all,

or north or south of Manhattan,

Point this day,

leaving all the rest,

to us over all --and yet we know not why,

For what are we,

mere strips of cloth profiting nothing,

Only flapping in the wind?

Poet: I hear and see not strips of cloth alone,

I hear the tramp of armies,

I hear the challenging sentry,

I hear the jubilant shouts of millions of men,

I hear Liberty!

I hear the drums beat and the trumpets blowing,

I myself move abroad swift-rising flying then,

I use the wings of the land-bird and use the wings of the sea-bird,

and look down as from a height,

I do not deny the precious results of peace,

I see populous cities with wealth incalculable,

I see numberless farms,

I see the farmers working in their fields or barns,

I see mechanics working,

I see buildings everywhere founded,

going up,

or finish'd,

I see trains of cars swiftly speeding along railroad tracks drawn by the locomotives,

I see the stores,


of Boston,



New Orleans,

I see far in the West the immense area of grain,

I dwell awhile hovering,

I pass to the lumber forests of the North,

and again to the Southern plantation,

and again to California;

Sweeping the whole I see the countless profit,

the busy gatherings,

earn'd wages,

See the Identity formed out of thirty-eight spacious and haughty States,

(and many more to come,) See forts on the shores of harbors,

see ships sailing in and out;

Then over all,


aye!) my little and lengthen'd pennant shaped like a sword,

Runs swiftly up indicating war and defiance --and now the halyards have rais'd it,

Side of my banner broad and blue,

side of my starry banner,

Discarding peace over all the sea and land.

Banner and Pennant: Yet louder,




yet farther,

wider cleave!

No longer let our children deem us riches and peace alone,

We may be terror and carnage,

and are so now,

Not now are we any one of these spacious and haughty States,

(nor any five,

nor ten,) Nor market nor depot we,

nor money-bank in the city,

But these and all,

and the brown and spreading land,

and the mines below,

are ours,

And the shores of the sea are ours,

and the rivers great and small,

And the fields they moisten,

and the crops and the fruits are ours,

Bays and channels and ships sailing in and out are ours --while we over all,

Over the area spread below,

the three or four millions of square miles,

the capitals,

The forty millions of people,

--O bard!

in life and death supreme,


even we,

henceforth flaunt out masterful,

high up above,

Not for the present alone,

for a thousand years chanting through you,

This song to the soul of one poor little child.

Child: O my father I like not the houses,

They will never to me be any thing,

nor do I like money,

But to mount up there I would like,

O father dear,

that banner I like,

That pennant I would be and must be.

Father: Child of mine you fill me with anguish,

To be that pennant would be too fearful,

Little you know what it is this day,

and after this day,


It is to gain nothing,

but risk and defy every thing,

Forward to stand in front of wars --and O,

such wars!

--what have you to do with them?

With passions of demons,


premature death?

Banner: Demons and death then I sing,

Put in all,

aye all will I,

sword-shaped pennant for war,

And a pleasure new and ecstatic,

and the prattled yearning of children,

Blent with the sounds of the peaceful land and the liquid wash of the sea,

And the black ships fighting on the sea envelop'd in smoke,

And the icy cool of the far,

far north,

with rustling cedars and pines,

And the whirr of drums and the sound of soldiers marching,

and the hot sun shining south,

And the beach-waves combing over the beach on my Eastern shore,

and my Western shore the same,

And all between those shores,

and my ever running Mississippi with bends and chutes,

And my Illinois fields,

and my Kansas fields,

and my fields of Missouri,

The Continent,

devoting the whole identity without reserving an atom,

Pour in!

whelm that which asks,

which sings,

with all and the yield of all,

Fusing and holding,


devouring the whole,

No more with tender lip,

nor musical labial sound,

But out of the night emerging for good,

our voice persuasive no more,

Croaking like crows here in the wind.

Poet: My limbs,

my veins dilate,

my theme is clear at last,

Banner so broad advancing out of the night,

I sing you haughty and resolute,

I burst through where I waited long,

too long,

deafen'd and blinded,

My hearing and tongue are come to me,

(a little child taught me,) I hear from above O pennant of war your ironical call and demand,



(yet I at any rate chant you,) O banner!

Not houses of peace indeed are you,

nor any nor all their prosperity,

(if need be,

you shall again have every one of those houses to destroy them,

You thought not to destroy those valuable houses,

standing fast,

full of comfort,

built with money,

May they stand fast,


not an hour except you above them and all stand fast;) O banner,

not money so precious are you,

not farm produce you,

nor the material good nutriment,

Nor excellent stores,

nor landed on wharves from the ships,

Not the superb ships with sail-power or steam-power,

fetching and carrying cargoes,

Nor machinery,



nor revenues --but you as henceforth I see you,

Running up out of the night,

bringing your cluster of stars,

(ever-enlarging stars,) Divider of daybreak you,

cutting the air,

touch'd by the sun,

measuring the sky,

(Passionately seen and yearn'd for by one poor little child,

While others remain busy or smartly talking,

forever teaching thrift,

thrift;) O you up there!

O pennant!

where you undulate like a snake hissing so curious,

Out of reach,

an idea only,

yet furiously fought for,

risking bloody death,

loved by me,

So loved --O you banner leading the day with stars brought from the night!


object of eyes,

over all and demanding all --(absolute owner of all) --O banner and pennant!

I too leave the rest --great as it is,

it is nothing --houses,

machines are nothing --I see them not,

I see but you,

O warlike pennant!

O banner so broad,

with stripes,

sing you only,

Flapping up there in the wind.

Rise O Days from Your Fathomless Deeps

1 Rise O days from your fathomless deeps,

till you loftier,

fiercer sweep,

Long for my soul hungering gymnastic I devour'd what the earth gave me,

Long I roam'd amid the woods of the north,

long I watch'd Niagara pouring,

I travel'd the prairies over and slept on their breast,

I cross'd the Nevadas,

I cross'd the plateaus,

I ascended the towering rocks along the Pacific,

I sail'd out to sea,

I sail'd through the storm,

I was refresh'd by the storm,

I watch'd with joy the threatening maws of the waves,

I mark'd the white combs where they career'd so high,

curling over,

I heard the wind piping,

I saw the black clouds,

Saw from below what arose and mounted,

(O superb!

O wild as my heart,

and powerful!) Heard the continuous thunder as it bellow'd after the lightning,

Noted the slender and jagged threads of lightning as sudden and fast amid the din they chased each other across the sky;


and such as these,



saw --saw with wonder,

yet pensive and masterful,

All the menacing might of the globe uprisen around me,

Yet there with my soul I fed,

I fed content,



'Twas well,

O soul --'twas a good preparation you gave me,

Now we advance our latent and ampler hunger to fill,

Now we go forth to receive what the earth and the sea never gave us,

Not through the mighty woods we go,

but through the mightier cities,

Something for us is pouring now more than Niagara pouring,

Torrents of men,

(sources and rills of the Northwest are you indeed inexhaustible?) What,

to pavements and homesteads here,

what were those storms of the mountains and sea?


to passions I witness around me to-day?

was the sea risen?

Was the wind piping the pipe of death under the black clouds?


from deeps more unfathomable,

something more deadly and savage,

Manhattan rising,

advancing with menacing front --Cincinnati,



What was that swell I saw on the ocean?

behold what comes here,

How it climbs with daring feet and hands --how it dashes!

How the true thunder bellows after the lightning --how bright the flashes of lightning!

How Democracy with desperate vengeful port strides on,

shown through the dark by those flashes of lightning!

(Yet a mournful wall and low sob I fancied I heard through the dark,

In a lull of the deafening confusion.)

3 Thunder on!

stride on,


strike with vengeful stroke!

And do you rise higher than ever yet O days,

O cities!

Crash heavier,

heavier yet O storms!

you have done me good,

My soul prepared in the mountains absorbs your immortal strong nutriment,

Long had I walk'd my cities,

my country roads through farms,

only half satisfied,

One doubt nauseous undulating like a snake,

crawl'd on the ground before me,

Continually preceding my steps,

turning upon me oft,

ironically hissing low;

The cities I loved so well I abandon'd and left,

I sped to the certainties suitable to me,




for primal energies and Nature's dauntlessness,

I refresh'd myself with it only,

I could relish it only,

I waited the bursting forth of the pent fire --on the water and air waited long;

But now I no longer wait,

I am fully satisfied,

I am glutted,

I have witness'd the true lightning,

I have witness'd my cities electric,

I have lived to behold man burst forth and warlike America rise,

Hence I will seek no more the food of the northern solitary wilds,

No more the mountains roam or sail the stormy sea.

Virginia --The West

The noble sire fallen on evil days,

I saw with hand uplifted,



(Memories of old in abeyance,

love and faith in abeyance,) The insane knife toward the Mother of All.

The noble son on sinewy feet advancing,

I saw,

out of the land of prairies,

land of Ohio's waters and of Indiana,

To the rescue the stalwart giant hurry his plenteous offspring,

Drest in blue,

bearing their trusty rifles on their shoulders.

Then the Mother of All with calm voice speaking,

As to you Rebellious,

(I seemed to hear her say,) why strive against me,

and why seek my life?

When you yourself forever provide to defend me?

For you provided me Washington --and now these also.

City of Ships

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 facades of marble and iron!

Proud and passionate city --mettlesome,


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 adopted,

Good or bad I never question you --I love all --I do not condemn any thing,

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,


red war is my song through your streets,

O city!

The Centenarian's Story

[Volunteer of 1861-2,

at Washington Park,


assisting the Centenarian.] Give me your hand old Revolutionary,

The hill-top is nigh,

but a few steps,

(make room gentlemen,) Up the path you have follow'd me well,

spite of your hundred and extra years,

You can walk old man,

though your eyes are almost done,

Your faculties serve you,

and presently I must have them serve me.


while I tell what the crowd around us means,

On the plain below recruits are drilling and exercising,

There is the camp,

one regiment departs to-morrow,

Do you hear the officers giving their orders?

Do you hear the clank of the muskets?

Why what comes over you now old man?

Why do you tremble and clutch my hand so convulsively?

The troops are but drilling,

they are yet surrounded with smiles,

Around them at hand the well-drest friends and the women,

While splendid and warm the afternoon sun shines down,

Green the midsummer verdure and fresh blows the dallying breeze,

O'er proud and peaceful cities and arm of the sea between.

But drill and parade are over,

they march back to quarters,

Only hear that approval of hands!

hear what a clapping!

As wending the crowds now part and disperse --but we old man,

Not for nothing have I brought you hither --we must remain,

You to speak in your turn,

and I to listen and tell.

[The Centenarian] When I clutch'd your hand it was not with terror,

But suddenly pouring about me here on every side,

And below there where the boys were drilling,

and up the slopes they ran,

And where tents are pitch'd,

and wherever you see south and south- east and south-west,

Over hills,

across lowlands,

and in the skirts of woods,

And along the shores,

in mire (now fill'd over) came again and suddenly raged,

As eighty-five years agone no mere parade receiv'd with applause of friends,

But a battle which I took part in myself --aye,

long ago as it is,

I took part in it,

Walking then this hilltop,

this same ground.


this is the ground,

My blind eyes even as I speak behold it re-peopled from graves,

The years recede,

pavements and stately houses disappear,

Rude forts appear again,

the old hoop'd guns are mounted,

I see the lines of rais'd earth stretching from river to bay,

I mark the vista of waters,

I mark the uplands and slopes;

Here we lay encamp'd,

it was this time in summer also.

As I talk I remember all,

I remember the Declaration,

It was read here,

the whole army paraded,

it was read to us here,

By his staff surrounded the General stood in the middle,

he held up his unsheath'd sword,

It glitter'd in the sun in full sight of the army.

Twas a bold act then --the English war-ships had just arrived,

We could watch down the lower bay where they lay at anchor,

And the transports swarming with soldiers.

A few days more and they landed,

and then the battle.

Twenty thousand were brought against us,

A veteran force furnish'd with good artillery.

I tell not now the whole of the battle,

But one brigade early in the forenoon order'd forward to engage the red-coats,

Of that brigade I tell,

and how steadily it march'd,

And how long and well it stood confronting death.

Who do you think that was marching steadily sternly confronting death?

It was the brigade of the youngest men,

two thousand strong,

Rais'd in Virginia and Maryland,

and most of them known personally to the General.

Jauntily forward they went with quick step toward Gowanus' waters,

Till of a sudden unlook'd for by defiles through the woods,

gain'd at night,

The British advancing,

rounding in from the east,

fiercely playing their guns,

That brigade of the youngest was cut off and at the enemy's mercy.

The General watch'd them from this hill,

They made repeated desperate attempts to burst their environment,

Then drew close together,

very compact,

their flag flying in the middle,

But O from the hills how the cannon were thinning and thinning them!

It sickens me yet,

that slaughter!

I saw the moisture gather in drops on the face of the General.

I saw how he wrung his hands in anguish.

Meanwhile the British manoeuvr'd to draw us out for a pitch'd battle,

But we dared not trust the chances of a pitch'd battle.

We fought the fight in detachments,

Sallying forth we fought at several points,

but in each the luck was against us,

Our foe advancing,

steadily getting the best of it,

push'd us back to the works on this hill,

Till we turn'd menacing here,

and then he left us.

That was the going out of the brigade of the youngest men,

two thousand strong,

Few return'd,

nearly all remain in Brooklyn.

That and here my General's first battle,

No women looking on nor sunshine to bask in,

it did not conclude with applause,

Nobody clapp'd hands here then.

But in darkness in mist on the ground under a chill rain,

Wearied that night we lay foil'd and sullen,

While scornfully laugh'd many an arrogant lord off against us encamp'd,

Quite within hearing,


clinking wineglasses together over their victory.

So dull and damp and another day,

But the night of that,

mist lifting,

rain ceasing,

Silent as a ghost while they thought they were sure of him,

my General retreated.

I saw him at the river-side,

Down by the ferry lit by torches,

hastening the embarcation;

My General waited till the soldiers and wounded were all pass'd over,

And then,

(it was just ere sunrise,) these eyes rested on him for the last time.

Every one else seem'd fill'd with gloom,

Many no doubt thought of capitulation.

But when my General pass'd me,

As he stood in his boat and look'd toward the coming sun,

I saw something different from capitulation.

[Terminus] Enough,

the Centenarian's story ends,

The two,

the past and present,

have interchanged,

I myself as connecter,

as chansonnier of a great future,

am now speaking.

And is this the ground Washington trod?

And these waters I listlessly daily cross,

are these the waters he cross'd,

As resolute in defeat as other generals in their proudest triumphs?

I must copy the story,

and send it eastward and westward,

I must preserve that look as it beam'd on you rivers of Brooklyn.

See --as the annual round returns the phantoms return,

It is the 27th of August and the British have landed,

The battle begins and goes against us,

behold through the smoke Washington's face,

The brigade of Virginia and Maryland have march'd forth to intercept the enemy,

They are cut off,

murderous artillery from the hills plays upon them,

Rank after rank falls,

while over them silently droops the flag,

Baptized that day in many a young man's bloody wounds.

In death,


and sisters',

mothers' tears.


hills and slopes of Brooklyn!

I perceive you are more valuable than your owners supposed;

In the midst of you stands an encampment very old,

Stands forever the camp of that dead brigade.

Cavalry Crossing a Ford

A line in long array where they wind betwixt green islands,

They take a serpentine course,

their arms flash in the sun --hark to the musical clank,

Behold the silvery river,

in it the splashing horses loitering stop to drink,

Behold the brown-faced men,

each group,

each person a picture,

the negligent rest on the saddles,

Some emerge on the opposite bank,

others are just entering the ford --while,

Scarlet and blue and snowy white,

The guidon flags flutter gayly in the wind.

Bivouac on a Mountain Side

I see before me now a traveling army halting,

Below a fertile valley spread,

with barns and the orchards of summer,


the terraced sides of a mountain,


in places rising high,


with rocks,

with clinging cedars,

with tall shapes dingily seen,

The numerous camp-fires scatter'd near and far,

some away up on the mountain,

The shadowy forms of men and horses,




And over all the sky --the sky!


far out of reach,


breaking out,

the eternal stars.

An Army Corps on the March

With its cloud of skirmishers in advance,

With now the sound of a single shot snapping like a whip,

and now an irregular volley,

The swarming ranks press on and on,

the dense brigades press on,

Glittering dimly,

toiling under the sun --the dust-cover'd men,

In columns rise and fall to the undulations of the ground,

With artillery interspers'd --the wheels rumble,

the horses sweat,

As the army corps advances.

By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame

By the bivouac's fitful flame,

A procession winding around me,

solemn and sweet and slow --but first I note,

The tents of the sleeping army,

the fields' and woods' dim outline,

The darkness lit by spots of kindled fire,

the silence,

Like a phantom far or near an occasional figure moving,

The shrubs and trees,

(as I lift my eyes they seem to be stealthily watching me,) While wind in procession thoughts,

O tender and wondrous thoughts,

Of life and death,

of home and the past and loved,

and of those that are far away;

A solemn and slow procession there as I sit on the ground,

By the bivouac's fitful flame.

Come Up from the Fields Father

Come up from the fields father,

here's a letter from our Pete,

And come to the front door mother,

here's a letter from thy dear son.


'tis autumn,


where the trees,

deeper green,

yellower and redder,

Cool and sweeten Ohio's villages with leaves fluttering in the moderate wind,

Where apples ripe in the orchards hang and grapes on the trellis'd vines,

(Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines?

Smell you the buckwheat where the bees were lately buzzing?)

Above all,


the sky so calm,

so transparent after the rain,

and with wondrous clouds,

Below too,

all calm,

all vital and beautiful,

and the farm prospers well.

Down in the fields all prospers well,

But now from the fields come father,

come at the daughter's call.

And come to the entry mother,

to the front door come right away.

Fast as she can she hurries,

something ominous,

her steps trembling,

She does not tarry to smooth her hair nor adjust her cap.

Open the envelope quickly,

O this is not our son's writing,

yet his name is sign'd,

O a strange hand writes for our dear son,

O stricken mother's soul!

All swims before her eyes,

flashes with black,

she catches the main words only,

Sentences broken,

gunshot wound in the breast,

cavalry skirmish,

taken to hospital,

At present low,

but will soon be better.

Ah now the single figure to me,

Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio with all its cities and farms,

Sickly white in the face and dull in the head,

very faint,

By the jamb of a door leans.

Grieve not so,

dear mother,

(the just-grown daughter speaks through her sobs,

The little sisters huddle around speechless and dismay'd,) See,

dearest mother,

the letter says Pete will soon be better.

Alas poor boy,

he will never be better,

(nor may-be needs to be better,

that brave and simple soul,) While they stand at home at the door he is dead already,

The only son is dead.

But the mother needs to be better,

She with thin form presently drest in black,

By day her meals untouch'd,

then at night fitfully sleeping,

often waking,

In the midnight waking,


longing with one deep longing,

O that she might withdraw unnoticed,

silent from life escape and withdraw,

To follow,

to seek,

to be with her dear dead son.

Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night

Vigil strange I kept on the field one night;

When you my son and my comrade dropt at my side that day,

One look I but gave which your dear eyes return'd with a look I shall never forget,

One touch of your hand to mine O boy,

reach'd up as you lay on the ground,

Then onward I sped in the battle,

the even-contested battle,

Till late in the night reliev'd to the place at last again I made my way,

Found you in death so cold dear comrade,

found your body son of responding kisses,

(never again on earth responding,) Bared your face in the starlight,

curious the scene,

cool blew the moderate night-wind,

Long there and then in vigil I stood,

dimly around me the battlefield spreading,

Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent night,

But not a tear fell,

not even a long-drawn sigh,


long I gazed,

Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side leaning my chin in my hands,

Passing sweet hours,

immortal and mystic hours with you dearest comrade --not a tear,

not a word,

Vigil of silence,

love and death,

vigil for you my son and my soldier,

As onward silently stars aloft,

eastward new ones upward stole,

Vigil final for you brave boy,

(I could not save you,

swift was your death,

I faithfully loved you and cared for you living,

I think we shall surely meet again,) Till at latest lingering of the night,

indeed just as the dawn appear'd,

My comrade I wrapt in his blanket,

envelop'd well his form,

Folded the blanket well,

tucking it carefully over head and carefully under feet,

And there and then and bathed by the rising sun,

my son in his grave,

in his rude-dug grave I deposited,

Ending my vigil strange with that,

vigil of night and battle-field dim,

Vigil for boy of responding kisses,

(never again on earth responding,) Vigil for comrade swiftly slain,

vigil I never forget,

how as day brighten'd,

I rose from the chill ground and folded my soldier well in his blanket,

And buried him where he fell.

A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest,

and the Road Unknown

A march in the ranks hard-prest,

and the road unknown,

A route through a heavy wood with muffled steps in the darkness,

Our army foil'd with loss severe,

and the sullen remnant retreating,

Till after midnight glimmer upon us the lights of a dim-lighted building,

We come to an open space in the woods,

and halt by the dim-lighted building,

'Tis a large old church at the crossing roads,

now an impromptu hospital,

Entering but for a minute I see a sight beyond all the pictures and poems ever made,

Shadows of deepest,

deepest black,

just lit by moving candles and lamps,

And by one great pitchy torch stationary with wild red flame and clouds of smoke,

By these,


groups of forms vaguely I see on the floor,

some in the pews laid down,

At my feet more distinctly a soldier,

a mere lad,

in danger of bleeding to death,

(he is shot in the abdomen,) I stanch the blood temporarily,

(the youngster's face is white as a lily,) Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o'er the scene fain to absorb it all,



postures beyond description,

most in obscurity,

some of them dead,

Surgeons operating,

attendants holding lights,

the smell of ether,

odor of blood,

The crowd,

O the crowd of the bloody forms,

the yard outside also fill'd,

Some on the bare ground,

some on planks or stretchers,

some in the death-spasm sweating,

An occasional scream or cry,

the doctor's shouted orders or calls,

The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the glint of the torches,

These I resume as I chant,

I see again the forms,

I smell the odor,

Then hear outside the orders given,

Fall in,

my men,

fall in;

But first I bend to the dying lad,

his eyes open,

a half-smile gives he me,

Then the eyes close,

calmly close,

and I speed forth to the darkness,



ever in darkness marching,

on in the ranks,

The unknown road still marching.

A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim

A sight in camp in the daybreak gray and dim,

As from my tent I emerge so early sleepless,

As slow I walk in the cool fresh air the path near by the hospital tent,

Three forms I see on stretchers lying,

brought out there untended lying,

Over each the blanket spread,

ample brownish woolen blanket,

Gray and heavy blanket,


covering all.

Curious I halt and silent stand,

Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest the first just lift the blanket;

Who are you elderly man so gaunt and grim,

with well-gray'd hair,

and flesh all sunken about the eyes?

Who are you my dear comrade?

Then to the second I step --and who are you my child and darling?

Who are you sweet boy with cheeks yet blooming?

Then to the third --a face nor child nor old,

very calm,

as of beautiful yellow-white ivory;

Young man I think I know you --I think this face is the face of the Christ himself,

Dead and divine and brother of all,

and here again he lies.

As Toilsome I Wander'd Virginia's Woods

As toilsome I wander'd Virginia's woods,

To the music of rustling leaves kick'd by my feet,


'twas autumn,) I mark'd at the foot of a tree the grave of a soldier;

Mortally wounded he and buried on the retreat,

(easily all could understand,) The halt of a mid-day hour,

when up!

no time to lose --yet this sign left,

On a tablet scrawl'd and nail'd on the tree by the grave,




and my loving comrade.


long I muse,

then on my way go wandering,

Many a changeful season to follow,

and many a scene of life,

Yet at times through changeful season and scene,



or in the crowded street,

Comes before me the unknown soldier's grave,

comes the inscription rude in Virginia's woods,




and my loving comrade.

Not the Pilot

Not the pilot has charged himself to bring his ship into port,

though beaten back and many times baffled;

Not the pathfinder 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 march for these States,

For a battle-call,

rousing to arms if need be,


centuries hence.

Year That Trembled and Reel'd Beneath Me

Year that trembled and reel'd beneath me!

Your summer wind was warm enough,

yet the air I breathed froze me,

A thick gloom fell through the sunshine and darken'd me,

Must I change my triumphant songs?

said I to myself,

Must I indeed learn to chant the cold dirges of the baffled?

And sullen hymns of defeat?

The Wound-Dresser

1 An old man bending I come among new faces,

Years looking backward resuming in answer to children,

Come tell us old man,

as from young men and maidens that love me,

(Arous'd and angry,

I'd thought to beat the alarum,

and urge relentless war,

But soon my fingers fail'd me,

my face droop'd and I resign'd myself,

To sit by the wounded and soothe them,

or silently watch the dead;) Years hence of these scenes,

of these furious passions,

these chances,

Of unsurpass'd heroes,

(was one side so brave?

the other was equally brave;) Now be witness again,

paint the mightiest armies of earth,

Of those armies so rapid so wondrous what saw you to tell us?

What stays with you latest and deepest?

of curious panics,

Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?

2 O maidens and young men I love and that love me,

What you ask of my days those the strangest and sudden your talking recalls,

Soldier alert I arrive after a long march cover'd with sweat and dust,

In the nick of time I come,

plunge in the fight,

loudly shout in the rush of successful charge,

Enter the captur'd works --yet lo,

like a swift-running river they fade,

Pass and are gone they fade --I dwell not on soldiers' perils or soldiers' joys,

(Both I remember well --many the hardships,

few the joys,

yet I was content.)

But in silence,

in dreams' projections,

While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,

So soon what is over forgotten,

and waves wash the imprints off the sand,

With hinged knees returning I enter the doors,

(while for you up there,

Whoever you are,

follow without noise and be of strong heart.)

Bearing the bandages,

water and sponge,

Straight and swift to my wounded I go,

Where they lie on the ground after the battle brought in,

Where their priceless blood reddens the grass the ground,

Or to the rows of the hospital tent,

or under the roof'd hospital,

To the long rows of cots up and down each side I return,

To each and all one after another I draw near,

not one do I miss,

An attendant follows holding a tray,

he carries a refuse pail,

Soon to be fill'd with clotted rags and blood,


and fill'd again.

I onward go,

I stop,

With hinged knees and steady hand to dress wounds,

I am firm with each,

the pangs are sharp yet unavoidable,

One turns to me his appealing eyes --poor boy!

I never knew you,

Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you,

if that would save you.

3 On,

on I go,

(open doors of time!

open hospital doors!) The crush'd head I dress,

(poor crazed hand tear not the bandage away,) The neck of the cavalry-man with the bullet through and through examine,

Hard the breathing rattles,

quite glazed already the eye,

yet life struggles hard,

(Come sweet death!

be persuaded O beautiful death!

In mercy come quickly.)

From the stump of the arm,

the amputated hand,

I undo the clotted lint,

remove the slough,

wash off the matter and blood,

Back on his pillow the soldier bends with curv'd neck and side falling head,

His eyes are closed,

his face is pale,

he dares not look on the bloody stump,

And has not yet look'd on it.

I dress a wound in the side,



But a day or two more,

for see the frame all wasted and sinking,

And the yellow-blue countenance see.

I dress the perforated shoulder,

the foot with the bullet-wound,

Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene,

so sickening,

so offensive,

While the attendant stands behind aside me holding the tray and pail.

I am faithful,

I do not give out,

The fractur'd thigh,

the knee,

the wound in the abdomen,

These and more I dress with impassive hand,

(yet deep in my breast a fire,

a burning flame.)

4 Thus in silence in dreams' projections,



I thread my way through the hospitals,

The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,

I sit by the restless all the dark night,

some are so young,

Some suffer so much,

I recall the experience sweet and sad,

(Many a soldier's loving arms about this neck have cross'd and rested,

Many a soldier's kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)


Too Long America


too long America,

Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn'd from joys and prosperity only,

But now,

ah now,

to learn from crises of anguish,


grappling with direst fate and recoiling not,

And now to conceive and show to the world what your children en-masse really are,

(For who except myself has yet conceiv'd what your children en-masse really are?)

Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun

1 Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling,

Give me autumnal fruit ripe and red from the orchard,

Give me a field where the unmow'd grass grows,

Give me an arbor,

give me the trellis'd grape,

Give me fresh corn and wheat,

give me serene-moving animals teaching content,

Give me nights perfectly quiet as on high plateaus west of the Mississippi,

and I looking up at the stars,

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturb'd,

Give me for marriage a sweet-breath'd woman of whom I should never tire,

Give me a perfect child,

give me away aside from the noise of the world a rural domestic life,

Give me to warble spontaneous songs recluse by myself,

for my own ears only,

Give me solitude,

give me Nature,

give me again O Nature your primal sanities!

These demanding to have them,

(tired with ceaseless excitement,

and rack'd by the war-strife,) These to procure incessantly asking,

rising in cries from my heart,

While yet incessantly asking still I adhere to my city,

Day upon day and year upon year O city,

walking your streets,

Where you hold me enchain'd a certain time refusing to give me up,

Yet giving to make me glutted,

enrich'd of soul,

you give me forever faces;

(O I see what I sought to escape,


reversing my cries,

see my own soul trampling down what it ask'd for.)

2 Keep your splendid silent sun,

Keep your woods O Nature,

and the quiet places by the woods,

Keep your fields of clover and timothy,

and your corn-fields and orchards,

Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields where the Ninth-month bees hum;

Give me faces and streets --give me these phantoms incessant and endless along the trottoirs!

Give me interminable eyes --give me women --give me comrades and lovers by the thousand!

Let me see new ones every day --let me hold new ones by the hand every day!

Give me such shows --give me the streets of Manhattan!

Give me Broadway,

with the soldiers marching --give me the sound of the trumpets and drums!

(The soldiers in companies or regiments --some starting away,

flush'd and reckless,


their time up,

returning with thinn'd ranks,


yet very old,



noticing nothing;) Give me the shores and wharves heavy-fringed with black ships!

O such for me!

O an intense life,

full to repletion and varied!

The life of the theatre,


huge hotel,

for me!

The saloon of the steamer!

the crowded excursion for me!

the torchlight procession!

The dense brigade bound for the war,

with high piled military wagons following;




with strong voices,



Manhattan streets with their powerful throbs,

with beating drums as now,

The endless and noisy chorus,

the rustle and clank of muskets,

(even the sight of the wounded,) Manhattan crowds,

with their turbulent musical chorus!

Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me.

Dirge for Two Veterans

The last sunbeam Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,

On the pavement here,

and there beyond it is looking,

Down a new-made double grave.


the moon ascending,

Up from the east the silvery round moon,

Beautiful over the house-tops,


phantom moon,

Immense and silent moon.

I see a sad procession,

And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,

All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,

As with voices and with tears.

I hear the great drums pounding,

And the small drums steady whirring,

And every blow of the great convulsive drums,

Strikes me through and through.

For the son is brought with the father,

(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,

Two veterans son and father dropt together,

And the double grave awaits them.)

Now nearer blow the bugles,

And the drums strike more convulsive,

And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,

And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

In the eastern sky up-buoying,

The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd,

('Tis some mother's large transparent face,

In heaven brighter growing.)

O strong dead-march you please me!

O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!

O my soldiers twain!

O my veterans passing to burial!

What I have I also give you.

The moon gives you light,

And the bugles and the drums give you music,

And my heart,

O my soldiers,

my veterans,

My heart gives you love.

Over the Carnage Rose Prophetic a Voice

Over the carnage rose prophetic a voice,

Be not dishearten'd,

affection shall solve the problems of freedom yet,

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 earth.

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 friends triune,

More precious to each other than all the riches of the earth.

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 affection,

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,



O partners!

O lands!

with the love of lovers tie you.

(Were you looking to be held together by lawyers?

Or by an agreement on a paper?

or by arms?


nor the world,

nor any living thing,

will so cohere.)

I Saw Old General at Bay

I saw old General at bay,

(Old as he was,

his gray eyes yet shone out in battle like stars,) His small force was now completely hemm'd in,

in his works,

He call'd for volunteers to run the enemy's lines,

a desperate emergency,

I saw a hundred and more step forth from the ranks,

but two or three were selected,

I saw them receive their orders aside,

they listen'd with care,

the adjutant was very grave,

I saw them depart with cheerfulness,

freely risking their lives.

The Artilleryman's Vision

While my wife at my side lies slumbering,

and the wars are over long,

And my head on the pillow rests at home,

and the vacant midnight passes,

And through the stillness,

through the dark,

I hear,

just hear,

the breath of my infant,

There in the room as I wake from sleep this vision presses upon me;

The engagement opens there and then in fantasy unreal,

The skirmishers begin,

they crawl cautiously ahead,

I hear the irregular snap!


I hear the sounds of the different missiles,

the short t-h-t!


of the rifle-balls,

I see the shells exploding leaving small white clouds,

I hear the great shells shrieking as they pass,

The grape like the hum and whirr of wind through the trees,

(tumultuous now the contest rages,) All the scenes at the batteries rise in detail before me again,

The crashing and smoking,

the pride of the men in their pieces,

The chief-gunner ranges and sights his piece and selects a fuse of the right time,

After firing I see him lean aside and look eagerly off to note the effect;

Elsewhere I hear the cry of a regiment charging,

(the young colonel leads himself this time with brandish'd sword,) I see the gaps cut by the enemy's volleys,

(quickly fill'd up,

no delay,) I breathe the suffocating smoke,

then the flat clouds hover low concealing all;

Now a strange lull for a few seconds,

not a shot fired on either side,

Then resumed the chaos louder than ever,

with eager calls and orders of officers,

While from some distant part of the field the wind wafts to my ears a shout of applause,

(some special success,) And ever the sound of the cannon far or near,

(rousing even in dreams a devilish exultation and all the old mad joy in the depths of my soul,) And ever the hastening of infantry shifting positions,



moving hither and thither,

(The falling,


I heed not,

the wounded dripping and red heed not,

some to the rear are hobbling,) Grime,



aide-de-camps galloping by or on a full run,

With the patter of small arms,

the warning s-s-t of the rifles,

(these in my vision I hear or see,) And bombs bursting in air,

and at night the vari-color'd rockets.

Ethiopia Saluting the Colors

Who are you dusky woman,

so ancient hardly human,

With your woolly-white and turban'd head,

and bare bony feet?

Why rising by the roadside here,

do you the colors greet?

('Tis while our army lines Carolina's sands and pines,

Forth from thy hovel door thou Ethiopia com'st to me,

As under doughty Sherman I march toward the sea.)

Me master years a hundred since from my parents sunder'd,

A little child,

they caught me as the savage beast is caught,

Then hither me across the sea the cruel slaver brought.

No further does she say,

but lingering all the day,

Her high-borne turban'd head she wags,

and rolls her darkling eye,

And courtesies to the regiments,

the guidons moving by.

What is it fateful woman,

so blear,

hardly human?

Why wag your head with turban bound,


red and green?

Are the things so strange and marvelous you see or have seen?

Not Youth Pertains to Me

Not youth pertains to me,

Nor delicatesse,

I cannot beguile the time with talk,

Awkward in the parlor,

neither a dancer nor elegant,

In the learn'd coterie sitting constrain'd and still,

for learning inures not to me,



inure not to me --yet there are two or three things inure to me,

I have nourish'd the wounded and sooth'd many a dying soldier,

And at intervals waiting or in the midst of camp,

Composed these songs.

Race of Veterans

Race of veterans --race of victors!

Race of the soil,

ready for conflict --race of the conquering march!

(No more credulity's race,

abiding-temper'd race,) Race henceforth owning no law but the law of itself,

Race of passion and the storm.

World Take Good Notice

World take good notice,

silver stars fading,

Milky hue ript,

wet of white detaching,

Coals thirty-eight,

baleful and burning,



hands off warning,

Now and henceforth flaunt from these shores.

O Tan-Faced Prairie-Boy

O tan-faced prairie-boy,

Before you came to camp came many a welcome gift,

Praises and presents came and nourishing food,

till at last among the recruits,

You came,


with nothing to give --we but look'd on each other,

When lo!

more than all the gifts of the world you gave me.

Look Down Fair Moon

Look down fair moon and bathe this scene,

Pour softly down night's nimbus floods on faces ghastly,



On the dead on their backs with arms toss'd wide,

Pour down your unstinted nimbus sacred moon.


Word over all,

beautiful as the sky,

Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must in time be utterly lost,

That the hands of the sisters Death and Night incessantly softly wash again,

and ever again,

this solid world;

For my enemy is dead,

a man divine as myself is dead,

I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin --I draw near,

Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.

How Solemn As One by One [Washington City,


How solemn as one by one,

As the ranks returning worn and sweaty,

as the men file by where stand,

As the faces the masks appear,

as I glance at the faces studying the masks,

(As I glance upward out of this page studying you,

dear friend,

whoever you are,) How solemn the thought of my whispering soul to each in the ranks,

and to you,

I see behind each mask that wonder a kindred soul,

O the bullet could never kill what you really are,

dear friend,

Nor the bayonet stab what you really are;

The soul!

yourself I see,

great as any,

good as the best,

Waiting secure and content,

which the bullet could never kill,

Nor the bayonet stab O friend.

As I Lay with My Head in Your Lap Camerado

As I lay with my head in your lap camerado,

The confession I made I resume,

what I said to you and the open air I resume,

I know I am restless and make others so,

I know my words are weapons full of danger,

full of death,

For I confront peace,


and all the settled laws,

to unsettle them,

I am more resolute because all have denied me than I could ever have been had all accepted me,

I heed not and have never heeded either experience,



nor ridicule,

And the threat of what is call'd hell is little or nothing to me,

And the lure of what is call'd heaven is little or nothing to me;

Dear camerado!

I confess I have urged you onward with me,

and still urge you,

without the least idea what is our destination,

Or whether we shall be victorious,

or utterly quell'd and defeated.

Delicate Cluster

Delicate cluster!

flag of teeming life!

Covering all my lands --all my seashores lining!

Flag of death!

(how I watch'd you through the smoke of battle pressing!

How I heard you flap and rustle,

cloth defiant!) Flag cerulean --sunny flag,

with the orbs of night dappled!

Ah my silvery beauty --ah my woolly white and crimson!

Ah to sing the song of you,

my matron mighty!

My sacred one,

my mother.

To a Certain Civilian

Did you ask dulcet rhymes from me?

Did you seek the civilian's peaceful and languishing rhymes?

Did you find what I sang erewhile so hard to follow?

Why I was not singing erewhile for you to follow,

to understand --nor am I now;

(I have been born of the same as the war was born,

The drum-corps' rattle is ever to me sweet music,

I love well the martial dirge,

With slow wail and convulsive throb leading the officer's funeral;) What to such as you anyhow such a poet as I?

therefore leave my works,

And go lull yourself with what you can understand,

and with piano-tunes,

For I lull nobody,

and you will never understand me.


Victress on the Peaks


Victress on the peaks,

Where thou with mighty brow regarding the world,

(The world O Libertad,

that vainly conspired against thee,) Out of its countless beleaguering toils,

after thwarting them all,


with the dazzling sun around thee,

Flauntest now unharm'd in immortal soundness and bloom --lo,

in these hours supreme,

No poem proud,

I chanting bring to thee,

nor mastery's rapturous verse,

But a cluster containing night's darkness and blood-dripping wounds,

And psalms of the dead.

Spirit Whose Work Is Done [Washington City,


Spirit whose work is done --spirit of dreadful hours!

Ere departing fade from my eyes your forests of bayonets;

Spirit of gloomiest fears and doubts,

(yet onward ever unfaltering pressing,) Spirit of many a solemn day and many a savage scene --electric spirit,

That with muttering voice through the war now closed,

like a tireless phantom flitted,

Rousing the land with breath of flame,

while you beat and beat the drum,

Now as the sound of the drum,

hollow and harsh to the last,

reverberates round me,

As your ranks,

your immortal ranks,


return from the battles,

As the muskets of the young men yet lean over their shoulders,

As I look on the bayonets bristling over their shoulders,

As those slanted bayonets,

whole forests of them appearing in the distance,

approach and pass on,

returning homeward,

Moving with steady motion,

swaying to and fro to the right and left,

Evenly lightly rising and falling while the steps keep time;

Spirit of hours I knew,

all hectic red one day,

but pale as death next day,

Touch my mouth ere you depart,

press my lips close,

Leave me your pulses of rage --bequeath them to me --fill me with currents convulsive,

Let them scorch and blister out of my chants when you are gone,

Let them identify you to the future in these songs.

Adieu to a Soldier

Adieu O soldier,

You of the rude campaigning,

(which we shared,) The rapid march,

the life of the camp,

The hot contention of opposing fronts,

the long manoeuvre,

Red battles with their slaughter,

the stimulus,

the strong terrific game,

Spell of all brave and manly hearts,

the trains of time through you and like of you all fill'd,

With war and war's expression.

Adieu dear comrade,

Your mission is fulfill'd --but I,

more warlike,

Myself and this contentious soul of mine,

Still on our own campaigning bound,

Through untried roads with ambushes opponents lined,

Through many a sharp defeat and many a crisis,

often baffled,

Here marching,

ever marching on,

a war fight out --aye here,

To fiercer,

weightier battles give expression.

Turn O Libertad

Turn O Libertad,

for the war is over,

From it and all henceforth expanding,

doubting no more,


sweeping the world,

Turn from lands retrospective recording proofs of the past,

From the singers that sing the trailing glories of the past,

From the chants of the feudal world,

the triumphs of kings,



Turn to the world,

the triumphs reserv'd and to come --give up that backward world,

Leave to the singers of hitherto,

give them the trailing past,

But what remains remains for singers for you --wars to come are for you,


how the wars of the past have duly inured to you,

and the wars of the present also inure;) Then turn,

and be not alarm'd O Libertad --turn your undying face,

To where the future,

greater than all the past,

Is swiftly,

surely preparing for you.

To the Leaven'd Soil They Trod

To the leaven'd soil they trod calling I sing for the last,

(Forth from my tent emerging for good,


untying the tent-ropes,) In the freshness the forenoon air,

in the far-stretching circuits and vistas again to peace restored,

To the fiery fields emanative and the endless vistas beyond,

to the South and the North,

To the leaven'd soil of the general Western world to attest my songs,

To the Alleghanian hills and the tireless Mississippi,

To the rocks I calling sing,

and all the trees in the woods,

To the plains of the poems of heroes,

to the prairies spreading wide,

To the far-off sea and the unseen winds,

and the sane impalpable air;

And responding they answer all,

(but not in words,) The average earth,

the witness of war and peace,

acknowledges mutely,

The prairie draws me close,

as the father to bosom broad the son,

The Northern ice and rain that began me nourish me to the end,

But the hot sun of the South is to fully ripen my songs.



When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd

1 When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,

And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,

I mourn'd,

and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring,

trinity sure to me you bring,

Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,

And thought of him I love.

2 O powerful western fallen star!

O shades of night --O moody,

tearful night!

O great star disappear'd --O the black murk that hides the star!

O cruel hands that hold me powerless --O helpless soul of me!

O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

3 In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash'd palings,

Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,

With many a pointed blossom rising delicate,

with the perfume strong I love,

With every leaf a miracle --and from this bush in the dooryard,

With delicate-color'd blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,

A sprig with its flower I break.

4 In the swamp in secluded recesses,

A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary the thrush,

The hermit withdrawn to himself,

avoiding the settlements,

Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat,

Death's outlet song of life,

(for well dear brother I know,

If thou wast not granted to sing thou wouldst surely die.)

5 Over the breast of the spring,

the land,

amid cities,

Amid lanes and through old woods,

where lately the violets peep'd from the ground,

spotting the gray debris,

Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes,

passing the endless grass,

Passing the yellow-spear'd wheat,

every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprisen,

Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards,

Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,

Night and day journeys a coffin.

6 Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,

Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land,

With the pomp of the inloop'd flags with the cities draped in black,

With the show of the States themselves as of crape-veil'd women standing,

With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night,

With the countless torches lit,

with the silent sea of faces and the unbared heads,

With the waiting depot,

the arriving coffin,

and the sombre faces,

With dirges through the night,

with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn,

With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour'd around the coffin,

The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs --where amid these you journey,

With the tolling tolling bells' perpetual clang,


coffin that slowly passes,

I give you my sprig of lilac.

7 (Nor for you,

for one alone,

Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring,

For fresh as the morning,

thus would I chant a song for you O sane and sacred death.

All over bouquets of roses,

O death,

I cover you over with roses and early lilies,

But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,

Copious I break,

I break the sprigs from the bushes,

With loaded arms I come,

pouring for you,

For you and the coffins all of you O death.)

8 O western orb sailing the heaven,

Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk'd,

As I walk'd in silence the transparent shadowy night,

As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,

As you droop'd from the sky low down as if to my side,

(while the other stars all look'd on,) As we wander'd together the solemn night,

(for something I know not what kept me from sleep,) As the night advanced,

and I saw on the rim of the west how full you were of woe,

As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night,

As I watch'd where you pass'd and was lost in the netherward black of the night,

As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank,

as where you sad orb,


dropt in the night,

and was gone.

9 Sing on there in the swamp,

O singer bashful and tender,

I hear your notes,

I hear your call,

I hear,

I come presently,

I understand you,

But a moment I linger,

for the lustrous star has detain'd me,

The star my departing comrade holds and detains me.

10 O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?

And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?

And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love?

Sea-winds blown from east and west,

Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea,

till there on the prairies meeting,

These and with these and the breath of my chant,

I'll perfume the grave of him I love.

11 O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?

And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,

To adorn the burial-house of him I love?

Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes,

With the Fourth-month eve at sundown,

and the gray smoke lucid and bright,

With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous,


sinking sun,


expanding the air,

With the fresh sweet herbage under foot,

and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific,

In the distance the flowing glaze,

the breast of the river,

with a wind-dapple here and there,

With ranging hills on the banks,

with many a line against the sky,

and shadows,

And the city at hand with dwellings so dense,

and stacks of chimneys,

And all the scenes of life and the workshops,

and the workmen homeward returning.

12 Lo,

body and soul --this land,

My own Manhattan with spires,

and the sparkling and hurrying tides,

and the ships,

The varied and ample land,

the South and the North in the light,

Ohio's shores and flashing Missouri,

And ever the far-spreading prairies cover'd with grass and corn.


the most excellent sun so calm and haughty,

The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes,

The gentle soft-born measureless light,

The miracle spreading bathing all,

the fulfill'd noon,

The coming eve delicious,

the welcome night and the stars,

Over my cities shining all,

enveloping man and land.

13 Sing on,

sing on you gray-brown bird,

Sing from the swamps,

the recesses,

pour your chant from the bushes,

Limitless out of the dusk,

out of the cedars and pines.

Sing on dearest brother,

warble your reedy song,

Loud human song,

with voice of uttermost woe.

O liquid and free and tender!

O wild and loose to my soul --O wondrous singer!

You only I hear --yet the star holds me,

(but will soon depart,) Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.

14 Now while I sat in the day and look'd forth,

In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring,

and the farmers preparing their crops,

In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests,

In the heavenly aerial beauty,

(after the perturb'd winds and the storms,) Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing,

and the voices of children and women,

The many-moving sea-tides,

and I saw the ships how they sail'd,

And the summer approaching with richness,

and the fields all busy with labor,

And the infinite separate houses,

how they all went on,

each with its meals and minutia of daily usages,

And the streets how their throbbings throbb'd,

and the cities pent -- lo,

then and there,

Falling upon them all and among them all,

enveloping me with the rest,

Appear'd the cloud,

appear'd the long black trail,

And I knew death,

its thought,

and the sacred knowledge of death.

Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,

And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,

And I in the middle as with companions,

and as holding the hands of companions,

I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not,

Down to the shores of the water,

the path by the swamp in the dimness,

To the solemn shadowy cedars and ghostly pines so still.

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv'd me,

The gray-brown bird I know receiv'd us comrades three,

And he sang the carol of death,

and a verse for him I love.

From deep secluded recesses,

From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still,

Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol rapt me,

As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night,

And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.

Come lovely and soothing death,

Undulate round the world,

serenely arriving,


In the day,

in the night,

to all,

to each,

Sooner or later delicate death.

Prais'd be the fathomless universe,

For life and joy,

and for objects and knowledge curious,

And for love,

sweet love --but praise!



For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.

Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,

Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?

Then I chant it for thee,

I glorify thee above all,

I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come,

come unfalteringly.

Approach strong deliveress,

When it is so,

when thou hast taken them I joyously sing the dead,

Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee,

Laved in the flood of thy bliss O death.

From me to thee glad serenades,

Dances for thee I propose saluting thee,

adornments and feastings for thee,

And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread shy are fitting,

And life and the fields,

and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night in silence under many a star,

The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know,

And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil'd death,

And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

Over the tree-tops I float thee a song,

Over the rising and sinking waves,

over the myriad fields and the prairies wide,

Over the dense-pack'd cities all and the teeming wharves and ways,

I float this carol with joy,

with joy to thee O death.

15 To the tally of my soul,

Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,

With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night.

Loud in the pines and cedars dim,

Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume,

And I with my comrades there in the night.

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,

As to long panoramas of visions.

And I saw askant the armies,

I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags,

Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierc'd with missiles I saw them,

And carried hither and yon through the smoke,

and torn and bloody,

And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs,

(and all in silence,) And the staffs all splinter'd and broken.

I saw battle-corpses,

myriads of them,

And the white skeletons of young men,

I saw them,

I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war,

But I saw they were not as was thought,

They themselves were fully at rest,

they suffer'd not,

The living remain'd and suffer'd,

the mother suffer'd,

And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer'd,

And the armies that remain'd suffer'd.

16 Passing the visions,

passing the night,


unloosing the hold of my comrades' hands,

Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul,

Victorious song,

death's outlet song,

yet varying ever-altering song,

As low and wailing,

yet clear the notes,

rising and falling,

flooding the night,

Sadly sinking and fainting,

as warning and warning,

and yet again bursting with joy,

Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,

As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,


I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,

I leave thee there in the door-yard,


returning with spring.

I cease from my song for thee,

From my gaze on thee in the west,

fronting the west,

communing with thee,

O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.

Yet each to keep and all,

retrievements out of the night,

The song,

the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,

And the tallying chant,

the echo arous'd in my soul,

With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe,

With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,

Comrades mine and I in the midst,

and their memory ever to keep,

for the dead I loved so well,

For the sweetest,

wisest soul of all my days and lands --and this for his dear sake,

Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,

There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.

O Captain!

My Captain!

O Captain!

my Captain!

our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather'd every rack,

the prize we sought is won,

The port is near,

the bells I hear,

the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel,

the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart!



O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain!

my Captain!

rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up --for you the flag is flung --for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths --for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call,

the swaying mass,

their eager faces turning;

Here Captain!

dear father!

This arm beneath your head!

It is some dream that on the deck,

You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer,

his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm,

he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor'd safe and sound,

its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

Exult O shores,

and ring O bells!

But I with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

Hush'd Be the Camps To-Day [May 4,


Hush'd be the camps to-day,

And soldiers let us drape our war-worn weapons,

And each with musing soul retire to celebrate,

Our dear commander's death.

No more for him life's stormy conflicts,

Nor victory,

nor defeat --no more time's dark events,

Charging like ceaseless clouds across the sky.

But sing poet in our name,

Sing of the love we bore him --because you,

dweller in camps,

know it truly.

As they invault the coffin there,

Sing --as they close the doors of earth upon him --one verse,

For the heavy hearts of soldiers.

This Dust Was Once the Man

This dust was once the man,



just and resolute,

under whose cautious hand,

Against the foulest crime in history known in any land or age,

Was saved the Union of these States.


By Blue Ontario's Shore

By blue Ontario's shore,

As I mused of these warlike days and of peace return'd,

and the dead that return no more,

A Phantom gigantic superb,

with stern visage accosted me,

Chant me the poem,

it said,

that comes from the soul of America,

chant me the carol of victory,

And strike up the marches of Libertad,

marches more powerful yet,

And sing me before you go the song of the throes of Democracy.


the destin'd conqueror,

yet treacherous lip-smiles everywhere,

And death and infidelity at every step.)

2 A Nation announcing itself,

I myself make the only growth by which I can be appreciated,

I reject none,

accept all,

then reproduce all in my own forms.

A breed whose proof is in time and deeds,

What we are we are,

nativity is answer enough to objections,

We wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded,

We are powerful and tremendous in ourselves,

We are executive in ourselves,

we are sufficient in the variety of ourselves,

We are the most beautiful to ourselves and in ourselves,

We stand self-pois'd in the middle,

branching thence over the world,

From Missouri,


or Kansas,

laughing attacks to scorn.

Nothing is sinful to us outside of ourselves,

Whatever appears,

whatever does not appear,

we are beautiful or sinful in ourselves only.

(O Mother --O Sisters dear!

If we are lost,

no victor else has destroy'd us,

It is by ourselves we go down to eternal night.)

3 Have you thought there could be but a single supreme?

There can be any number of supremes --one does not countervail another any more than one eyesight countervails another,

or one life countervails another.

All is eligible to all,

All is for individuals,

all is for you,

No condition is prohibited,

not God's or any.

All comes by the body,

only health puts you rapport with the universe.

Produce great Persons,

the rest follows.

4 Piety and conformity to them that like,




to them that like,

I am he who tauntingly compels men,




Leap from your seats and contend for your lives!

I am he who walks the States with a barb'd tongue,

questioning every one I meet,

Who are you that wanted only to be told what you knew before?

Who are you that wanted only a book to join you in your nonsense?

(With pangs and cries as thine own O bearer of many children,

These clamors wild to a race of pride I give.)

O lands,

would you be freer than all that has ever been before?

If you would be freer than all that has been before,

come listen to me.

Fear grace,




Fear the mellow sweet,

the sucking of honey --juice,

Beware the advancing mortal ripening of Nature,

Beware what precedes the decay of the ruggedness of states and men.

5 Ages,


have long been accumulating undirected materials,

America brings builders,

and brings its own styles.

The immortal poets of Asia and Europe have done their work and pass'd to other spheres,

A work remains,

the work of surpassing all they have done.


curious toward foreign characters,

stands by its own at all hazards,

Stands removed,




initiates the true use of precedents,

Does not repel them or the past or what they have produced under their forms,

Takes the lesson with calmness,

perceives the corpse slowly borne from the house,

Perceives that it waits a little while in the door,

that it was fittest for its days,

That its life has descended to the stalwart and well-shaped heir who approaches,

And that he shall be fittest for his days.

Any period one nation must lead,

One land must be the promise and reliance of the future.

These States are the amplest poem,

Here is not merely a nation but a teeming Nation of nations,

Here the doings of men correspond with the broadcast doings of the day and night,

Here is what moves in magnificent masses careless of particulars,

Here are the roughs,




the soul loves,

Here the flowing trains,

here the crowds,



the soul loves.

6 Land of lands and bards to corroborate!

Of them standing among them,

one lifts to the light a west-bred face,

To him the hereditary countenance bequeath'd both mother's and father's,

His first parts substances,





Built of the common stock,

having room for far and near,

Used to dispense with other lands,

incarnating this land,

Attracting it body and soul to himself,

hanging on its neck with incomparable love,

Plunging his seminal muscle into its merits and demerits,

Making its cities,





vocal in him,

Making its rivers,



embouchure in him,

Mississippi with yearly freshets and changing chutes,




spending themselves lovingly in him,

If the Atlantic coast stretch or the Pacific coast stretch,

he stretching with them North or South,

Spanning between them East and West,

and touching whatever is between them,

Growths growing from him to offset the growths of pine,










Tangles as tangled in him as any canebrake or swamp,

He likening sides and peaks of mountains,

forests coated with northern transparent ice,

Off him pasturage sweet and natural as savanna,



Through him flights,



answering those of the fish-hawk,



and eagle,

His spirit surrounding his country's spirit,

unclosed to good and evil,

Surrounding the essences of real things,

old times and present times,

Surrounding just found shores,


tribes of red aborigines,

Weather-beaten vessels,



embryo stature and muscle,

The haughty defiance of the Year One,



the formation of the Constitution,

The separate States,

the simple elastic scheme,

the immigrants,

The Union always swarming with blatherers and always sure and impregnable,

The unsurvey'd interior,



wild animals,



Surrounding the multiform agriculture,



the gestation of new States,

Congress convening every Twelfth-month,

the members duly coming up from the uttermost parts,

Surrounding the noble character of mechanics and farmers,

especially the young men,

Responding their manners,




the gait they have of persons who never knew how it felt to stand in the presence of superiors,

The freshness and candor of their physiognomy,

the copiousness and decision of their phrenology,

The picturesque looseness of their carriage,

their fierceness when wrong'd,

The fluency of their speech,

their delight in music,

their curiosity,

good temper and open-handedness,

the whole composite make,

The prevailing ardor and enterprise,

the large amativeness,

The perfect equality of the female with the male,

the fluid movement of the population,

The superior marine,

free commerce,




Wharf-hemm'd cities,

railroad and steamboat lines intersecting all points,


mercantile life,

labor-saving machinery,

the Northeast,



Manhattan firemen,

the Yankee swap,

southern plantation life,

Slavery --the murderous,

treacherous conspiracy to raise it upon the ruins of all the rest,

On and on to the grapple with it --Assassin!

then your life or ours be the stake,

and respite no more.

7 (Lo,

high toward heaven,

this day,


from the conqueress' field return'd,

I mark the new aureola around your head,

No more of soft astral,

but dazzling and fierce,

With war's flames and the lambent lightnings playing,

And your port immovable where you stand,

With still the inextinguishable glance and the clinch'd and lifted fist,

And your foot on the neck of the menacing one,

the scorner utterly crush'd beneath you,

The menacing arrogant one that strode and advanced with his senseless scorn,

bearing the murderous knife,

The wide-swelling one,

the braggart that would yesterday do so much,

To-day a carrion dead and damn'd,

the despised of all the earth,

An offal rank,

to the dunghill maggots spurn'd.)

8 Others take finish,

but the Republic is ever constructive and ever keeps vista,

Others adorn the past,

but you O days of the present,

I adorn you,

O days of the future I believe in you --I isolate myself for your sake,

O America because you build for mankind I build for you,

O well-beloved stone-cutters,

I lead them who plan with decision and science,

Lead the present with friendly hand toward the future.

(Bravas to all impulses sending sane children to the next age!

But damn that which spends itself with no thought of the stain,




it is bequeathing.)

9 I listened to the Phantom by Ontario's shore,

I heard the voice arising demanding bards,

By them all native and grand,

by them alone can these States be fused into the compact organism of a Nation.

To hold men together by paper and seal or by compulsion is no account,

That only holds men together which aggregates all in a living principle,

as the hold of the limbs of the body or the fibres of plants.

Of all races and eras these States with veins full of poetical stuff most need poets,

and are to have the greatest,

and use them the greatest,

Their Presidents shall not be their common referee so much as their poets shall.

(Soul of love and tongue of fire!

Eye to pierce the deepest deeps and sweep the world!

Ah Mother,

prolific and full in all besides,

yet how long barren,


10 Of these States the poet is the equable man,

Not in him but off from him things are grotesque,


fail of their full returns,

Nothing out of its place is good,

nothing in its place is bad,

He bestows on every object or quality its fit proportion,

neither more nor less,

He is the arbiter of the diverse,

he is the key,

He is the equalizer of his age and land,

He supplies what wants supplying,

he checks what wants checking,

In peace out of him speaks the spirit of peace,




building populous towns,

encouraging agriculture,



lighting the study of man,

the soul,




In war he is the best backer of the war,

he fetches artillery as good as the engineer's,

he can make every word he speaks draw blood,

The years straying toward infidelity he withholds by his steady faith,

He is no arguer,

he is judgment,

(Nature accepts him absolutely,) He judges not as the judge judges but as the sun failing round helpless thing,

As he sees the farthest he has the most faith,

His thoughts are the hymns of the praise of things,

In the dispute on God and eternity he is silent,

He sees eternity less like a play with a prologue and denouement,

He sees eternity in men and women,

he does not see men and women as dreams or dots.

For the great Idea,

the idea of perfect and free individuals,

For that,

the bard walks in advance,

leader of leaders,

The attitude of him cheers up slaves and horrifies foreign despots.

Without extinction is Liberty,

without retrograde is Equality,

They live in the feelings of young men and the best women,

(Not for nothing have the indomitable heads of the earth been always ready to fall for Liberty.)

11 For the great Idea,


O my brethren,

that is the mission of poets.

Songs of stern defiance ever ready,

Songs of the rapid arming and the march,

The flag of peace quick-folded,

and instead the flag we know,

Warlike flag of the great Idea.

(Angry cloth I saw there leaping!

I stand again in leaden rain your flapping folds saluting,

I sing you over all,

flying beckoning through the fight --O the hard-contested fight!

The cannons ope their rosy-flashing muzzles --the hurtled balls scream,

The battle-front forms amid the smoke --the volleys pour incessant from the line,


the ringing word Charge!

--now the tussle and the furious maddening yells,

Now the corpses tumble curl'd upon the ground,


cold in death,

for precious life of you,

Angry cloth I saw there leaping.)

12 Are you he who would assume a place to teach or be a poet here in the States?

The place is august,

the terms obdurate.

Who would assume to teach here may well prepare himself body and mind,

He may well survey,





make lithe himself,

He shall surely be question'd beforehand by me with many and stern questions.

Who are you indeed who would talk or sing to America?

Have you studied out the land,

its idioms and men?

Have you learn'd the physiology,






friendship of the land?

its substratums and objects?

Have you consider'd the organic compact of the first day of the first year of Independence,

sign'd by the Commissioners,

ratified by the States,

and read by Washington at the head of the army?

Have you possess'd yourself of the Federal Constitution?

Do you see who have left all feudal processes and poems behind them,

and assumed the poems and processes of Democracy?

Are you faithful to things?

do you teach what the land and sea,

the bodies of men,



heroic angers,


Have you sped through fleeting customs,


Can you hold your hand against all seductions,



fierce contentions?

are you very strong?

are you really of the whole People?

Are you not of some coterie?

some school or mere religion?

Are you done with reviews and criticisms of life?

animating now to life itself?

Have you vivified yourself from the maternity of these States?

Have you too the old ever-fresh forbearance and impartiality?

Do you hold the like love for those hardening to maturity?

for the last-born?

little and big?

and for the errant?

What is this you bring my America?

Is it uniform with my country?

Is it not something that has been better told or done before?

Have you not imported this or the spirit of it in some ship?

Is it not a mere tale?

a rhyme?

a prettiness?

--Is the good old cause in it?

Has it not dangled long at the heels of the poets,



of enemies' lands?

Does it not assume that what is notoriously gone is still here?

Does it answer universal needs?

will it improve manners?

Does it sound with trumpet-voice the proud victory of the Union in that secession war?

Can your performance face the open fields and the seaside?

Will it absorb into me as I absorb food,


to appear again in my strength,



Have real employments contributed to it?

original makers,

not mere amanuenses?

Does it meet modern discoveries,



face to face?

What does it mean to American persons,






Does it see behind the apparent custodians the real custodians standing,



the mechanics,


Western men,


significant alike in their apathy,

and in the promptness of their love?

Does it see what finally befalls,

and has always finally befallen,

each temporizer,






who has ever ask'd any thing of America?

What mocking and scornful negligence?

The track strew'd with the dust of skeletons,

By the roadside others disdainfully toss'd.

13 Rhymes and rhymers pass away,

poems distill'd from poems pass away,

The swarms of reflectors and the polite pass,

and leave ashes,



obedient persons,

make but the soil of literature,

America justifies itself,

give it time,

no disguise can deceive it or conceal from it,

it is impassive enough,

Only toward the likes of itself will it advance to meet them,

If its poets appear it will in due time advance to meet them,

there is no fear of mistake,

(The proof of a poet shall be sternly deferr'd till his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorb'd it.)

He masters whose spirit masters,

he tastes sweetest who results sweetest in the long run,

The blood of the brawn beloved of time is unconstraint;

In the need of songs,


an appropriate native grand-opera,


any craft,

He or she is greatest who contributes the greatest original practical example.

Already a nonchalant breed,

silently emerging,

appears on the streets,

People's lips salute only doers,



positive knowers,

There will shortly be no more priests,

I say their work is done,

Death is without emergencies here,

but life is perpetual emergencies here,

Are your body,




after death you shall be superb,




clear the way with irresistible power;

How dare you place any thing before a man?

14 Fall behind me States!

A man before all --myself,


before all.

Give me the pay I have served for,

Give me to sing the songs of the great Idea,

take all the rest,

I have loved the earth,



I have despised riches,

I have given aims to every one that ask'd,

stood up for the stupid and crazy,

devoted my income and labor to others,

Hated tyrants,

argued not concerning God,

had patience and indulgence toward the people,

taken off my hat to nothing known or unknown,

Gone freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young,

and with the mothers of families,

Read these leaves to myself in the open air,

tried them by trees,



Dismiss'd whatever insulted my own soul or defiled my body,

Claim'd nothing to myself which I have not carefully claim'd for others on the same terms,

Sped to the camps,

and comrades found and accepted from every State,

(Upon this breast has many a dying soldier lean'd to breathe his last,

This arm,

this hand,

this voice,

have nourish'd,



To life recalling many a prostrate form;) I am willing to wait to be understood by the growth of the taste of myself,

Rejecting none,

permitting all.

(Say O Mother,

have I not to your thought been faithful?

Have I not through life kept you and yours before me?)

15 I swear I begin to see the meaning of these things,

It is not the earth,

it is not America who is so great,

It is I who am great or to be great,

it is You up there,

or any one,

It is to walk rapidly through civilizations,



Through poems,



to form individuals.

Underneath all,


I swear nothing is good to me now that ignores individuals,

The American compact is altogether with individuals,

The only government is that which makes minute of individuals,

The whole theory of the universe is directed unerringly to one single individual --namely to You.


with subtle sense severe,

with the naked sword in your hand,

I saw you at last refuse to treat but directly with individuals.)

16 Underneath all,


I swear I will stand by my own nativity,

pious or impious so be it;

I swear I am charm'd with nothing except nativity,





are only beautiful from nativity.

Underneath all is the Expression of love for men and women,

(I swear I have seen enough of mean and impotent modes of expressing love for men and women,

After this day I take my own modes of expressing love for men and women.)

in myself,

I swear I will have each quality of my race in myself,

(Talk as you like,

he only suits these States whose manners favor the audacity and sublime turbulence of the States.)

Underneath the lessons of things,





I swear I perceive other lessons,

Underneath all to me is myself,

to you yourself,

(the same monotonous old song.)

17 O I see flashing that this America is only you and me,

Its power,



are you and me,

Its crimes,




are you and me,

Its Congress is you and me,

the officers,




are you and me,

Its endless gestations of new States are you and me,

The war,

(that war so bloody and grim,

the war I will henceforth forget),

was you and me,

Natural and artificial are you and me,





are you and me,




are you and me.

I dare not shirk any part of myself,

Not any part of America good or bad,

Not to build for that which builds for mankind,

Not to balance ranks,



and the sexes,

Not to justify science nor the march of equality,

Nor to feed the arrogant blood of the brawn belov'd of time.

I am for those that have never been master'd,

For men and women whose tempers have never been master'd,

For those whom laws,



can never master.

I am for those who walk abreast with the whole earth,

Who inaugurate one to inaugurate all.

I will not be outfaced by irrational things,

I will penetrate what it is in them that is sarcastic upon me,

I will make cities and civilizations defer to me,

This is what I have learnt from America --it is the amount,

and it I teach again.


while weapons were everywhere aim'd at your breast,

I saw you serenely give birth to immortal children,

saw in dreams your dilating form,

Saw you with spreading mantle covering the world.)

18 I will confront these shows of the day and night,

I will know if I am to be less than they,

I will see if I am not as majestic as they,

I will see if I am not as subtle and real as they,

I will see if I am to be less generous than they,

I will see if I have no meaning,

while the houses and ships have meaning,

I will see if the fishes and birds are to be enough for themselves,

and I am not to be enough for myself.

I match my spirit against yours you orbs,




Copious as you are I absorb you all in myself,

and become the master myself,

America isolated yet embodying all,

what is it finally except myself?

These States,

what are they except myself?

I know now why the earth is gross,



it is for my sake,

I take you specially to be mine,

you terrible,

rude forms.


bend down,

bend close to me your face,

I know not what these plots and wars and deferments are for,

I know not fruition's success,

but I know that through war and crime your work goes on,

and must yet go on.)

19 Thus by blue Ontario's shore,

While the winds fann'd me and the waves came trooping toward me,

I thrill'd with the power's pulsations,

and the charm of my theme was upon me,

Till the tissues that held me parted their ties upon me.

And I saw the free souls of poets,

The loftiest bards of past ages strode before me,

Strange large men,

long unwaked,


were disclosed to me.

20 O my rapt verse,

my call,

mock me not!

Not for the bards of the past,

not to invoke them have I launch'd you forth,

Not to call even those lofty bards here by Ontario's shores,

Have I sung so capricious and loud my savage song.

Bards for my own land only I invoke,

(For the war the war is over,

the field is clear'd,) Till they strike up marches henceforth triumphant and onward,

To cheer O Mother your boundless expectant soul.

Bards of the great Idea!

bards of the peaceful inventions!

(for the war,

the war is over!) Yet bards of latent armies,

a million soldiers waiting ever-ready,

Bards with songs as from burning coals or the lightning's fork'd stripes!

Ample Ohio's,

Kanada's bards --bards of California!

inland bards -- bards of the war!

You by my charm I invoke.


Let that which stood in front go behind,

Let that which was behind advance to the front,

Let bigots,


unclean persons,

offer new propositions,

Let the old propositions be postponed,

Let a man seek pleasure everywhere except in himself,

Let a woman seek happiness everywhere except in herself



As Consequent,


As consequent from store of summer rains,

Or wayward rivulets in autumn flowing,

Or many a herb-lined brook's reticulations,

Or subterranean sea-rills making for the sea,

Songs of continued years I sing.

Life's ever-modern rapids first,


soon to blend,

With the old streams of death.)

Some threading Ohio's farm-fields or the woods,

Some down Colorado's canons from sources of perpetual snow,

Some half-hid in Oregon,

or away southward in Texas,

Some in the north finding their way to Erie,



Some to Atlantica's bays,

and so to the great salt brine.

In you whoe'er you are my book perusing,

In I myself,

in all the world,

these currents flowing,


all toward the mystic ocean tending.

Currents for starting a continent new,

Overtures sent to the solid out of the liquid,

Fusion of ocean and land,

tender and pensive waves,

(Not safe and peaceful only,

waves rous'd and ominous too,

Out of the depths the storm's abysmic waves,

who knows whence?

Raging over the vast,

with many a broken spar and tatter'd sail.)

Or from the sea of Time,

collecting vasting all,

I bring,

A windrow-drift of weeds and shells.

O little shells,

so curious-convolute,

so limpid-cold and voiceless,

Will you not little shells to the tympans of temples held,

Murmurs and echoes still call up,

eternity's music faint and far,

Wafted inland,

sent from Atlantica's rim,

strains for the soul of the prairies,

Whisper'd reverberations,

chords for the ear of the West joyously sounding,

Your tidings old,

yet ever new and untranslatable,

Infinitesimals out of my life,

and many a life,

(For not my life and years alone I give --all,

all I give,) These waifs from the deep,

cast high and dry,

Wash'd on America's shores?

The Return of the Heroes

1 For the lands and for these passionate days and for myself,

Now I awhile retire to thee O soil of autumn fields,

Reclining on thy breast,

giving myself to thee,

Answering the pulses of thy sane and equable heart,

Turning a verse for thee.

O earth that hast no voice,

confide to me a voice,

O harvest of my lands --O boundless summer growths,

O lavish brown parturient earth --O infinite teeming womb,

A song to narrate thee.

2 Ever upon this stage,

Is acted God's calm annual drama,

Gorgeous processions,

songs of birds,

Sunrise that fullest feeds and freshens most the soul,

The heaving sea,

the waves upon the shore,

the musical,

strong waves,

The woods,

the stalwart trees,

the slender,

tapering trees,

The liliput countless armies of the grass,

The heat,

the showers,

the measureless pasturages,

The scenery of the snows,

the winds' free orchestra,

The stretching light-hung roof of clouds,

the clear cerulean and the silvery fringes,

The high-dilating stars,

the placid beckoning stars,

The moving flocks and herds,

the plains and emerald meadows,

The shows of all the varied lands and all the growths and products.

3 Fecund America --today,

Thou art all over set in births and joys!

Thou groan'st with riches,

thy wealth clothes thee as a swathing-garment,

Thou laughest loud with ache of great possessions,

A myriad-twining life like interlacing vines binds all thy vast demesne,

As some huge ship freighted to water's edge thou ridest into port,

As rain falls from the heaven and vapors rise from earth,

so have the precious values fallen upon thee and risen out of thee;

Thou envy of the globe!

thou miracle!




swimming in plenty,

Thou lucky Mistress of the tranquil barns,

Thou Prairie Dame that sittest in the middle and lookest out upon thy world,

and lookest East and lookest West,


that by a word givest a thousand miles,

a million farms,

and missest nothing,

Thou all-acceptress --thou hospitable,

(thou only art hospitable as God is hospitable.)

4 When late I sang sad was my voice,

Sad were the shows around me with deafening noises of hatred and smoke of war;

In the midst of the conflict,

the heroes,

I stood,

Or pass'd with slow step through the wounded and dying.

But now I sing not war,

Nor the measur'd march of soldiers,

nor the tents of camps,

Nor the regiments hastily coming up deploying in line of battle;

No more the sad,

unnatural shows of war.

Ask'd room those flush'd immortal ranks,

the first forth-stepping armies?

Ask room alas the ghastly ranks,

the armies dread that follow'd.



ye proud brigades,

with your tramping sinewy legs,

With your shoulders young and strong,

with your knapsacks and your muskets;

How elate I stood and watch'd you,

where starting off you march'd.

Pass --then rattle drums again,

For an army heaves in sight,

O another gathering army,


trailing on the rear,

O you dread accruing army,

O you regiments so piteous,

with your mortal diarrhoea,

with your fever,

O my land's maim'd darlings,

with the plenteous bloody bandage and the crutch,


your pallid army follows.)

5 But on these days of brightness,

On the far-stretching beauteous landscape,

the roads and lanes the high-piled farm-wagons,

and the fruits and barns,

Should the dead intrude?

Ah the dead to me mar not,

they fit well in Nature,

They fit very well in the landscape under the trees and grass,

And along the edge of the sky in the horizon's far margin.

Nor do I forget you Departed,

Nor in winter or summer my lost ones,

But most in the open air as now when my soul is rapt and at peace,

like pleasing phantoms,

Your memories rising glide silently by me.

6 I saw the day the return of the heroes,

(Yet the heroes never surpass'd shall never return,

Them that day I saw not.)

I saw the interminable corps,

I saw the processions of armies,

I saw them approaching,

defiling by with divisions,

Streaming northward,

their work done,

camping awhile in clusters of mighty camps.

No holiday soldiers --youthful,

yet veterans,





of the stock of homestead and workshop,

Harden'd of many a long campaign and sweaty march,

Inured on many a hard-fought bloody field.

A pause --the armies wait,

A million flush'd embattled conquerors wait,

The world too waits,

then soft as breaking night and sure as dawn,

They melt,

they disappear.

Exult O lands!

victorious lands!

Not there your victory on those red shuddering fields,

But here and hence your victory.


melt away ye armies --disperse ye blue-clad soldiers,

Resolve ye back again,

give up for good your deadly arms,

Other the arms the fields henceforth for you,

or South or North,

With saner wars,

sweet wars,

life-giving wars.

7 Loud O my throat,

and clear O soul!

The season of thanks and the voice of full-yielding,

The chant of joy and power for boundless fertility.

All till'd and untill'd fields expand before me,

I see the true arenas of my race,

or first or last,

Man's innocent and strong arenas.

I see the heroes at other toils,

I see well-wielded in their hands the better weapons.

I see where the Mother of All,

With full-spanning eye gazes forth,

dwells long,

And counts the varied gathering of the products.

Busy the far,

the sunlit panorama,



and yellow grain of the North,

Cotton and rice of the South and Louisianian cane,

Open unseeded fallows,

rich fields of clover and timothy,

Kine and horses feeding,

and droves of sheep and swine,

And many a stately river flowing and many a jocund brook,

And healthy uplands with herby-perfumed breezes,

And the good green grass,

that delicate miracle the ever-recurring grass.

8 Toil on heroes!

harvest the products!

Not alone on those warlike fields the Mother of All,

With dilated form and lambent eyes watch'd you.

Toil on heroes!

toil well!

handle the weapons well!

The Mother of All,

yet here as ever she watches you.

Well-pleased America thou beholdest,

Over the fields of the West those crawling monsters,

The human-divine inventions,

the labor-saving implements;

Beholdest moving in every direction imbued as with life the revolving hay-rakes,

The steam-power reaping-machines and the horse-power machines The engines,

thrashers of grain and cleaners of grain,

well separating the straw,

the nimble work of the patent pitchfork,

Beholdest the newer saw-mill,

the southern cotton-gin,

and the rice-cleanser.

Beneath thy look O Maternal,

With these and else and with their own strong hands the heroes harvest.

All gather and all harvest,

Yet but for thee O Powerful,

not a scythe might swing as now in security,

Not a maize-stalk dangle as now its silken tassels in peace.

Under thee only they harvest,

even but a wisp of hay under thy great face only,

Harvest the wheat of Ohio,



every barbed spear under thee,

Harvest the maize of Missouri,



each ear in its light-green sheath,

Gather the hay to its myriad mows in the odorous tranquil barns,

Oats to their bins,

the white potato,

the buckwheat of Michigan,

to theirs;

Gather the cotton in Mississippi or Alabama,

dig and hoard the golden the sweet potato of Georgia and the Carolinas,

Clip the wool of California or Pennsylvania,

Cut the flax in the Middle States,

or hemp or tobacco in the Borders,

Pick the pea and the bean,

or pull apples from the trees or bunches of grapes from the vines,

Or aught that ripens in all these States or North or South,

Under the beaming sun and under thee.

There Was a Child Went Forth

There was a child went forth every day,

And the first object he look'd upon,

that object he became,

And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,

Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,

And grass and white and red morning-glories,

and white and red clover,

and the song of the phoebe-bird,

And the Third-month lambs and the sow's pink-faint litter,

and the mare's foal and the cow's calf,

And the noisy brood of the barnyard or by the mire of the pond-side,

And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there,

and the beautiful curious liquid,

And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads,

all became part of him.

The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him,

Winter-grain sprouts and those of the light-yellow corn,

and the esculent roots of the garden,

And the apple-trees cover'd with blossoms and the fruit afterward,

and wood-berries,

and the commonest weeds by the road,

And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the tavern whence he had lately risen,

And the schoolmistress that pass'd on her way to the school,

And the friendly boys that pass'd,

and the quarrelsome boys,

And the tidy and fresh-cheek'd girls,

and the barefoot negro boy and girl,

And all the changes of city and country wherever he went.

His own parents,

he that had father'd him and she that had conceiv'd him in her womb and birth'd him,

They gave this child more of themselves than that,

They gave him afterward every day,

they became part of him.

The mother at home quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table,

The mother with mild words,

clean her cap and gown,

a wholesome odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by,

The father,







The blow,

the quick loud word,

the tight bargain,

the crafty lure,

The family usages,

the language,

the company,

the furniture,

the yearning and swelling heart,

Affection that will not be gainsay'd,

the sense of what is real,

the thought if after all it should prove unreal,

The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time,

the curious whether and how,

Whether that which appears so is so,

or is it all flashes and specks?

Men and women crowding fast in the streets,

if they are not flashes and specks what are they?

The streets themselves and the facades of houses,

and goods in the windows,



the heavy-plank'd wharves,

the huge crossing at the ferries,

The village on the highland seen from afar at sunset,

the river between,


aureola and mist,

the light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown two miles off,

The schooner near by sleepily dropping down the tide,

the little boat slack-tow'd astern,

The hurrying tumbling waves,

quick-broken crests,


The strata of color'd clouds,

the long bar of maroon-tint away solitary by itself,

the spread of purity it lies motionless in,

The horizon's edge,

the flying sea-crow,

the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud,

These became part of that child who went forth every day,

and who now goes,

and will always go forth every day.

Old Ireland

Far hence amid an isle of wondrous beauty,

Crouching over a grave an ancient sorrowful mother,

Once a queen,

now lean and tatter'd seated on the ground,

Her old white hair drooping dishevel'd round her shoulders,

At her feet fallen an unused royal harp,

Long silent,

she too long silent,

mourning her shrouded hope and heir,

Of all the earth her heart most full of sorrow because most full of love.

Yet a word ancient mother,

You need crouch there no longer on the cold ground with forehead between your knees,

O you need not sit there veil'd in your old white hair so dishevel'd,

For know you the one you mourn is not in that grave,

It was an illusion,

the son you love was not really dead,

The Lord is not dead,

he is risen again young and strong in another country,

Even while you wept there by your fallen harp by the grave,

What you wept for was translated,

pass'd from the grave,

The winds favor'd and the sea sail'd it,

And now with rosy and new blood,

Moves to-day in a new country.

The City Dead-House

By the city dead-house by the gate,

As idly sauntering wending my way from the clangor,

I curious pause,

for lo,

an outcast form,

a poor dead prostitute brought,

Her corpse they deposit unclaim'd,

it lies on the damp brick pavement,

The divine woman,

her body,

I see the body,

I look on it alone,

That house once full of passion and beauty,

all else I notice not,

Nor stillness so cold,

nor running water from faucet,

nor odors morbific impress me,

But the house alone --that wondrous house --that delicate fair house  --that ruin!

That immortal house more than all the rows of dwellings ever built!

Or white-domed capitol with majestic figure surmounted,

or all the old high-spired cathedrals,

That little house alone more than them all --poor,

desperate house!


fearful wreck --tenement of a soul --itself a soul,


avoided house --take one breath from my tremulous lips,

Take one tear dropt aside as I go for thought of you,

Dead house of love --house of madness and sin,



House of life,

erewhile talking and laughing --but ah,

poor house,

dead even then,



an echoing,

garnish'd house --but dead,



This Compost

1 Something startles me where I thought I was safest,

I withdraw from the still woods I loved,

I will not go now on the pastures to walk,

I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,

I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.

O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?

How can you be alive you growths of spring?

How can you furnish health you blood of herbs,




Are they not continually putting distemper'd corpses within you?

Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?

Where have you disposed of their carcasses?

Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?

Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?

I do not see any of it upon you to-day,

or perhaps I am deceiv'd,

I will run a furrow with my plough,

I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,

I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.

2 Behold this compost!

behold it well!

Perhaps every mite has once form'd part of a sick person --yet behold!

The grass of spring covers the prairies,

The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,

The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,

The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,

The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,

The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,

The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on their nests,

The young of poultry break through the hatch'd eggs,

The new-born of animals appear,

the calf is dropt from the cow,

the colt from the mare,

Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's dark green leaves,

Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk,

the lilacs bloom in the dooryards,

The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!

That the winds are really not infectious,

That this is no cheat,

this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me,

That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,

That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,

That all is clean forever and forever,

That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,

That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,

That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard,

that melons,




will none of them poison me,

That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,

Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the Earth,

it is that calm and patient,

It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,

It turns harmless and stainless on its axis,

with such endless successions of diseas'd corpses,

It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,

It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal,


sumptuous crops,

It gives such divine materials to men,

and accepts such leavings from them at last.

To a Foil'd European Revolutionaire

Courage yet,

my brother or my sister!

Keep on --Liberty is to be subserv'd whatever occurs;

That is nothing that is quell'd by one or two failures,

or any number of failures,

Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the people,

or by any unfaithfulness,

Or the show of the tushes of power,



penal statutes.

What we believe in waits latent forever through all the continents,

Invites no one,

promises nothing,

sits in calmness and light,

is positive and composed,

knows no discouragement,

Waiting patiently,

waiting its time.

(Not songs of loyalty alone are these,

But songs of insurrection also,

For I am the sworn poet of every dauntless rebel the world over,

And he going with me leaves peace and routine behind him,

And stakes his life to be lost at any moment.)

The battle rages with many a loud alarm and frequent advance and retreat,

The infidel triumphs,

or supposes he triumphs,

The prison,




iron necklace and leadballs do their work,

The named and unnamed heroes pass to other spheres,

The great speakers and writers are exiled,

they lie sick in distant lands,

The cause is asleep,

the strongest throats are choked with their own blood,

The young men droop their eyelashes toward the ground when they meet;

But for all this Liberty has not gone out of the place,

nor the infidel enter'd into full possession.

When liberty goes out of a place it is not the first to go,

nor the second or third to go,

It waits for all the rest to go,

it is the last.

When there are no more memories of heroes and martyrs,

And when all life and all the souls of men and women are discharged from any part of the earth,

Then only shall liberty or the idea of liberty be discharged from that part of the earth,

And the infidel come into full possession.

Then courage European revolter,


For till all ceases neither must you cease.

I do not know what you are for,

(I do not know what I am for myself,

nor what any thing is for,) But I will search carefully for it even in being foil'd,

In defeat,



imprisonment --for they too are great.

Did we think victory great?

So it is --but now it seems to me,

when it cannot be help'd,

that defeat is great,

And that death and dismay are great.

Unnamed Land

Nations ten thousand years before these States,

and many times ten thousand years before these States,

Garner'd clusters of ages that men and women like us grew up and travel'd their course and pass'd on,

What vast-built cities,

what orderly republics,

what pastoral tribes and nomads,

What histories,



perhaps transcending all others,

What laws,





What sort of marriage,

what costumes,

what physiology and phrenology,

What of liberty and slavery among them,

what they thought of death and the soul,

Who were witty and wise,

who beautiful and poetic,

who brutish and undevelop'd,

Not a mark,

not a record remains --and yet all remains.

O I know that those men and women were not for nothing,

any more than we are for nothing,

I know that they belong to the scheme of the world every bit as much as we now belong to it.

Afar they stand,

yet near to me they stand,

Some with oval countenances learn'd and calm,

Some naked and savage,

some like huge collections of insects,

Some in tents,





Some prowling through woods,

some living peaceably on farms,



filling barns,

Some traversing paved avenues,

amid temples,







wonderful monuments.

Are those billions of men really gone?

Are those women of the old experience of the earth gone?

Do their lives,



rest only with us?

Did they achieve nothing for good for themselves?

I believe of all those men and women that fill'd the unnamed lands,

every one exists this hour here or elsewhere,

invisible to us.

In exact proportion to what he or she grew from in life,

and out of what he or she did,





in life.

I believe that was not the end of those nations or any person of them,

any more than this shall be the end of my nation,

or of me;

Of their languages,













I suspect their results curiously await in the yet unseen world,

counterparts of what accrued to them in the seen world,

I suspect I shall meet them there,

I suspect I shall there find each old particular of those unnamed lands.

Song of Prudence

Manhattan's streets I saunter'd pondering,

On Time,


Reality --on such as these,

and abreast with them Prudence.

The last explanation always remains to be made about prudence,

Little and large alike drop quietly aside from the prudence that suits immortality.

The soul is of itself,

All verges to it,

all has reference to what ensues,

All that a person does,



is of consequence,

Not a move can a man or woman make,

that affects him or her in a day,


any part of the direct lifetime,

or the hour of death,

But the same affects him or her onward afterward through the indirect lifetime.

The indirect is just as much as the direct,

The spirit receives from the body just as much as it gives to the body,

if not more.

Not one word or deed,

not venereal sore,


privacy of the onanist,

Putridity of gluttons or rum-drinkers,







But has results beyond death as really as before death.

Charity and personal force are the only investments worth any thing.

No specification is necessary,

all that a male or female does,

that is vigorous,



is so much profit to him or her,

In the unshakable order of the universe and through the whole scope of it forever.

Who has been wise receives interest,











it is the same,

The interest will come round --all will come round.



to affect now,

affected their time,

will forever affect,

all of the past and all of the present and all of the future,

All the brave actions of war and peace,

All help given to relatives,


the poor,



young children,


the sick,

and to shunn'd persons,

All self-denial that stood steady and aloof on wrecks,

and saw others fill the seats of the boats,

All offering of substance or life for the good old cause,

or for a friend's sake,

or opinion's sake,

All pains of enthusiasts scoff'd at by their neighbors,

All the limitless sweet love and precious suffering of mothers,

All honest men baffled in strifes recorded or unrecorded,

All the grandeur and good of ancient nations whose fragments we inherit,

All the good of the dozens of ancient nations unknown to us by name,



All that was ever manfully begun,

whether it succeeded or no,

All suggestions of the divine mind of man or the divinity of his mouth,

or the shaping of his great hands,

All that is well thought or said this day on any part of the globe,

or on any of the wandering stars,

or on any of the fix'd stars,

by those there as we are here,

All that is henceforth to be thought or done by you whoever you are,

or by any one,

These inure,

have inured,

shall inure,

to the identities from which they sprang,

or shall spring.

Did you guess any thing lived only its moment?

The world does not so exist,

no parts palpable or impalpable so exist,

No consummation exists without being from some long previous consummation,

and that from some other,

Without the farthest conceivable one coming a bit nearer the beginning than any.

Whatever satisfies souls is true;

Prudence entirely satisfies the craving and glut of souls,

Itself only finally satisfies the soul,

The soul has that measureless pride which revolts from every lesson but its own.

Now I breathe the word of the prudence that walks abreast with time,



That answers the pride which refuses every lesson but its own.

What is prudence is indivisible,

Declines to separate one part of life from every part,

Divides not the righteous from the unrighteous or the living from the dead,

Matches every thought or act by its correlative,

Knows no possible forgiveness or deputed atonement,

Knows that the young man who composedly peril'd his life and lost it has done exceedingly well for himself without doubt,

That he who never peril'd his life,

but retains it to old age in riches and ease,

has probably achiev'd nothing for himself worth mentioning,

Knows that only that person has really learn'd who has learn'd to prefer results,

Who favors body and soul the same,

Who perceives the indirect assuredly following the direct,

Who in his spirit in any emergency whatever neither hurries nor avoids death.

The Singer in the Prison

O sight of pity,

shame and dole!

O fearful thought --a convict soul.

1 Rang the refrain along the hall,

the prison,

Rose to the roof,

the vaults of heaven above,

Pouring in floods of melody in tones so pensive sweet and strong the like whereof was never heard,

Reaching the far-off sentry and the armed guards,

who ceas'd their pacing,

Making the hearer's pulses stop for ecstasy and awe.

2 The sun was low in the west one winter day,

When down a narrow aisle amid the thieves and outlaws of the land,

(There by the hundreds seated,

sear-faced murderers,

wily counterfeiters,

Gather'd to Sunday church in prison walls,

the keepers round,



watching with vigilant eyes,) Calmly a lady walk'd holding a little innocent child by either hand,

Whom seating on their stools beside her on the platform,


first preluding with the instrument a low and musical prelude,

In voice surpassing all,

sang forth a quaint old hymn.

A soul confined by bars and bands,



O help!

and wrings her hands,

Blinded her eyes,

bleeding her breast,

Nor pardon finds,

nor balm of rest.

Ceaseless she paces to and fro,

O heart-sick days!

O nights of woe!

Nor hand of friend,

nor loving face,

Nor favor comes,

nor word of grace.

It was not I that sinn'd the sin,

The ruthless body dragg'd me in;

Though long I strove courageously,

The body was too much for me.

Dear prison'd soul bear up a space,

For soon or late the certain grace;

To set thee free and bear thee home,

The heavenly pardoner death shall come.

Convict no more,

nor shame,

nor dole!

Depart --a God-enfranchis'd soul!

3 The singer ceas'd,

One glance swept from her clear calm eyes o'er all those upturn'd faces,

Strange sea of prison faces,

a thousand varied,



seam'd and beauteous faces,

Then rising,

passing back along the narrow aisle between them,

While her gown touch'd them rustling in the silence,

She vanish'd with her children in the dusk.

While upon all,

convicts and armed keepers ere they stirr'd,

(Convict forgetting prison,

keeper his loaded pistol,) A hush and pause fell down a wondrous minute,

With deep half-stifled sobs and sound of bad men bow'd and moved to weeping,

And youth's convulsive breathings,

memories of home,

The mother's voice in lullaby,

the sister's care,

the happy childhood,

The long-pent spirit rous'd to reminiscence;

A wondrous minute then --but after in the solitary night,

to many,

many there,

Years after,

even in the hour of death,

the sad refrain,

the tune,

the voice,

the words,


the large calm lady walks the narrow aisle,

The wailing melody again,

the singer in the prison sings,

O sight of pity,

shame and dole!

O fearful thought --a convict soul.

Warble for Lilac-Time

Warble me now for joy of lilac-time,

(returning in reminiscence,) Sort me O tongue and lips for Nature's sake,

souvenirs of earliest summer,

Gather the welcome signs,

(as children with pebbles or stringing shells,) Put in April and May,

the hylas croaking in the ponds,

the elastic air,



the sparrow with its simple notes,

Blue-bird and darting swallow,

nor forget the high-hole flashing his golden wings,

The tranquil sunny haze,

the clinging smoke,

the vapor,

Shimmer of waters with fish in them,

the cerulean above,

All that is jocund and sparkling,

the brooks running,

The maple woods,

the crisp February days and the sugar-making,

The robin where he hops,



With musical clear call at sunrise,

and again at sunset,

Or flitting among the trees of the apple-orchard,

building the nest of his mate,

The melted snow of March,

the willow sending forth its yellow-green sprouts,

For spring-time is here!

the summer is here!

and what is this in it and from it?



unloosen'd --the restlessness after I know not what;


let us lag here no longer,

let us be up and away!

O if one could but fly like a bird!

O to escape,

to sail forth as in a ship!

To glide with thee O soul,

o'er all,

in all,

as a ship o'er the waters;

Gathering these hints,

the preludes,

the blue sky,

the grass,

the morning drops of dew,

The lilac-scent,

the bushes with dark green heart-shaped leaves,


the little delicate pale blossoms called innocence,

Samples and sorts not for themselves alone,

but for their atmosphere,

To grace the bush I love --to sing with the birds,

A warble for joy of returning in reminiscence.

Outlines for a Tomb [G.


Buried 1870]

1 What may we chant,

O thou within this tomb?

What tablets,


hang for thee,

O millionnaire?

The life thou lived'st we know not,

But that thou walk'dst thy years in barter,

'mid the haunts of brokers,

Nor heroism thine,

nor war,

nor glory.

2 Silent,

my soul,

With drooping lids,

as waiting,


Turning from all the samples,

monuments of heroes.

While through the interior vistas,

Noiseless uprose,


(as by night Auroras of the north,) Lambent tableaus,


bodiless scenes,

Spiritual projections.

In one,

among the city streets a laborer's home appear'd,

After his day's work done,



the gaslight burning,

The carpet swept and a fire in the cheerful stove.

In one,

the sacred parturition scene,

A happy painless mother birth'd a perfect child.

In one,

at a bounteous morning meal,

Sat peaceful parents with contented sons.

In one,

by twos and threes,

young people,

Hundreds concentring,

walk'd the paths and streets and roads,

Toward a tall-domed school.

In one a trio beautiful,


loving daughter,

loving daughter's daughter,


Chatting and sewing.

In one,

along a suite of noble rooms,

'Mid plenteous books and journals,

paintings on the walls,

fine statuettes,

Were groups of friendly journeymen,

mechanics young and old,




all the shows of laboring life,

City and country,


men's and children's,

Their wants provided for,

hued in the sun and tinged for once with joy,


the street,

the factory,


the house-room,


Labor and toll,

the bath,





The student,

boy or girl,

led forward to be taught,

The sick cared for,

the shoeless shod,

the orphan father'd and mother'd,

The hungry fed,

the houseless housed;

(The intentions perfect and divine,

The workings,


haply human.)

3 O thou within this tomb,

From thee such scenes,

thou stintless,

lavish giver,

Tallying the gifts of earth,

large as the earth,

Thy name an earth,

with mountains,

fields and tides.

Nor by your streams alone,

you rivers,

By you,

your banks Connecticut,

By you and all your teeming life old Thames,

By you Potomac laving the ground Washington trod,

by you Patapsco,

You Hudson,

you endless Mississippi --nor you alone,

But to the high seas launch,

my thought,

his memory.

Out from Behind This Mask [To Confront a Portrait]

1 Out from behind this bending rough-cut mask,

These lights and shades,

this drama of the whole,

This common curtain of the face contain'd in me for me,

in you for you,

in each for each,




tears --0 heaven!

The passionate teeming plays this curtain hid!) This glaze of God's serenest purest sky,

This film of Satan's seething pit,

This heart's geography's map,

this limitless small continent,

this soundless sea;

Out from the convolutions of this globe,

This subtler astronomic orb than sun or moon,

than Jupiter,



This condensation of the universe,

(nay here the only universe,

Here the idea,

all in this mystic handful wrapt;) These burin'd eyes,

flashing to you to pass to future time,

To launch and spin through space revolving sideling,

from these to emanate,

To you whoe'er you are --a look.

2 A traveler of thoughts and years,

of peace and war,

Of youth long sped and middle age declining,

(As the first volume of a tale perused and laid away,

and this the second,




presently to close,) Lingering a moment here and now,

to you I opposite turn,

As on the road or at some crevice door by chance,

or open'd window,



baring my head,

you specially I greet,

To draw and clinch your soul for once inseparably with mine,

Then travel travel on.


1 Vocalism,




and the divine power to speak words;

Are you full-lung'd and limber-lipp'd from long trial?

from vigorous practice?

from physique?

Do you move in these broad lands as broad as they?

Come duly to the divine power to speak words?

For only at last after many years,

after chastity,




and nakedness,

After treading ground and breasting river and lake,

After a loosen'd throat,

after absorbing eras,



after knowledge,



After complete faith,

after clarifyings,


and removing obstructions,

After these and more,

it is just possible there comes to a man,


the divine power to speak words;

Then toward that man or that woman swiftly hasten all --none refuse,

all attend,















form in close ranks,

They debouch as they are wanted to march obediently through the mouth of that man or that woman.

2 O what is it in me that makes me tremble so at voices?

Surely whoever speaks to me in the right voice,

him or her I shall follow,

As the water follows the moon,


with fluid steps,

anywhere around the globe.

All waits for the right voices;

Where is the practis'd and perfect organ?

where is the develop'd soul?

For I see every word utter'd thence has deeper,


new sounds,

impossible on less terms.

I see brains and lips closed,

tympans and temples unstruck,

Until that comes which has the quality to strike and to unclose,

Until that comes which has the quality to bring forth what lies slumbering forever ready in all words.

To Him That Was Crucified

My spirit to yours dear brother,

Do not mind because many sounding your name do not understand you,

I do not sound your name,

but I understand you,

I specify you with joy O my comrade to salute you,

and to salute those who are with you,

before and since,

and those to come also,

That we all labor together transmitting the same charge and succession,

We few equals indifferent of lands,

indifferent of times,


enclosers of all continents,

all castes,

allowers of all theologies,



rapport of men,

We walk silent among disputes and assertions,

but reject not the disputers nor any thing that is asserted,

We hear the bawling and din,

we are reach'd at by divisions,


recriminations on every side,

They close peremptorily upon us to surround us,

my comrade,

Yet we walk unheld,


the whole earth over,

journeying up and down till we make our ineffaceable mark upon time and the diverse eras,

Till we saturate time and eras,

that the men and women of races,

ages to come,

may prove brethren and lovers as we are.

You Felons on Trial in Courts

You felons on trial in courts,

You convicts in prison-cells,

you sentenced assassins chain'd and handcuff'd with iron,

Who am I too that I am not on trial or in prison?

Me ruthless and devilish as any,

that my wrists are not chain'd with iron,

or my ankles with iron?

You prostitutes flaunting over the trottoirs or obscene in your rooms,

Who am I that I should call you more obscene than myself?

O culpable!

I acknowledge --I expose!

(O admirers,

praise not me --compliment not me --you make me wince,

I see what you do not --I know what you do not.)

Inside these breast-bones I lie smutch'd and choked,

Beneath this face that appears so impassive hell's tides continually run,

Lusts and wickedness are acceptable to me,

I walk with delinquents with passionate love,

I feel I am of them --I belong to those convicts and prostitutes myself,

And henceforth I will not deny them --for how can I deny myself?

Laws for Creations

Laws for creations,

For strong artists and leaders,

for fresh broods of teachers and perfect literats for America,

For noble savans and coming musicians.

All must have reference to the ensemble of the world,

and the compact truth of the world,

There shall be no subject too pronounced --all works shall illustrate the divine law of indirections.

What do you suppose creation is?

What do you suppose will satisfy the soul,

except to walk free and own no superior?

What do you suppose I would intimate to you in a hundred ways,

but that man or woman is as good as God?

And that there is no God any more divine than Yourself?

And that that is what the oldest and newest myths finally mean?

And that you or any one must approach creations through such laws?

To a Common Prostitute

Be composed --be at ease with me --I am Walt Whitman,

liberal and lusty as Nature,

Not till the sun excludes you do I exclude you,

Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you and the leaves to rustle for you,

do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you.

My girl I appoint with you an appointment,

and I charge you that you make preparation to be worthy to meet me,

And I charge you that you be patient and perfect till I come.

Till then I salute you with a significant look that you do not forget me.

I Was Looking a Long While

I was looking a long while for Intentions,

For a clew to the history of the past for myself,

and for these chants --and now I have found it,

It is not in those paged fables in the libraries,

(them I neither accept nor reject,) It is no more in the legends than in all else,

It is in the present --it is this earth to-day,

It is in Democracy --(the purport and aim of all the past,) It is the life of one man or one woman to-day --the average man of to-day,

It is in languages,

social customs,



It is in the broad show of artificial things,





modern improvements,

and the interchange of nations,

All for the modern --all for the average man of to-day.


Of persons arrived at high positions,




and the like;

(To me all that those persons have arrived at sinks away from them,

except as it results to their bodies and souls,

So that often to me they appear gaunt and naked,

And often to me each one mocks the others,

and mocks himself or herself,

And of each one the core of life,

namely happiness,

is full of the rotten excrement of maggots,

And often to me those men and women pass unwittingly the true realities of life,

and go toward false realities,

And often to me they are alive after what custom has served them,

but nothing more,

And often to me they are sad,


unwaked sonnambules walking the dusk.)



who makes much of a miracle?

As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,

Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,

Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,

Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,

Or stand under trees in the woods,

Or talk by day with any one I love,

or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,

Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,

Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,

Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,

Or animals feeding in the fields,

Or birds,

or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,

Or the wonderfulness of the sundown,

or of stars shining so quiet and bright,

Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;

These with the rest,

one and all,

are to me miracles,

The whole referring,

yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,

Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,

Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,

Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,

The fishes that swim --the rocks --the motion of the waves --the ships with men in them,

What stranger miracles are there?

Sparkles from the Wheel

Where the city's ceaseless crowd moves on the livelong day,

Withdrawn I join a group of children watching,

I pause aside with them.

By the curb toward the edge of the flagging,

A knife-grinder works at his wheel sharpening a great knife,

Bending over he carefully holds it to the stone,

by foot and knee,

With measur'd tread he turns rapidly,

as he presses with light but firm hand,

Forth issue then in copious golden jets,

Sparkles from the wheel.

The scene and all its belongings,

how they seize and affect me,

The sad sharp-chinn'd old man with worn clothes and broad shoulder-band of leather,

Myself effusing and fluid,

a phantom curiously floating,

now here absorb'd and arrested,

The group,

(an unminded point set in a vast surrounding,) The attentive,

quiet children,

the loud,


restive base of the streets,

The low hoarse purr of the whirling stone,

the light-press'd blade,




in tiny showers of gold,

Sparkles from the wheel.

To a Pupil

Is reform needed?

is it through you?

The greater the reform needed,

the greater the Personality you need to accomplish it.


do you not see how it would serve to have eyes,



clean and sweet?

Do you not see how it would serve to have such a body and soul that when you enter the crowd an atmosphere of desire and command enters with you,

and every one is impress'd with your Personality?

O the magnet!

the flesh over and over!


dear friend,

if need be give up all else,

and commence to-day to inure yourself to pluck,





Rest not till you rivet and publish yourself of your own Personality.

Unfolded out of the Folds

Unfolded out of the folds of the woman man comes unfolded,

and is always to come unfolded,

Unfolded only out of the superbest woman of the earth is to come the superbest man of the earth,

Unfolded out of the friendliest woman is to come the friendliest man,

Unfolded only out of the perfect body of a woman can a man be form'd of perfect body,

Unfolded only out of the inimitable poems of woman can come the poems of man,

(only thence have my poems come;) Unfolded out of the strong and arrogant woman I love,

only thence can appear the strong and arrogant man I love,

Unfolded by brawny embraces from the well-muscled woman love,

only thence come the brawny embraces of the man,

Unfolded out of the folds of the woman's brain come all the folds of the man's brain,

duly obedient,

Unfolded out of the justice of the woman all justice is unfolded,

Unfolded out of the sympathy of the woman is all sympathy;

A man is a great thing upon the earth and through eternity,

but every of the greatness of man is unfolded out of woman;

First the man is shaped in the woman,

he can then be shaped in himself.

What Am I After All

What am I after all but a child,

pleas'd with the sound of my own name?

repeating it over and over;

I stand apart to hear --it never tires me.

To you your name also;

Did you think there was nothing but two or three pronunciations in the sound of your name?


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 equilibrium also,

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 lover,

Who holds duly his or her triune proportion of realism,


and of the aesthetic or intellectual,

Who having consider'd the body finds all its organs and parts good,


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 States;

Who believes not only in our globe with its sun and moon,

but in other globes with their suns and moons,


constructing the house of himself or herself,

not for a day but for all time,

sees races,




The past,

the future,

dwelling there,

like space,

inseparable together.

Others May Praise What They Like

Others may praise what they like;

But I,

from the banks of the running Missouri,

praise nothing in art or aught else,

Till it has well inhaled the atmosphere of this river,

also the western prairie-scent,

And exudes it all again.

Who Learns My Lesson Complete?

Who learns my lesson complete?




churchman and atheist,

The stupid and the wise thinker,

parents and offspring,



porter and customer,




and schoolboy --draw nigh and commence;

It is no lesson --it lets down the bars to a good lesson,

And that to another,

and every one to another still.

The great laws take and effuse without argument,

I am of the same style,

for I am their friend,

I love them quits and quits,

I do not halt and make salaams.

I lie abstracted and hear beautiful tales of things and the reasons of things,

They are so beautiful I nudge myself to listen.

I cannot say to any person what I hear --I cannot say it to myself -- it is very wonderful.

It is no small matter,

this round and delicious globe moving so exactly in its orbit for ever and ever,

without one jolt or the untruth of a single second,

I do not think it was made in six days,

nor in ten thousand years,

nor ten billions of years,

Nor plann'd and built one thing after another as an architect plans and builds a house.

I do not think seventy years is the time of a man or woman,

Nor that seventy millions of years is the time of a man or woman,

Nor that years will ever stop the existence of me,

or any one else.

Is it wonderful that I should be immortal?

as every one is immortal;

I know it is wonderful,

but my eyesight is equally wonderful,

and how I was conceived in my mother's womb is equally wonderful,

And pass'd from a babe in the creeping trance of a couple of summers and winters to articulate and walk --all this is equally wonderful.

And that my soul embraces you this hour,

and we affect each other without ever seeing each other,

and never perhaps to see each other,

is every bit as wonderful.

And that I can think such thoughts as these is just as wonderful,

And that I can remind you,

and you think them and know them to be true,

is just as wonderful.

And that the moon spins round the earth and on with the earth,

is equally wonderful,

And that they balance themselves with the sun and stars is equally wonderful.


All submit to them where they sit,



unapproachable to analysis in the soul,

Not traditions,

not the outer authorities are the judges,

They are the judges of outer authorities and of all traditions,

They corroborate as they go only whatever corroborates themselves,

and touches themselves;

For all that,

they have it forever in themselves to corroborate far and near without one exception.

The Torch

On my Northwest coast in the midst of the night a fishermen's group stands watching,

Out on the lake that expands before them,

others are spearing salmon,

The canoe,

a dim shadowy thing,

moves across the black water,

Bearing a torch ablaze at the prow.

O Star of France [1870-71]

O star of France,

The brightness of thy hope and strength and fame,

Like some proud ship that led the fleet so long,

Beseems to-day a wreck driven by the gale,

a mastless hulk,


'mid its teeming madden'd half-drown'd crowds,

Nor helm nor helmsman.

Dim smitten star,

Orb not of France alone,

pale symbol of my soul,

its dearest hopes,

The struggle and the daring,

rage divine for liberty,

Of aspirations toward the far ideal,

enthusiast's dreams of brotherhood,

Of terror to the tyrant and the priest.

Star crucified --by traitors sold,

Star panting o'er a land of death,

heroic land,




frivolous land.


yet for thy errors,



I will not now rebuke thee,

Thy unexampled woes and pangs have quell'd them all,

And left thee sacred.

In that amid thy many faults thou ever aimedst highly,

In that thou wouldst not really sell thyself however great the price,

In that thou surely wakedst weeping from thy drugg'd sleep,

In that alone among thy sisters thou,


didst rend the ones that shamed thee,

In that thou couldst not,

wouldst not,

wear the usual chains,

This cross,

thy livid face,

thy pierced hands and feet,

The spear thrust in thy side.

O star!

O ship of France,

beat back and baffled long!

Bear up O smitten orb!

O ship continue on!

Sure as the ship of all,

the Earth itself,

Product of deathly fire and turbulent chaos,

Forth from its spasms of fury and its poisons,

Issuing at last in perfect power and beauty,

Onward beneath the sun following its course,

So thee O ship of France!

Finish'd the days,

the clouds dispel'd The travail o'er,

the long-sought extrication,

When lo!


high o'er the European world,

(In gladness answering thence,

as face afar to face,

reflecting ours Columbia,) Again thy star O France,

fair lustrous star,

In heavenly peace,


more bright than ever,

Shall beam immortal.

The Ox-Tamer

In a far-away northern county in the placid pastoral region,

Lives my farmer friend,

the theme of my recitative,

a famous tamer of oxen,

There they bring him the three-year-olds and the four-year-olds to break them,

He will take the wildest steer in the world and break him and tame him,

He will go fearless without any whip where the young bullock chafes up and down the yard,

The bullock's head tosses restless high in the air with raging eyes,

Yet see you!

how soon his rage subsides --how soon this tamer tames him;

See you!

on the farms hereabout a hundred oxen young and old,

and he is the man who has tamed them,

They all know him,

all are affectionate to him;

See you!

some are such beautiful animals,

so lofty looking;

Some are buff-color'd,

some mottled,

one has a white line running along his back,

some are brindled,

Some have wide flaring horns (a good sign) --see you!

the bright hides,


the two with stars on their foreheads --see,

the round bodies and broad backs,

How straight and square they stand on their legs --what fine sagacious eyes!

How straight they watch their tamer --they wish him near them --how they turn to look after him!

What yearning expression!

how uneasy they are when he moves away from them;

Now I marvel what it can be he appears to them,




depart --all else departs,) I confess I envy only his fascination --my silent,

illiterate friend,

Whom a hundred oxen love there in his life on farms,

In the northern county far,

in the placid pastoral region.

An Old Man's Thought of School [For the Inauguration of a Public School,


New Jersey,


An old man's thought of school,

An old man gathering youthful memories and blooms that youth itself cannot.

Now only do I know you,

O fair auroral skies --O morning dew upon the grass!

And these I see,

these sparkling eyes,

These stores of mystic meaning,

these young lives,


equipping like a fleet of ships,

immortal ships,

Soon to sail out over the measureless seas,

On the soul's voyage.

Only a lot of boys and girls?

Only the tiresome spelling,


ciphering classes?

Only a public school?

Ah more,

infinitely more;

(As George Fox rais'd his warning cry,

"Is it this pile of brick and mortar,

these dead floors,



you call the church?

Why this is not the church at all --the church is living,

ever living souls.")

And you America,

Cast you the real reckoning for your present?

The lights and shadows of your future,

good or evil?

To girlhood,

boyhood look,

the teacher and the school.

Wandering at Morn

Wandering at morn,

Emerging from the night from gloomy thoughts,

thee in my thoughts,

Yearning for thee harmonious Union!


singing bird divine!

Thee coil'd in evil times my country,

with craft and black dismay,

with every meanness,

treason thrust upon thee,

This common marvel I beheld --the parent thrush I watch'd feeding its young,

The singing thrush whose tones of joy and faith ecstatic,

Fail not to certify and cheer my soul.

There ponder'd,

felt I,

If worms,


loathsome grubs,

may to sweet spiritual songs be turn'd,

If vermin so transposed,

so used and bless'd may be,

Then may I trust in you,

your fortunes,


my country;

Who knows but these may be the lessons fit for you?

From these your future song may rise with joyous trills,

Destin'd to fill the world.

Italian Music in Dakota ["The Seventeenth --the finest Regimental Band I ever heard."]

Through the soft evening air enwinding all,





pacing sentries,

endless wilds,

In dulcet streams,

in flutes' and cornets' notes,





(Yet strangely fitting even here,

meanings unknown before,

Subtler than ever,

more harmony,

as if born here,

related here,

Not to the city's fresco'd rooms,

not to the audience of the opera house,



wandering strains,

as really here at home,

Sonnambula's innocent love,

trios with Norma's anguish,

And thy ecstatic chorus Poliuto;) Ray'd in the limpid yellow slanting sundown,


Italian music in Dakota.

While Nature,

sovereign of this gnarl'd realm,

Lurking in hidden barbaric grim recesses,

Acknowledging rapport however far remov'd,

(As some old root or soil of earth its last-born flower or fruit,) Listens well pleas'd.

With All Thy Gifts

With all thy gifts America,

Standing secure,

rapidly tending,

overlooking the world,




vouchsafed to thee --with these and like of these vouchsafed to thee,

What if one gift thou lackest?

(the ultimate human problem never solving,) The gift of perfect women fit for thee --what if that gift of gifts thou lackest?

The towering feminine of thee?

the beauty,



fit for thee?

The mothers fit for thee?

My Picture-Gallery

In a little house keep I pictures suspended,

it is not a fix'd house,

It is round,

it is only a few inches from one side to the other;

Yet behold,

it has room for all the shows of the world,

all memories!

Here the tableaus of life,

and here the groupings of death;


do you know this?

this is cicerone himself,

With finger rais'd he points to the prodigal pictures.

The Prairie States

A newer garden of creation,

no primal solitude,




populous millions,

cities and farms,

With iron interlaced,



many in one,

By all the world contributed --freedom's and law's and thrift's society,

The crown and teeming paradise,

so far,

of time's accumulations,

To justify the past.


Proud Music of the Storm

1 Proud music of the storm,

Blast that careers so free,

whistling across the prairies,

Strong hum of forest tree-tops --wind of the mountains,

Personified dim shapes --you hidden orchestras,

You serenades of phantoms with instruments alert,

Blending with Nature's rhythmus all the tongues of nations;

You chords left as by vast composers --you choruses,

You formless,


religious dances --you from the Orient,

You undertone of rivers,

roar of pouring cataracts,

You sounds from distant guns with galloping cavalry,

Echoes of camps with all the different bugle-calls,

Trooping tumultuous,

filling the midnight late,

bending me powerless,

Entering my lonesome slumber-chamber,

why have you seiz'd me?

2 Come forward O my soul,

and let the rest retire,


lose not,

it is toward thee they tend,

Parting the midnight,

entering my slumber-chamber,

For thee they sing and dance O soul.

A festival song,

The duet of the bridegroom and the bride,

a marriage-march,

With lips of love,

and hearts of lovers fill'd to the brim with love,

The red-flush'd cheeks and perfumes,

the cortege swarming full of friendly faces young and old,

To flutes' clear notes and sounding harps' cantabile.

Now loud approaching drums,


seest thou in powder-smoke the banners torn but flying?

the rout of the baffled?

Hearest those shouts of a conquering army?

(Ah soul,

the sobs of women,

the wounded groaning in agony,

The hiss and crackle of flames,

the blacken'd ruins,

the embers of cities,

The dirge and desolation of mankind.)

Now airs antique and mediaeval fill me,

I see and hear old harpers with their harps at Welsh festivals,

I hear the minnesingers singing their lays of love,

I hear the minstrels,



of the middle ages.

Now the great organ sounds,


while underneath,

(as the hid footholds of the earth,

On which arising rest,

and leaping forth depend,

All shapes of beauty,

grace and strength,

all hues we know,

Green blades of grass and warbling birds,

children that gambol and play,

the clouds of heaven above,) The strong base stands,

and its pulsations intermits not,



merging all the rest,

maternity of all the rest,

And with it every instrument in multitudes,

The players playing,

all the world's musicians,

The solemn hymns and masses rousing adoration,

All passionate heart-chants,

sorrowful appeals,

The measureless sweet vocalists of ages,

And for their solvent setting earth's own diapason,

Of winds and woods and mighty ocean waves,

A new composite orchestra,

binder of years and climes,

ten-fold renewer,

As of the far-back days the poets tell,

the Paradiso,

The straying thence,

the separation long,

but now the wandering done,

The journey done,

the journeyman come home,

And man and art with Nature fused again.


for earth and heaven;

(The Almighty leader now for once has signal'd with his wand.)

The manly strophe of the husbands of the world,

And all the wives responding.

The tongues of violins,

(I think O tongues ye tell this heart,

that cannot tell itself,

This brooding yearning heart,

that cannot tell itself.)

3 Ah from a little child,

Thou knowest soul how to me all sounds became music,

My mother's voice in lullaby or hymn,

(The voice,

O tender voices,

memory's loving voices,

Last miracle of all,

O dearest mother's,


voices;) The rain,

the growing corn,

the breeze among the long-leav'd corn,

The measur'd sea-surf beating on the sand,

The twittering bird,

the hawk's sharp scream,

The wild-fowl's notes at night as flying low migrating north or south,

The psalm in the country church or mid the clustering trees,

the open air camp-meeting,

The fiddler in the tavern,

the glee,

the long-strung sailor-song,

The lowing cattle,

bleating sheep,

the crowing cock at dawn.

All songs of current lands come sounding round me,

The German airs of friendship,

wine and love,

Irish ballads,

merry jigs and dances,

English warbles,

Chansons of France,

Scotch tunes,

and o'er the rest,

Italia's peerless compositions.

Across the stage with pallor on her face,

yet lurid passion,

Stalks Norma brandishing the dagger in her hand.

I see poor crazed Lucia's eyes' unnatural gleam,

Her hair down her back falls loose and dishevel'd.

I see where Ernani walking the bridal garden,

Amid the scent of night-roses,


holding his bride by the hand,

Hears the infernal call,

the death-pledge of the horn.

To crossing swords and gray hairs bared to heaven,

The clear electric base and baritone of the world,

The trombone duo,

Libertad forever!

From Spanish chestnut trees' dense shade,

By old and heavy convent walls a wailing song,

Song of lost love,

the torch of youth and life quench'd in despair,

Song of the dying swan,

Fernando's heart is breaking.

Awaking from her woes at last retriev'd Amina sings,

Copious as stars and glad as morning light the torrents of her joy.

(The teeming lady comes,

The lustrious orb,

Venus contralto,

the blooming mother,

Sister of loftiest gods,

Alboni's self I hear.)

4 I hear those odes,



I hear in the William Tell the music of an arous'd and angry people,

I hear Meyerbeer's Huguenots,

the Prophet,

or Robert,

Gounod's Faust,

or Mozart's Don Juan.

I hear the dance-music of all nations,

The waltz,

some delicious measure,


bathing me in bliss,

The bolero to tinkling guitars and clattering castanets.

I see religious dances old and new,

I hear the sound of the Hebrew lyre,

I see the crusaders marching bearing the cross on high,

to the martial clang of cymbals,

I hear dervishes monotonously chanting,

interspers'd with frantic shouts,

as they spin around turning always towards Mecca,

I see the rapt religious dances of the Persians and the Arabs,


at Eleusis,

home of Ceres,

I see the modern Greeks dancing,

I hear them clapping their hands as they bend their bodies,

I hear the metrical shuffling of their feet.

I see again the wild old Corybantian dance,

the performers wounding each other,

I see the Roman youth to the shrill sound of flageolets throwing and catching their weapons,

As they fall on their knees and rise again.

I hear from the Mussulman mosque the muezzin calling,

I see the worshippers within,

nor form nor sermon,

argument nor word,

But silent,




glowing heads,

ecstatic faces.

I hear the Egyptian harp of many strings,

The primitive chants of the Nile boatmen,

The sacred imperial hymns of China,

To the delicate sounds of the king,

(the stricken wood and stone,) Or to Hindu flutes and the fretting twang of the vina,

A band of bayaderes.

5 Now Asia,

Africa leave me,

Europe seizing inflates me,

To organs huge and bands I hear as from vast concourses of voices,

Luther's strong hymn Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott,

Rossini's Stabat Mater dolorosa,

Or floating in some high cathedral dim with gorgeous color'd windows,

The passionate Agnus Dei or Gloria in Excelsis.


mighty maestros!

And you,

sweet singers of old lands,




To you a new bard caroling in the West,

Obeisant sends his love.

(Such led to thee O soul,

All senses,

shows and objects,

lead to thee,

But now it seems to me sound leads o'er all the rest.)

I hear the annual singing of the children in St. Paul's cathedral,


under the high roof of some colossal hall,

the symphonies,

oratorios of Beethoven,


or Haydn,

The Creation in billows of godhood laves me.

Give me to hold all sounds,

(I madly struggling cry,) Fill me with all the voices of the universe,

Endow me with their throbbings,

Nature's also,

The tempests,



operas and chants,

marches and dances,


pour in,

for I would take them all!

6 Then I woke softly,

And pausing,

questioning awhile the music of my dream,

And questioning all those reminiscences,

the tempest in its fury,

And all the songs of sopranos and tenors,

And those rapt oriental dances of religious fervor,

And the sweet varied instruments,

and the diapason of organs,

And all the artless plaints of love and grief and death,

I said to my silent curious soul out of the bed of the slumber-chamber,


for I have found the clew I sought so long,

Let us go forth refresh'd amid the day,

Cheerfully tallying life,

walking the world,

the real,

Nourish'd henceforth by our celestial dream.

And I said,


Haply what thou hast heard O soul was not the sound of winds,

Nor dream of raging storm,

nor sea-hawk's flapping wings nor harsh scream,

Nor vocalism of sun-bright Italy,

Nor German organ majestic,

nor vast concourse of voices,

nor layers of harmonies,

Nor strophes of husbands and wives,

nor sound of marching soldiers,

Nor flutes,

nor harps,

nor the bugle-calls of camps,

But to a new rhythmus fitted for thee,

Poems bridging the way from Life to Death,

vaguely wafted in night air,



Which let us go forth in the bold day and write.


Passage to India

1 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;

Yet first to sound,

and ever sound,

the cry with thee O soul,

The Past!

the Past!

the Past!

The Past --the dark unfathom'd retrospect!

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,


passing a certain line,

still keeps on,

So the present,

utterly form'd,

impell'd by the past.)

2 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,


Africa's fables,

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,


red as roses,

burnish'd with gold!

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!



seest thou not God's purpose from the first?

The earth to be spann'd,

connected by network,

The races,


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,




You engineers,

you architects,




not for trade or transportation only,

But in God's name,

and for thy sake O soul.

3 Passage to India!

Lo soul for thee of tableaus twain,

I see in one the Suez canal initiated,


I see the procession of steamships,

the Empress Engenie's leading the van,

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,


(yet thine,

all thine,

O soul,

the same,) I see over my own continent the Pacific railroad surmounting every barrier,

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-whistle,

I hear the echoes reverberate through the grandest scenery in the world,

I cross the Laramie plains,

I note the rocks in grotesque shapes,

the buttes,

I see the plentiful larkspur and wild onions,

the barren,



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 pines,

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.)

4 Passage to India!

Struggles of many a captain,

tales of many a sailor dead,

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 rising,

A ceaseless thought,

a varied train --lo,


to thee,

thy sight,

they rise,

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,

For purpose vast,

man's long probation fill'd,

Thou rondure of the world at last accomplish'd.

5 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 above,


the manifold grass and waters,




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,




with restless explorations,

With questionings,




with never-happy hearts,

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 out,

Perhaps even now the time has arrived.

After the seas are all cross'd,

(as they seem already cross'd,) After the great captains and engineers have accomplish'd their work,

After the noble inventors,

after the scientists,

the chemist,

the geologist,


Finally shall come the poet worthy that name,

The true son of God shall come singing his songs.

Then not your deeds only O voyagers,

O scientists and inventors,

shall be justified,

All these hearts as of fretted children shall be sooth'd,

All affection shall be fully responded to,

the secret shall be told,

All these separations and gaps shall be taken up and hook'd and link'd together,

The whole earth,

this cold,


voiceless earth,

shall be completely Justified,

Trinitas divine shall be gloriously accomplish'd and compacted by the true son of God,

the poet,

(He shall indeed pass the straits and conquer the mountains,

He shall double the cape of Good Hope to some purpose,) Nature and Man shall be disjoin'd and diffused no more,

The true son of God shall absolutely fuse them.

6 Year at whose wide-flung door I sing!

Year of the purpose accomplish'd!

Year of the marriage of continents,

climates and oceans!

(No mere doge of Venice now wedding the Adriatic,) I see O year in you the vast terraqueous globe given and giving all,

Europe to Asia,

Africa join'd,

and they to the New World,

The lands,


dancing before you,

holding a festival garland,

As brides and bridegrooms hand in hand.

Passage to India!

Cooling airs from Caucasus far,

soothing cradle of man,

The river Euphrates flowing,

the past lit up again.

Lo soul,

the retrospect brought forward,

The old,

most populous,

wealthiest of earth's lands,

The streams of the Indus and the Ganges and their many affluents,

(I my shores of America walking to-day behold,

resuming all,) The tale of Alexander on his warlike marches suddenly dying,

On one side China and on the other side Persia and Arabia,

To the south the great seas and the bay of Bengal,

The flowing literatures,

tremendous epics,



Old occult Brahma interminably far back,

the tender and junior Buddha,

Central and southern empires and all their belongings,


The wars of Tamerlane,the reign of Aurungzebe,

The traders,






the Arabs,


The first travelers famous yet,

Marco Polo,

Batouta the Moor,

Doubts to be solv'd,

the map incognita,

blanks to be fill'd,

The foot of man unstay'd,

the hands never at rest,

Thyself O soul that will not brook a challenge.

The mediaeval navigators rise before me,

The world of 1492,

with its awaken'd enterprise,

Something swelling in humanity now like the sap of the earth in spring,

The sunset splendor of chivalry declining.

And who art thou sad shade?



thyself a visionary,

With majestic limbs and pious beaming eyes,

Spreading around with every look of thine a golden world,

Enhuing it with gorgeous hues.

As the chief histrion,

Down to the footlights walks in some great scena,

Dominating the rest I see the Admiral himself,

(History's type of courage,


faith,) Behold him sail from Palos leading his little fleet,

His voyage behold,

his return,

his great fame,

His misfortunes,


behold him a prisoner,


Behold his dejection,



(Curious in time I stand,

noting the efforts of heroes,

Is the deferment long?

bitter the slander,



Lies the seed unreck'd for centuries in the ground?


to God's due occasion,

Uprising in the night,

it sprouts,


And fills the earth with use and beauty.)

7 Passage indeed O soul to primal thought,

Not lands and seas alone,

thy own clear freshness,

The young maturity of brood and bloom,

To realms of budding bibles.

O soul,


I with thee and thou with me,

Thy circumnavigation of the world begin,

Of man,

the voyage of his mind's return,

To reason's early paradise,


back to wisdom's birth,

to innocent intuitions,

Again with fair creation.

8 O we can wait no longer,

We too take ship O soul,

Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas,

Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to sail,

Amid the wafting winds,

(thou pressing me to thee,

I thee to me,

O soul,) Caroling free,

singing our song of God,

Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.

With laugh and many a kiss,

(Let others deprecate,

let others weep for sin,


humiliation,) O soul thou pleasest me,

I thee.

Ah more than any priest O soul we too believe in God,

But with the mystery of God we dare not dally.

O soul thou pleasest me,

I thee,

Sailing these seas or on the hills,

or waking in the night,


silent thoughts,

of Time and Space and Death,

like waters flowing,

Bear me indeed as through the regions infinite,

Whose air I breathe,

whose ripples hear,

lave me all over,

Bathe me O God in thee,

mounting to thee,

I and my soul to range in range of thee.

O Thou transcendent,


the fibre and the breath,

Light of the light,

shedding forth universes,

thou centre of them,

Thou mightier centre of the true,

the good,

the loving,

Thou moral,

spiritual fountain --affection's source --thou reservoir,

(O pensive soul of me --O thirst unsatisfied --waitest not there?

Waitest not haply for us somewhere there the Comrade perfect?) Thou pulse --thou motive of the stars,





move in order,



Athwart the shapeless vastnesses of space,

How should I think,

how breathe a single breath,

how speak,


out of myself,

I could not launch,

to those,

superior universes?

Swiftly I shrivel at the thought of God,

At Nature and its wonders,

Time and Space and Death,

But that I,


call to thee O soul,

thou actual Me,

And lo,

thou gently masterest the orbs,

Thou matest Time,

smilest content at Death,

And fillest,

swellest full the vastnesses of Space.

Greater than stars or suns,

Bounding O soul thou journeyest forth;

What love than thine and ours could wider amplify?

What aspirations,


outvie thine and ours O soul?

What dreams of the ideal?

what plans of purity,



What cheerful willingness for others' sake to give up all?

For others' sake to suffer all?

Reckoning ahead O soul,

when thou,

the time achiev'd,

The seas all cross'd,

weather'd the capes,

the voyage done,



frontest God,


the aim attain'd,

As fill'd with friendship,

love complete,

the Elder Brother found,

The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.

9 Passage to more than India!

Are thy wings plumed indeed for such far flights?

O soul,

voyagest thou indeed on voyages like those?

Disportest thou on waters such as those?

Soundest below the Sanscrit and the Vedas?

Then have thy bent unleash'd.

Passage to you,

your shores,

ye aged fierce enigmas!

Passage to you,

to mastership of you,

ye strangling problems!


strew'd with the wrecks of skeletons,



never reach'd you.

Passage to more than India!

O secret of the earth and sky!

Of you O waters of the sea!

O winding creeks and rivers!

Of you O woods and fields!

of you strong mountains of my land!

Of you O prairies!

of you gray rocks!

O morning red!

O clouds!

O rain and snows!

O day and night,

passage to you!

O sun and moon and all you stars!

Sirius and Jupiter!

Passage to you!


immediate passage!

the blood burns in my veins!

Away O soul!

hoist instantly the anchor!

Cut the hawsers --haul out --shake out every sail!

Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?

Have we not grovel'd here long enough,

eating and drinking like mere brutes?

Have we not darken'd and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth --steer for the deep waters only,

Reckless O soul,


I with thee,

and thou with me,

For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,

And we will risk the ship,

ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!

O farther farther sail!

O daring joy,

but safe!

are they not all the seas of God?

O farther,


farther sail!