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1 I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
2 And what I assume you shall assume,
3 For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
4 I loafe and invite my soul,
5 I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
6 My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
7 Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
8 I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
9 Hoping to cease not till death.
10 Creeds and schools in abeyance,
11 Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,
12 I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
13 Nature without check with original energy.
14 Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
15 I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
16 The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.
17 The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless,
18 It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,
19 I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
20 I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
21 The smoke of my own breath,
22 Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine,
23 My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs,
24 The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,
25 The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind,
26 A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,
27 The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,
28 The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides,
29 The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.
30 Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?
31 Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
32 Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
33 Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
34 You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
35 You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
36 You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
37 You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
38 I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end,
39 But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
40 There was never any more inception than there is now,
41 Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
42 And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
43 Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
44 Urge and urge and urge,
45 Always the procreant urge of the world.
46 Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,
47 Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.
48 To elaborate is no avail, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is so.
49 Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well entretied, braced in the beams,
50 Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
51 I and this mystery here we stand.
52 Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.
53 Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen,
54 Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.
55 Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
56 Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.
57 Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean,
58 Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest.
59 I am satisfied -- I see, dance, laugh, sing;
60 As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread,
61 Leaving me baskets cover'd with white towels swelling the house with their plenty,
62 Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my eyes,
63 That they turn from gazing after and down the road,
64 And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent,
65 Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and which is ahead?
66 Trippers and askers surround me,
67 People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation,
68 The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,
69 My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
70 The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
71 The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
72 Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events;
73 These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
74 But they are not the Me myself.
75 Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
76 Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
77 Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
78 Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
79 Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.
80 Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,
81 I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.
82 I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to you,
83 And you must not be abased to the other.
84 Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
85 Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best,
86 Only the lull I like, the hum of your valvèd voice.
87 I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,
88 How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn'd over upon me,
89 And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
90 And reach'd till you felt my beard, and reach'd till you held my feet.
91 Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth,
92 And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
93 And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
94 And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
95 And that a kelson of the creation is love,
96 And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
97 And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
98 And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap'd stones, elder, mullein and poke-weed.
99 A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
100 How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.
101 I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.
102 Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
103 A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
104 Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?
105 Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.
106 Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
107 And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
108 Growing among black folks as among white,
109 Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.
110 And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
111 Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
112 It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
113 It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
114 It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out of their mothers' laps,
115 And here you are the mothers' laps.
116 This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
117 Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
118 Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
119 O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
120 And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.
121 I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
122 And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
123 What do you think has become of the young and old men?
124 And what do you think has become of the women and children?
125 They are alive and well somewhere,
126 The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
127 And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
128 And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
129 All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
130 And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
131 Has any one supposed it lucky to be born?
132 I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
133 I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash'd babe, and am not contain'd between my hat and boots,
134 And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good,
135 The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.
136 I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth,
137 I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself,
138 (They do not know how immortal, but I know.)
139 Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,
140 For me those that have been boys and that love women,
141 For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted,
142 For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the mothers of mothers,
143 For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,
144 For me children and the begetters of children.
145 Undrape! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
146 I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,
147 And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away.
148 The little one sleeps in its cradle,
149 I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand.
150 The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill,
151 I peeringly view them from the top.
152 The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom,
153 I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol has fallen.
154 The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of the promenaders,
155 The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the clank of the shod horses on the granite floor,
156 The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-balls,
157 The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd mobs,
158 The flap of the curtain'd litter, a sick man inside borne to the hospital,
159 The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall,
160 The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his passage to the centre of the crowd,
161 The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes,
162 What groans of over-fed or half-starv'd who fall sunstruck or in fits,
163 What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and give birth to babes,
164 What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls restrain'd by decorum,
165 Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances, rejections with convex lips,
166 I mind them or the show or resonance of them -- I come and I depart.
167 The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready,
168 The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon,
169 The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged,
170 The armfuls are pack'd to the sagging mow.
171 I am there, I help, I came stretch'd atop of the load,
172 I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other,
173 I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and timothy,
174 And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps.
175 Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt,
176 Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee,
177 In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night,
178 Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill'd game,
179 Falling asleep on the gather'd leaves with my dog and gun by my side.
180 The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails, she cuts the sparkle and scud,
181 My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from the deck.
182 The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me,
183 I tuck'd my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time;
184 You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle.
185 I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west, the bride was a red girl,
186 Her father and his friends sat near cross-legged and dumbly smoking, they had moccasins to their feet and large thick blankets hanging from their shoulders,
187 On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins, his luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck, he held his bride by the hand,
188 She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight locks descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach'd to her feet.
189 The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside,
190 I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,
191 Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and weak,
192 And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him,
193 And brought water and fill'd a tub for his sweated body and bruis'd feet,
194 And gave him a room that enter'd from my own, and gave him some coarse clean clothes,
195 And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,
196 And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;
197 He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass'd north,
198 I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean'd in the corner.
199 Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
200 Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
201 Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.
202 She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
203 She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.
204 Which of the young men does she like the best?
205 Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.
206 Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
207 You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.
208 Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather,
209 The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.
210 The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it ran from their long hair,
211 Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.
212 An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies,
213 It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.
214 The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,
215 They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch,
216 They do not think whom they souse with spray.
217 The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or sharpens his knife at the stall in the market,
218 I loiter enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and break-down.
219 Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil,
220 Each has his main-sledge, they are all out, there is a great heat in the fire.
221 From the cinder-strew'd threshold I follow their movements,
222 The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms,
223 Overhand the hammers swing, overhand so slow, overhand so sure,
224 They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.
225 The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags underneath on its tied-over chain,
226 The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and tall he stands pois'd on one leg on the string-piece,
227 His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over his hip-band,
228 His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat away from his forehead,
229 The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of his polish'd and perfect limbs.
230 I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop there,
231 I go with the team also.
232 In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as forward sluing,
233 To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing,
234 Absorbing all to myself and for this song.
235 Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade, what is that you express in your eyes?
236 It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.
237 My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck on my distant and day-long ramble,
238 They rise together, they slowly circle around.
239 I believe in those wing'd purposes,
240 And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,
241 And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional,
242 And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else,
243 And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me,
244 And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.
245 The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,
246 Ya-honk he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation,
247 The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close,
248 Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky.
249 The sharp-hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog,
250 The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats,
251 The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings,
252 I see in them and myself the same old law.
253 The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections,
254 They scorn the best I can do to relate them.
255 I am enamour'd of growing out-doors,
256 Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods,
257 Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses,
258 I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.
259 What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me,
260 Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,
261 Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me,
262 Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,
263 Scattering it freely forever.
264 The pure contralto sings in the organ loft,
265 The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane whistles its wild ascending lisp,
266 The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiving dinner,
267 The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong arm,
268 The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon are ready,
269 The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches,
270 The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the altar,
271 The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel,
272 The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loafe and looks at the oats and rye,
273 The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm'd case,
274 (He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother's bed-room;)
275 The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case,
276 He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blurr with the manuscript;
277 The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table,
278 What is removed drops horribly in a pail;
279 The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand, the drunkard nods by the bar-room stove,
280 The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his beat, the gate-keeper marks who pass,
281 The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him, though I do not know him;)
282 The half-breed straps on his light boots to compete in the race,
283 The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some lean on their rifles, some sit on logs,
284 Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels his piece;
285 The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee,
286 As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them from his saddle,
287 The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their partners, the dancers bow to each other,
288 The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof'd garret and harks to the musical rain,
289 The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron,
290 The squaw wrapt in her yellow-hemm'd cloth is offering moccasins and bead-bags for sale,
291 The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut eyes bent sideways,
292 As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is thrown for the shore-going passengers,
293 The young sister holds out the skein while the elder sister winds it off in a ball, and stops now and then for the knots,
294 The one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago borne her first child,
295 The clean-hair'd Yankee girl works with her sewing-machine or in the factory or mill,
296 The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer, the reporter's lead flies swiftly over the note-book, the sign-painter is lettering with blue and gold,
297 The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts at his desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread,
298 The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers follow him,
299 The child is baptized, the convert is making his first professions,
300 The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, (how the white sails sparkle!)
301 The drover watching his drove sings out to them that would stray,
302 The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser higgling about the odd cent;)
303 The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock moves slowly,
304 The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open'd lips,
305 The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck,
306 The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to each other,
307 (Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;)
308 The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the great Secretaries,
309 On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined arms,
310 The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the hold,
311 The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his cattle,
312 As the fare-collector goes through the train he gives notice by the jingling of loose change,
313 The floor-men are laying the floor, the tinners are tinning the roof, the masons are calling for mortar,
314 In single file each shouldering his hod pass onward the laborers;
315 Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is gather'd, it is the fourth of Seventh-month, (what salutes of cannon and small arms!)
316 Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the mower mows, and the winter-grain falls in the ground;
317 Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in the frozen surface,
318 The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep with his axe,
319 Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood or pecan-trees,
320 Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river or through those drain'd by the Tennessee, or through those of the Arkansas,
321 Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or Altamahaw,
322 Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grandsons around them,
323 In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after their day's sport,
324 The city sleeps and the country sleeps,
325 The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time,
326 The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by his wife;
327 And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,
328 And such as it is to be of these more or less I am,
329 And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.
330 I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
331 Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
332 Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,
333 Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stuff that is fine,
334 One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the largest the same,
335 A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and hospitable down by the Oconee I live,
336 A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,
337 A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian,
338 A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;
339 At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen off Newfoundland,
340 At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking,
341 At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the Texan ranch,
342 Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving their big proportions,)
343 Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands and welcome to drink and meat,
344 A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,
345 A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,
346 Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
347 A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
348 Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.
349 I resist any thing better than my own diversity,
350 Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
351 And am not stuck up, and am in my place.
352 (The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place,
353 The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place,
354 The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.)
355 These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and lands, they are not original with me,
356 If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing,
357 If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing,
358 If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.
359 This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and the water is,
360 This the common air that bathes the globe.
361 With music strong I come, with my cornets and my drums,
362 I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for conquer'd and slain persons.
363 Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?
364 I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.
365 I beat and pound for the dead,
366 I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for them.
367 Vivas to those who have fail'd!
368 And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea!
369 And to those themselves who sank in the sea!
370 And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes!
371 And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known!
372 This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger,
373 It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make appointments with all,
374 I will not have a single person slighted or left away,
375 The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited,
376 The heavy-lipp'd slave is invited, the venerealee is invited;
377 There shall be no difference between them and the rest.
378 This is the press of a bashful hand, this the float and odor of hair,
379 This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning,
380 This the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face,
381 This the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again.
382 Do you guess I have some intricate purpose?
383 Well I have, for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of a rock has.
384 Do you take it I would astonish?
385 Does the daylight astonish? does the early redstart twittering through the woods?
386 Do I astonish more than they?
387 This hour I tell things in confidence,
388 I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.
389 Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude;
390 How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?
391 What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you?
392 All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own,
393 Else it were time lost listening to me.
394 I do not snivel that snivel the world over,
395 That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth.
396 Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids, conformity goes to the fourth-remov'd,
397 I wear my hat as I please indoors or out.
398 Why should I pray? why should I venerate and be ceremonious?
399 Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counsel'd with doctors and calculated close,
400 I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.
401 In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less,
402 And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.
403 I know I am solid and sound,
404 To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,
405 All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.
406 I know I am deathless,
407 I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter's compass,
408 I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night.
409 I know I am august,
410 I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood,
411 I see that the elementary laws never apologize,
412 (I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.)
413 I exist as I am, that is enough,
414 If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
415 And if each and all be aware I sit content.
416 One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself,
417 And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten million years,
418 I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.
419 My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite,
420 I laugh at what you call dissolution,
421 And I know the amplitude of time.
422 I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,
423 The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,
424 The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.
425 I am the poet of the woman the same as the man,
426 And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,
427 And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.
428 I chant the chant of dilation or pride,
429 We have had ducking and deprecating about enough,
430 I show that size is only development.
431 Have you outstript the rest? are you the President?
432 It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and still pass on.
433 I am he that walks with the tender and growing night,
434 I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night.
435 Press close bare-bosom'd night -- press close magnetic nourishing night!
436 Night of south winds -- night of the large few stars!
437 Still nodding night -- mad naked summer night.
438 Smile O voluptuous cool-breath'd earth!
439 Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!
440 Earth of departed sunset -- earth of the mountains misty-topt!
441 Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue!
442 Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river!
443 Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake!
444 Far-swooping elbow'd earth -- rich apple-blossom'd earth!
445 Smile, for your lover comes.
446 Prodigal, you have given me love -- therefore I to you give love!
447 O unspeakable passionate love.
448 You sea! I resign myself to you also -- I guess what you mean,
449 I behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers,
450 I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me,
451 We must have a turn together, I undress, hurry me out of sight of the land,
452 Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse,
453 Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you.
454 Sea of stretch'd ground-swells,
455 Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths,
456 Sea of the brine of life and of unshovell'd yet always-ready graves,
457 Howler and scooper of storms, capricious and dainty sea,
458 I am integral with you, I too am of one phase and of all phases.
459 Partaker of influx and efflux I, extoller of hate and conciliation,
460 Extoller of amies and those that sleep in each others' arms.
461 I am he attesting sympathy,
462 (Shall I make my list of things in the house and skip the house that supports them?)
463 I am not the poet of goodness only, I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also.
464 What blurt is this about virtue and about vice?
465 Evil propels me and reform of evil propels me, I stand indifferent,
466 My gait is no fault-finder's or rejecter's gait,
467 I moisten the roots of all that has grown.
468 Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging pregnancy?
469 Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work'd over and rectified?
470 I find one side a balance and the antipodal side a balance,
471 Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine,
472 Thoughts and deeds of the present our rouse and early start.
473 This minute that comes to me over the past decillions,
474 There is no better than it and now.
475 What behaved well in the past or behaves well to-day is not such a wonder,
476 The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean man or an infidel.
477 Endless unfolding of words of ages!
478 And mine a word of the modern, the word En-Masse.
479 A word of the faith that never balks,
480 Here or henceforward it is all the same to me, I accept Time absolutely.
481 It alone is without flaw, it alone rounds and completes all,
482 That mystic baffling wonder alone completes all.
483 I accept Reality and dare not question it,
484 Materialism first and last imbuing.
485 Hurrah for positive science! long live exact demonstration!
486 Fetch stonecrop mixt with cedar and branches of lilac,
487 This is the lexicographer, this the chemist, this made a grammar of the old cartouches,
488 These mariners put the ship through dangerous unknown seas.
489 This is the geologist, this works with the scalpel, and this is a mathematician.
490 Gentlemen, to you the first honors always!
491 Your facts are useful, and yet they are not my dwelling,
492 I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.
493 Less the reminders of properties told my words,
494 And more the reminders they of life untold, and of freedom and extrication,
495 And make short account of neuters and geldings, and favor men and women fully equipt,
496 And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives and them that plot and conspire.
497 Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son,
498 Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding,
499 No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them,
500 No more modest than immodest.
501 Unscrew the locks from the doors!
502 Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!
503 Whoever degrades another degrades me,
504 And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.
505 Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through me the current and index.
506 I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy,
507 By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms.
508 Through me many long dumb voices,
509 Voices of the interminable generations of prisoners and slaves,
510 Voices of the diseas'd and despairing and of thieves and dwarfs,
511 Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,
512 And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs and of the father-stuff,
513 And of the rights of them the others are down upon,
514 Of the deform'd, trivial, flat, foolish, despised,
515 Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.
516 Through me forbidden voices,
517 Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove the veil,
518 Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur'd.
519 I do not press my fingers across my mouth,
520 I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,
521 Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
522 I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
523 Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.
524 Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch'd from,
525 The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,
526 This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.
527 If I worship one thing more than another it shall be the spread of my own body, or any part of it,
528 Translucent mould of me it shall be you!
529 Shaded ledges and rests it shall be you!
530 Firm masculine colter it shall be you!
531 Whatever goes to the tilth of me it shall be you!
532 You my rich blood! your milky stream pale strippings of my life!
533 Breast that presses against other breasts it shall be you!
534 My brain it shall be your occult convolutions!
535 Root of wash'd sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of guarded duplicate eggs! it shall be you!
536 Mix'd tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you!
537 Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it shall be you!
538 Sun so generous it shall be you!
539 Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be you!
540 You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you!
541 Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me it shall be you!
542 Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving lounger in my winding paths, it shall be you!
543 Hands I have taken, face I have kiss'd, mortal I have ever touch'd, it shall be you.
544 I dote on myself, there is that lot of me and all so luscious,
545 Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy,
546 I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my faintest wish,
547 Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the friendship I take again.
548 That I walk up my stoop, I pause to consider if it really be,
549 A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
550 To behold the day-break!
551 The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows,
552 The air tastes good to my palate.
553 Hefts of the moving world at innocent gambols silently rising freshly exuding,
554 Scooting obliquely high and low.
555 Something I cannot see puts upward libidinous prongs,
556 Seas of bright juice suffuse heaven.
557 The earth by the sky staid with, the daily close of their junction,
558 The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over my head,
559 The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be master!
560 Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sun-rise would kill me,
561 If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.
562 We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun,
563 We found our own O my soul in the calm and cool of the daybreak.
564 My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach,
565 With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes of worlds.
566 Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself,
567 It provokes me forever, it says sarcastically,
568 Walt you contain enough, why don't you let it out then?
569 Come now I will not be tantalized, you conceive too much of articulation,
570 Do you not know O speech how the buds beneath you are folded?
571 Waiting in gloom, protected by frost,
572 The dirt receding before my prophetical screams,
573 I underlying causes to balance them at last,
574 My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with the meaning of all things,
575 Happiness, (which whoever hears me let him or her set out in search of this day.)
576 My final merit I refuse you, I refuse putting from me what I really am,
577 Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me,
578 I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking toward you.
579 Writing and talk do not prove me,
580 I carry the plenum of proof and every thing else in my face,
581 With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic.
582 Now I will do nothing but listen,
583 To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute toward it.
584 I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals,
585 I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,
586 I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following,
587 Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night,
588 Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh of work-people at their meals,
589 The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the sick,
590 The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing a death-sentence,
591 The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the refrain of the anchor-lifters,
592 The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streaking engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color'd lights,
593 The steam whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars,
594 The slow march play'd at the head of the association marching two and two,
595 (They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are draped with black muslin.)
596 I hear the violoncello, ('tis the young man's heart's complaint,)
597 I hear the key'd cornet, it glides quickly in through my ears,
598 It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.
599 I hear the chorus, it is a grand opera,
600 Ah this indeed is music -- this suits me.
601 A tenor large and fresh as the creation fills me,
602 The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full.
603 I hear the train'd soprano (what work with hers is this?)
604 The orchestra whirls me wider than Uranus flies,
605 It wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possess'd them,
606 It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are lick'd by the indolent waves,
607 I am cut by bitter and angry hail, I lose my breath,
608 Steep'd amid honey'd morphine, my windpipe throttled in fakes of death,
609 At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,
610 And that we call Being.
611 To be in any form, what is that?
612 (Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,)
613 If nothing lay more develop'd the quahaug in its callous shell were enough.
614 Mine is no callous shell,
615 I have instant conductors all over me whether I pass or stop,
616 They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me.
617 I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy,
618 To touch my person to some one else's is about as much as I can stand.
619 Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity,
620 Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,
621 Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them,
622 My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly different from myself,
623 On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs,
624 Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip,
625 Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial,
626 Depriving me of my best as for a purpose,
627 Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist,
628 Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and pasture-fields,
629 Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away,
630 They bribed to swap off with touch and go and graze at the edges of me,
631 No consideration, no regard for my draining strength or my anger,
632 Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a while,
633 Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry me.
634 The sentries desert every other part of me,
635 They have left me helpless to a red marauder,
636 They all come to the headland to witness and assist against me.
637 I am given up by traitors,
638 I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody else am the greatest traitor,
639 I went myself first to the headland, my own hands carried me there.
640 You villain touch! what are you doing? my breath is tight in its throat,
641 Unclench your floodgates, you are too much for me.
642 Blind loving wrestling touch, sheath'd hooded sharp-tooth'd touch!
643 Did it make you ache so, leaving me?
644 Parting track'd by arriving, perpetual payment of perpetual loan,
645 Rich showering rain, and recompense richer afterward.
646 Sprouts take and accumulate, stand by the curb prolific and vital,
647 Landscapes projected masculine, full-sized and golden.
648 All truths wait in all things,
649 They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,
650 They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon,
651 The insignificant is as big to me as any,
652 (What is less or more than a touch?)
653 Logic and sermons never convince,
654 The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.
655 (Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so,
656 Only what nobody denies is so.)
657 A minute and a drop of me settle my brain,
658 I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps,
659 And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman,
660 And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other,
661 And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it becomes omnific,
662 And until one and all shall delight us, and we them.
663 I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,
664 And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
665 And the tree-toad is a chef-d'uvre for the highest,
666 And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
667 And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
668 And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue,
669 And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.
670 I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots,
671 And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over,
672 And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons,
673 But call any thing back again when I desire it.
674 In vain the speeding or shyness,
675 In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach,
676 In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder'd bones,
677 In vain objects stand leagues off and assume manifold shapes,
678 In vain the ocean settling in hollows and the great monsters lying low,
679 In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky,
680 In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs,
681 In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods,
682 In vain the razor-bill'd auk sails far north to Labrador,
683 I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff.
684 I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd,
685 I stand and look at them long and long.
686 They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
687 They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
688 They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
689 Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
690 Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
691 Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
692 So they show their relations to me and I accept them,
693 They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession.
694 I wonder where they get those tokens,
695 Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them?
696 Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
697 Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
698 Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them,
699 Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers,
700 Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms.
701 A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses,
702 Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears,
703 Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,
704 Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly moving.
705 His nostrils dilate as my heels embrace him,
706 His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure as we race around and return.
707 I but use you a minute, then I resign you, stallion,
708 Why do I need your paces when I myself out-gallop them?
709 Even as I stand or sit passing faster than you.
710 Space and Time! now I see it is true, what I guess'd at,
711 What I guess'd when I loaf'd on the grass,
712 What I guess'd while I lay alone in my bed,
713 And again as I walk'd the beach under the paling stars of the morning.
714 My ties and ballasts leave me, my elbows rest in sea-gaps,
715 I skirt sierras, my palms cover continents,
716 I am afoot with my vision.
717 By the city's quadrangular houses -- in log huts, camping with lumbermen,
718 Along the ruts of the turnpike, along the dry gulch and rivulet bed,
719 Weeding my onion-patch or hoeing rows of carrots and parsnips, crossing savannas, trailing in forests,
720 Prospecting, gold-digging, girdling the trees of a new purchase,
721 Scorch'd ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my boat down the shallow river,
722 Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead, where the buck turns furiously at the hunter,
723 Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock, where the otter is feeding on fish,
724 Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the bayou,
725 Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey, where the beaver pats the mud with his paddle-shaped tail;
726 Over the growing sugar, over the yellow-flower'd cotton plant, over the rice in its low moist field,
727 Over the sharp-peak'd farm house, with its scallop'd scum and slender shoots from the gutters,
728 Over the western persimmon, over the long-leav'd corn, over the delicate blue-flower flax,
729 Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and buzzer there with the rest,
730 Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades in the breeze;
731 Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, holding on by low scragged limbs,
732 Walking the path worn in the grass and beat through the leaves of the brush,
733 Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods and the wheat-lot,
734 Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve, where the great gold-bug drops through the dark,
735 Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow,
736 Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous shuddering of their hides,
737 Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where andirons straddle the hearth-slab, where cobwebs fall in festoons from the rafters;
738 Where trip-hammers crash, where the press is whirling its cylinders,
739 Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes under its ribs,
740 Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, (floating in it myself and looking composedly down,)
741 Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose, where the heat hatches pale-green eggs in the dented sand,
742 Where the she-whale swims with her calf and never forsakes it,
743 Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long pennant of smoke,
744 Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of the water,
745 Where the half-burn'd brig is riding on unknown currents,
746 Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the dead are corrupting below;
747 Where the dense-starr'd flag is borne at the head of the regiments,
748 Approaching Manhattan up by the long-stretching island,
749 Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance,
750 Upon a door-step, upon the horse-block of hard wood outside,
751 Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs or a good game of base-ball,
752 At he-festivals, with blackguard gibes, ironical license, bull-dances, drinking, laughter,
753 At the cider-mill tasting the sweets of the brown mash, sucking the juice through a straw,
754 At apple-peelings wanting kisses for all the red fruit I find,
755 At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, house-raisings;
756 Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles, screams, weeps,
757 Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard, where the dry-stalks are scatter'd, where the brood-cow waits in the hovel,
758 Where the bull advances to do his masculine work, where the stud to the mare, where the cock is treading the hen,
759 Where the heifers browse, where geese nip their food with short jerks,
760 Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless and lonesome prairie,
761 Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles far and near,
762 Where the humming-bird shimmers, where the neck of the long-lived swan is curving and winding,
763 Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where she laughs her near-human laugh,
764 Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden half hid by the high weeds,
765 Where band-neck'd partridges roost in a ring on the ground with their heads out,
766 Where burial coaches enter the arch'd gates of a cemetery,
767 Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees,
768 Where the yellow-crown'd heron comes to the edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs,
769 Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools the warm noon,
770 Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on the walnut-tree over the well,
771 Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver-wired leaves,
772 Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under conical firs,
773 Through the gymnasium, through the curtain'd saloon, through the office or public hall;
774 Pleas'd with the native and pleas'd with the foreign, pleas'd with the new and old,
775 Pleas'd with the homely woman as well as the handsome,
776 Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and talks melodiously,
777 Pleas'd with the tune of the choir of the whitewash'd church,
778 Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist preacher, impress'd seriously at the camp-meeting;
779 Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the whole forenoon, flatting the flesh of my nose on the thick plate glass,
780 Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn'd up to the clouds, or down a lane or along the beach,
781 My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, and I in the middle;
782 Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek'd bush-boy, (behind me he rides at the drape of the day,)
783 Far from the settlements studying the print of animals' feet, or the moccasin print,
784 By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a feverish patient,
785 Nigh the coffin'd corpse when all is still, examining with a candle;
786 Voyaging to every port to dicker and adventure,
787 Hurrying with the modern crowd as eager and fickle as any,
788 Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife him,
789 Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from me a long while,
790 Walking the old hills of Judæa with the beautiful gentle God by my side,
791 Speeding through space, speeding through heaven and the stars,
792 Speeding amid the seven satellites and the broad ring, and the diameter of eighty thousand miles,
793 Speeding with tail'd meteors, throwing fire-balls like the rest,
794 Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full mother in its belly,
795 Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning,
796 Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing,
797 I tread day and night such roads.
798 I visit the orchards of spheres and look at the product,
799 And look at quintillions ripen'd and look at quintillions green.
800 I fly those flights of a fluid and swallowing soul,
801 My course runs below the soundings of plummets.
802 I help myself to material and immaterial,
803 No guard can shut me off, no law prevent me.
804 I anchor my ship for a little while only,
805 My messengers continually cruise away or bring their returns to me.
806 I go hunting polar furs and the seal, leaping chasms with a pike-pointed staff, clinging to topples of brittle and blue.
807 I ascend to the foretruck,
808 I take my place late at night in the crow's-nest,
809 We sail the arctic sea, it is plenty light enough,
810 Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the wonderful beauty,
811 The enormous masses of ice pass me and I pass them, the scenery is plain in all directions,
812 The white-topt mountains show in the distance, I fling out my fancies toward them,
813 We are approaching some great battle-field in which we are soon to be engaged,
814 We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment, we pass with still feet and caution,
815 Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin'd city,
816 The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities of the globe.
817 I am a free companion, I bivouac by invading watchfires,
818 I turn the bridegroom out of bed and stay with the bride myself,
819 I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.
820 My voice is the wife's voice, the screech by the rail of the stairs,
821 They fetch my man's body up dripping and drown'd.
822 I understand the large hearts of heroes,
823 The courage of present times and all times,
824 How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the steam-ship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm,
825 How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was faithful of days and faithful of nights,
826 And chalk'd in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer, we will not desert you;
827 How he follow'd with them and tack'd with them three days and would not give it up,
828 How he saved the drifting company at last,
829 How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when boated from the side of their prepared graves,
830 How the silent old-faced infants and the lifted sick, and the sharp-lipp'd unshaved men;
831 All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it becomes mine,
832 I am the man, I suffer'd, I was there.
833 The disdain and calmness of martyrs,
834 The mother of old, condemn'd for a witch, burnt with dry wood, her children gazing on,
835 The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence, blowing, cover'd with sweat,
836 The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the murderous buckshot and the bullets,
837 All these I feel or am.
838 I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs,
839 Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen,
840 I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd with the ooze of my skin,
841 I fall on the weeds and stones,
842 The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close,
843 Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks.
844 Agonies are one of my changes of garments,
845 I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person,
846 My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe.
847 I am the mash'd fireman with breast-bone broken,
848 Tumbling walls buried me in their debris,
849 Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling shouts of my comrades,
850 I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels,
851 They have clear'd the beams away, they tenderly lift me forth.
852 I lie in the night air in my red shirt, the pervading hush is for my sake,
853 Painless after all I lie exhausted but not so unhappy,
854 White and beautiful are the faces around me, the heads are bared of their fire-caps,
855 The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the torches.
856 Distant and dead resuscitate,
857 They show as the dial or move as the hands of me, I am the clock myself.
858 I am an old artillerist, I tell of my fort's bombardment,
859 I am there again.
860 Again the long roll of the drummers,
861 Again the attacking cannon, mortars,
862 Again to my listening ears the cannon responsive.
863 I take part, I see and hear the whole,
864 The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aim'd shots,
865 The ambulanza slowly passing trailing its red drip,
866 Workmen searching after damages, making indispensable repairs,
867 The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the fan-shaped explosion,
868 The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in the air.
869 Again gurgles the mouth of my dying general, he furiously waves with his hand,
870 He gasps through the clot Mind not me -- mind -- the entrenchments.
871 Now I tell what I knew in Texas in my early youth,
872 (I tell not the fall of Alamo,
873 Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo,
874 The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo,)
875 'Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and twelve young men.
876 Retreating they had form'd in a hollow square with their baggage for breastworks,
877 Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemy's, nine times their number, was the price they took in advance,
878 Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone,
879 They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv'd writing and seal, gave up their arms and march'd back prisoners of war.
880 They were the glory of the race of rangers,
881 Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship,
882 Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affectionate,
883 Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters,
884 Not a single one over thirty years of age.
885 The second First-day morning they were brought out in squads and massacred, it was beautiful early summer,
886 The work commenced about five o'clock and was over by eight.
887 None obey'd the command to kneel,
888 Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and straight,
889 A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and dead lay together,
890 The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers saw them there,
891 Some half-kill'd attempted to crawl away,
892 These were despatch'd with bayonets or batter'd with the blunts of muskets,
893 A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till two more came to release him,
894 The three were all torn and cover'd with the boy's blood.
895 At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies;
896 That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men.
897 Would you hear of an old-time sea-fight?
898 Would you learn who won by the light of the moon and stars?
899 List to the yarn, as my grandmother's father the sailor told it to me.
900 Our foe was no skulk in his ship I tell you, (said he,)
901 His was the surly English pluck, and there is no tougher or truer, and never was, and never will be;
902 Along the lower'd eve he came horribly raking us.
903 We closed with him, the yards entangled, the cannon touch'd,
904 My captain lash'd fast with his own hands.
905 We had receiv'd some eighteen pound shots under the water,
906 On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at the first fire, killing all around and blowing up overhead.
907 Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark,
908 Ten o'clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks on the gain, and five feet of water reported,
909 The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in the after-hold to give them a chance for themselves.
910 The transit to and from the magazine is now stopt by the sentinels,
911 They see so many strange faces they do not know whom to trust.
912 Our frigate takes fire,
913 The other asks if we demand quarter?
914 If our colors are struck and the fighting done?
915 Now I laugh content, for I hear the voice of my little captain,
916 We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just begun our part of the fighting.
917 Only three guns are in use,
918 One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy's mainmast,
919 Two well serv'd with grape and canister silence his musketry and clear his decks.
920 The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially the main-top,
921 They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.
922 Not a moment's cease,
923 The leaks gain fast on the pumps, the fire eats toward the powder-magazine.
924 One of the pumps has been shot away, it is generally thought we are sinking.
925 Serene stands the little captain,
926 He is not hurried, his voice is neither high nor low,
927 His eyes give more light to us than our battle-lanterns.
928 Toward twelve there in the beams of the moon they surrender to us.
929 Stretch'd and still lies the midnight,
930 Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness,
931 Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass to the one we have conquer'd,
932 The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet,
933 Near by the corpse of the child that serv'd in the cabin,
934 The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curl'd whiskers,
935 The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and below,
936 The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty,
937 Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars,
938 Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves,
939 Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent,
940 A few large stars overhead, silent and mournful shining,
941 Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore, death-messages given in charge to survivors,
942 The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw,
943 Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long, dull, tapering groan,
944 These so, these irretrievable.
945 You laggards there on guard! look to your arms!
946 In at the conquer'd doors they crowd! I am possess'd!
947 Embody all presences outlaw'd or suffering,
948 See myself in prison shaped like another man,
949 And feel the dull unintermitted pain.
950 For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch,
951 It is I let out in the morning and barr'd at night.
952 Not a mutineer walks handcuff'd to jail but I am handcuff'd to him and walk by his side,
953 (I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat on my twitching lips.)
954 Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried and sentenced.
955 Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the last gasp,
956 My face is ash-color'd, my sinews gnarl, away from me people retreat.
957 Askers embody themselves in me and I am embodied in them,
958 I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg.
959 Enough! enough! enough!
960 Somehow I have been stunn'd. Stand back!
961 Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers, dreams, gaping,
962 I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.
963 That I could forget the mockers and insults!
964 That I could forget the trickling tears and the blows of the bludgeons and hammers!
965 That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and bloody crowning.
966 I remember now,
967 I resume the overstaid fraction,
968 The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it, or to any graves,
969 Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me.
970 I troop forth replenish'd with supreme power, one of an average unending procession,
971 Inland and sea-coast we go, and pass all boundary lines,
972 Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole earth,
973 The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years.
974 Eleves, I salute you! come forward!
975 Continue your annotations, continue your questionings.
976 The friendly and flowing savage, who is he?
977 Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and mastering it?
978 Is he some Southwesterner rais'd out-doors? is he Kanadian?
979 Is he from the Mississippi country? Iowa, Oregon, California?
980 The mountains? prairie-life, bush-life? or sailor from the sea?
981 Wherever he goes men and women accept and desire him,
982 They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to them, stay with them.
983 Behavior lawless as snow-flakes, words simple as grass, uncomb'd head, laughter, and naivetè,
984 Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes and emanations,
985 They descend in new forms from the tips of his fingers,
986 They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath, they fly out of the glance of his eyes.
987 Flaunt of the sunshine I need not your bask -- lie over!
988 You light surfaces only, I force surfaces and depths also.
989 Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands,
990 Say, old top-knot, what do you want?
991 Man or woman, I might tell how I like you, but cannot,
992 And might tell what it is in me and what it is in you, but cannot,
993 And might tell that pining I have, that pulse of my nights and days.
994 Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity,
995 When I give I give myself.
996 You there, impotent, loose in the knees,
997 Open your scarf'd chops till I blow grit within you,
998 Spread your palms and lift the flaps of your pockets,
999 I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores plenty and to spare,
1000 And any thing I have I bestow.
1001 I do not ask who you are, that is not important to me,
1002 You can do nothing and be nothing but what I will infold you.
1003 To cotton-field drudge or cleaner of privies I lean,
1004 On his right cheek I put the family kiss,
1005 And in my soul I swear I never will deny him.
1006 On women fit for conception I start bigger and nimbler babes.
1007 (This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arrogant republics.)
1008 To any one dying, thither I speed and twist the knob of the door.
1009 Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed,
1010 Let the physician and the priest go home.
1011 I seize the descending man and raise him with resistless will,
1012 O despairer, here is my neck,
1013 By God, you shall not go down! hang your whole weight upon me.
1014 I dilate you with tremendous breath, I buoy you up,
1015 Every room of the house do I fill with an arm'd force,
1016 Lovers of me, bafflers of graves.
1017 Sleep -- I and they keep guard all night,
1018 Not doubt, not decease shall dare to lay finger upon you,
1019 I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to myself,
1020 And when you rise in the morning you will find what I tell you is so.
1021 I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on their backs,
1022 And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed help.
1023 I heard what was said of the universe,
1024 Heard it and heard it of several thousand years;
1025 It is middling well as far as it goes -- but is that all?
1026 Magnifying and applying come I,
1027 Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,
1028 Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah,
1029 Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules his grandson,
1030 Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha,
1031 In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the crucifix engraved,
1032 With Odin and the hideous-faced Mexitli and every idol and image,
1033 Taking them all for what they are worth and not a cent more,
1034 Admitting they were alive and did the work of their days,
1035 (They bore mites as for unfledg'd birds who have now to rise and fly and sing for themselves,)
1036 Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself, bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see,
1037 Discovering as much or more in a framer framing a house,
1038 Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd-up sleeves driving the mallet and chisel,
1039 Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation,
1040 Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes no less to me than the gods of the antique wars,
1041 Minding their voices peal through the crash of destruction,
1042 Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd laths, their white foreheads whole and unhurt out of the flames;
1043 By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple interceding for every person born,
1044 Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three lusty angels with shirts bagg'd out at their waists,
1045 The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins past and to come,
1046 Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee lawyers for his brother and sit by him while he is tried for forgery;
1047 What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square rod about me, and not filling the square rod then,
1048 The bull and the bug never worshipp'd half enough,
1049 Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd,
1050 The supernatural of no account, myself waiting my time to be one of the supremes,
1051 The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as the best, and be as prodigious;
1052 By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator,
1053 Putting myself here and now to the ambush'd womb of the shadows.
1054 A call in the midst of the crowd,
1055 My own voice, orotund sweeping and final.
1056 Come my children,
1057 Come my boys and girls, my women, household and intimates,
1058 Now the performer launches his nerve, he has pass'd his prelude on the reeds within.
1059 Easily written loose-finger'd chords -- I feel the thrum of your climax and close.
1060 My head slues round on my neck,
1061 Music rolls, but not from the organ,
1062 Folks are around me, but they are no household of mine.
1063 Ever the hard unsunk ground,
1064 Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and downward sun, ever the air and the ceaseless tides,
1065 Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, real,
1066 Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorn'd thumb, that breath of itches and thirsts,
1067 Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly one hides and bring him forth,
1068 Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life,
1069 Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the trestles of death.
1070 Here and there with dimes on the eyes walking,
1071 To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally spooning,
1072 Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never once going,
1073 Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff for payment receiving,
1074 A few idly owning, and they the wheat continually claiming.
1075 This is the city and I am one of the citizens,
1076 Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars, markets, newspapers, schools,
1077 The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate.
1078 The little plentiful manikins skipping around in collars and tail'd coats,
1079 I am aware who they are, (they are positively not worms or fleas,)
1080 I acknowledge the duplicates of myself, the weakest and shallowest is deathless with me,
1081 What I do and say the same waits for them,
1082 Every thought that flounders in me the same flounders in them.
1083 I know perfectly well my own egotism,
1084 Know my omnivorous lines and must not write any less,
1085 And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.
1086 Not words of routine this song of mine,
1087 But abruptly to question, to leap beyond yet nearer bring;
1088 This printed and bound book -- but the printer and the printing-office boy?
1089 The well-taken photographs -- but your wife or friend close and solid in your arms?
1090 The black ship mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in her turrets -- but the pluck of the captain and engineers?
1091 In the houses the dishes and fare and furniture -- but the host and hostess, and the look out of their eyes?
1092 The sky up there -- yet here or next door, or across the way?
1093 The saints and sages in history -- but you yourself?
1094 Sermons, creeds, theology -- but the fathomless human brain,
1095 And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?
1096 I do not despise you priests, all time, the world over,
1097 My faith is the greatest of faiths and the least of faiths,
1098 Enclosing worship ancient and modern and all between ancient and modern,
1099 Believing I shall come again upon the earth after five thousand years,
1100 Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the gods, saluting the sun,
1101 Making a fetich of the first rock or stump, powowing with sticks in the circle of obis,
1102 Helping the llama or brahmin as he trims the lamps of the idols,
1103 Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic procession, rapt and austere in the woods a gymnosophist,
1104 Drinking mead from the skull-cup, to Shastas and Vedas admirant, minding the Koran,
1105 Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the stone and knife, beating the serpent-skin drum,
1106 Accepting the Gospels, accepting him that was crucified, knowing assuredly that he is divine,
1107 To the mass kneeling or the puritan's prayer rising, or sitting patiently in a pew,
1108 Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting dead-like till my spirit arouses me,
1109 Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of pavement and land,
1110 Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.
1111 One of that centripetal and centrifugal gang I turn and talk like a man leaving charges before a journey.
1112 Down-hearted doubters dull and excluded,
1113 Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten'd, atheistical,
1114 I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair and unbelief.
1115 How the flukes splash!
1116 How they contort rapid as lightning, with spasms and spouts of blood!
1117 Be at peace bloody flukes of doubters and sullen mopers,
1118 I take my place among you as much as among any,
1119 The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the same,
1120 And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me, all, precisely the same.
1121 I do not know what is untried and afterward,
1122 But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and cannot fail.
1123 Each who passes is consider'd, each who stops is consider'd, not a single one can it fail.
1124 It cannot fail the young man who died and was buried,
1125 Nor the young woman who died and was put by his side,
1126 Nor the little child that peep'd in at the door, and then drew back and was never seen again,
1127 Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and feels it with bitterness worse than gall,
1128 Nor him in the poor house tubercled by rum and the bad disorder,
1129 Nor the numberless slaughter'd and wreck'd, nor the brutish koboo call'd the ordure of humanity,
1130 Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths for food to slip in,
1131 Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest graves of the earth,
1132 Nor any thing in the myriads of spheres, nor the myriads of myriads that inhabit them,
1133 Nor the present, nor the least wisp that is known.
1134 It is time to explain myself -- let us stand up.
1135 What is known I strip away,
1136 I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.
1137 The clock indicates the moment -- but what does eternity indicate?
1138 We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers,
1139 There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.
1140 Births have brought us richness and variety,
1141 And other births will bring us richness and variety.
1142 I do not call one greater and one smaller,
1143 That which fills its period and place is equal to any.
1144 Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my brother, my sister?
1145 I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or jealous upon me,
1146 All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with lamentation,
1147 (What have I to do with lamentation?)
1148 I am an acme of things accomplish'd, and I an encloser of things to be.
1149 My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs,
1150 On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps,
1151 All below duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount.
1152 Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,
1153 Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there,
1154 I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist,
1155 And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.
1156 Long I was hugg'd close -- long and long.
1157 Immense have been the preparations for me,
1158 Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me.
1159 Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful boatmen,
1160 For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings,
1161 They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.
1162 Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me,
1163 My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it.
1164 For it the nebula cohered to an orb,
1165 The long slow strata piled to rest it on,
1166 Vast vegetables gave it sustenance,
1167 Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it with care.
1168 All forces have been steadily employ'd to complete and delight me,
1169 Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.
1170 O span of youth! ever-push'd elasticity!
1171 O manhood, balanced, florid and full.
1172 My lovers suffocate me,
1173 Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin,
1174 Jostling me through streets and public halls, coming naked to me at night,
1175 Crying by day Ahoy! from the rocks of the river, swinging and chirping over my head,
1176 Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled underbrush,
1177 Lighting on every moment of my life,
1178 Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses,
1179 Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts and giving them to be mine.
1180 Old age superbly rising! O welcome, ineffable grace of dying days!
1181 Every condition promulges not only itself, it promulges what grows after and out of itself,
1182 And the dark hush promulges as much as any.
1183 I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled systems,
1184 And all I see multiplied as high as I can cipher edge but the rim of the farther systems.
1185 Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always expanding,
1186 Outward and outward and forever outward.
1187 My sun has his sun and round him obediently wheels,
1188 He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit,
1189 And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest inside them.
1190 There is no stoppage and never can be stoppage,
1191 If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon their surfaces, were this moment reduced back to a pallid float, it would not avail in the long run,
1192 We should surely bring up again where we now stand,
1193 And surely go as much farther, and then farther and farther.
1194 A few quadrillions of eras, a few octillions of cubic leagues, do not hazard the span or make it impatient,
1195 They are but parts, any thing is but a part.
1196 See ever so far, there is limitless space outside of that,
1197 Count ever so much, there is limitless time around that.
1198 My rendezvous is appointed, it is certain,
1199 The Lord will be there and wait till I come on perfect terms,
1200 The great Camerado, the lover true for whom I pine will be there.
1201 I know I have the best of time and space, and was never measured and never will be measured.
1202 I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!)
1203 My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,
1204 No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,
1205 I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
1206 I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,
1207 But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
1208 My left hand hooking you round the waist,
1209 My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.
1210 Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
1211 You must travel it for yourself.
1212 It is not far, it is within reach,
1213 Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
1214 Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.
1215 Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth,
1216 Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.
1217 If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the chuff of your hand on my hip,
1218 And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,
1219 For after we start we never lie by again.
1220 This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the crowded heaven,
1221 And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we be fill'd and satisfied then?
1222 And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond.
1223 You are also asking me questions and I hear you,
1224 I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.
1225 Sit a while dear son,
1226 Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
1227 But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.
1228 Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams,
1229 Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
1230 You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.
1231 Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
1232 Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
1233 To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly dash with your hair.
1234 I am the teacher of athletes,
1235 He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width of my own,
1236 He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.
1237 The boy I love, the same becomes a man not through derived power, but in his own right,
1238 Wicked rather than virtuous out of conformity or fear,
1239 Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak,
1240 Unrequited love or a slight cutting him worse than sharp steel cuts,
1241 First-rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull's eye, to sail a skiff, to sing a song or play on the banjo,
1242 Preferring scars and the beard and faces pitted with small-pox over all latherers,
1243 And those well-tann'd to those that keep out of the sun.
1244 I teach straying from me, yet who can stray from me?
1245 I follow you whoever you are from the present hour,
1246 My words itch at your ears till you understand them.
1247 I do not say these things for a dollar or to fill up the time while I wait for a boat,
1248 (It is you talking just as much as myself, I act as the tongue of you,
1249 Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen'd.)
1250 I swear I will never again mention love or death inside a house,
1251 And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only to him or her who privately stays with me in the open air.
1252 If you would understand me go to the heights or water-shore,
1253 The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or motion of waves a key,
1254 The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words.
1255 No shutter'd room or school can commune with me,
1256 But roughs and little children better than they.
1257 The young mechanic is closest to me, he knows me well,
1258 The woodman that takes his axe and jug with him shall take me with him all day,
1259 The farm-boy ploughing in the field feels good at the sound of my voice,
1260 In vessels that sail my words sail, I go with fishermen and seamen and love them.
1261 The soldier camp'd or upon the march is mine,
1262 On the night ere the pending battle many seek me, and I do not fail them,
1263 On that solemn night (it may be their last) those that know me seek me.
1264 My face rubs to the hunter's face when he lies down alone in his blanket,
1265 The driver thinking of me does not mind the jolt of his wagon,
1266 The young mother and old mother comprehend me,
1267 The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment and forget where they are,
1268 They and all would resume what I have told them.
1269 I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
1270 And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
1271 And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is,
1272 And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud,
1273 And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth,
1274 And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times,
1275 And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero,
1276 And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel'd universe,
1277 And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
1278 And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
1279 For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
1280 (No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death.)
1281 I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
1282 Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.
1283 Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
1284 I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
1285 In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
1286 I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd by God's name,
1287 And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go,
1288 Others will punctually come for ever and ever.
1289 And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me.
1290 To his work without flinching the accoucheur comes,
1291 I see the elder-hand pressing receiving supporting,
1292 I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors,
1293 And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape.
1294 And as to you Corpse I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me,
1295 I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing,
1296 I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polish'd breasts of melons.
1297 And as to you Life I reckon you are the leavings of many deaths,
1298 (No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.)
1299 I hear you whispering there O stars of heaven,
1300 O suns -- O grass of graves -- O perpetual transfers and promotions,
1301 If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing?
1302 Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest,
1303 Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing twilight,
1304 Toss, sparkles of day and dusk -- toss on the black stems that decay in the muck,
1305 Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs.
1306 I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night,
1307 I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sunbeams reflected,
1308 And debouch to the steady and central from the offspring great or small.
1309 There is that in me -- I do not know what it is -- but I know it is in me.
1310 Wrench'd and sweaty -- calm and cool then my body becomes,
1311 I sleep -- I sleep long.
1312 I do not know it -- it is without name -- it is a word unsaid,
1313 It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.
1314 Something it swings on more than the earth I swing on,
1315 To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me.
1316 Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines! I plead for my brothers and sisters.
1317 Do you see O my brothers and sisters?
1318 It is not chaos or death -- it is form, union, plan -- it is eternal life -- it is Happiness.
1319 The past and present wilt -- I have fill'd them, emptied them,
1320 And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
1321 Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
1322 Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
1323 (Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)
1324 Do I contradict myself?
1325 Very well then I contradict myself,
1326 (I am large, I contain multitudes.)
1327 I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.
1328 Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
1329 Who wishes to walk with me?
1330 Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?
1331 The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.
1332 I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
1333 I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
1334 The last scud of day holds back for me,
1335 It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd wilds,
1336 It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
1337 I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
1338 I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
1339 I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
1340 If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
1341 You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
1342 But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
1343 And filter and fibre your blood.
1344 Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
1345 Missing me one place search another,
1346 I stop somewhere waiting for you.