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John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

The words of Walt Whitman.


The words of Walt Whitman.




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Give me the splendid, silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

The love is to the lover, and comes back most to him,
The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him—it cannot   fail

No man understands any greatness or goodness but his own
 
This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your ice, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…

Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved,

Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever after-ward resumes its liberty.

Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.

I refuse putting from me the best that I am.

To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.

The ecstasy is so short but the forgetting is so long.

 That I have not gain'd the acceptance of my own time, but have fallen back on fond dreams of the future.
The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.

To indeed be a god!

 Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.           

Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes. ,
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.

Resist much, obey little

Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.You must travel it by yourself.


When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, 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.

Peace is always beautiful.

Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass,
Be not afraid of my body.

I will sleep no more but arise, You oceans that have been calm within me! how I feel you, fathomless, stirring, preparing unprecedented waves and storms.

Dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face

We were together. I forget the rest.

I resist anything better than my own diversity,
Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

…what is that you express in your eyes?
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.

 
On the Meaning of life:
Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.


I am not to speak to you,
I am to think of you when I sit alone or
wake at night alone,
I am to wait,
I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the pains of hell are with me.

I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for others’ sakes.

We affect each other without ever seeing each other,
and never perhaps to see each other, is every bit as wonderful

I am satisfied— I see, dance, laugh, sing
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love…

I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.
Births have brought us richness and variety,
And other births will bring us richness and variety.

I do not call one greater and one smaller,
That which fills its period and place is equal to any.

The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.

Death is the winner in any war

Nothing noble in dying for your religion
For your country
For ideology, for faith
For another man, yes…

To be at all - what is better than that?

I am not in any callous shell;
I am cased with supple conductors, all over,
They take every object by the hand, and lead it within me;
They are thousands, each one with his entry to himself;
They are always watching with their little eyes, from my head to my feet;

My left hand hooks you around the waist. My right hand points to landscapes of continents, and a plain public road. Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you. You must travel it for yourself. It is not far … It is within reach.

And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud.

I am the poet of the body
And I am the poet of the soul.
Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart.
           

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings,
we must bear the brunt of danger,
We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, Pioneers! O pioneers!

You are not free until you have no need to impress anybody.

I exist as I am, that is enough.
Come, said my soul,
Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,)

And I will not sing with reference to a day, but with reference to all days

When I read the book, the biography famous,
And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man’s life?
And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught of my life,
Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real life,
Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections
I seek for my own use to trace out here.)


With music strong I come, with my cornets and my drums,
I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for conquer’d and slain persons.
Have you heard that it was good to gain the day?
I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.

I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.

I tramp a perpetual journey.

Keep your face towards the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.

Strange (is it not?) that battles, martyrs, blood, even assassination should so condense—perhaps only really, lastingly condense—a Nationality.

Henceforth I ask not good fortune - I myself am good fortune.
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing.
Strong and content, I travel the open road.

I exist as I am, and that is enough.
What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am, Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary, Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest, Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next, Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

Re-examine all that you have been told….

Do anything, but let it produce joy.

Battles are lost in the same spirit in which they are won.

And as to me, I know nothing else but miracles

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I am too not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
Your very flesh shall be a great poem...

What shall I give? And which are my miracles?
Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning,
Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing,
I tread day and night such roads.

My spirit has pass'd in compassion and determination around the whole earth.
I have look'd for equals and lovers an found them ready for me in all lands,
I think some divine rapport has equalized me with them

The sum of all known value and respect, I add up in you, whoever you are.

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass;
I find letters from God dropped in the street, and every one is signed by God's name,
And I leave them where they are,
for I know that others will punctually come forever and ever.

The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.


All music is what awakes within us
when we are reminded by the instruments;
It is not the violins or the clarinets -
It is not the beating of the drums -
Nor the score of the baritone singing
his sweet romanza; not that of the men's chorus,
Nor that of the women's chorus -
It is nearer and farther than they

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it
should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank
or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work,
or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his
boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat
deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the
hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his
way in the morning, or at noon intermission
or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the
young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or
washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to
none else,
The day what belongs to the day — at night the
party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen,
And accrue what I hear into myself...and let sound contribute toward me.

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…

A blade of grass is the journeywork of the stars

Give me solitude — give me Nature — give me again, O Nature, your primal sanities!

I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell. —        -
Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?

Loafe with me on the grass,
loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want—not custom or lecture, not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.
I mind how we lay in June, such a transparent summer morning,
You settled your head athwart my hips, and gently turned over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and
plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart

I hear you are whispering there
O stars of heaven,
O suns—O grass of graves…
If you do not say anything how can I say anything?

I exist as I am, that is enough,
If no other in the world be aware I sit content,
And if each and all be aware I sit content.
One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is
myself…
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,
seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
                   What do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life,
and does not waitat the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward… .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied-not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is responsible or industrious over the whole earth.


Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun.... there are millions of suns left,
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,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.
Only themselves understand themselves
and the like of themselves,
As souls only understand souls.

Sun so generous it shall be you.

Be composed--be at ease with me—
I am, 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.


It avails not, time nor place--distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation,
or ever so many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and the bright flow,
 I was refresh'd,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail,
 yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships
 and the thick-stemm'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.



I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever
so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight,
I swim in it as in a sea.



THIS SECTION (BELOW) ARE FULL POEMS
Need 15 photographs here

I Sing the Body Electric
       1
  I sing the body electric,
  The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
  They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
  And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

  Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
  And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
  And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
  And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?

       2
  The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself
      balks account,
  That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

  The expression of the face balks account,
  But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
  It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of
      his hips and wrists,
  It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist
      and knees, dress does not hide him,
  The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
  To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,
  You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.

  The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and heads of women, the
      folds of their dress, their style as we pass in the street, the
      contour of their shape downwards,
  The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen as he swims through
      the transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up and rolls
      silently to and from the heave of the water,
  The bending forward and backward of rowers in row-boats, the
      horse-man in his saddle,
  Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances,
  The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open
      dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting,
  The female soothing a child, the farmer's daughter in the garden or
      cow-yard,
  The young fellow hosing corn, the sleigh-driver driving his six
      horses through the crowd,
  The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys, quite grown, lusty,
      good-natured, native-born, out on the vacant lot at sundown after work,
  The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of love and resistance,
  The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled over and blinding the eyes;
  The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play of masculine
      muscle through clean-setting trowsers and waist-straps,
  The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes
      suddenly again, and the listening on the alert,
  The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent head, the curv'd
      neck and the counting;
  Such-like I love—I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother's
      breast with the little child,
  Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with
      the firemen, and pause, listen, count.

       3
  I knew a man, a common farmer, the father of five sons,
  And in them the fathers of sons, and in them the fathers of sons.

  This man was a wonderful vigor, calmness, beauty of person,
  The shape of his head, the pale yellow and white of his hair and
      beard, the immeasurable meaning of his black eyes, the richness
      and breadth of his manners,
  These I used to go and visit him to see, he was wise also,
  He was six feet tall, he was over eighty years old, his sons were
      massive, clean, bearded, tan-faced, handsome,
  They and his daughters loved him, all who saw him loved him,
  They did not love him by allowance, they loved him with personal love,
  He drank water only, the blood show'd like scarlet through the
      clear-brown skin of his face,
  He was a frequent gunner and fisher, he sail'd his boat himself, he
      had a fine one presented to him by a ship-joiner, he had
      fowling-pieces presented to him by men that loved him,
  When he went with his five sons and many grand-sons to hunt or fish,
      you would pick him out as the most beautiful and vigorous of the gang,
  You would wish long and long to be with him, you would wish to sit
      by him in the boat that you and he might touch each other.

       4
  I have perceiv'd that to be with those I like is enough,
  To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
  To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
  To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly
      round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
  I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.

  There is something in staying close to men and women and looking
      on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well,
  All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.

       5
  This is the female form,
  A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot,
  It attracts with fierce undeniable attraction,
  I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor,
      all falls aside but myself and it,
  Books, art, religion, time, the visible and solid earth, and what
      was expected of heaven or fear'd of hell, are now consumed,
  Mad filaments, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response
      likewise ungovernable,
  Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands all
      diffused, mine too diffused,
  Ebb stung by the flow and flow stung by the ebb, love-flesh swelling
      and deliciously aching,
  Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous, quivering jelly of
      love, white-blow and delirious nice,
  Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the prostrate dawn,
  Undulating into the willing and yielding day,
  Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweet-flesh'd day.

  This the nucleus—after the child is born of woman, man is born of woman,
  This the bath of birth, this the merge of small and large, and the
      outlet again.

  Be not ashamed women, your privilege encloses the rest, and is the
      exit of the rest,
  You are the gates of the body, and you are the gates of the soul.

  The female contains all qualities and tempers them,
  She is in her place and moves with perfect balance,
  She is all things duly veil'd, she is both passive and active,
  She is to conceive daughters as well as sons, and sons as well as daughters.

  As I see my soul reflected in Nature,
  As I see through a mist, One with inexpressible completeness,
      sanity, beauty,
  See the bent head and arms folded over the breast, the Female I see.

       6
  The male is not less the soul nor more, he too is in his place,
  He too is all qualities, he is action and power,
  The flush of the known universe is in him,
  Scorn becomes him well, and appetite and defiance become him well,
  The wildest largest passions, bliss that is utmost, sorrow that is
      utmost become him well, pride is for him,
  The full-spread pride of man is calming and excellent to the soul,
  Knowledge becomes him, he likes it always, he brings every thing to
      the test of himself,
  Whatever the survey, whatever the sea and the sail he strikes
      soundings at last only here,
  (Where else does he strike soundings except here?)

  The man's body is sacred and the woman's body is sacred,
  No matter who it is, it is sacred—is it the meanest one in the
      laborers' gang?
  Is it one of the dull-faced immigrants just landed on the wharf?
  Each belongs here or anywhere just as much as the well-off, just as
      much as you,
  Each has his or her place in the procession.

  (All is a procession,
  The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion.)

  Do you know so much yourself that you call the meanest ignorant?
  Do you suppose you have a right to a good sight, and he or she has
      no right to a sight?
  Do you think matter has cohered together from its diffuse float, and
      the soil is on the surface, and water runs and vegetation sprouts,
  For you only, and not for him and her?

       7
  A man's body at auction,
  (For before the war I often go to the slave-mart and watch the sale,)
  I help the auctioneer, the sloven does not half know his business.

  Gentlemen look on this wonder,
  Whatever the bids of the bidders they cannot be high enough for it,
  For it the globe lay preparing quintillions of years without one
      animal or plant,
  For it the revolving cycles truly and steadily roll'd.

  In this head the all-baffling brain,
  In it and below it the makings of heroes.

  Examine these limbs, red, black, or white, they are cunning in
      tendon and nerve,
  They shall be stript that you may see them.

  Exquisite senses, life-lit eyes, pluck, volition,
  Flakes of breast-muscle, pliant backbone and neck, flesh not flabby,
      good-sized arms and legs,
  And wonders within there yet.

  Within there runs blood,
  The same old blood! the same red-running blood!
  There swells and jets a heart, there all passions, desires,
      reachings, aspirations,
  (Do you think they are not there because they are not express'd in
      parlors and lecture-rooms?)

  This is not only one man, this the father of those who shall be
      fathers in their turns,
  In him the start of populous states and rich republics,
  Of him countless immortal lives with countless embodiments and enjoyments.

  How do you know who shall come from the offspring of his offspring
      through the centuries?
  (Who might you find you have come from yourself, if you could trace
      back through the centuries?)

       8
  A woman's body at auction,
  She too is not only herself, she is the teeming mother of mothers,
  She is the bearer of them that shall grow and be mates to the mothers.

  Have you ever loved the body of a woman?
  Have you ever loved the body of a man?
  Do you not see that these are exactly the same to all in all nations
      and times all over the earth?

  If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred,
  And the glory and sweet of a man is the token of manhood untainted,
  And in man or woman a clean, strong, firm-fibred body, is more
      beautiful than the most beautiful face.

  Have you seen the fool that corrupted his own live body? or the fool
      that corrupted her own live body?
  For they do not conceal themselves, and cannot conceal themselves.

       9
  O my body! I dare not desert the likes of you in other men and
      women, nor the likes of the parts of you,
  I believe the likes of you are to stand or fall with the likes of
      the soul, (and that they are the soul,)
  I believe the likes of you shall stand or fall with my poems, and
      that they are my poems,
  Man's, woman's, child, youth's, wife's, husband's, mother's,
      father's, young man's, young woman's poems,
  Head, neck, hair, ears, drop and tympan of the ears,
  Eyes, eye-fringes, iris of the eye, eyebrows, and the waking or
      sleeping of the lids,
  Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the jaw-hinges,
  Nose, nostrils of the nose, and the partition,
  Cheeks, temples, forehead, chin, throat, back of the neck, neck-slue,
  Strong shoulders, manly beard, scapula, hind-shoulders, and the
      ample side-round of the chest,
  Upper-arm, armpit, elbow-socket, lower-arm, arm-sinews, arm-bones,
  Wrist and wrist-joints, hand, palm, knuckles, thumb, forefinger,
      finger-joints, finger-nails,
  Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,
  Ribs, belly, backbone, joints of the backbone,
  Hips, hip-sockets, hip-strength, inward and outward round,
      man-balls, man-root,
  Strong set of thighs, well carrying the trunk above,
  Leg-fibres, knee, knee-pan, upper-leg, under-leg,
  Ankles, instep, foot-ball, toes, toe-joints, the heel;
  All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your
      body or of any one's body, male or female,
  The lung-sponges, the stomach-sac, the bowels sweet and clean,
  The brain in its folds inside the skull-frame,
  Sympathies, heart-valves, palate-valves, sexuality, maternity,
  Womanhood, and all that is a woman, and the man that comes from woman,
  The womb, the teats, nipples, breast-milk, tears, laughter, weeping,
      love-looks, love-perturbations and risings,
  The voice, articulation, language, whispering, shouting aloud,
  Food, drink, pulse, digestion, sweat, sleep, walking, swimming,
  Poise on the hips, leaping, reclining, embracing, arm-curving and tightening,
  The continual changes of the flex of the mouth, and around the eyes,
  The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,
  The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked
      meat of the body,
  The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,
  The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward
      toward the knees,
  The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the
      marrow in the bones,
  The exquisite realization of health;
  O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,
  O I say now these are the soul!



I Hear America Singing
 
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
  Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
  The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
  The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
  The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
      singing on the steamboat deck,
  The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as
      he stands,
  The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning,
      or at noon intermission or at sundown,
  The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work,
      or of the girl sewing or washing,
  Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
  The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young
      fellows, robust, friendly,
  Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.


A Noiseless Patient Spider

 A noiseless patient spider,
  I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
  Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
  It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament out of itself,
  Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

  And you O my soul where you stand,
  Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
  Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to
      connect them,
  Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
  Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.


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.


World Take Good Notice

 World take good notice, silver stars fading,
  Milky hue ript, wet of white detaching,
  Coals thirty-eight, baleful and burning,
  Scarlet, significant, hands off warning,
  Now and henceforth flaunt from these shores.




As the Time Draws Nigh

As the time draws nigh glooming a cloud,
  A dread beyond of I know not what darkens me.

  I shall go forth,
  I shall traverse the States awhile, but I cannot tell whither or how long,
  Perhaps soon some day or night while I am singing my voice will
      suddenly cease.

  O book, O chants! must all then amount to but this?
  Must we barely arrive at this beginning of us? —and yet it is
      enough, O soul;
  O soul, we have positively appear'd—that is enough.

To a Historian

 You who celebrate bygones,
  Who have explored the outward, the surfaces of the races, the life
      that has exhibited itself,
  Who have treated of man as the creature of politics, aggregates,
      rulers and priests,
  I, habitan of the Alleghanies, treating of him as he is in himself
      in his own rights,
  Pressing the pulse of the life that has seldom exhibited itself,
      (the great pride of man in himself,)
  Chanter of Personality, outlining what is yet to be,
  I project the history of the future.

To Foreign Lands

I heard that you ask'd for something to prove this puzzle the New World,
  And to define America, her athletic Democracy,
  Therefore I send you my poems that you behold in them what you wanted.



When I Read the Book
  When I read the book, the biography famous,
  And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man's life?
  And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
  (As if any man really knew aught of my life,
  Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real life,
  Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections
  I seek for my own use to trace out here.)


For Him I Sing
  For him I sing,
  I raise the present on the past,
  (As some perennial tree out of its roots, the present on the past,)
  With time and space I him dilate and fuse the immortal laws,
  To make himself by them the law unto himself.


One's-Self I Sing
  One's-self I sing, a simple separate person,
  Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.

  Of physiology from top to toe I sing,
  Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the Muse, I say
      the Form complete is worthier far,
  The Female equally with the Male I sing.

  Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
  Cheerful, for freest action form'd under the laws divine,
  The Modern Man I sing.


As I Ponder'd in Silence
  As I ponder'd in silence,
  Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,
  A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,
  Terrible in beauty, age, and power,
  The genius of poets of old lands,
  As to me directing like flame its eyes,
  With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
  And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,
  Know'st thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?
  And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,
  The making of perfect soldiers.

  Be it so, then I answer'd,
  I too haughty Shade also sing war, and a longer and greater one than any,
  Waged in my book with varying fortune, with flight, advance
      and retreat, victory deferr'd and wavering,
  (Yet methinks certain, or as good as certain, at the last,) the
      field the world,
  For life and death, for the Body and for the eternal Soul,
  Lo, I too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
  I above all promote brave soldiers.


Tears
  Tears! tears! tears!
  In the night, in solitude, tears,
  On the white shore dripping, dripping, suck'd in by the sand,
  Tears, 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, bent, crouch'd there on the sand?
  Streaming tears, sobbing tears, throes, choked with wild cries;
  O storm, embodied, rising, 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! tears! tears!


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.


Old War-Dreams

 In midnight sleep of many a face of anguish,
  Of the look at first of the mortally wounded, (of that indescribable look,)
  Of the dead on their backs with arms extended wide,
       I dream, I dream, I dream.

  Of scenes of Nature, fields and mountains,
  Of skies so beauteous after a storm, and at night the moon so
      unearthly bright,
  Shining sweetly, shining down, where we dig the trenches and
      gather the heaps,
       I dream, I dream, I dream.

  Long have they pass'd, faces and trenches and fields,
  Where through the carnage I moved with a callous composure, or away
      from the fallen,
  Onward I sped at the time—but now of their forms at night,
       I dream, I dream, I dream.




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