ARM'D year! year of the struggle!
No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you, terrible year!
TO get betimes in Boston town, I rose this morning early;
Here's a good place at the corner--I must stand and see the show.
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
SILENT and amazed, even when a little boy,
I remember I heard the preacher every Sunday put God in his
THIS is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
THROUGH the ample open door of the peaceful country barn,
A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding;
A GLIMPSE, through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room, around the stove,
HOLD it up sternly! See this it sends back! (Who is it? Is it you?)
Outside fair costume--within ashes and filth,
A LEAF for hand in hand!
You natural persons old and young!
You on the Mississippi, and on all the branches and bayous of the
A MARCH in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown;
A route through a heavy wood, with muffled steps in the darkness;
A NOISELESS, patient spider,
I mark'd, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
BATHED in war's perfume--delicate flag!
(Should the days needing armies, needing fleets, come again,)
BEAT! beat! drums!--Blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows--through doors--burst like a ruthless force,
WOMEN sit, or move to and fro--some old, some young;
The young are beautiful--but the old are more beautiful than the
HOW they are provided for upon the earth, (appearing at intervals;)
How dear and dreadful they are to the earth;
BEGINNING my studies, the first step pleas'd me so much,
The mere fact, consciousness--these forms--the power of motion,
BEHAVIOR--fresh, native, copious, each one for himself or herself,
BEHOLD this swarthy face--these gray eyes,
This beard--the white wool, unclipt upon my neck,
I see before me now a traveling army halting,
Below a fertile valley spread, with barns and the orchards of summer,
BROTHER of all, with generous hand,
Of thee, pondering on thee, as o'er thy tomb, I and my Soul,
BY broad Potomac's shore--again, old tongue!
(Still uttering--still ejaculating--canst never cease this babble?)
NOT alone those camps of white, O soldiers,
When, as order'd forward, after a long march,
COME closer to me;
Push close, my lovers, and take the best I possess;
EARTH, round, rolling, compact--suns, moons, animals--all these are
words to be said;
A LINE in long array, where they wind betwixt green islands;
CHANTING the square deific, out of the One advancing, out of the
CITY of orgies, walks and joys!
City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one day make
CITY of ships!
(O the black ships! O the fierce ships!
O the beautiful, sharp-bow'd steam-ships and sail-ships!)
Come up from the fields father, here's a letter from our Pete,
And come to the front door mother, here's a letter from thy
COME up from the fields, father, here's a letter from our Pete;
Come, said my soul,
Such verses for my body let us write, (For we are One),
That should I after death invisibly return,
Darest thou now O soul,
Walk out with me toward the unknown region,
DAREST thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
HE is wisest who has the most caution,
He only wins who goes far enough.
DELICATE cluster! flag of teeming life!
Covering all my lands! all my sea-shores lining!
DESPAIRING cries float ceaselessly toward me, day and night,
THE last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here--and there beyond, it is looking,
Aroused and angry,
I thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war;
EARTH! my likeness!
Though you look so impassive, ample and spheric there,
I now suspect that is not all;
I MET a Seer,
Passing the hues and objects of the world,
The fields of art and learning, pleasure, sense,
To glean Eidólons.
How I wish I could impress others as you have just been impressing
WHO are you, dusky woman, so ancient, hardly human,
With your woolly-white and turban'd head, and bare bony feet?
SUDDENLY, out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair of slaves,
Like lightning it le'pt forth, half startled at itself,
WHO has gone farthest? For lo! have not I gone farther?
And who has been just? For I would be the most just person of the
SAUNTERING the pavement, or riding the country by-road--lo! such
FACING west, from California's shores,
Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound,
FAST-ANCHOR'D, eternal, O love! O woman I love!
O bride! O wife! more resistless than I can tell, the thought of you!
FOR him I sing,
I raise the Present on the Past,
(As some perennial tree, out of its roots, the present on the past:)
A GREAT year and place;
A harsh, discordant, natal scream out-sounding, to touch the mother's
heart closer than any yet.
FROM far Dakota's cañons,
Lands of the wild ravine, the dusky Sioux, the lonesome stretch, the
FROM my last years, last thoughts I here bequeath,
Scatter'd and dropt, in seeds, and wafted to the West,
FROM Paumanock starting, I fly like a bird,
Around and around to soar, to sing the idea of all;
FROM pent-up, aching rivers;
From that of myself, without which I were nothing;
FULL of life, now, compact, visible,
I, forty years old the Eighty-third Year of The States,
FORMS, qualities, lives, humanity, language, thoughts,
The ones known, and the ones unknown--the ones on the stars,
GIVE me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling;
Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard;
GLIDING o'er all, through all,
Through Nature, Time, and Space,
As a ship on the waters advancing,
THOUGHT of the Infinite--the All!
Be thou my God.
Lover Divine, and Perfect Comrade!
Had I the choice to tally greatest bards,
To limn their portraits, stately, beautiful, and emulate at will,
HAST never come to thee an hour,
A sudden gleam divine, precipitating, bursting all these bubbles,
HERE the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-lasting:
Here I shade and hide my thoughts--I myself do not expose them,
WHAT ship, puzzled at sea, cons for the true reckoning?
Or, coming in, to avoid the bars, and follow the channel, a perfect
HOURS continuing long, sore and heavy-hearted,
Hours of the dusk, when I withdraw to a lonesome and unfrequented
HOW solemn, as one by one,
As the ranks returning, all worn and sweaty--as the men file by where
HUSH'D be the camps to-day;
And, soldiers, let us drape our war-worn weapons;
And each with musing soul retire, to celebrate,
Hush'd be the camps today,
And soldiers let us drape our war-worn weapons,
And each with musing soul retire to celebrate,
I AM he that aches with amorous love;
Does the earth gravitate? Does not all matter, aching, attract all
I DREAM'D in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the
whole of the rest of the earth;
I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics--each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and
I HEAR it was charged against me that I sought to destroy
But really I am neither for nor against institutions;
I HEARD you, solemn-sweet pipes of the organ, as last Sunday morn I
pass'd the church;
I SAW in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it, and the moss hung down from the branches;
I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches,
I SAW old General at bay;
(Old as he was, his grey eyes yet shone out in battle like stars;)
I SING the Body electric;
The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them;
I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all
oppression and shame;
(Pleas'd to my Soul at death I cry;)
Our life is closed--our life begins;
WHO includes diversity, and is Nature,
Who is the amplitude of the earth, and the coarseness and sexuality
LAWS for Creations,
For strong artists and leaders--for fresh broods of teachers, and
perfect literats for America,
A SONG of the good green grass!
A song no more of the city streets;
A song of farms--a song of the soil of fields.
THERE are who teach only the sweet lessons of peace and safety;
But I teach lessons of war and death to those I love,
LO! Victress on the peaks!
Where thou, with mighty brow, regarding the world,
LOCATIONS and times--what is it in me that meets them all, whenever
and wherever, and makes me at home?
LONG I thought that knowledge alone would suffice me--O if I could
but obtain knowledge!
Long, too long America,
Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn'd from joys and prosperity only,
LONG, too long, O land,
Traveling roads all even and peaceful, you learn'd from joys and
LOOK down, fair moon, and bathe this scene;
Pour softly down night's nimbus floods, on faces ghastly, swollen,
I WAS asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon, lo! upsprang the aboriginal name!
I WAS asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon, lo! upsprang the aboriginal name!
ME imperturbe, standing at ease in Nature,
Master of all, or mistress of all--aplomb in the midst of irrational
THEY shall arise in the States,
They shall report Nature, laws, physiology, and happiness;
WHY! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
I SEE the sleeping babe, nestling the breast of its mother;
The sleeping mother and babe--hush'd, I study them long and long.
IN a little house keep I pictures suspended, it is not a fix'd house,
MYSELF and mine gymnastic ever,
To stand the cold or heat--to take good aim with a gun--to sail a
NATIVE moments! when you come upon me--Ah you are here now! Give me now
NIGHT on the prairies;
The supper is over--the fire on the ground burns low;
NO labor-saving machine,
Nor discovery have I made;
Nor will I be able to leave behind me any wealthy bequest to found a
NOT heat flames up and consumes,
Not sea-waves hurry in and out,
NOT heaving from my ribb'd breast only;
Not in sighs at night, in rage, dissatisfied with myself;
NOT my enemies ever invade me--no harm to my pride from them I fear;
But the lovers I recklessly love--lo! how they master me!
NOT the pilot has charged himself to bring his ship into port, though
beaten back, and many times baffled;
NOT youth pertains to me,
Nor delicatesse--I cannot beguile the time with talk;
NOW finale to the shore!
Now, land and life, finale, and farewell!
Now Voyager depart! (much, much for thee is yet in store;)
NOW list to my morning's romanza--I tell the signs of the Answerer;
O BITTER sprig! Confession sprig!
In the bouquet I give you place also--I bind you in,
O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
O HYMEN! O hymenee!
Why do you tantalize me thus?
O why sting me for a swift moment only?
O LIVING always--always dying!
O the burials of me, past and present!
O ME! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless--of cities fill'd with the
O STAR of France!
The brightness of thy hope and strength and fame,
Like some proud ship that led the fleet so long,
O SUN of real peace! O hastening light!
O free and extatic! O what I here, preparing, warble for!
O TAN-FACED prairie-boy!
Before you came to camp, came many a welcome gift;
O YOU whom I often and silently come where you are, that I may be
OF him I love day and night, I dream'd I heard he was dead;
SINGING my days,
Singing the great achievements of the present,
Singing the strong, light works of engineers,
WILD, wild the storm, and the sea high running,
Steady the roar of the gale, with incessant undertone muttering,
PENSIVE and faltering,
The words, the dead, I write;
For living are the Dead;
(Haply the only living, only real,
PENSIVE, on her dead gazing, I heard the Mother of All,
Desperate, on the torn bodies, on the forms covering the battle-
ONLY themselves understand themselves, and the like of themselves,
As Souls only understand Souls.
COME, my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
YOU just maturing youth! You male or female!
Remember the organic compact of These States,
O TO make the most jubilant poem!
Even to set off these, and merge with these, the carols of Death.
POETS to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me, and answer what I am for;
WHAT are those of the known, but to ascend and enter the Unknown?
And what are those of life, but for Death?
QUICKSAND years that whirl me I know not whither,
Your schemes, politics, fail--lines give way--substances mock and
RACE of veterans! Race of victors!
Race of the soil, ready for conflict! race of the conquering march!
YEAR that trembled and reel'd beneath me!
Your summer wind was warm enough--yet the air I breathed froze me;
YEARS of the modern! years of the unperform'd!
Your horizon rises--I see it parting away for more august dramas;
YET, yet, ye downcast hours, I know ye also;
Weights of lead, how ye clog and cling at my ankles!