Poems by Walt Whitman

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Arm'd year! year of the struggle!
To get betimes in Boston town, I rose this morning early;
Over the western sea, hither from Niphon come,
A song of the good green grass!
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
Slient and amazed, even when a little boy,
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn,
A glimpse, through an interstice caught,
Hold it up sternly! See this it sends back! (Who is it? Is it you?)
A leaf for hand in hand!
A march in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown;
A noiseless, patient spider,
Two boats with nets lying off the sea-beach, quite still,
A promise to California,
That which eludes this verse and any verse,
A sight in camp in the day-break grey and dim,
Come, I will make the continent indissoluble;
A woman waits for me--she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Aboard, at a ship's helm,
To-day, from each and all, a breath of prayer, a pulse of thought,
Adieu, O soldier!
After the Sea-Ship--after the whistling winds;
Ages and ages, returning at intervals,
Ah poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats!
O me, man of slack faith so long!
America always!
Among the men and women, the multitude,
With its cloud of skirmishers in advance,
An old man’s thought of School;
O mater! O fils!
Are you the new person drawn toward me?
AS a strong bird on pinions free,
As Adam, early in the morning,
AS at thy portals also death,
As consequent from store of summer rains,
As I ebb'd with the ocean of life,
AS I lay with my head in your lap, Camerado,
As I ponder'd in silence,
As I sat alone, by blue Ontario's shore,
AS I walk these broad, majestic days of peace,
As I watch'd the ploughman ploughing,
As if a phantom caress'd me,
As the time draws nigh, glooming, a cloud,
As toilsome I wander'd Virginia's woods,
Again a verse for sake of you,
I need no assurances--I am a man who is preoccupied, of his own Soul;
Bathed in war's perfume--delicate flag!
Beat! beat! drums!--Blow! bugles! blow!
Women sit, or move to and fro--some old, some young;
How they are provided for upon the earth, (appearing at intervals;)
Beginning my studies, the first step pleas'd me so much,
Behavior--fresh, native, copious, each one for himself or herself,
Behold this swarthy face--these gray eyes,
I see before me now, a traveling army halting;
Brother of all, with generous hand,
By broad Potomac's shore--again, old tongue!
By the bivouac's fitful flame,
Not alone those camps of white, O soldiers,
Come closer to me;
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 sides;
City of orgies, walks and joys!
City of ships!
Come up from the fields, father, here's a letter from our Pete;
Flood-tide below me! I watch you face to face;
Darest thou now, O Soul,
He is wisest who has the most caution,
Delicate cluster! flag of teeming life!
Despairing cries float ceaselessly toward me, day and night,
The last sunbeam
Aroused and angry,
Earth! my likeness!
I met a seer,
Elemental drifts!
Who are you, dusky woman, so ancient, hardly human,
Suddenly out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair of slaves,
Who has gone farthest? For lo! have not I gone farther?
Sauntering the pavement, or riding the country by-road--lo! such faces!
Facing west, from California's shores,
Fast-anchor'd, eternal, O love! O woman I love!
For him I sing,
A great year and place;
From far Dakota's cañons,
From my last years, last thoughts I here bequeath,
From Paumanock starting, I fly like a bird,
From pent-up, aching rivers;
Full of life, now, compact, visible,
Forms, qualities, lives, humanity, language, thoughts,
Give me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling;
Gliding o'er all, through all,
Thought of the Infinite - the All!
Great are the myths - I too delight in them;
Had I the choice to tally greatest bards,
Hast never come to thee an hour,
Here the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-lasting:
What ship, puzzled at sea, cons for the true reckoning?
Hours continuing long, sore and heavy-hearted,
How solemn, as one by one,
Hush'd be the camps to-day;
I am he that aches with amorous love;
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;
I hear it was charged against me that I sought to destroy 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,
I saw old General at bay;
I sing the Body electric;
I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;
I thought I was not alone, walking here by the shore,
I was looking a long while for a clue to the history of the past for myself, and for these chants - and now I have found it;
I will take an egg out of the robin's nest in the orchard,
In cabin'd ships, at sea,
In former songs Pride have I sung, and Love, and passionate, joyful Life,
In midnight sleep, of many a face of anguish,
In paths untrodden,
In the new garden, in all the parts,
Small is the theme of the following Chant, yet the greatest - namely,
Through the soft evening air enwrinding all,
Joy! shipmate - joy!
Who includes diversity, and is Nature,
Laws for Creations,
A song of the good green grass!
There are who teach only the sweet lessons of peace and safety;
Lo! Victress on the peaks!
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, O land,
O magnet-south! O glistening, perfumed South! My South!
Look down, fair moon, and bathe this scene;
Manhattan's streets I saunter'd, pondering,
I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Me imperturbe, standing at ease in Nature,
They shall arise in the States,
Why! who makes much of a miracle?
I see the sleeping babe, nestling the breast of its mother;
In a little house keep I pictures suspended, it is not a fix'd house,
Myself and mine gymnastic ever,
Native moments! when you come upon me - Ah you are here now!
Night on the prairies;
No labor-saving machine,
Not heat flames up and consumes,
Not heaving from my ribb'd breast only;
Not my enemies ever invade me - no harm to my pride from them I fear;
Not the pilot has charged himself to bring his ship into port, though beaten back, and many times baffled;
Not youth pertains to me,
Now finale to the shore!
Now list to my morning's romanza - I tell the signs of the Answerer;
O bitter sprig! Confession sprig!
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
O Hymen! O hymenee!
O living always - always dying!
O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
O star of France!
O sun of real peace! O hastening light!
O tan-faced prairie-boy!
O you whom I often and silently come where you are, that I may be with you;
Of him I love day and night, I dream'd I heard he was dead;
Of the terrible doubt of appearances,
Of the visages of things - And of piercing through to the accepted hells beneath;
A thousand perfect men and women appear,
Far hence, amid an isle of wondrous beauty,
An old man's thought of School;
On the beach, at night,
On the beach at night alone,
Once I pass'd through a populous city, imprinting my brain, for future use, with its shows, architecture, customs, and traditions;
One hour to madness and joy!
One song, America, before I go,
One sweeps by, attended by an immense train,
One's-self I sing - a simple, separate Person;
Or, from that Sea of Time,
Others may praise what they like;
Out from behind this bending, rough-cut Mask,
Out of the rolling ocean, the crowd, came a drop gently to me,
Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Over the carnage rose prophetic a voice,
Singing my days,
Wild, wild the storm, and the sea high running,
Pensive and faltering,
Pensive, on her dead gazing, I heard the Mother of All,
Only themselves understand themselves, and the like of themselves,
Come, my tan-faced children,
You just maturing youth! You male or female!
O to make the most jubilant poem!
Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
What are those of the known, but to ascend and enter the Unknown?
A batter'd, wreck'd old man,
When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd
Primeval my love for the woman I love,
Proud music of the storm!
Quicksand years that whirl me I know not whither,
Race of veterans! Race of victors!
Word over all, beautiful as the sky!
Recorders ages hence!
Respondez! Respondez!
Rise, O days, from your fathomless deeps, till you loftier, fiercer sweep!
Roaming in thought over the Universe, I saw the little that is Good steadily hastening towards immortality,
Roots and leaves themselves alone are these;
O take my hand, Walt Whitman!
Thither, as I look, I see each result and glory retracing itself and nestling close, always obligated;
I say whatever tastes sweet to the most perfect person, that is finally right.
Scented herbage of my breast,
Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Shut not your doors to me, proud libraries,
POET.
So far, and so far, and on toward the end,
To conclude I announce what comes after me;
Solid, ironical, rolling orb!
Sometimes with one I love, I fill myself with rage, for fear I effuse unreturn'd love;
Splendor of ended day, floating and filling me!
To-day a rude brief recitative,
Weapon, shapely, naked, wan!
After all, not to create only, or found only,
Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
A California song!
Come, said the Muse,
The business man, the acquirer vast,
Out of the murk of heaviest clouds,
Where the city's ceaseless crowd moves on, the live-long day,
Spirit that form'd this scene,
Spirit whose work is done! spirit of dreadful hours!
Spontaneous me, Nature,
Starting from fish-shape Paumanok, where I was born,
States!
Still, though the one I sing,
Tears! tears! tears!
All submit to them, where they sit, inner, secure, unapproachable to analysis, in the Soul;
AT the last, tenderly,
That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning yet long untaught I did not hear;
That shadow, my likeness, that goes to and fro, seeking a livelihood, chattering, chaffering;
While my wife at my side lies slumbering, and the wars are over long,
And now, gentlemen,
Give me your hand, old Revolutionary;
By the City Dead-House, by the gate,
Skirting the river road, (my forenoon walk, my rest,)
An old man bending, I come, among new faces,
The indications, and tally of time;
Hark! some wild trumpeter some strange musician,
In a faraway northern county, in the placid, pastoral region,
A newer garden of creation, no primal solitude,
The prairie-grass dividing its special odor breathing,
On a flat road runs the well-train'd runner;
Lo! The unbounded sea!
O sight of shame, and pain, and dole!
I wander all night in my vision,
The sobbing of the bells, the sudden death-news everywhere,
On my northwest coast in the midst of the night, a fishermen's group stands watching;
The untold want, by life and land ne'er granted,
The world below the brine;
There was a child went forth every day;
These Carols, sung to cheer my passage through the world I see,
These, I, singing in spring, collect for lovers,
Thick-sprinkled bunting! Flag of stars!
Think of the Soul;
Something startles me where I thought I was safest;
This day, O Soul, I give you a wondrous mirror;
This dust was once the Man,
This moment yearning and thoughtful, sitting alone,
Thou orb aloft full-dazzling! thou hot October noon!
Thou reader throbbest life and pride and love the same as I,
As they draw to a close,
Of obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
Of persons arrived at high positions, ceremonies, wealth, scholarships, and the like;
As I sit with others, at a great feast, suddenly, while the music is playing,
Of Justice—As if Justice could be anything but the same ample law, expounded by natural judges and saviors,
Of what I write from myself, As if that were not the resumé;
Of these years I sing,
I
Of Public Opinion;
Here, take this gift!
Did YOU ask dulcet rhymes from me?
Be composed, be at ease with me, I am Walt Whitman, liberal and lusty as Nature;
Courage yet! my brother or my sister!
You who celebrate bygones!
Thee for my recitative!
All you are doing and saying is to America dangled mirages,
Is reform needed? Is it through you?
Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
O boy of the West!
I heard that you ask'd for something to prove this puzzle, the New World,
My spirit to yours, dear brother;
From all the rest I single out you, having a message for you:
To Oratists, to male or female,
What you give me, I cheerfully accept,
To the East and to the West;
To the garden, the world, anew ascending,
To the leaven'd soil they trod, calling, I sing, for the last;
Thou who hast slept all night upon the storm,
Now, dearest comrade, lift me to your face,
Why reclining, interrogating? Why myself and all drowsing?
To thee, old Cause!
To think of time, of all that retrospection!
Let us twain walk aside from the rest;
Stranger! if you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me?
Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
Trickle, drops! my blue veins
Turn, O Libertad, for the war is over,
Two Rivulets side by side,
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman, man comes unfolded, and is always to come unfolded;
Nations ten thousand years before These States, and many times ten thousand years before These States;
I see before me now, a traveling army halting;
Vigil strange I kept on the field one night:
The noble Sire, fallen on evil days,
A mask, a perpetual natural disguiser of herself,
Now I make a leaf of Voices, for I have found nothing mightier than they are,
I
To The States, or any one of them, or any city of The States,
Wandering at morn,
Warble me now, for joy of Lilac-time,
We two boys together clinging,
We two, how long we were fool'd!
Weave in! weave in, my hardy life!
What am I, after all, but a child, pleas'd with the sound of my own name? repeating it over and over;
What best I see in thee,
What General has a good army in himself, has a good army;
What place is besieged, and vainly tries to raise the siege?
What think you I take my pen in hand to record?
What weeping face is that looking from the window?
When I heard at the close of the day how my name had been receiv'd with plaudits in the capitol, still it was not a happy night for me that follow'd;
When I heard the learn'd astronomer;
When I peruse the conquer'd fame of heroes, and the victories of mighty generals, I do not envy the generals,
When I read the book, the biography famous,
When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,
Whispers of heavenly death, murmur'd I hear;
May-be one is now reading this who knows some wrong-doing of my past life,
Who learns my lesson complete?
Whoever you are, holding me now in hand,
With all thy gifts, America,
With antecedents;
World, take good notice, silver stars fading,
Year of meteors! brooding year!
Year that trembled and reel'd beneath me!
Years of the modern! years of the unperform'd!
Yet, yet, ye downcast hours, I know ye also;
You felons on trial in courts;

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