They shall arise in the States, They shall report Nature, laws, physiology, and happiness, They shall illustrate Democracy and the kosmos, They shall be alimentive, amative, perceptive, They shall be complete women and men, their pose brawny and supple, their drink water, their blood clean and clear, They shall fully enjoy materialism and the sight of products, they shall enjoy the sight of the beef, lumber, bread-stuffs, of Chicago the great city. They shall train themselves to go in public to become orators and oratresses, Strong and sweet shall their tongues be, poems and materials of poems shall come from their lives, they shall be makers and finders, Of them and of their works shall emerge divine conveyers, to convey gospels, Characters, events, retrospections, shall be convey'd in gospels, trees, animals, waters, shall be convey'd, Death, the future, the invisible faith, shall all be convey'd.
Of public opinion, Of a calm and cool fiat sooner or later, (how impassive! how certain and final!) Of the President with pale face asking secretly to himself, What will the people say at last? Of the frivolous Judge—of the corrupt Congressman, Governor, Mayor—of such as these standing helpless and exposed, Of the mumbling and screaming priest, (soon, soon deserted,) Of the lessening year by year of venerableness, and of the dicta of officers, statutes, pulpits, schools, Of the rising forever taller and stronger and broader of the intuitions of men and women, and of Self-esteem and Personality; Of the true New World—of the Democracies resplendent en-masse, Of the conformity of politics, armies, navies, to them, Of the shining sun by them—of the inherent light, greater than the rest, Of the envelopment of all by them, and the effusion of all from them.
Ah Poverties, Wincings, and Sulky Retreats
Ah poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats, Ah you foes that in conflict have overcome me, (For what is my life or any man's life but a conflict with foes, the old, the incessant war?) You degradations, you tussle with passions and appetites, You smarts from dissatisfied friendships, (ah wounds the sharpest of all!) You toil of painful and choked articulations, you meannesses, You shallow tongue-talks at tables, (my tongue the shallowest of any;) You broken resolutions, you racking angers, you smother'd ennuis! Ah think not you finally triumph, my real self has yet to come forth, It shall yet march forth o'ermastering, till all lies beneath me, It shall yet stand up the soldier of ultimate victory.
Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther, And who has been just? for I would be the most just person of the earth, And who most cautious? for I would be more cautious, And who has been happiest? O I think it is I—I think no one was ever happier than I, And who has lavish'd all? for I lavish constantly the best I have, And who proudest? for I think I have reason to be the proudest son alive—for I am the son of the brawny and tall-topt city, And who has been bold and true? for I would be the boldest and truest being of the universe, And who benevolent? for I would show more benevolence than all the rest, And who has receiv'd the love of the most friends? for I know what it is to receive the passionate love of many friends, And who possesses a perfect and enamour'd body? for I do not believe any one possesses a more perfect or enamour'd body than mine, And who thinks the amplest thoughts? for I would surround those thoughts, And who has made hymns fit for the earth? for I am mad with devouring ecstasy to make joyous hymns for the whole earth.
A Riddle Song
That which eludes this verse and any verse, Unheard by sharpest ear, unform'd in clearest eye or cunningest mind, Nor lore nor fame, nor happiness nor wealth, And yet the pulse of every heart and life throughout the world incessantly, Which you and I and all pursuing ever ever miss, Open but still a secret, the real of the real, an illusion, Costless, vouchsafed to each, yet never man the owner, Which poets vainly seek to put in rhyme, historians in prose, Which sculptor never chisel'd yet, nor painter painted, Which vocalist never sung, nor orator nor actor ever utter'd, Invoking here and now I challenge for my song. Indifferently, 'mid public, private haunts, in solitude, Behind the mountain and the wood, Companion of the city's busiest streets, through the assemblage, It and its radiations constantly glide. In looks of fair unconscious babes, Or strangely in the coffin'd dead, Or show of breaking dawn or stars by night, As some dissolving delicate film of dreams, Hiding yet lingering. Two little breaths of words comprising it, Two words, yet all from first to last comprised in it. How ardently for it! How many ships have sail'd and sunk for it! How many travelers started from their homes and neer return'd! How much of genius boldly staked and lost for it! What countless stores of beauty, love, ventur'd for it! How all superbest deeds since Time began are traceable to it—and shall be to the end! How all heroic martyrdoms to it! How, justified by it, the horrors, evils, battles of the earth! How the bright fascinating lambent flames of it, in every age and land, have drawn men's eyes, Rich as a sunset on the Norway coast, the sky, the islands, and the cliffs, Or midnight's silent glowing northern lights unreachable. Haply God's riddle it, so vague and yet so certain, The soul for it, and all the visible universe for it, And heaven at last for it.
All Is Truth
O me, man of slack faith so long, Standing aloof, denying portions so long, Only aware to-day of compact all-diffused truth, Discovering to-day there is no lie or form of lie, and can be none, but grows as inevitably upon itself as the truth does upon itself, Or as any law of the earth or any natural production of the earth does. (This is curious and may not be realized immediately, but it must be realized, I feel in myself that I represent falsehoods equally with the rest, And that the universe does.) Where has fail'd a perfect return indifferent of lies or the truth? Is it upon the ground, or in water or fire? or in the spirit of man? or in the meat and blood? Meditating among liars and retreating sternly into myself, I see that there are really no liars or lies after all, And that nothing fails its perfect return, and that what are called lies are perfect returns, And that each thing exactly represents itself and what has preceded it, And that the truth includes all, and is compact just as much as space is compact, And that there is no flaw or vacuum in the amount of the truth—but that all is truth without exception; And henceforth I will go celebrate any thing I see or am, And sing and laugh and deny nothing.
I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city, Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name. Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient, I see that the word of my city is that word from of old, Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays, superb, Rich, hemm'd thick all around with sailships and steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded, Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies, Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown, The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining islands, the heights, the villas, The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters, the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model'd, The down-town streets, the jobbers' houses of business, the houses of business of the ship-merchants and money-brokers, the river-streets, Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week, The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses, the brown-faced sailors, The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing clouds aloft, The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or ebb-tide, The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form'd, beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes, Trottoirs throng'd, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the shops and shows, A million people—manners free and superb—open voices—hospitality— the most courageous and friendly young men, City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts! City nested in bays! my city!
O magnet-south! O glistening perfumed South! my South! O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse and love! good and evil! O all dear to me! O dear to me my birth-things—all moving things and the trees where I was born—the grains, plants, rivers, Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they flow, distant, over flats of slivery sands or through swamps, Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altamahaw, the Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee, the Coosa and the Sabine, O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my soul to haunt their banks again, Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes, I float on the Okeechobee, I cross the hummock-land or through pleasant openings or dense forests, I see the parrots in the woods, I see the papaw-tree and the blossoming titi; Again, sailing in my coaster on deck, I coast off Georgia, I coast up the Carolinas, I see where the live-oak is growing, I see where the yellow-pine, the scented bay-tree, the lemon and orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto, I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico sound through an inlet, and dart my vision inland; O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar, hemp! The cactus guarded with thorns, the laurel-tree with large white flowers, The range afar, the richness and barrenness, the old woods charged with mistletoe and trailing moss, The piney odor and the gloom, the awful natural stillness, (here in these dense swamps the freebooter carries his gun, and the fugitive has his conceal'd hut;) O the strange fascination of these half-known half-impassable swamps, infested by reptiles, resounding with the bellow of the alligator, the sad noises of the night-owl and the wild-cat, and the whirr of the rattlesnake, The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all the forenoon, singing through the moon-lit night, The humming-bird, the wild turkey, the raccoon, the opossum; A Kentucky corn-field, the tall, graceful, long-leav'd corn, slender, flapping, bright green, with tassels, with beautiful ears each well-sheath'd in its husk; O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs, I can stand them not, I will depart; O to be a Virginian where I grew up! O to be a Carolinian! O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Tennessee and never wander more.
To a Locomotive in Winter
Thee for my recitative, Thee in the driving storm even as now, the snow, the winter-day declining, Thee in thy panoply, thy measur'd dual throbbing and thy beat convulsive, Thy black cylindric body, golden brass and silvery steel, Thy ponderous side-bars, parallel and connecting rods, gyrating, shuttling at thy sides, Thy metrical, now swelling pant and roar, now tapering in the distance, Thy great protruding head-light fix'd in front, Thy long, pale, floating vapor-pennants, tinged with delicate purple, The dense and murky clouds out-belching from thy smoke-stack, Thy knitted frame, thy springs and valves, the tremulous twinkle of thy wheels, Thy train of cars behind, obedient, merrily following, Through gale or calm, now swift, now slack, yet steadily careering; Type of the modern—emblem of motion and power—pulse of the continent, For once come serve the Muse and merge in verse, even as here I see thee, With storm and buffeting gusts of wind and falling snow, By day thy warning ringing bell to sound its notes, By night thy silent signal lamps to swing. Fierce-throated beauty! Roll through my chant with all thy lawless music, thy swinging lamps at night, Thy madly-whistled laughter, echoing, rumbling like an earthquake, rousing all, Law of thyself complete, thine own track firmly holding, (No sweetness debonair of tearful harp or glib piano thine,) Thy trills of shrieks by rocks and hills return'd, Launch'd o'er the prairies wide, across the lakes, To the free skies unpent and glad and strong.
The Mystic Trumpeter
8 Now trumpeter for thy close, Vouchsafe a higher strain than any yet, Sing to my soul, renew its languishing faith and hope, Rouse up my slow belief, give me some vision of the future, Give me for once its prophecy and joy. O glad, exulting, culminating song! A vigor more than earth's is in thy notes, Marches of victory—man disenthral'd—the conqueror at last, Hymns to the universal God from universal man—all joy! A reborn race appears—a perfect world, all joy! Women and men in wisdom innocence and health—all joy! Riotous laughing bacchanals fill'd with joy! War, sorrow, suffering gone—the rank earth purged—nothing but joy left! The ocean fill'd with joy—the atmosphere all joy! Joy! joy! in freedom, worship, love! joy in the ecstasy of life! Enough to merely be! enough to breathe! Joy! joy! all over joy!