Song of the Exposition
5 We do not blame thee elder World, nor really separate ourselves from thee, (Would the son separate himself from the father?) Looking back on thee, seeing thee to thy duties, grandeurs, through past ages bending, building, We build to ours to-day. Mightier than Egypt's tombs, Fairer than Grecia's, Roma's temples, Prouder than Milan's statued, spired cathedral, More picturesque than Rhenish castle-keeps, We plan even now to raise, beyond them all, Thy great cathedral sacred industry, no tomb, A keep for life for practical invention. As in a waking vision, E'en while I chant I see it rise, I scan and prophesy outside and in, Its manifold ensemble. Around a palace, loftier, fairer, ampler than any yet, Earth's modern wonder, history's seven outstripping, High rising tier on tier with glass and iron facades, Gladdening the sun and sky, enhued in cheerfulest hues, Bronze, lilac, robin's-egg, marine and crimson, Over whose golden roof shall flaunt, beneath thy banner Freedom, The banners of the States and flags of every land, A brood of lofty, fair, but lesser palaces shall cluster. Somewhere within their walls shall all that forwards perfect human life be started, Tried, taught, advanced, visibly exhibited. Not only all the world of works, trade, products, But all the workmen of the world here to be represented. Here shall you trace in flowing operation, In every state of practical, busy movement, the rills of civilization, Materials here under your eye shall change their shape as if by magic, The cotton shall be pick'd almost in the very field, Shall be dried, clean'd, ginn'd, baled, spun into thread and cloth before you, You shall see hands at work at all the old processes and all the new ones, You shall see the various grains and how flour is made and then bread baked by the bakers, You shall see the crude ores of California and Nevada passing on and on till they become bullion, You shall watch how the printer sets type, and learn what a composing-stick is, You shall mark in amazement the Hoe press whirling its cylinders, shedding the printed leaves steady and fast, The photograph, model, watch, pin, nail, shall be created before you. In large calm halls, a stately museum shall teach you the infinite lessons of minerals, In another, woods, plants, vegetation shall be illustrated—in another animals, animal life and development. One stately house shall be the music house, Others for other arts—learning, the sciences, shall all be here, None shall be slighted, none but shall here be honor'd, help'd, exampled.
Posted on 12/10/2014, in literature, poetry and tagged 19th Century Poetry, American literature, American poets, Daily Whitman, free verse, Leaves of Grass, literature, poems, poetry, Transcendentalists, Walt Whitman. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.