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Hush'd be the camps today,
And soldiers let us drape our war-worn weapons,
And each with musing soul retire to celebrate,
Our dear commander's death.
No more for him life's stormy conflicts,
Nor victory, nor defeat--no more time's dark events,
Charging like ceaseless clouds across the sky.
But sing poet in our name,
Sing of the love we bore him--because you, dweller in camps, know it truly.
As they invault the coffin there,
Sing--as they close the doors of earth upon him--one verse,
For the heavy hearts of soldiers.
HOW solemn, as one by one,
As the ranks returning, all worn and sweaty--as the men file by where
As the faces, the masks appear--as I glance at the faces, studying
(As I glance upward out of this page, studying you, dear friend,
whoever you are;)
How solemn the thought of my whispering soul, to each in the ranks,
and to you;
I see behind each mask, that wonder, a kindred soul;
O the bullet could never kill what you really are, dear friend,
Nor the bayonet stab what you really are:
... The soul! yourself I see, great as any, good as the best,
Waiting, secure and content, which the bullet could never kill,
Nor the bayonet stab, O friend! 10
HOURS continuing long, sore and heavy-hearted,
Hours of the dusk, when I withdraw to a lonesome and unfrequented
spot, seating myself, leaning my face in my hands;
Hours sleepless, deep in the night, when I go forth, speeding swiftly
the country roads, or through the city streets, or pacing miles
and miles, stifling plaintive cries;
Hours discouraged, distracted--for the one I cannot content myself
without, soon I saw him content himself without me;
Hours when I am forgotten, (O weeks and months are passing, but I
believe I am never to forget!)
Sullen and suffering hours! (I am ashamed--but it is useless--I am
what I am;)
Hours of my torment--I wonder if other men ever have the like, out of
the like feelings?
Is there even one other like me--distracted--his friend, his lover,
lost to him?
Is he too as I am now? Does he still rise in the morning, dejected,
thinking who is lost to him? and at night, awaking, think who
Does he too harbor his friendship silent and endless? harbor his
anguish and passion? 10
Does some stray reminder, or the casual mention of a name, bring the
fit back upon him, taciturn and deprest?
Does he see himself reflected in me? In these hours, does he see the
face of his hours reflected?
WHAT ship, puzzled at sea, cons for the true reckoning?
Or, coming in, to avoid the bars, and follow the channel, a perfect
Here, sailor! Here, ship! take aboard the most perfect pilot,
Whom, in a little boat, putting off, and rowing, I, hailing you,
Had I the choice to tally greatest bards,
To limn their portraits, stately, beautiful, and emulate at will,
Homer with all his wars and warriors--Hector, Achilles, Ajax,
Or Shakespeare's woe-entangled Hamlet, Lear, Othello--Tennyson's fair ladies,
Meter or wit the best, or choice conceit to weild in perfect rhyme, delight of singers;
These, these, O sea, all these I'd gladly barter,
Would you the undulation of one wave, its trick to me transfer,
Or breathe one breath of yours upon my verse,
And leave its odor there.
GREAT are the myths--I too delight in them;
Great are Adam and Eve--I too look back and accept them;
Great the risen and fallen nations, and their poets, women, sages,
inventors, rulers, warriors, and priests.
Great is Liberty! great is Equality! I am their follower;
Helmsmen of nations, choose your craft! where you sail, I sail,
I weather it out with you, or sink with you.
Great is Youth--equally great is Old Age--great are the Day and
Great is Wealth--great is Poverty--great is Expression--great is
Youth, large, lusty, loving--Youth, full of grace, force,
Do you know that Old Age may come after you, with equal grace, force,
Day, full-blown and splendid--Day of the immense sun, action,
The Night follows close, with millions of suns, and sleep, and
Wealth, with the flush hand, fine clothes, hospitality;
But then the Soul's wealth, which is candor, knowledge, pride,
(Who goes for men and women showing Poverty richer than wealth?)
Expression of speech! in what is written or said, forget not that
Silence is also expressive,
That anguish as hot as the hottest, and contempt as cold as the
coldest, may be without words.
Great is the Earth, and the way it became what it is;
Do you imagine it has stopt at this? the increase abandon'd?
Understand then that it goes as far onward from this, as this is from
the times when it lay in covering waters and gases, before man
had appear'd. 20
Great is the quality of Truth in man;
The quality of truth in man supports itself through all changes,
It is inevitably in the man--he and it are in love, and never leave
The truth in man is no dictum, it is vital as eyesight;
If there be any Soul, there is truth--if there be man or woman there
is truth--if there be physical or moral, there is truth;
If there be equilibrium or volition, there is truth--if there be
things at all upon the earth, there is truth.
O truth of the earth! I am determin'd to press my way toward you;
Sound your voice! I scale mountains, or dive in the sea after you.
Great is Language--it is the mightiest of the sciences,
It is the fulness, color, form, diversity of the earth, and of men
and women, and of all qualities and processes; 30
It is greater than wealth--it is greater than buildings, ships,
religions, paintings, music.
Great is the English speech--what speech is so great as the English?
Great is the English brood--what brood has so vast a destiny as the
It is the mother of the brood that must rule the earth with the new
The new rule shall rule as the Soul rules, and as the love, justice,
equality in the Soul rule.
Great is Law--great are the few old land-marks of the law,
They are the same in all times, and shall not be disturb'd.
Great is Justice!
Justice is not settled by legislators and laws--it is in the Soul;
It cannot be varied by statutes, any more than love, pride, the
attraction of gravity, can; 40
It is immutable--it does not depend on majorities--majorities or what
not, come at last before the same passionless and exact
For justice are the grand natural lawyers, and perfect judges--is it
in their Souls;
It is well assorted--they have not studied for nothing--the great
includes the less;
They rule on the highest grounds--they oversee all eras, states,
The perfect judge fears nothing--he could go front to front before
Before the perfect judge all shall stand back--life and death shall
stand back--heaven and hell shall stand back.
Great is Life, real and mystical, wherever and whoever;
Great is Death--sure as life holds all parts together, Death holds
all parts together.
Has Life much purport?--Ah, Death has the greatest purport.
THOUGHT of the Infinite--the All!
Be thou my God.
Lover Divine, and Perfect Comrade!
Waiting, content, invisible yet, but certain,
Be thou my God.
Thou--thou, the Ideal Man!
Fair, able, beautiful, content, and loving,
Complete in Body, and dilate in Spirit,
Be thou my God.
O Death--(for Life has served its turn;) 10
Opener and usher to the heavenly mansion!
Be thou my God.
Aught, aught, of mightiest, best, I see, conceive, or know,
(To break the stagnant tie--thee, thee to free, O Soul,)
Be thou my God.
Or thee, Old Cause, when'er advancing;
All great Ideas, the races' aspirations,
All that exalts, releases thee, my Soul!
All heroisms, deeds of rapt enthusiasts,
Be ye my Gods! 20
Or Time and Space!
Or shape of Earth, divine and wondrous!
Or shape in I myself--or some fair shape, I, viewing, worship,
Or lustrous orb of Sun, or star by night:
Be ye my Gods.
GIVE me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling;
Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard;
Give me a field where the unmow'd grass grows;
Give me an arbor, give me the trellis'd grape;
Give me fresh corn and wheat--give me serene-moving animals, teaching
Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus west of the
Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars;
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers, where I can
Give me for marriage a sweet-breath'd woman, of whom I should never
Give me a perfect child--give me, away, aside from the noise of the
world, a rural, domestic life;
Give me to warble spontaneous songs, reliev'd, recluse by myself, for
my own ears only; 10
Give me solitude--give me Nature--give me again, O Nature, your
--These, demanding to have them, (tired with ceaseless excitement,
and rack'd by the war-strife;)
These to procure, incessantly asking, rising in cries from my heart,
While yet incessantly asking, still I adhere to my city;
Day upon day, and year upon year, O city, walking your streets,
Where you hold me enchain'd a certain time, refusing to give me up;
Yet giving to make me glutted, enrich'd of soul--you give me forever
(O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing my cries;
I see my own soul trampling down what it ask'd for.)
Keep your splendid, silent sun; 20
Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by the woods;
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-fields and
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the Ninth-month bees hum;
Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms incessant and
endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me comrades and lovers
by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones by the hand every
Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhattan!
Give me Broadway, with the soldiers marching--give me the sound of
the trumpets and drums!
(The soldiers in companies or regiments--some, starting away, flush'd
Some, their time up, returning, with thinn'd ranks--young, yet very
old, worn, marching, noticing nothing;) 30
--Give me the shores and the wharves heavy-fringed with the black
O such for me! O an intense life! O full to repletion, and varied!
The life of the theatre, bar-room, huge hotel, for me!
The saloon of the steamer! the crowded excursion for me! the torch-
The dense brigade, bound for the war, with high piled military wagons
People, endless, streaming, with strong voices, passions, pageants;
Manhattan streets, with their powerful throbs, with the beating
drums, as now;
The endless and noisy chorus, the rustle and clank of muskets, (even
the sight of the wounded;)
Manhattan crowds, with their turbulent musical chorus--with varied
chorus, and light of the sparkling eyes;
Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me. 40
FORMS, qualities, lives, humanity, language, thoughts,
The ones known, and the ones unknown--the ones on the stars,
The stars themselves, some shaped, others unshaped,
Wonders as of those countries--the soil, trees, cities, inhabitants,
whatever they may be,
Splendid suns, the moons and rings, the countless combinations and
Such-like, and as good as such-like, visible here or anywhere, stand
provided for in a handful of space, which I extend my arm and
half enclose with my hand;
That contains the start of each and all--the virtue, the germs of
FULL of life, now, compact, visible,
I, forty years old the Eighty-third Year of The States,
To one a century hence, or any number of centuries hence,
To you, yet unborn, these, seeking you.
When you read these, I, that was visible, am become invisible;
Now it is you, compact, visible, realizing my poems, seeking me;
Fancying how happy you were, if I could be with you, and become your
Be it as if I were with you. (Be not too certain but I am now with
FROM pent-up, aching rivers;
From that of myself, without which I were nothing;
From what I am determin'd to make illustrious, even if I stand sole
From my own voice resonant--singing the phallus,
Singing the song of procreation,
Singing the need of superb children, and therein superb grown people,
Singing the muscular urge and the blending,
Singing the bedfellow's song, (O resistless yearning!
O for any and each, the body correlative attracting!
O for you, whoever you are, your correlative body! O it, more than
all else, you delighting!) 10
--From the hungry gnaw that eats me night and day;
From native moments--from bashful pains--singing them;
Singing something yet unfound, though I have diligently sought it,
many a long year;
Singing the true song of the Soul, fitful, at random;
Singing what, to the Soul, entirely redeem'd her, the faithful one,
even the prostitute, who detain'd me when I went to the city;
Singing the song of prostitutes;
Renascent with grossest Nature, or among animals;
Of that--of them, and what goes with them, my poems informing;
Of the smell of apples and lemons--of the pairing of birds,
Of the wet of woods--of the lapping of waves, 20
Of the mad pushes of waves upon the land--I them chanting;
The overture lightly sounding--the strain anticipating;
The welcome nearness--the sight of the perfect body;
The swimmer swimming naked in the bath, or motionless on his back
lying and floating;
The female form approaching--I, pensive, love-flesh tremulous,
The divine list, for myself or you, or for any one, making;
The face--the limbs--the index from head to foot, and what it
The mystic deliria--the madness amorous--the utter abandonment;
(Hark close, and still, what I now whisper to you,
I love you---O you entirely possess me, 30
O I wish that you and I escape from the rest, and go utterly off--O
free and lawless,
Two hawks in the air--two fishes swimming in the sea not more lawless
--The furious storm through me careering--I passionately trembling;
The oath of the inseparableness of two together--of the woman that
loves me, and whom I love more than my life--that oath
(O I willingly stake all, for you!
O let me be lost, if it must be so!
O you and I--what is it to us what the rest do or think?
What is all else to us? only that we enjoy each other, and exhaust
each other, if it must be so:)
--From the master--the pilot I yield the vessel to;
The general commanding me, commanding all--from him permission
From time the programme hastening, (I have loiter'd too long, as it
From sex--From the warp and from the woof;
(To talk to the perfect girl who understands me,
To waft to her these from my own lips--to effuse them from my own
From privacy--from frequent repinings alone;
From plenty of persons near, and yet the right person not near;
From the soft sliding of hands over me, and thrusting of fingers
through my hair and beard;
From the long sustain'd kiss upon the mouth or bosom;
From the close pressure that makes me or any man drunk, fainting with
From what the divine husband knows--from the work of fatherhood; 50
From exultation, victory, and relief--from the bedfellow's embrace in
From the act-poems of eyes, hands, hips, and bosoms,
From the cling of the trembling arm,
From the bending curve and the clinch,
From side by side, the pliant coverlid off-throwing,
From the one so unwilling to have me leave--and me just as unwilling
(Yet a moment, O tender waiter, and I return;)
--From the hour of shining stars and dropping dews,
From the night, a moment, I, emerging, flitting out,
Celebrate you, act divine--and you, children prepared for, 60
And you, stalwart loins.
FROM Paumanock starting, I fly like a bird,
Around and around to soar, to sing the idea of all;
To the north betaking myself, to sing there arctic songs,
To Kanada, till I absorb Kanada in myself--to Michigan then,
To Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, to sing their songs, (they are
Then to Ohio and Indiana to sing theirs--to Missouri and Kansas and
Arkansas, to sing theirs,
To Tennessee and Kentucky--to the Carolinas and Georgia, to sing
To Texas, and so along up toward California, to roam accepted
To sing first, (to the tap of the war-drum, if need be,)
The idea of all--of the western world, one and inseparable. 10
And then the song of each member of These States.
FROM far Dakota's cañons,
Lands of the wild ravine, the dusky Sioux, the lonesome stretch, the
Haply to-day a mournful wail, haply a trumpet-note for heroes.
The Indian ambuscade, the craft, the fatal environment,
The cavalry companies fighting to the last in sternest heroism,
In the midst of their little circle, with their slaughter'd horses
The fall of Custer and all his officers and men.
Continues yet the old, old legend of our race,
The loftiest of life upheld by death, 10
The ancient banner perfectly maintain'd,
O lesson opportune, O how I welcome thee!
As sitting in dark days,
Lone, sulky, through the time's thick murk looking in vain for light,
From unsuspected parts a fierce and momentary proof,
(The sun there at the centre though conceal'd,
Electric life forever at the centre,)
Breaks forth a lightning flash.
Thou of the tawny flowing hair in battle,
I erewhile saw, with erect head, pressing ever in front, bearing a
bright sword in thy hand, 20
Now ending well in death the splendid fever of thy deeds,
(I bring no dirge for it or thee, I bring a glad triumphal sonnet,)
Desperate and glorious, aye in defeat most desperate, most glorious,
After thy many battles in which never yielding up a gun or a color
Leaving behind thee a memory sweet to soldiers,
Thou yieldest up thyself.
A GREAT year and place;
A harsh, discordant, natal scream out-sounding, to touch the mother's
heart closer than any yet.
I walk'd the shores of my Eastern Sea,
Heard over the waves the little voice,
Saw the divine infant, where she woke, mournfully wailing, amid the
roar of cannon, curses, shouts, crash of falling buildings;
Was not so sick from the blood in the gutters running--nor from the
single corpses, nor those in heaps, nor those borne away in the
Was not so desperate at the battues of death--was not so shock'd at
the repeated fusillades of the guns.
Pale, silent, stern, what could I say to that long-accrued
Could I wish humanity different?
Could I wish the people made of wood and stone? 10
Or that there be no justice in destiny or time?
O Liberty! O mate for me!
Here too the blaze, the grape-shot and the axe, in reserve, to fetch
them out in case of need;
Here too, though long represt, can never be destroy'd;
Here too could rise at last, murdering and extatic;
Here too demanding full arrears of vengeance.
Hence I sign this salute over the sea,
And I do not deny that terrible red birth and baptism,
But remember the little voice that I heard wailing--and wait with
perfect trust, no matter how long;
And from to-day, sad and cogent, I maintain the bequeath'd cause, as
for all lands, 20
And I send these words to Paris with my love,
And I guess some chansonniers there will understand them,
For I guess there is latent music yet in France--floods of it;
O I hear already the bustle of instruments--they will soon be
drowning all that would interrupt them;
O I think the east wind brings a triumphal and free march,
It reaches hither--it swells me to joyful madness,
I will run transpose it in words, to justify it,
I will yet sing a song for you, MA FEMME.
FAST-ANCHOR'D, eternal, O love! O woman I love!
O bride! O wife! more resistless than I can tell, the thought of you!
--Then separate, as disembodied, or another born,
Ethereal, the last athletic reality, my consolation;
I ascend--I float in the regions of your love, O man,
O sharer of my roving life.
FACING west, from California's shores,
Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound,
I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of maternity, the
land of migrations, look afar,
Look off the shores of my Western Sea--the circle almost circled;
For, starting westward from Hindustan, from the vales of Kashmere,
From Asia--from the north--from the God, the sage, and the hero,
From the south--from the flowery peninsulas, and the spice islands;
Long having wander'd since--round the earth having wander'd,
Now I face home again--very pleas'd and joyous;
(But where is what I started for, so long ago? 10
And why is it yet unfound?)