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Thou Mother with Thy Equal Brood

1 Thou Mother with thy equal brood,
Thou varied chain of different States, yet one identity only,
A special song before I go I'd sing o'er all the rest,
For thee, the future.

I'd sow a seed for thee of endless Nationality,
I'd fashion thy ensemble including body and soul,
I'd show away ahead thy real Union, and how it may be

The paths to the house I seek to make,
But leave to those to come the house itself.

Belief I sing, and preparation;
As Life and Nature are not great with reference to the
    present only,
But greater still from what is yet to come,
Out of that formula for thee I sing.

2 As a strong bird on pinions free,
Joyous, the amplest spaces heavenward cleaving,
Such be the thought I'd think of thee America,
Such be the recitative I'd bring for thee.

The conceits of the poets of other lands I'd bring thee not,
Nor the compliments that have served their turn so long,
Nor rhyme, nor the classics, nor perfume of foreign court or
    indoor library;
But an odor I'd bring as from forests of pine in Maine, or
    breath of an Illinois prairie,
With open airs of Virginia or Georgia or Tennessee, or from
    Texas uplands, or Florida's glades,
Or the Saguenay's black stream, or the wide blue spread of
With presentment of Yellowstone's scenes, or Yosemite,
And murmuring under, pervading all, I'd bring the rustling
That endlessly sounds from the two Great Seas of the world.

And for thy subtler sense subtler refrains dread Mother,
Preludes of intellect tallying these and thee, mind-formulas
    fitted for thee, real and sane and large as these and thee,
Thou! mounting higher, diving deeper than we knew, thou
    transcendental Union!
By thee fact to be justified, blended with thought,
Thought of man justified, blended with God,
Through thy idea, lo, the immortal reality!
Through thy reality, lo, the immortal ideal!

3 Brain of the New World, what a task is thine,
To formulate the Modern&emdash;out of the peerless grandeur of
    the modern,
Out of thyself, comprising science, to recast poems, churches,
(Recast, maybe discard them, end them&emdash;maybe their work
    is done, who knows?)
By vision, hand, conception, on the background of the
    mighty past, the dead,
To limn with absolute faith the mighty living present.

And yet thou living present brain, heir of the dead, the Old
    World brain,
Thou that lay folded like an unborn babe within its fold so
Thou carefully prepared by it so long&emdash;haply thou but
    unfoldest it, only maturest it,

It to eventuate in thee&emdash;the essence of the by-gone time
    contain'd in thee,
Its poems, churches, arts, unwitting to themselves, destined
    with reference to thee;
Thou but the apples, long, long, long a-growing,
The fruit of all the Old ripening to-day in thee.

4 Sail, sail thy best, ship of Democracy,
Of value is thy freight, 'tis not the Present only,
The Past is also stored in thee,
Thou holdest not the venture of thyself alone, not of the
    Western continent alone,
Earth's rčesumče entire floats on thy keel O ship, is steadied by
    thy spars,
With thee Time voyages in trust, the antecedent nations sink
    or swim with thee,
With all their ancient struggles, martyrs, heroes, epics, wars,
    thou bear'st the other continents,
Theirs, theirs as much as thine, the destination-port
Steer then with good strong hand and wary eye O helmsman,
    thou carriest great companions,
Venerable priestly Asia sails this day with thee,
And royal feudal Europe sails with thee.

5 Beautiful world of new superber birth that rises to my eyes,
Like a limitless golden cloud filling the western sky,
Emblem of general maternity lifted above all,
Sacred shape of the bearer of daughters and sons,
Out of thy teeming womb thy giant babes in ceaseless
    procession issuing,
Acceding from such gestation, taking and giving continual
    strength and life,
World of the real&emdash;world of the twain in one,
World of the soul, born by the world of the real alone, led to
    identity, body, by it alone,

Yet in beginning only, incalculable masses of composite
    precious materials,
By history's cycles forwarded, by every nation, language,
    hither sent,
Ready, collected here, a freer, vast, electric world, to be
    constructed here,
(The true New World, the world of orbic science, morals,
    literatures to come,)
Thou wonder world yet undefined, unform'd, neither do I
    define thee,
How can I pierce the impenetrable blank of the future?
I feel thy ominous greatness evil as well as good,
I watch thee advancing, absorbing the present, transcending
    the past,
I see thy light lighting, and thy shadow shadowing, as if the
    entire globe,
But I do not undertake to define thee, hardly to comprehend
I but thee name, thee prophesy, as now,
I merely thee ejaculate!
Thee in thy future,
Thee in thy only permanent life, career, thy own unloosen'd
    mind, thy soaring spirit,
Thee as another equally needed sun, radiant, ablaze, swift-
    moving, fructifying all,
Thee risen in potent cheerfulness and joy, in endless great
Scattering for good the cloud that hung so long, that weigh'd
    so long upon the mind of man,
The doubt, suspicion, dread, of gradual, certain decadence of
Thee in thy larger, saner brood of female, male&emdash;thee in
    thy athletes, moral, spiritual, South, North, West,
(To thy immortal breasts, Mother of All, thy every daughter,
    son, endear'd alike, forever equal,)
Thee in thy own musicians, singers, artists, unborn yet, but
Thee in thy moral wealth and civilization, (until which thy
    proudest material civilization must remain in vain,)
Thee in thy all-supplying, all-enclosing worship&emdash;thee in no
    single bible, saviour, merely,
Thy saviours countless, latent within thyself, thy bibles
    incessant within thyself, equal to any, divine as any,
(Thy soaring course thee formulating, not in thy two great
    wars, nor in thy century's visible growth,
But far more in these leaves and chants, thy chants, great
Thee in an education grown of thee, in teachers, studies,
    students, born of thee,
Thee in thy democratic fçetes en-masse, thy high original
    festivals, operas, lecturers, preachers,
Thee in thy ultimata, (the preparations only now completed,
    the edifice on sure foundations tied,)
Thee in thy pinnacles, intellect, thought, thy topmost rational
    joys, thy love and godlike aspiration,
In thy resplendent coming literati, thy full-lung'd orators,
    thy sacerdotal bards, kosmic savans,
These! these in thee, (certain to come,) to-day I prophesy.

6 Land tolerating all, accepting all, not for the good alone, all
    good for thee,
Land in the realms of God to be a realm unto thyself,
Under the rule of God to be a rule unto thyself.

(Lo, where arise three peerless stars,
To be thy natal stars my country, Ensemble, Evolution,
Set in the sky of Law.)

Land of unprecedented faith, God's faith,
Thy soil, thy very subsoil, all upheav'd,
The general inner earth so long so sedulously draped over,
    now hence for what it is boldly laid bare,
Open'd by thee to heaven's light for benefit or bale.

Not for success alone,
Not to fair-sail unintermitted always,
The storm shall dash thy face, the murk of war and worse
    than war shall cover thee all over,
(Wert capable of war, its tug and trials? be capable of peace,
    its trials,
For the tug and mortal strain of nations come at last in
    prosperous peace, not war;)
In many a smiling mask death shall approach beguiling thee,
    thou in disease shalt swelter,
The livid cancer spread its hideous claws, clinging upon thy
    breasts, seeking to strike thee deep within,
Consumption of the worst, moral consumption, shall rouge
    thy face with hectic,
But thou shalt face thy fortunes, thy diseases, and surmount
    them all,
Whatever they are to-day and whatever through time they
    may be,
They each and all shall lift and pass away and cease from thee,
While thou, Time's spirals rounding, out of thyself, thyself
    still extricating, fusing,
Equable, natural, mystical Union thou, (the mortal with
    immortal blent,)
Shalt soar toward the fulfilment of the future, the spirit of
    the body and the mind,
The soul, its destinies.

The soul, its destinies, the real real,
(Purport of all these apparitions of the real;)
In thee America, the soul, its destinies,
Thou globe of globes! thou wonder nebulous!
By many a throe of heat and cold convuls'd, (by these thyself
Thou mental, moral orb&emdash;thou New, indeed new, Spiritual
The Present holds thee not&emdash;for such vast growth as thine,
For such unparallel'd flight as thine, such brood as thine,
The Future only holds thee and can hold thee.

1872                                                           1881


Two boats with nets lying off the sea-beach, quite still,
Ten fishermen waiting&emdash;they discover a thick school of
    mossbonkers&emdash;they drop the join'd seine-ends in the water,
The boats separate and row off, each on its rounding course
    to the beach, enclosing the mossbonkers,
The net is drawn in by a windlass by those who stop ashore,
Some of the fishermen lounge in their boats, others stand
    ankle-deep in the water, pois'd on strong legs,
The boats partly drawn up, the water slapping against them,
Strew'd on the sand in heaps and windrows, well out from
    the water, the green-back'd spotted mossbonkers.

1881 1881

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