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I HAVE not so much emulated the birds that musically sing,
I have abandon'd myself to flights, broad circles.
The hawk, the seagull, have far more possess'd me than the
canary or mocking-bird,
I have not felt to warble and trill, however sweetly,
I have felt to soar in freedom and in the fullness of power,
IN softness, languor, bloom, and growth,
Thine eyes, ears, all thy sense &emdash; thy loftiest attribute
&emdash; all that takes cognizance of beauty,
Shall rouse and fill &emdash; then shall perceive!
OF heroes, history, grand events, premises, myths, poems,
The few drops known must stand for oceans of the
On this beautiful and thick peopl'd earth, here and there a
little specimen put on record,
A little of Greeks and Romans, a few Hebrew canticles, a few
death odors as from graves, from Egypt &emdash;
What are they to the long and copious retrospect of anti quity?
ONE thought ever at the fore &emdash;
That in the Divine Ship, the World, breasting Time and
All Peoples of the globe together sail, sail the same voyage,
are bound to the same destination.
WHILE behind all, firm and erect as ever,
Undismay'd amid the rapids &emdash; amid the irresistible
and deadly urge,
Stands a helmsman, with brow elate and strong hand.
Marriage of Nelly Grant, May 21, 1874
SACRED, blithesome, undenied,
With benisons from East and West,
And salutations North and South,
Through me indeed to-day a million hearts and hands,
Wafting a million loves, a million soulfelt prayers;
&emdash; Tender and true remain the arm that shields thee!
Fair winds always fill the ship's sails that sail thee!
Clear sun by day, and light stars at night, beam on thee!
Dear girl &emdash; through me the ancient privilege too,
For the New World, through me, the old, old wedding greeting,
O youth and health! O sweet Missouri rose! O bonny bride!
Yield thy red cheeks, thy lips, to-day,
Unto a Nation's loving kiss.
Winter of 1873, Congress in Session
NAY, tell me not to-day the publish'd shame,
Read not to-day the journal's crowded page,
The merciless reports still branding forehead after forehead,
The guilty column following guilty column.
To-day to me the tale refusing,
Turning from it &emdash; from the white capitol turning,
Far from these swelling domes, topt with statues,
More endless, jubilant, vital visions rise
Through all your quiet ways, or North or South, you Equal
States, you honest farms,
Your million untold manly healthy lives, or East or West,
city or country,
Your noiseless mothers, sisters, wives, unconscious of their
Your mass of homes nor poor nor rich, in visions rise
&emdash; (even your excellent poverties,)
Your self-distilling, never-ceasing virtues, self-denials, graces,
Your endless base of deep integrities within, timid but
Your blessings steadily bestow'd, sure as the light, and still,
(Plunging to these as a determin'd diver down the deep
These, these to-day I brood upon &emdash; all else refusing,
these will I con,
To-day to these give audience.
SANE, random, negligent hours,
Sane, easy, culminating hours,
After the flush, the Indian summer, of my life,
Away from Books &emdash; away from Art &emdash;
the lesson learn'd, pass'd o'er,
Soothing, bathing, merging all &emdash; the sane, magnetic,
Now for the day and night themselves &emdash; the open air,
Now for the fields, the seasons, insects, trees &emdash; the
rain and snow,
Where wild bees flitting hum,
Or August mulleins grow, or winter's snowflakes fall,
Or stars in the skies roll round &emdash;
The silent sun and stars.
FULL of wickedness, I &emdash; of many a smutch'd deed
reminiscent &emdash; of worse deeds capable,
Yet I look composedly upon nature, drink day and night the
joys of life, and await death with perfect equanimity.
Because of my tender and boundless love for him I love and
because of his boundless love for me.
(Cf. Stanza 27,
TO be at all &emdash; what is better than that?
I think if there were nothing more developed, the clam
in its callous shell in the sand were august enough.
I am not in any callous shell;
I am cased with supple conductors, all over,
They take every object by the hand, and lead it within me;
They are thousands, each one with his entry to himself;
They are always watching with their little eyes, from my head
to my feet;
One no more than a point lets in and out of me such bliss and
I think I could lift the girder of the house away if it lay
between me and whatever I wanted.
To accompany a picture; by request.
Shadow of Death,
NAY, do not dream, designer dark,
Thou hast portray'd or hit thy theme entire;
I, hoverer of late by this dark valley, by its confines,
having glimpses of it,
Here enter lists with thee, claiming my right to make a
For I have seen many wounded soldiers die,
After dread suffering &emdash; have seen their lives
pass off with smiles;
And I have watch'd the death-hours of the old; and
seen the infant die;
The rich with all his nurses and his doctors;
And then the poor, in meagreness and poverty;
And I myself for long, O Death, have breath'd my
Amid the nearness and the silent thought of thee.
And out of these and thee,
I make a scene, a song (not fear of thee,
Nor gloom's ravines, nor bleak, nor dark &emdash;
for I do not fear thee,
Nor celebrate the struggle, or contortion, or hard-tied knot),
Of the broad blessed light and perfect air, with meadows,
rippling tides, and trees and flowers and grass,
And the low hum of living breeze &emdash; and in the
midst God's beautiful eternal right hand,
Thee, holiest minister of Heaven &emdash; thee, envoy,
usherer, guide at last of all,
Rich, florid, loosener of the stricture-knot call'd life,
Sweet, peaceful, welcome Death.
Intended for first stanza of
AYE, well I know 'tis ghastly to descend that valley:
Preachers, musicians, poets, painters, always render it,
Philosophs exploit &emdash; the battlefield, the ship at
sea, the myriad beds, all lands,
All, all the past have enter'd, the ancientest humanity we
Syria's, India's, Egypt's, Greece's, Rome's;
Till now for us under our very eyes spreading the same
Grim, ready, the same to-day, for entrance, yours and
Here, here 'tis limn'd.
THE mystery of mysteries, the crude and hurried ceaseless
flame, spontaneous, bearing on itself.
The bubble and the huge, round, concrete orb!
A breath of Deity, as thence the bulging universe unfolding!
The many issuing cycles from their precedent minute!
The eras of the soul incepting in an hour,
Haply the widest, farthest evolutions of the world and
Thousands and thousands of miles hence, and now four
A mortal impulse thrilling its brain cell,
Reck'd or unreck'd, the birth can no longer be postpon'd:
A phantom of the moment, mystic, stalking, sudden,
Only a silent thought, yet toppling down of more than walls
of brass or stone.
(A flutter at the darkness' edge as if old Time's and Space's
secret near revealing.)
A thought! a definite thought works out in shape.
Four hundred years roll on.
The rapid cumulus &emdash; trade, navigation, war, peace,
democracy, roll on;
The restless armies and the fleets of time following their
leader &emdash; the old camps of ages pitch'd in newer,
The tangl'd, long-deferr'd, éclaircissement of human life and
hopes boldly begins untying,
As here to-day up-grows the Western World.
(An added word yet to my song, far Discoverer, as ne'er
before sent back to son of earth &emdash;
If still thou hearest, hear me,
Voicing as now &emdash; lands, races, arts, bravas to thee,
O'er the long backward path to thee &emdash; one vast
consensus north, south, east, west,
Soul plaudits! acclamation! reverent echoes!
One manifold, huge memory to thee! oceans and lands!
The modern world to thee and thought of thee!)
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