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ONE'S-SELF I sing, a simple separate person,
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.

Of physiology from top to toe I sing,
Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the
    Muse, I say the Form complete is worthier far,
The Female equally with the Male I sing.

Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful, for freest action form'd under the laws divine,
The Modern Man I sing.

1867                                                                  1871


As I ponder'd in silence,
Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,
A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,
Terrible in beauty, age, and power,
The genius of poets of old lands,
As to me directing like flame its eyes,
With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,
Know'st thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?
And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,
The making of perfect soldiers.

Be it so, then I answer'd,
I too haughty Shade also sing war, and a longer and greater one
    than any
Waged in my book with varying fortune, with flight, advance
    and retreat, victory deferr'd and wavering
(Yet methinks certain, or as good as certain, at the last,) the
    field the world
For life and death, for the Body and for the eternal Soul,
Lo, I too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
I above all promote brave soldiers.

1871                                                                  1871


IN cabin'd ships at sea,
The boundless blue on every side expanding,
With whistling winds and music of the waves, the large
    imperious waves,
Or some lone bark buoy'd on the dense marine,
Where joyous full of faith, spreading white sails,
She cleaves the ether mid the sparkle and the foam of day, or
    under many a star at night,
By sailors young and old haply will I, a reminiscence of the
    land, be read,
In full rapport at last.

Here are our thoughts, voyagers' thoughts,
Here not the land, firm land, alone appears, may then by them
    be said,
The sky o'erarches here, we feel the undulating deck beneath
    our feet
We feel the long pulsation, ebb and flow of endless motion.
The tones of unseen mystery, the vague and vast suggestions of
    the briny world, the liquid-flowing syllables
The perfume, the faint creaking of the cordage, the melancholy
The boundless vista and the horizon far and dim are all here,
And this is ocean's poem.

Then falter not O book, fulfil your destiny,
You not a reminiscence of the land alone,
You too as a lone bark cleaving the ether, purpos'd I know
    not whither, yet ever full of faith,
Consort to every ship that sails, sail you!
Bear forth to them folded my love, (dear mariners, for you
    I fold it here in every leaf;)

Speed on my book! spread your white sails my little bark
    athwart the imperious waves,
Chant on, sail on, bear o'er the boundless blue from me to
    every sea,
This song for mariners and all their ships.

1871                                                                  1881


I HEARD that you ask'd for something to prove this puzzle the
    New World,
And to define America, her athletic Democracy,
Therefore I send you my poems that you behold in them
    what you wanted.

1860                                                                  1871


YOU who celebrate bygones,
Who have explored the outward, the surfaces of the races,
    the life that has exhibited itself,
Who have treated of man as the creature of politics, aggregates,
    rulers and priests,
I, habitan of the Alleghanies, treating of him as he is in himself
    in his own rights,
Pressing the pulse of the life that has seldom exhibited itself,
    (the great pride of man in himself),
Chanter of Personality, outlining what is yet to be,
I project the history of the future.

1860                                                                  1871


To thee old cause!
Thou peerless, passionate, good cause,
Thou stern, remorseless, sweet idea,
Deathless throughout the ages, races, lands,
After a strange sad war, great war for thee,
(I think all war through time was really fought, and ever will
    be really fought, for thee,)
These chants for thee, the eternal march of thee.

(A war O soldiers not for itself alone,
Far, far more stood silently waiting behind, now to advance
    in this book.)

Thou orb of many orbs!
Thou seething principle! thou well-kept, latent germ! thou
Around the idea of thee the war revolving,
With all its angry and vehement play of causes,
(With vast results to come for thrice a thousand years,)
These recitatives for thee,&emdash;my book and the war are one,
Merged in its spirit I and mine, as the contest hinged on thee,
As a wheel on its axis turns, this book unwitting to itself,
Around the idea of thee.

1871                                                                  1881


    I MET a seer,
Passing the hues and objects of the world,
The fields of art and learning, pleasure, sense,
    To glean eidólons.

    Put in thy chants said he,
No more the puzzling hour nor day, nor segments, parts, put
Put first before the rest as light for all and entrance-song of all,
    That of eidólons.

    Ever the dim beginning,
Ever the growth, the rounding of the circle,
Ever the summit and the merge at last, (to surely start again,)
    Eidólons! eidólons!

    Ever the mutable,
Ever materials, changing, crumbling, re-cohering,
Ever the ateliers, the factories divine,
    Issuing eidólons.

    Lo, I or you,
Or woman, man, or state, known or unknown,
We seeming solid wealth, strength, beauty build,
    But really build eidólons.

    The ostent evanescent,
The substance of an artist's mood or savan's studies long,
Or warrior's, martyr's, hero's toils,
    To fashion his eidólon.

    Of every human life,
(The units gather'd, posted, not a thought, emotion, deed, left out,)
The whole or large or small summ'd, added up,
    In its eidólon.

    The old, old urge,
Based on the ancient pinnacles, lo, newer, higher pinnacles,
From science and the modern still impell'd,
    The old, old urge, eidólons.

    The present now and here,
America's busy, teeming, intricate whirl,
Of aggregate and segregate for only thence releasing,
    To-day's eidólons.

    These with the past,
Of vanish'd lands, of all the reigns of kings across the sea,
Old conquerors, old campaigns, old sailor's voyages,
    Joining eidólons.

    Densities, growth, façades,
Strata of mountains, soils, rocks, giant trees,
Far-born, far-dying, living long, to leave,
    Eidólons everlasting.

    Exaltè, rapt, ecstatic,
The visible but their womb of birth,
Of orbic tendencies to shape and shape and shape,
    The mighty earth-eidólon.

    All space, all time,
(The stars, the terrible perturbations of the suns,
Swelling, collapsing, ending, serving their longer, shorter
    Fill'd with eidólons only.

    The noiseless myriads,
The infinite oceans where the rivers empty,
The separate countless free identities, like eyesight,
    The true realities, eidólons.

    Not this the world,
Nor these the universes, they the universes,
Purport and end, ever the permanent life of life,
    Eidólons, eidólons.

    Beyond thy lectures learn'd professor,
Beyond thy telescope or spectroscope observer keen, beyond
    all mathematics,
Beyond the doctor's surgery, anatomy, beyond the chemist
    with his chemistry,
    The entities of entities, eidólons.

    Unfixed yet fix'd,
Ever shall be, ever have been and are,
Sweeping the present to the infinite future,
    Eidólons, eidólons, eidólons.

    The prophet and the bard,
Shall yet maintain themselves, in higher stages yet,
Shall mediate to the Modern, to Democracy, interpret yet to
    God and eidólons.

    And thee my soul,
Joys, ceaseless exercises, exaltations,
Thy yearning amply fed at last, prepared to meet,
    Thy mates, eidólons.

    Thy body permanent,
The body lurking there within thy body,
The only purport of the form thou art, the real I myself,
    An image, an eidólon.

    Thy very songs not in thy songs,
No special strains to sing, none for itself,
But from the whole resulting, rising at last and floating,
    A round full-orb'd eidólon.

1876                                                                  1876


FOR him I sing,
I raise the present on the past,
(As some perennial tree out of its roots, the present on the past,)
With time and space I him dilate and fuse the immortal laws,
To make himself by them the law unto himself.

1871                                                                  1871


WHEN I read the book, the biography famous,
And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man's life?
And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught of my life,
Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my
    real life,
Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections
I seek for my own use to trace out here.)

1867                                                                  1871


BEGINNING my studies the first step pleas'd me so much,
The mere fact consciousness, these forms, the power of motion,
The least insect or animal, the senses, eyesight, love,
The first step I say awed me and pleas'd me so much,
I have hardly gone and hardly wish'd to go any farther,
But stop and loiter all the time to sing it in ecstatic songs.

1867                                                                  1871


HOW they are provided for upon the earth, (appearing at
How dear and dreadful they are to the earth,
How they inure to themselves as much as to any&emdash;what a
    paradox appears their age,
How people respond to them, yet know them not,
How there is something relentless in their fate all times,
How all times mischoose the objects of their adulation and
And how the same inexorable price must still be paid for the
    same great purchase.

1860                                                                  1860


TO the States or any one of them, or any city of the States,
    Resist much, obey little,
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved,
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth, ever
    afterward resumes its liberty.

1860                                                                  1881


ON journeys through the States we start,
(Ay through the world, urged by these songs,
Sailing henceforth to every land, to every sea,)
We willing learners of all, teachers of all, and lovers of all.

We have watch'd the seasons dispensing themselves and
    passing on,
And have said, Why should not a man or woman do as much
    as the seasons, and effuse as much?

We dwell a while in every city and town,
We pass through Kanada, the North-east, the vast valley of
    the Mississippi, and the Southern States,
We confer on equal terms with each of the States,
We make trial of ourselves and invite men and women to hear,
We say to ourselves, Remember, fear not, be candid,
    promulge the body and the soul,
Dwell a while and pass on, be copious, temperate, chaste,
And what you effuse may then return as the seasons return,
And may be just as much as the seasons.

1860                                                                  1871


HERE, take this gift,
I was reserving it for some hero, speaker, or general,
One who should serve the good old cause, the great idea, the
    progress and freedom of the race,
Some brave confronter of despots, some daring rebel;
But I see that what I was reserving belongs to you just as
    much as to any.

1860                                                                  1871


ME imperturbe, standing at ease in Nature,
Master of all or mistress of all, aplomb in the midst of
    irrational things,
Imbued as they, passive, receptive, silent as they,
Finding my occupation, poverty, notoriety, foibles, crimes,
    less important than I thought,
Me toward the Mexican sea, or in the Mannahatta or the
    Tennessee, or far north or inland,
A river man, or a man of the woods or of any farm-life of
    these States or of the coast, or the lakes or Kanada,
Me wherever my life is lived, O to be self-balanced for
To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents,
    rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.

1860                                                                  1881


THITHER as I look I see each result and glory retracing itself
    and nestling close, always obligated,
Thither hours, months, years&emdash;thither trades, compacts,
    establishments, even the most minute,
Thither every-day life, speech, utensils, politics, persons,
Thither we also, I with my leaves and songs, trustful,
As a father to his father going takes his children along with

1860                                                                  1860


LO, the unbounded sea,
On its breast a ship starting, spreading all sails, carrying even
    her moonsails,
The pennant is flying aloft as she speeds she speeds so stately
    &emdash;below emulous waves press forward,
They surround the ship with shining curving motions and

1865                                                                  1881


I HEAR America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be
    blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves
    off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the
    deck-hand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter
    singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the
    morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at
    work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day&emdash;at night the party of young
    fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

1860                                                                  1867


WHAT place is besieged, and vainly tries to raise the siege?
Lo, I send to that place a commander, swift, brave, immortal,
And with him horse and foot, and parks of artillery,
And artillery-men, the deadliest that ever fired gun.

1860                                                                  1867


STILL though the one I sing,
(One, yet of contradictions made,) I dedicate to Nationality,
I leave in him revolt, (O latent right of insurrection! O
    quenchless, indispensable fire!)

1871                                                                  1871


SHUT not your doors to me proud libraries,
For that which was lacking on all your well-fill'd shelves, yet
     needed most, I bring,
Forth from the war emerging, a book I have made,

The words of my book nothing, the drift of it every thing,
A book separate, not link'd with the rest nor felt by the
But you ye untold latencies will thrill to every page.

1865                                                                  1881


POETS to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater
    than before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping,
    turns a casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.

1860                                                                  1867


STRANGER, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me,
    why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?

1860                                                                  1860


THOU reader throbbest life and pride and love the same as I,
Therefore for thee the following chants.

1881                                                                  1881

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