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Sluggish existences grazing there suspended, or
slowly crawling close to the bottom, The sperm-whale at the surface blowing air and
spray, or disporting with his flukes, The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the
hairy sea-leopard, and the sting-ray, Passions there, wars, pursuits, tribes, sight in those
ocean-depths, breathing that thick-breathing
air, as so many do, The change thence to the sight here, and to the
subtle air breathed by beings like us who
walk this sphere, The change onward from ours to that of beings
who walk other spheres.
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night
incessantly softly wash again, and ever
again, this soil'd world; For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is
dead, I look where he lies white-faced and still in the
coffin - I draw near, Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the
white face in the coffin.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
ETHIOPIA SALUTING THE COLORS.
Who are you dusky woman, so ancient hardly
human. With your woolly-white and turban'd head, and
bare bony feet? Why rising by the roadside here, do you the colors
('T is while our army lines Carolina's sands and
pines, Forth from thy hovel door thou Ethiopia com'st
to me, As under doughty Sherman I march toward
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up — for you the flag is flung – for you the
bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths — for you
the shores a-crowding, For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager
You've fallen cold and dead.
Me master years a hundred since from my parents
sunder'd, A little child, they caught me as the savage beast is
caught, Then hither me across the sea the cruel slaver brought.
No further does she say, but lingering all the day, Her high-borne turban'd head she wags, and rolls
her darkling eye, And courtesies to the regiments, the guidons mov
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and
still, My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse
nor will, The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage
closed and done, From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with
Fallen cold and dead.
What is it fateful woman, so blear, hardly human? Why wag your head with turban bound, yellow,
red and green? Are the things so strange and marvelous you see
or have seen?
WORD over all, beautiful as the sky,
must in time be utterly lost,
FAR hence amid an isle of wondrous beauty, Crouching over a grave an ancient sorrowful
Unclaim'd, avoided house take one breath from
my tremulous lips, Take one tear dropt aside as I go for thought of
you, Dead house of love house of madness and sin,
crumbled, crush'd, House of life, erewhile talking and laughing -
but ah, poor house, dead even then, Months, years, an echoing, garnished house — but
dead, dead, dead.
WHAT AM I AFTER ALL.
Once a queen, now lean and tatter'd seated on the
ground, Her old white hair drooping dishevel'd round her
shoulders, At her feet fallen an unused royal harp, Long silent, she too long silent, mourning her
shrouded hope and heir, Of all the earth her heart most full of sorrow
because most full of love. Yet a word ancient mother, You need crouch there no longer on the cold
ground with forehead between your knees, O you need not sit there veil'd in your old white
hair so dishevel'd, For know you the one you mourn is not in that
grave, It was an illusion, the son you love was not really
dead, The Lord is not dead, he is risen again young and
strong in another country, Even while you wept there by your fallen harp by
the grave, What you wept for was translated, pass'd from the
What am I after all but a child, pleas'd with the
sound of my own name? repeating it
over and over; I stand apart to hear — it never tires me.
To you your name also;
pronunciations in the sound of your name?
HAD I THE CHOICE.
THE CITY DEAD-HOUSE.
Had I the choice to tally greatest bards,
late at will, Homer with all his wars and warriors — Hector,
Achilles, Ajax, Or Shakespeare's woe-entangled Hamlet, Lear,
Othello — Tennyson's fair ladies, Metre or wit the best, or choice conceit to wield 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.
By the city dead-house by the gate,
clangor, I curious pause, for lo, an outcast form, a poor
dead prostitute brought, Her corpse they deposit unclaim'd, it lies on the
damp brick pavement, The divine woman, her body, I see the body, I
look on it alone, That house once full of passion and beauty, all else
I notice not, Nor stillness so cold, nor running water from
fauc nor odors morbific impress me, But the house alone — that wondrous house - that
delicate fair house that ruin! That immortal house more than all the rows of
dwellings ever built! Or white-domed capitol with majestic figure sur
mounted, or all the old high-spired
cathedrals, That little house alone more than them all - poor,
desperate house! Fair, fearful wreck - tenement of a soul — itself a
RED JACKET (FROM ALOFT). [Impromptu on Buffalo City's monument to, and re-burial of the old Iroquois orator,
October UPON this scene, this show, Yielded to-day by fashion, learning, wealth, (Nor in caprice alone some grains of deepest
meaning.) Haply, aloft, (who knows?) from distant sky-clouds'
blended shapes, As some old tree, or rock or cliff, thrill'd with its
soul, Product of Nature's sun, stars, earth direct - a
towering human form, In hunting-shirt of film, arm'd with the rifle, a
half-ironical smile curving its phantom lips, Like one of Ossian's ghosts looks down.
How curious! how real!
Starting from Paumanok.
I will write the evangel-poem of comrades and of love.
- Ibid. RELIGION.
I say no man has ever yet been half devout enough, None has ever yet adored or worship'd half enough, None has begun to think how divine he himself is, and how certain the future is.
- Ibid. DEATH. And I will show that nothing can happen more beautiful than death.
- Ibid. INDOLENCE.
I loaf and invite my soul, I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
Song of Myself.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of
hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly
dropt, Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners,
that we may see and remark, and say Whose ?
- Ibid. FAILURE. Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the
same spirit in which they are won. I beat and pound for the dead, I blow through my embouchures my loudest and
gayest for them. Vivas to those who have fail'd! And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea! And to those themselves who sank in the sea! And to all generals that lost engagements, and all
overcome heroes! And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known!
– Ibid. NIGHT. I am he that walks with the tender and growing
night, I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night.
Press close bare-bosom'd night — press close mag
netic nourishing night! Night of south winds — night of the large few
stars! Still nodding night - mad naked summer night.
- Tbiit. EARTH. Smile O voluptuous cool-breath'd earth! Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees! Earth of departed sunset — earth of the mountains
misty-topt! Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just
tinged with blue! Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the
river! Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and
clearer for my sake! Far-swooping elbow'd earth — rich apple-blossom'd
earth! Smile, for your lover comes.
- Ibiu. FAITH. I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey
work of the stars, And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of
sand, and the egg of the wren, And the tree-toad is a chef-d'ouvre for the highest, And the running blackberry would adorn the par
lors of heaven, And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn
all machinery, And the cow crunching with depress'd head sur.
passes any statue, And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.
Ibid. ANIMALS. I think I could turn and live with animals, they are
so placid and self-contain'd, I stand and look at ihem long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for
their sins, They do not make me sick discussing their duty to
God, Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with
the mania of owning things, Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that
lived thousands of years ago, Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
- Ibid. SYMPATHY. I have said that the soul is not more than the body, And I have said that the body is not more than the