LEAVES OF GRASS
LEAVES OF GRASS
[BOOK I. INSCRIPTIONS]
} One's-Self I Sing
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.
} As I Ponder'd in Silence
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 hut 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.
} In Cabin'd Ships at Sea
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 rhythm
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
Chant on sail on bear o'er the boundless blue from me to every sea
This song for mariners and all their ships.
} To Foreign Lands
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.
} To a Historian
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.
} To Thee Old Cause
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 centre!
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--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.
I met a seer
Passing the hues and objects of the world
The fields of art and learning pleasure sense
To glean eidolons.
Put in thy chants said he
No more the puzzling hour nor day nor segments parts put in
Put first before the rest as light for all and entrance-song of all
That of eidolons.
Ever the dim beginning
Ever the growth the rounding of the circle
Ever the summit and the merge at last (to surely start again)
Ever the mutable
Ever materials changing crumbling re-cohering
Ever the ateliers the factories divine
Lo I or you
Or woman man or state known or unknown
We seeming solid wealth strength beauty build
But really build eidolons.
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 eidolon.
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 eidolon.
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 eidolons.
The present now and here
America's busy teeming intricate whirl
Of aggregate and segregate for only thence releasing
These with the past
Of vanish'd lands of all the reigns of kings across the sea
Old conquerors old campaigns old sailors' voyages
Densities growth facades
Strata of mountains soils rocks giant trees
Far-born far-dying living long to leave
Exalte rapt ecstatic
The visible but their womb of birth
Of orbic tendencies to shape and shape and shape
The mighty earth-eidolon.
All space all time
(The stars the terrible perturbations of the suns
Swelling collapsing ending serving their longer shorter use)
Fill'd with eidolons only.
The noiseless myriads
The infinite oceans where the rivers empty
The separate countless free identities like eyesight
The true realities eidolons.
Not this the world
Nor these the universes they the universes
Purport and end ever the permanent life of life
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