Leaves of Grass

Page 26 of 72

Youth, Day, Old Age and Night

  Youth, large, lusty, loving—youth full of grace, force, fascination,
  Do you know that Old Age may come after you with equal grace,
      force, fascination?

  Day full-blown and splendid-day of the immense sun, action,
      ambition, laughter,
  The Night follows close with millions of suns, and sleep and
      restoring darkness.


Song of the Universal

  Come said the Muse,
  Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,
  Sing me the universal.

  In this broad earth of ours,
  Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,
  Enclosed and safe within its central heart,
  Nestles the seed perfection.

  By every life a share or more or less,
  None born but it is born, conceal'd or unconceal'd the seed is waiting.

  Lo! keen-eyed towering science,
  As from tall peaks the modern overlooking,
  Successive absolute fiats issuing.

  Yet again, lo! the soul, above all science,
  For it has history gather'd like husks around the globe,
  For it the entire star-myriads roll through the sky.

  In spiral routes by long detours,
  (As a much-tacking ship upon the sea,)
  For it the partial to the permanent flowing,
  For it the real to the ideal tends.

  For it the mystic evolution,
  Not the right only justified, what we call evil also justified.

  Forth from their masks, no matter what,
  From the huge festering trunk, from craft and guile and tears,
  Health to emerge and joy, joy universal.

  Out of the bulk, the morbid and the shallow,
  Out of the bad majority, the varied countless frauds of men and states,
  Electric, antiseptic yet, cleaving, suffusing all,
  Only the good is universal.

  Over the mountain-growths disease and sorrow,
  An uncaught bird is ever hovering, hovering,
  High in the purer, happier air.

  From imperfection's murkiest cloud,
  Darts always forth one ray of perfect light,
  One flash of heaven's glory.

  To fashion's, custom's discord,
  To the mad Babel-din, the deafening orgies,
  Soothing each lull a strain is heard, just heard,
  From some far shore the final chorus sounding.

  O the blest eyes, the happy hearts,
  That see, that know the guiding thread so fine,
  Along the mighty labyrinth.

  And thou America,
  For the scheme's culmination, its thought and its reality,
  For these (not for thyself) thou hast arrived.

  Thou too surroundest all,
  Embracing carrying welcoming all, thou too by pathways broad and new,
  To the ideal tendest.

  The measure'd faiths of other lands, the grandeurs of the past,
  Are not for thee, but grandeurs of thine own,
  Deific faiths and amplitudes, absorbing, comprehending all,
  All eligible to all.

  All, all for immortality,
  Love like the light silently wrapping all,
  Nature's amelioration blessing all,
  The blossoms, fruits of ages, orchards divine and certain,
  Forms, objects, growths, humanities, to spiritual images ripening.

  Give me O God to sing that thought,
  Give me, give him or her I love this quenchless faith,
  In Thy ensemble, whatever else withheld withhold not from us,
  Belief in plan of Thee enclosed in Time and Space,
  Health, peace, salvation universal.

  Is it a dream?
  Nay but the lack of it the dream,
  And failing it life's lore and wealth a dream,
  And all the world a dream.

Pioneers! O Pioneers!

       Come my tan-faced children,
  Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
  Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       For we cannot tarry here,
  We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
  We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       O you youths, Western youths,
  So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
  Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       Have the elder races halted?
  Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?
  We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       All the past we leave behind,
  We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
  Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       We detachments steady throwing,
  Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
  Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       We primeval forests felling,
  We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines within,
  We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       Colorado men are we,
  From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high plateaus,
  From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
  Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental
       blood intervein'd,
  All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       O resistless restless race!
  O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
  O I mourn and yet exult, I am rapt with love for all,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       Raise the mighty mother mistress,
  Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress,
       (bend your heads all,)
  Raise the fang'd and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon'd mistress,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       See my children, resolute children,
  By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or falter,
  Ages back in ghostly millions frowning there behind us urging,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       On and on the compact ranks,
  With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly fill'd,
  Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       O to die advancing on!
  Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?
  Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill'd.
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       All the pulses of the world,
  Falling in they beat for us, with the Western movement beat,
  Holding single or together, steady moving to the front, all for us,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       Life's involv'd and varied pageants,
  All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,
  All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

      All the hapless silent lovers,
  All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
  All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

      I too with my soul and body,
  We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
  Through these shores amid the shadows, with the apparitions pressing,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

      Lo, the darting bowling orb!
  Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets,
  All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

      These are of us, they are with us,
  All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait behind,
  We to-day's procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

  O you daughters of the West!
  O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!
  Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       Minstrels latent on the prairies!
  (Shrouded bards of other lands, you may rest, you have done your work,)
  Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       Not for delectations sweet,
  Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious,
  Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
  Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock'd and bolted doors?
  Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       Has the night descended?
  Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding
       on our way?
  Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

       Till with sound of trumpet,
  Far, far off the daybreak call—hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind,
  Swift! to the head of the army!—swift! spring to your places,
       Pioneers! O pioneers!

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