Leaves of Grass

Page 6 of 72

To the States

  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.

On Journeys Through the States

  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, magnetic,
  And what you effuse may then return as the seasons return,
  And may be just as much as the seasons.

To a Certain Cantatrice

  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.

Me Imperturbe

  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 contingencies,
  To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as
      the trees and animals do.


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

The Ship Starting

  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—
      below emulous waves press forward,
  They surround the ship with shining curving motions and foam.

I Hear America Singing

  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 deckhand
      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—at night the party of young
      fellows, robust, friendly,
  Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

What Place Is Besieged?

  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.

Still Though the One I Sing

  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!)

Shut Not Your Doors

  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 intellect,
  But you ye untold latencies will thrill to every page.

Poets to Come

  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.

To You

  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?

Thou Reader

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

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