Leaves of Grass

Page 64 of 72



  My city's fit and noble name resumed,
  Choice aboriginal name, with marvellous beauty, meaning,
  A rocky founded island—shores where ever gayly dash the coming,
      going, hurrying sea waves.


  Sea-beauty! stretch'd and basking!
  One side thy inland ocean laving, broad, with copious commerce,
      steamers, sails,
  And one the Atlantic's wind caressing, fierce or gentle—mighty hulls
      dark-gliding in the distance.
  Isle of sweet brooks of drinking-water—healthy air and soil!
  Isle of the salty shore and breeze and brine!

From Montauk Point

  I stand as on some mighty eagle's beak,
  Eastward the sea absorbing, viewing, (nothing but sea and sky,)
  The tossing waves, the foam, the ships in the distance,
  The wild unrest, the snowy, curling caps—that inbound urge and urge
      of waves,
  Seeking the shores forever.

To Those Who've Fail'd

  To those who've fail'd, in aspiration vast,
  To unnam'd soldiers fallen in front on the lead,
  To calm, devoted engineers—to over-ardent travelers—to pilots on
      their ships,
  To many a lofty song and picture without recognition—I'd rear
      laurel-cover'd monument,
  High, high above the rest—To all cut off before their time,
  Possess'd by some strange spirit of fire,
  Quench'd by an early death.

A Carol Closing Sixty-Nine

  A carol closing sixty-nine—a resume—a repetition,
  My lines in joy and hope continuing on the same,
  Of ye, O God, Life, Nature, Freedom, Poetry;
  Of you, my Land—your rivers, prairies, States—you, mottled Flag I love,
  Your aggregate retain'd entire—Of north, south, east and west, your
      items all;
  Of me myself—the jocund heart yet beating in my breast,
  The body wreck'd, old, poor and paralyzed—the strange inertia
      falling pall-like round me,
  The burning fires down in my sluggish blood not yet extinct,
  The undiminish'd faith—the groups of loving friends.

The Bravest Soldiers

  Brave, brave were the soldiers (high named to-day) who lived through
      the fight;
  But the bravest press'd to the front and fell, unnamed, unknown.

A Font of Type

  This latent mine—these unlaunch'd voices—passionate powers,
  Wrath, argument, or praise, or comic leer, or prayer devout,
  (Not nonpareil, brevier, bourgeois, long primer merely,)
  These ocean waves arousable to fury and to death,
  Or sooth'd to ease and sheeny sun and sleep,
  Within the pallid slivers slumbering.

As I Sit Writing Here

  As I sit writing here, sick and grown old,
  Not my least burden is that dulness of the years, querilities,
  Ungracious glooms, aches, lethargy, constipation, whimpering ennui,
  May filter in my dally songs.

My Canary Bird

  Did we count great, O soul, to penetrate the themes of mighty books,
  Absorbing deep and full from thoughts, plays, speculations?
  But now from thee to me, caged bird, to feel thy joyous warble,
  Filling the air, the lonesome room, the long forenoon,
  Is it not just as great, O soul?

Queries to My Seventieth Year

  Approaching, nearing, curious,
  Thou dim, uncertain spectre—bringest thou life or death?
  Strength, weakness, blindness, more paralysis and heavier?
  Or placid skies and sun? Wilt stir the waters yet?
  Or haply cut me short for good? Or leave me here as now,
  Dull, parrot-like and old, with crack'd voice harping, screeching?

The Wallabout Martyrs

  Greater than memory of Achilles or Ulysses,
  More, more by far to thee than tomb of Alexander,
  Those cart loads of old charnel ashes, scales and splints of mouldy bones,
  Once living men—once resolute courage, aspiration, strength,
  The stepping stones to thee to-day and here, America.

The First Dandelion

  Simple and fresh and fair from winter's close emerging,
  As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been,
  Forth from its sunny nook of shelter'd grass—innocent, golden, calm
      as the dawn,
  The spring's first dandelion shows its trustful face.


  Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
  All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or old,
  Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
  Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
  A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
  Chair'd in the adamant of Time.


  How sweet the silent backward tracings!
  The wanderings as in dreams—the meditation of old times resumed
      —their loves, joys, persons, voyages.

To-Day and Thee

  The appointed winners in a long-stretch'd game;
  The course of Time and nations—Egypt, India, Greece and Rome;
  The past entire, with all its heroes, histories, arts, experiments,
  Its store of songs, inventions, voyages, teachers, books,
  Garner'd for now and thee—To think of it!
  The heirdom all converged in thee!

After the Dazzle of Day

  After the dazzle of day is gone,
  Only the dark, dark night shows to my eyes the stars;
  After the clangor of organ majestic, or chorus, or perfect band,
  Silent, athwart my soul, moves the symphony true.

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