Leaves of Grass

Page 69 of 72

An Evening Lull

  After a week of physical anguish,
  Unrest and pain, and feverish heat,
  Toward the ending day a calm and lull comes on,
  Three hours of peace and soothing rest of brain.

Old Age's Lambent Peaks

  The touch of flame—the illuminating fire—the loftiest look at last,
  O'er city, passion, sea—o'er prairie, mountain, wood—the earth itself,
  The airy, different, changing hues of all, in failing twilight,
  Objects and groups, bearings, faces, reminiscences;
  The calmer sight—the golden setting, clear and broad:
  So much i' the atmosphere, the points of view, the situations whence
      we scan,
  Bro't out by them alone—so much (perhaps the best) unreck'd before;
  The lights indeed from them—old age's lambent peaks.

After the Supper and Talk

  After the supper and talk—after the day is done,
  As a friend from friends his final withdrawal prolonging,
  Good-bye and Good-bye with emotional lips repeating,
  (So hard for his hand to release those hands—no more will they meet,
  No more for communion of sorrow and joy, of old and young,
  A far-stretching journey awaits him, to return no more,)
  Shunning, postponing severance—seeking to ward off the last word
      ever so little,
  E'en at the exit-door turning—charges superfluous calling back—
      e'en as he descends the steps,
  Something to eke out a minute additional—shadows of nightfall deepening,
  Farewells, messages lessening—dimmer the forthgoer's visage and form,
  Soon to be lost for aye in the darkness—loth, O so loth to depart!
  Garrulous to the very last.


Sail out for Good, Eidolon Yacht!

  Heave the anchor short!
  Raise main-sail and jib—steer forth,
  O little white-hull'd sloop, now speed on really deep waters,
  (I will not call it our concluding voyage,
  But outset and sure entrance to the truest, best, maturest;)
  Depart, depart from solid earth—no more returning to these shores,
  Now on for aye our infinite free venture wending,
  Spurning all yet tried ports, seas, hawsers, densities, gravitation,
  Sail out for good, eidolon yacht of me!

Lingering Last Drops

  And whence and why come you?

  We know not whence, (was the answer,)
  We only know that we drift here with the rest,
  That we linger'd and lagg'd—but were wafted at last, and are now here,
  To make the passing shower's concluding drops.

Good-Bye My Fancy

  Good-bye my fancy—(I had a word to say,
  But 'tis not quite the time—The best of any man's word or say,
  Is when its proper place arrives—and for its meaning,
  I keep mine till the last.)

On, on the Same, Ye Jocund Twain!

  On, on the same, ye jocund twain!
  My life and recitative, containing birth, youth, mid-age years,
  Fitful as motley-tongues of flame, inseparably twined and merged in
      one—combining all,
  My single soul—aims, confirmations, failures, joys—Nor single soul alone,
  I chant my nation's crucial stage, (America's, haply humanity's)—
      the trial great, the victory great,
  A strange eclaircissement of all the masses past, the eastern world,
      the ancient, medieval,
  Here, here from wanderings, strayings, lessons, wars, defeats—here
      at the west a voice triumphant—justifying all,
  A gladsome pealing cry—a song for once of utmost pride and satisfaction;
  I chant from it the common bulk, the general average horde, (the
      best sooner than the worst)—And now I chant old age,
  (My verses, written first for forenoon life, and for the summer's,
      autumn's spread,
  I pass to snow-white hairs the same, and give to pulses
      winter-cool'd the same;)
  As here in careless trill, I and my recitatives, with faith and love,
  wafting to other work, to unknown songs, conditions,
  On, on ye jocund twain! continue on the same!

MY 71st Year

  After surmounting three-score and ten,
  With all their chances, changes, losses, sorrows,
  My parents' deaths, the vagaries of my life, the many tearing
      passions of me, the war of '63 and '4,
  As some old broken soldier, after a long, hot, wearying march, or
      haply after battle,
  To-day at twilight, hobbling, answering company roll-call, Here,
      with vital voice,
  Reporting yet, saluting yet the Officer over all.


  A vague mist hanging 'round half the pages:
  (Sometimes how strange and clear to the soul,
  That all these solid things are indeed but apparitions, concepts,

The Pallid Wreath

  Somehow I cannot let it go yet, funeral though it is,
  Let it remain back there on its nail suspended,
  With pink, blue, yellow, all blanch'd, and the white now gray and ashy,
  One wither'd rose put years ago for thee, dear friend;
  But I do not forget thee. Hast thou then faded?
  Is the odor exhaled? Are the colors, vitalities, dead?
  No, while memories subtly play—the past vivid as ever;
  For but last night I woke, and in that spectral ring saw thee,
  Thy smile, eyes, face, calm, silent, loving as ever:
  So let the wreath hang still awhile within my eye-reach,
  It is not yet dead to me, nor even pallid.

An Ended Day

  The soothing sanity and blitheness of completion,
  The pomp and hurried contest-glare and rush are done;
  Now triumph! transformation! jubilate!

Old Age's Ship & Crafty Death's

  From east and west across the horizon's edge,
  Two mighty masterful vessels sailers steal upon us:
  But we'll make race a-time upon the seas—a battle-contest yet! bear
      lively there!
  (Our joys of strife and derring-do to the last!)
  Put on the old ship all her power to-day!
  Crowd top-sail, top-gallant and royal studding-sails,
  Out challenge and defiance—flags and flaunting pennants added,
  As we take to the open—take to the deepest, freest waters.

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