Obrázky stránek


These, and such as these, I, elate, saw with won

der, yet pensive and masterful; All the menacing might of the globe uprisen around me; Yet there with my soul I fed — I fed content, supercilious.


'T was well, O soul!'t was a good preparation you gave me! Now we advance our latent and ampler hunger to fill; Now we go forth to receive what the earth and the sea never

gave us; Not through the mighty woods we go, but through the

mightier cities; Something for us is pouring now, more than Niagara pouring; Torrents of men (sources and rills of the Northwest, are

you indeed inexhaustible?), What, to pavements and homesteads here — what were

those storms of the mountains and sea? What, to passions I witness around me to-day? Was the

sea risen?

Was the wind piping the pipe of death under the black

clouds? Lo! from deeps more unfathomable, something more deadly

and savage; Manhattan, rising, advancing with menacing front

Cincinnati, Chicago, unchain'd; What was that swell I saw on the ocean? behold what

comes here! How it climbs with daring feet and hands! how it dashes! How the true thunder bellows after the lightning! how

bright the flashes of lightning! How DEMOCRACY, with desperate vengeful part strides

on, shown through the dark by those flashes of lightning!

(Yet a mournful wail and low sob I fancied I heard through

the dark, In a lull of the deafening confusion.)

[ocr errors]


Thunder on! stride on, Democracy! strike with vengeful

stroke! And do you rise higher than ever yet, O days, 0 cities! Crash heavier, heavier yet, storms! you have done me good; My soul, prepared in the mountains, absorbs your immortal

strong nutriment; Long had I walk'd my cities, my country roads, through

farms, only half-satisfied; One doubt, nauseous, undulating like a snake, crawlid on

the ground before me, Continually preceding my steps, turning upon me oft, iron

ically hissing low; - The cities I loved so well, I abandon'd and left - I sped

to the certainties suitable to me; Hungering, hungering, hungering, for primal energies, and

Nature's dauntlessness. I refresh'd myself with it only, I could relish it only; I waited the bursting forth of the pent fire — on the water

and air I waited long; But now I no longer wait -I am fully satisfied — I am

glutted; I have witness'd the true lightning - I have witness'd my

cities electric; I have lived to behold man burst forth, and warlike America

rise; Hence I will seek no more the food of the northern solitary

wilds, No more the mountains roam, or sail the stormy sea.



1. Thou Mother with thy equal brood, Thou varied chain of different States, yet one identity only, A special song before I go I'd sing o'er all the rest, For thee, the future.

I'd sow a seed for thee of endless Nationality,
I'd fashion thy ensemble including body and soul,
I'd show away ahead thy real Union, and how it may be


The paths to the house I seek to make,
But leave to those to come the house itself.

Belief I sing and preparation;
As Life and Nature are not great with reference to the pres-

ent only,
But greater still from what is yet to come,
Out of that formula for thee I sing.


As a strong bird on pinions free,
Joyous, the amplest spaces heavenward cleaving,
Such be the thought I'd think of thee America,
Such be the recitative I'd bring for thee.

1 Reprinted from Leaves of Grass through the generous permission of Mr. Horace Traubel.

The conceits of the poets of other lands I'd bring thee

not, Nor the compliments that have served their turn so long, Nor rhyme, nor the classics, nor perfume of foreign court or

indoor library; But an odor I'd bring as from forests of pine in Maine, or

breath of an Illinois prairie, With open airs of Virginia or Georgia or Tennessee, or from

Texas uplands, or Florida's glades, Or the Saguenay's black stream, or the wide blue spread of

Huron, With presentment of Yellowstone's scenes, or Yosemite, And murmuring under, pervading all, I'd bring the rustling

sea-sound, That endlessly sounds from the two Great Seas of the world.

And for thy subtler sense subtler refrains dread Mother, Preludes of intellect tallying these and thee, mind-formulas

fitted for thee, real and sane and large as these and

thee, Thou! mounting higher, diving deeper than we knew, thou

transcendental Union!
By thee fact to be justified, blended with thought,
Thought of man justified, blended with God,
Through they idea, lo, the immortal reality!
Through thy reality, lo, the immortal idea!


Brain of the New World, what a task is thine,
To formulate the Modern — out of the peerless grandeur of

the modern, Out of thyself, comprising science, to recast poems, churches,


[ocr errors]

(Recast, may-be discard them, end them - may be their


work is done, who knows?) By vision, hand, conception, on the background of the

mighty past, the dead, To limn with absolute faith the mighty living present.

And yet thou living present brain, heir of the dead, the Old

World brain, Thou that lay folded like an unborn babe within its folds so

long, Thou carefully prepared by it so long - haply thou but un

foldest it, only maturest it, It to eventuate in thee the essence of the by-gone time

contain'd in thee, Its poems, churches, arts, unwitting to themselves, destined

with reference to thee; Thou but the apples, long, long, long a-growing, The fruit of all the Old repining to-day in thee.


Sail, sail thy best, ship of Democracy,
Of value is thy freight, 't is not the Present only,
The Past is also stored in thee,
Thou holdest not the venture of thyself alone, not of the

Western continent alone,
Earth's résumé entire floats on thy keel O ship, is steadied by

thy spars, With thee Time voyages in trust, the antecedent nations

sink or swim with thee. With all their ancient struggles, martyrs, heroes, epics, wars,

thou bear’st the other continents, Theirs, theirs as much as thine, the destination-port tri


« PředchozíPokračovat »