Walt Whitman (1819–1892).
Leaves of Grass. 1900. 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
|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 the 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 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.
“from Song of Myself “
I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume
you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease
observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their
parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years
old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed
at what they are, but never forgotten,
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
check with original energy.
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see
and say Whose?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting
alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff,
I give them the same, I
receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire
from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people,
or from offspring taken soon out
of their mothers' laps,
And here you are the mothers' laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive
they do not come from the roofs of mouths for
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken
soon out of their laps.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
what do you think has become of the women and children?
They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows
there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die
is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
I Sit And Look Out
I sit and look out upon
all the sorrows of the world, and upon all
oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish
themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying,
I see the wife misused by her husband--I see the treacherous seducer
of young women;
I mark the
ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be
hid--I see these sights on the earth;
I see the workings
of battle, pestilence, tyranny--I see martyrs and
I observe a famine at sea--I observe the sailors casting
shall be kill'd, to preserve the lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant
laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
All these--All the meanness and agony without end,
I sitting, look
See, hear, and am silent.
A Psalm Of Life
Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave
is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.
Art is long, and Time is
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
on the sand of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solenm main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Learn to labor and to wait.