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2 Behold this compost ! behold it well! Perhaps every mite has once form’d part of a sick person

yet behold!

The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out

of its graves, The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry

tree, The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she

birds sit on their nests, The young of poultry break through the hatch'd eggs, The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the

cow, the colt from the mare, Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's dark green

leaves, Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom

in the dooryards, The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all

those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry !
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the

sea which is so amorous after me, That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over

with its tongues, That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have

deposited themselves in it, That all is clean forever and forever, That the cool drink from the well tastes so good, That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy, That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard,

that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will none of them poison me,

That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any

disease, Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was

once a catching disease. Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,

grows such sweet things out of such corruptions, It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such end

less successions of diseas'd corpses, It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor, It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual,

sumptuous crops, It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such

leavings from them at last.




O sight of pity, shame and dole !

O fearful thought a convict soul. Rang the refrain along the hall, the prison, Rose to the roof, the vaults of heaven above, Pouring in floods of melody in tones so pensive sweet and

strong the like whereof was never heard, Reaching the far-off sentry and the armed guards, who

ceas'd their pacing, Making the hearer's pulses stop for ecstasy and awe.


The sun was low in the west one winter day,
When down a narrow aisle amid the thieves and outlaws

of the land, (There by the hundreds seated, sear-faced murderers, wily

counterfeiters, Gather'd to Sunday church in prison walls, the keepers

round, Plenteous, well-armed, watching with vigilant eyes,) Calmly a lady walk'd holding a little innocent child by

either hand,

Whom seating on their stools beside her on the platform, She, first preluding with the instrument a low and musical

In voice surpassing all, sang forth a quaint old hymn.

A soul confined by bars and bands,
Cries, help! O help! and wrings her hands,
Blinded her eyes, bleeding her breast,
Nor pardon finds, nor balm of rest.
Ceaseless she paces to and fro,
O heart-sick days! O nights of woe!
Nor hand of friend, nor loving face,
Nor favor comes, nor word of grace.
It was not I that sinn’d the sin,
The ruthless body dragg’d me in;
Though long I strove courageously,
The body was too much for me.
Dear prison’d soul bear up a space,
For soon or late the certain grace;
To set thee free and bear thee home,
The heavenly pardoner death shall come.

Convict no more, nor shame, nor dole !
Depart a God-enfranchis’d soul!

3 The singer ceas'd, One glance swept from her clear calm eyes o'er all those

upturn'd faces, Strange sea of prison faces, a thousand varied, crafty,

brutal, seam'd and beauteous faces, Then rising, passing back along the narrow aisle between

them, While her gown touch'd them rustling in the silence, She vanish'd with her children in the dusk. While upon all, convicts and armed keepers ere they (Convict forgetting prison, keeper his loaded pistol,) A hush and pause fell down a wondrous minute, With deep half-stifled sobs and sound of bad men bow'd


and moved to weeping, And youth's convulsive breathings, memories of home, The mother's voice in lullaby, the sister's care, the happy

childhood, The long-pent spirit rous’d to reminiscence; A wondrous minute then — but after in the solitary night,

to many, many there, Years after, even in the hour of death, the sad refrain, the

tune, the voice, the words, Resumed, the large calm lady walks the narrow aisle, The wailing melody again, the singer in the prison sings,

O sight of pity, shame and dole!
O fearful thought -- a convict soul.

Warble me now for joy of lilac-time, (returning in remi-

niscence, Sort me O tongue and lips for Nature's sake, souvenirs of

earliest summer, Gather the welcome signs, (as children with pebbles or

stringing shells) Put in April and May, the hylas croaking in the ponds,

the elastic air, Bees, butterflies, the sparrow with its simple notes, Blue-bird and darting swallow, nor forget the high-hole

Aashing his golden wings, The tranquil sunny haze, the clinging smoke, the vapor, Shimmer of waters with fish in them, the cerulean above, All that is jocund and sparkling, the brooks running, The maple woods, the crisp February days and the sugar

making, The robin where he hops, bright-eyed, brown-breasted, With musical clear call at sunrise, and again at sunset, Or Aitting among the trees of the apple-orchard, building

the nest of his mate,

us be

The melted snow of March, the willow sending forth its

yellow-green sprouts, For spring-time is here! the summer is here! and what is

this in it and from it? Thou, soul, unloosen'd — the restlessness after I know not

what; Come, let us lag here no longer, let be up and away! O if one could but Ay like a bird ! O to escape, to sail forth as in a ship! To glide with thee O soul, o'er all, in all, as a ship o'er the

waters; Gathering these hints, the preludes, the blue sky, the grass,

the morning drops of dew, The lilac-scent, the bushes with dark green heart-shaped

leaves, Wood-violets, the little delicate pale blossoms called

innocence, Samples and sorts not for themselves alone, but for their

atmosphere, To grace the bush I love -- to sing with the birds, A warble for joy of lilac-time, returning in reminiscence.

My spirit to yours dear brother,
Do not mind because many sounding your name do not

understand you, I do not sound your name, but I understand you, I specify you with joy O my comrade to salute you, and to

salute those who are with you, before and since, and

those to come also, That we all labor together transmitting the same charge

and succession, We few equals indifferent of lands, indifferent of times, We, enclosers of all continents, all castes, allowers of all

theologies, Compassionaters, perceivers, rapport of men, We walk silent among disputes and assertions, but reject

not the disputers nor any thing that is asserted,

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