Page images

But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of perfect health,

refresh'd, singing, inhaling the ripe breath of autumn, When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and disappear in

the morning light, When I wander'd alone over the beach, and undressing bathed,

laughing with the cool waters, and saw the sun rise, And when I thought how my dear friend my lover was on his way

coming, then I was happy, O then each breath tasted sweeter, and all that day my food

nourish'd me more, and the beautiful day pass'd well, And the next came with equal joy, and with the next at evening

came my friend, And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll slowly

continually up the shores, I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands as directed to

me whispering to congratulate me, For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover

in the cool night, In the stillness in the autumn moonbeams his face was inclined

toward me, And his arm lay lightly around my breast - and that night I was


ARE you the new person drawn toward me?
To begin with take warning, I am surely far different from what

you suppose ;
Do you suppose you will find in me your ideal ?
Do you think it so easy to have me become your lover ?
Do you think the friendship of me would be unalloy'd satisfaction?
Do you think I am trusty and faithful?
Do you see no further than this façade, this smooth and tolerant

manner of me? Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground toward a real

heroic man? Have you no thought o dreamer that it may be all maya, illusion?

ROOTS AND LEAVES THEMSELVES ALONE. Roots and leaves themselves alone are these, Scents brought to men and women from the wild woods and


Breast-sorrel and pinks of love, fingers that wind around tighter

than vines, Gushes from the throats of birds hid in the foliage of trees as the

sun is risen, Breezes of land and love set from living shores to you on the living

sea, to you O sailors ! Frost-mellow'd berries and Third-month twigs offer'd fresh to

young persons wandering out in the fields when the winter Love-buds put before you and within you whoever you are, Buds to be unfolded on the old terms, If you bring the warmth of the sun to them they will open and

bring form, color, perfume, to you, If you become the aliment and the wet they will become flowers,

fruits, tall branches and trees.

breaks up,

NOT HEAT FLAMES UP AND CONSUMES. Not heat flames up and consumes, Not sea-waves hurry in and out, Not the air delicious and dry, the air of ripe summer, bears lightly

along white down-balls of myriads of seeds, Wafted, sailing gracefully, to drop where they may; Not these, O none of these more than the flames of me, consum

ing, burning for his love whom I love, O none more than I hurrying in and out; Does the tide hurry, seeking something, and never give up? O I

the same, O nor down-balls nor perfumes, nor the high rain-emitting clouds,

are borne through the open air, Any more than my soul is borne through the open air, Wafted in all directions O love, for friendship, for you.

TRICKLE DROPS. TRICKLE drops ! my blue veins leaving! O drops of me! trickle, slow drops, Candid from me falling, drip, bleeding drops, From wounds made to free you whence you were prison'd, From my face, from my forehead and lips, From my breast, from within where I was conceal'd, press forth

red drops, confession drops, Stain every page, stain every song I sing, every word I say, bloody


Let them know your scarlet heat, let them glisten,
Saturate them with yourself all ashamed and wet,
Glow upon all I have written or shall write, bleeding drops,
Let it all be seen in your light, blushing drops.

CITY OF ORGIES. Crty of orgies, walks and joys, City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one day

make you illustrious, Not the pageants of you, not your shifting tableaus, your specta

cles, repay me, Not the interminable rows of your houses, nor the ships at the

wharves, Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright windows with

goods in them, Nor to converse with learn'd persons, or bear my share in the soiree

or feast; Not those, but as I pass 0 Manhattan, your frequent and swift

flash of eyes offering me love, Offering response to my own — these repay me, Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.

BEHOLD THIS SWARTHY FACE. BEHOLD this swarthy face, these gray eyes, This beard, the white wool unclipt upon my neck, My brown hands and the silent manner of me without charm; Yet comes one a Manhattanese and ever at parting kisses me

lightly on the lips with robust love, And I on the crossing of the street or on the ship's deck give a

kiss in return, We observe that salute of American comrades land and sea, We are those two natural and nonchalant persons.

I SAW IN LOUISIANA A LIVE-OAK GROWING. I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing, All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the branches, Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous leaves of

dark green,

And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself, But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves standing alone

there without its friend near, for I knew I could not,

And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it

. and twined around it a little moss, And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in my room, It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends, (For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,) Yet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me think of manly

love ; For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana

solitary in a wide flat space, Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near, I know very well I could not.

PASSING stranger ! you do not know how longingly I look

you, You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to

me as of a dream,) I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you, All is recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste,

matured, You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me, I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours

only nor left my body mine only, You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you

take of my beard, breast, hands, in return, I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone

or wake at night alone, I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again, I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

THIS MOMENT YEARNING AND THOUGHTFUL This moment yearning and thoughtful sitting alone, It seems to me there are other men in other lands yearning and

thoughtful, It seems to me I can look over and behold them in Germany,

Italy, France, Spain, Or far, far away, in China, or in Russia or Japan, talking other

dialects, And it seems to me if I could know those men I should become

attached to them as I do to men in my own lands, 0 I know we should be brethren and lovers, I know I should be happy with them.


I HEAR it was charged against me that I sought to destroy institu

tions, But really I am neither for nor against institutions, (What indeed have I in common with them? or what with the

destruction of them?) Only I will establish in the Mannahatta and in every city of these

States inland and seaboard, And in the fields and woods, and above every keel little or large

that dents the water, Without edifices or rules or trustees or any argument, The institution of the dear love of comrades.

THE PRAIRIE-GRASS DIVIDING. The prairie-grass dividing, its special odor breathing, I demand of it the spiritual corresponding, Demand the most copious and close companionship of men, Demand the blades to rise of words, acts, beings, Those of the open atmosphere, coarse, sunlit, fresh, nutritious, Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with freedom and

command, leading not following, Those with a never-quell'd audacity, those with sweet and lusty

flesh clear of taint, Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents and governors,

as to say Who are you? Those of earth-born passion, simple, never constrain'd, never

obedient, Those of inland America.

WHEN I PERUSE THE CONQUER’D FAME. WHEN I peruse the conquer'd fame of heroes and the victories

of mighty generals, I do not envy the generals, Nor the President in his Presidency, nor the rich in his great

house, But when I hear of the brotherhood of lovers, how it was with

them, How together through life, through dangers, odium, unchanging,

long and long, Through youth and through middle and old age, how unfaltering,

how affectionate and faithful they were, Then I am pensive - I hastily walk away fill'd with the bitterest


« PreviousContinue »