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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 or beam, 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 deck

hand 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 morn

ing, or at 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 him or 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.


What place is besieged, and vainly tries to raise the siege ?
Lo, I send to that place a commander, swift, brave, immortal,
And with him horse and foot, and parks of artillery,
And artillery-men, the deadliest that ever fired gun.

STILL THOUGH THE ONE I SING. STILL though the one I sing, (One, yet of contradictions made,) I dedicate to Nationality, I leave in him revolt, (O latent right of insurrection ! O quench

less, indispensable fire !


SHUT not your doors to me proud libraries,
For that which was lacking on all your well-fill'd shelves, yet

needed most, I bring,
Forth from the war emerging, a book I have made,
The words of my book nothing, the drift of it every thing,
A book separate, not link'd with the rest nor felt by the intellect,
But you ye untold latencies will thrill to every page.

POETS TO COME. Poets to come ! orators, singers, musicians to come! Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for, But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than

before known, Arouse ! for you must justify me. I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future, I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the


I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a

casual look upon you and then averts his face, Leaving it to you to prove and define it, Expecting the main things from you.

TO YOU. STRANGER, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why

should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?

Thou reader throbbest life and pride and love the same as I,
Therefore for thee the following chants.


TARTING from fish-shape Paumanok where I was born,

Well-begotten, and rais'd by a perfect mother, After roaming many lands, lover of populous pavements, Dweller in Mannahatta my city, or on southern savannas, Or a soldier camp'd or carrying my knapsack and gun, or a miner

in California, Or rude in my home in Dakota's woods, my diet meat, my drink

from the spring, Or withdrawn to muse and meditate in some deep recess, Far from the clank of crowds intervals passing rapt and happy,

Aware of the fresh free giver the flowing Missouri, aware of mighty

Niagara, Aware of the buffalo herds grazing the plains, the hirsute and

strong-breasted bull, Of earth, rocks, Fifth-month flowers experienced, stars, rain, snow,

my amaze, Having studied the mocking-bird's tones and the flight of the

mountain-hawk, And heard at dawn the unrivallid one, the hermit thrush from the

swamp-cedars, Solitary, singing in the West, I strike up for a New World.


Victory, union, faith, identity, time,
The indissoluble compacts, riches, mystery,
Eternal progress, the kosmos, and the modern reports.

This then is life,
Here is what has come to the surface after so many throes and


How curious ! how real!
Underfoot the divine soil, overhead the sun.

See revolving the globe,
The ancestor-continents away group'd together,
The present and future continents north and south, with the

isthmus between.

See, vast trackless spaces,
As in a dream they change, they swiftly fill,
Countless masses debouch upon them,
They are now cover'd with the foremost people, arts, institutions,


See, projected through time,
For me an audience interminable.

With firm and regular step they wend, they never stop,
Successions of men, Americanos, a hundred millions,
One generation playing its part and passing on,
Another generation playing its part and passing on in its turn,
With faces turn'd sideways or backward towards me to listen,
With eyes retrospective towards me.

3 Americanos ! conquerors ! marches humanitarian ! Foremost ! century marches ! Libertad ! masses ! For you a programme of chants. Chants of the prairies, Chants of the long-running Mississippi, and down to the Mexican

sea, Chants of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, Chants going forth from the centre from Kansas, and thence equi

distant, Shooting in pulses of fire ceaseless to vivify all.

4 Take my leaves America, take them South and take them North, Make welcome for them everywhere, for they are your own off

spring, Surround them East and West, for they would surround you, And you precedents, connect lovingly with them, for they connect

lovingly with you.

I conn'd old times,
I sat studying at the feet of the great masters,
Now if eligible O that the great masters might return and study me.

In the name of these States shall I scorn the antique ?
Why these are the children of the antique to justify it.

5 Dead poets, philosophs, priests, Martyrs, artists, inventors, governments long since, language-shapers on other shores, Nations once powerful, now reduced, withdrawn, or desolate, I dare not proceed till I respectfully credit what you have left

wafted hither, I have perused it, own it is admirable, (moving awhile among it) Think nothing can ever be greater, nothing can ever deserve more

than it deserves, Regarding it all intently a long while, then dismissing it, I stand in my place with my own day here.

Here lands female and male,
Here the heir-ship and heiress-ship of the world, here the flame of


Here spirituality the translatress, the openly-avow'd,
The ever-tending, the finale of visible forms,
The satisfier, after due long-waiting now advancing,
Yes here comes my mistress the soul.

6 The soul, Forever and forever - longer than soil is brown and solid — longer

than water ebbs and flows. I will make the poems of materials, for I think they are to be the

most spiritual poems, And I will make the poems of my body and of mortality, For I think I shall then supply myself with the poems of my soul

and of immortality.

I will make a song for these States that no one State may under

any circumstances be subjected to another State, And I will make a song that there shall be comity by day and by

night between all the States, and between any two of them, And I will make a song for the ears of the President, full of weap

ons with menacing points, And behind the weapons countless dissatisfied faces; And a song make I of the One form'd out of all, The fang'd and glittering One whose head is over all, Resolute warlike One including and over all, (However high the head of any else that head is over all.) I will acknowledge contemporary lands, I will trail the whole geography of the globe and salute courte

ously every city large and small, And employments ! I will put in my poems that with you is hero

ism upon land and sea, And I will report all heroism from an American point of view.

I will sing the song of companionship,
I will show what alone must finally compact these,
I believe these are to found their own ideal of manly love, indi-

cating it in me, I will therefore let flame from me the burning fires that were

threatening to consume me, I will lift what has too long kept down those smouldering fires, I will give them complete abandonment, I will write the evangel-poem of comrades and of love, For who but I should understand love with all its sorrow and joy? And who but I should be the poet of comrades?

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