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List close my scholars dear,
Doctrines, politics and civilization exurge from you,
Sculpture and monuments and any thing inscribed anywhere are

tallied in you, The gist of histories and statistics as far back as the records reach

is in you this hour, and myths and tales the same, If you were not breathing and walking here, where would they

all be? The most renown'd poems would be ashes, orations and plays

would be vacuums.

All architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it, (Did you think it was in the white or gray stone? or the lines of

the arches and cornices?)

All music is what awakes from you when you are reminded by the

instruments, It is not the violins and the cornets, it is not the oboe nor the

beating drums, nor the score of the baritone singer singing his sweet romanza, nor that of the men's chorus, nor that

of the women's chorus, It is nearer and farther than they.

5 Will the whole come back then? Can each see signs of the best by a look in the looking-glass? is

there nothing greater or more? Does all sit there with you, with the mystic unseen soul?

Strange and hard that paradox true I give,
Objects gross and the unseen soul are one.
House-building, measuring, sawing the boards,
Blacksmithing, glass-blowing, nail-making, coopering, tin-roofing,

shingle-dressing, Ship-joining, dock-building, fish-curing, flagging of sidewalks by

flaggers, The pump, the pile-driver, the great derrick, the coal-kiln and

brick-kiln, Coal-mines and all that is down there, the lamps in the darkness,

echoes, songs, what meditations, what vast native thoughts

looking through smutch'd faces, Iron-works, forge-fires in the mountains or by river-banks, men

around feeling the melt with huge crowbars, lumps of ore, the due combining of ore, limestone, coal,

The blast-furnace and the puddling-furnace, the loup-lump at the bottom of the mest at last, the rolling-mili

, the stumpy bars of pig-iron, the strong clean-shaped T-rail for rail

roads, Oil-works, silk-works, white-lead-works, the sugar-house, steam

saws, the great mills and factories, Stone-cutting, shapely trimmings for façades or window or door

lintels, the mallet, the tooth-chisel, the jib to protect the

thumb, The calking-iron, the kettle of boiling vault-cement, and the fire

under the kettle, The cotton-bale, the stevedore's hook, the saw and buck of the

sawyer, the mould of the moulder, the working-knife of

the butcher, the ice-saw, and all the work with ice, The work and tools of the rigger, grappler, sail-maker, block

maker, Goods of gutta-percha, papier-maché, colors, brushes, brush

making, glazier's implements, The veneer and glue-pot, the confectioner's ornaments, the

decanter and glasses, the shears and fat-iron, The awl and knee-strap, the pint measure and quart measure, the

counter and stool, the writing-pen of quill or metal, the

making of all sorts of edged tools, The brewery, brewing, the malt, the vats, every thing that is done

by brewers, wine-makers, vinegar-makers, Leather-dressing, coach-making, boiler-making, rope-twisting, dis

tilling, sign-painting, lime-burning, cotton-picking, electro

plating, electrotyping, stereotyping, Stave-machines, planing machines, reaping-machines, ploughing

machines, thrashing machines, steam wagons, The cart of the carman, the omnibus, the ponderous dray, Pyrotechny, letting off color'd fireworks at night, fancy figures and

jets; Beef on the butcher's stall, the slaughter-house of the butcher, the

butcher in his killing-clothes, The pens of live pork, the killing-hammer, the hog-hcok, the

scalder's tub, gutting, the cutter's cleaver, the packer's maul,

and the plenteous winterwork of pork-packing, Flour-works, grinding of wheat, rye, maize, rice, the barrels and

the half and quarter barrels, the loaded barges, the high

piles on wharves and levees, The men and the work of the men on ferries, railroads, coasters,

fish-boats, canals; The hourly routine of your own or any man's life, the shop, yard,

store, or factory,

These shows all near you by day and night — workman ! whoever

you are, your daily life! In that and them the heft of the heaviest - in that and them far

more than you estimated, (and far less also,) In them realities for you and me, in them poems for and

me, In them, not yourself - you and your soul enclose all things, re

gardless of estimation, In them the development good — in them all themes, hints, possi



I do not affirm that what you see beyond is futile, I do not advise

you to stop, I do not say leadings you thought great are not great, But I say that none lead to greater than these lead to.



Will you seek afar off ? you surely come back at last,
In things best known to you finding the best, or as good as the
In folks nearest to you finding the sweetest, strongest, lovingest,
Happiness, knowledge, not in another place but this place, not for

another hour but this hour, Man in the first you see or touch, always in friend, brother,

nighest neighbor - woman in mother, sister, wife, The popular tastes and employments taking precedence in poems

or anywhere, You workwomen and workmen of these States having your own

divine and strong life, And all else giving place to men and women like you. When the psalm sings instead of the singer, When the script preaches instead of the preacher, When the pulpit descends and goes instead of the carver that

carved the supporting desk, When I can touch the body of books by night or by day, and

when they touch my body back again, When a university course convinces like a slumbering woman and

child convince, When the minted gold in the vault smiles like the night-watchman's

daughter, When warrantee deeds loafe in chairs opposite and are my friendly

companions, I intend to reach them my hand, and make as much of them as

I do of men and women like you.


, Were you thinking that those were the words, those upright

lines? those curves, angles, dots ? No, those are not the words, the substantial words are in the

ground and sea, They are in the air, they are in you. Were you thinking that those were the words, those delicious sounds

out of your friends' mouths ? No, the real words are more delicious than they. Human bodies are words, myriads of words, (In the best poems re-appears the body, man's or woman's, well

shaped, natural, gay, Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or the need of


Air, soil, water, fire — those are words,
I myself am a word with them — my qualities interpenetrate with

theirs — my name is nothing to them, Though it were told in the three thousand languages, what would

air, soil, water, fire, know of my name? A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding gesture, are words,

sayings, meanings, The charms that go with the mere looks of some men and women,

are sayings and meanings also. The workmanship of souls is by those inaudible words of the earth, The masters know the earth's words and use them more than

audible words. Amelioration is one of the earth's words, The earth neither lags nor hastens, It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in itself from the jump, It is not half beautiful only, defects and excrescences show just as

much as perfections show.

The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough,
The truths of the earth continually wait, they are not so conceal'd


They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print,
They are imbued through all things conveying themselves willingly,
Conveying a sentiment and invitation, I utter and utter,
I speak not, yet if you hear me not of what avail am I to you?
To bear, to better, lacking these of what avail am I?

(Accouche! accouchez !
Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
Will you squat and stifle there ?)

The earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none out.

The earth does not exhibit itself nor refuse to exhibit itself, pos

sesses still underneath, Underneath the ostensible sounds, the august chorus of heroes, the

wail of slaves, Persuasions of lovers, curses, gasps of the dying, laughter of young

people, accents of bargainers, Underneath these possessing words that never fail.

To her children the words of the eloquent dumb great mother

never fail, The true words do not fail, for motion does not fail and reflection

does not fail, Also the day and night do not fail, and the voyage we pursue does

not fail.

Of the interminable sisters,
Of the ceaseless cotillons of sisters,
Of the centripetal and centrifugal sisters, the elder and younger

The beautiful sister we know dances on with the rest.

With her ample back towards every beholder,
With the fascinations of youth and the equal fascinations of age,
Sits she whom I too love like the rest, sits undisturb'd,
Holding up in her hand what has the character of a mirror, while

her eyes glance back from it,
Glance as she sits, inviting none, denying none,
Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before her own face.

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