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And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap'd stones, elder, mullein

and poke-weed.

6 A child said What is the grass ? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child ? I do not know what it is any

more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green

stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may

see and remark, and say Whose ?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the

vegetation.

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.

0 I perceive after all so many uttering tongues, And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for

nothing. I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and

women,

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? And what do you think has become of the women and chil

dren?

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,
And 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.

7 Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I

know it. I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash'd babe,

and am not contain'd between my hat and boots, And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good, The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good. I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth, I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and

fathomless as myself, (They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female,
For me those that have been boys and that love women,
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be

slighted, For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the

mothers of mothers, For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears, For me children and the begetters of children.

Undrape ! you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded,
I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,
And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be

shaken away.

8 The little one sleeps in its cradle, I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies

with my hand.

The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill,
I peeringly view them from the top.
The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom,
I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol

has fallen. The blab of the pave, tires of carts, sluff of boot-soles, talk of the

promenaders, The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the

clank of the shod horses on the granite floor, The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-balls, The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd mobs, The flap of the curtain'd litter, a sick man inside borne to the

hospital, The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall, The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working

his passage to the centre of the crowd, The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes, What groans of over-fed or half-starv'd who fall sunstruck or in

fits, What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and

give birth to babes, What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls

restrain'd by decorum, Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances,

rejections with convex lips, I mind them or the show or resonance of them — I come and I depart.

9 The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready, The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon, The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged, The armfuls are pack'd to the sagging mow. I am there, I help, I came stretch'd atop of the load, I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other, I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and timothy, And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps.

,

10 Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt, Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee, In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night, Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill'd game, Falling asleep on the gather'd leaves with my dog and gun by my

side.

The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails, she cuts the sparkle and

scud, My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from

the deck.

The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me,
I tuck'd my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good

time; You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle.

I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west,

the bride was a red girl, Her father and his friends sat near cross-legged and dumbly

smoking, they had moccasins to their feet and large thick

blankets hanging from their shoulders, On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins, his

luxuriant beard and curls protected his neck, he held his

bride by the hand, She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight

locks descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach'd to her feet.

The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside,
I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,
Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and

weak, And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him, And brought water and fill'd a tub for his sweated body and bruis'd

feet, And gave him a room that enter'd from my own, and gave him

some coarse clean clothes, And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness, , And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles ; He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass'd

north, I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean'd in the corner.

II

Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.

She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.

Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.
Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather,
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.

The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it ran from their

long hair, Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.

An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies,
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.

The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to

the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them, They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bend

ing arch, They do not think whom they souse with spray.

12

The butcher-boy puts off his killing-clothes, or sharpens his knife

at the stall in the market, I loiter enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and break-down.

Blacksmiths with grimed and hairy chests environ the anvil,
Each has his main-sledge, they are all out, there is a great heat in

the fire.

From the cinder-strew'd threshold I follow their movements,
The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms,
Overhand the hammers swing, overhand so slow, overhand so

sure,
They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.

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