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And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
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
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
see and remark, and say Whose ?
Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
receive them the same.
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
out of their mothers' laps,
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
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
They are alive and well somewhere,
end to arrest it,
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,
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,
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,
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
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 boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me,
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,
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.
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
Which of the young men does she like the best?
Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
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,
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.
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,
From the cinder-strew'd threshold I follow their movements,