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13 The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags

underneath on its tied-over chain, The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and

tall he stands pois'd on one leg on the string-piece, His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over

his hip-band, His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his

hat away from his forehead, The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black

of his polish'd and perfect limbs.

I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop

there, I go with the team also. In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as

forward sluing, To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object miss

ing, Absorbing all to myself and for this song.

Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade,

what is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life. My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck on my distant and

day-long ramble, They rise together, they slowly circle around. I believe in those wing'd purposes, And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me, And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional, And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something

else, And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty

well to me, And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.

14 The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,

Ya-honk he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation, The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close, Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky.

The sharp-hoofd moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill,

the chickadee, the prairie-dog, The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats, The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings, I see in them and myself the same old law.

The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections, They scorn the best I can do to relate them.

I am enamour'd of growing out-doors,
Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods,
Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and

mauls, and the drivers of horses,
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.

What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me,
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me,
Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,
Scattering it freely forever.

15 The pure contralto sings in the organ loft, The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane whistles

its wild ascending lisp, The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanks

giving dinner, The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong arm, The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon are

ready, The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches, The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the altar, The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big

wheel, The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loafe and

looks at the oats and rye, The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm'd case, (He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother's

bed-room ;) The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case, He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blurr with the manu

script'; The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table, What is removed drops horribly in a pail;

The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand, the drunkard nods

by the bar-room stove, The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his beat,

the gate-keeper marks who pass, The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him, though

I do not know him ;) The half-breed straps on his light boots to compete in the race, The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some lean on

their rifles, some sit on logs, Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels

his piece; The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee, As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them

from his saddle, The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their part

ners, the dancers bow to each other, The youth lies awake in the cedar-roofd garret and harks to the

musical rain, The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron, The squaw wrapt in her yellow-hemm'd cloth is offering moccasins

and bead-bags for sale, The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut

eyes bent sideways, As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is thrown for

the shore-going passengers, The young sister holds out the skein while the elder sister winds it off in a ball

, and stops now and then for the knots, The one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago

borne her first child, The clean-hair'd Yankee girl works with her sewing-machine or in

the factory or mill, The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer, the reporter's

lead flies swiftly over the note-book, the sign-painter is

lettering with blue and gold, The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts at

his desk, the shoemaker waxes his thread, The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers

follow him, The child is baptized, the convert is making his first professions, The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, (how the

white sails sparkle !) The drover watching his drove sings out to them that would

stray, The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser hig

gling about the odd cent;)

The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock

moves slowly, The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open'd lips, The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy

and pimpled neck, The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink

to each other, (Miserable ! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you ;) The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the great

Secretaries, On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined

arms, The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the

hold, The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his cattle, As the fare-collector goes through the train he gives notice by the

jingling of loose change, The floor-men are laying the floor, the tinners are tinning the roof,

the masons are calling for mortar, In single file each shouldering his hod pass onward the laborers; Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is gather'd,

it is the fourth of Seventh-month, (what salutes of cannon

and small arms !) Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the mower

mows, and the winter-grain falls in the ground; Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in

the frozen surface, The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes

deep with his axe, Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood or

pecan-trees, Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river or through

those drain'd by the Tennessee, or through those of the

Arkansas, Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or

Altamahaw, Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grand

sons around them, In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after

their day's sport, The city sleeps and the country sleeps, The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time, The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps

by his wife; And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,

And such as it is to be of these more or less I am,
And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.

16 I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise, Regardless of others, ever regardful of others, Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man, Stuff’d with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stufi that

is fine, One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the

largest the same, A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and

hospitable down by the Oconee I live, A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the

limberest joints on earth and the sternest joints on

earth, A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin

leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian, A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger,

Buckeye; At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with

fishermen off Newfoundland, At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tack

ing, At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the

Texan ranch, Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (lov

ing their big proportions,) Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake

hands and welcome to drink and meat,
A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,
A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,
Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,
A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,
Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.

I resist any thing better than my own diversity,
Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,
And am not stuck up, and am in my place.
(The moth and the fish-eggs are in their place,
The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their

The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.)

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