« PreviousContinue »
Only three guns are in use,
mast, Two well serv'd with grape and canister silence his musketry and
clear his decks.
The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially the
main-top, They hold out bravely during the whole of the action. Not a moment's cease, The leaks gain fast on the pumps, the fire eats toward the powder
One of the pumps has been shot away, it is generally thought we
Serene stands the little captain,
Toward twelve there in the beams of the moon they surrender to
36 Stretch'd and still lies the midnight, Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness, Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass to the
one we have conquer'd, The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through
a countenance white as a sheet, Near by the corpse of the child that serv'd in the cabin, The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully
curl'd whiskers, The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and below, The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty, Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of flesh
upon the masts and spars, Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of
waves, Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent, A few large stars overhead, silent and mournful shining, Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the
shore, death-messages given in charge to survivors, The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw,
Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long,
dull, tapering groan, These so, these irretrievable.
For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep
watch, It is I let out in the morning and barr'd at night.
Not a mutineer walks handcufl'd to jail but I am handcuff'd to
him and walk by his side, (I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat
on my twitching lips.)
Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried
Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the last
gasp, My face is ash-color'd, my sinews gnarl, away from me people
Askers embody themselves in me and I am embodied in them,
Enough! enough! enough!
That I could forget the mockers and insults !
eons and hammers ! That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and
I remember now,
I troop forth replenish'd with supreme power, one of an average
unending procession, Inland and sea-coast we go, and pass all boundary lines, Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole earth, The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of
Eleves, I salute you ! come forward !
39 The friendly and flowing savage, who is he? Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and mastering it? Is he some Southwesterner rais'd out-doors? is he Kanadian? Is he from the Mississippi country? Iowa, Oregon, California? The mountains ? prairie-life, bush-life? or sailor from the sea ?
Wherever he goes men and women accept and desire him,
Behavior lawless as snow-flakes, words simple as grass, uncomb'd
head, laughter, and naivete, Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes and ema
nations, They descend in new forms from the tips of his fingers, They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath, they fly out
of the glance of his eyes.
40 Flaunt of the sunshine I need not your bask — lie over ! You light surfaces only, I force surfaces and depths also.
Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands,
And might tell what it is in me and what it is in you, but cannot, And might tell that pining I have, that pulse of my nights and
Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity,
You there, impotent, loose in the knees,
I do not ask who you are, that is not important to me,
To cotton-field drudge or cleaner of privies I lean,
On women fit for conception I start bigger and nimbler babes, (This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arrogant republics.)
To any one dying, thither I speed and twist the knob of the door,
I seize the descending man and raise him with resistless will,
I dilate you with tremendous breath, I buoy you up,
Sleep-I and they keep guard all night,
41 I am he bringing help for the sick as they pant on their backs, And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed help.
I heard what was said of the universe,
engraved, With Odin and the hideous-faced Mexitli and every idol and image, Taking them all for what they are worth and not a cent more, Admitting they were alive and did the work of their days, (They bore mites as for unfledg'd birds who have now to rise and
fly and sing for themselves,) Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself,
bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see, Discovering as much or more in a framer framing a house, Putting higher claims for him there with his roll’d-up sleeves driving
the mallet and chisel, Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke
or a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any
revelation, Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes no less to
me than the gods of the antique wars, Minding their voices peal through the crash of destruction, Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd laths, their white
foreheads whole and unhurt out of the flames; By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple interceding for
every person born, Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three lusty angels
with shirts bagg'd out at their waists, The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins past and to
come, Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee lawyers for his
brother and sit by him while he is tried for forgery; What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square rod about
me, and not filling the square rod then, The bull and the bug never worshipp'd half enough, Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd, The supernatural of no account, myself waiting my time to be one
of the supremes, The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as
the best, and be as prodigious;