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Page 332
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32 — Burial Poem.


To think of time! to think through the retro-
         spection!
To think of today, and the ages continued hence-
         forward!

Have you guessed you yourself would not con-
         tinue? Have you dreaded those earth-
         beetles?
Have you feared the future would be nothing to
         you?

Is today nothing? Is the beginningless past
         nothing?
If the future is nothing, they are just as surely
         nothing.

To think that the sun rose in the east! that men
         and women were flexible, real, alive! that
         every thing was alive!
To think that you and I did not see, feel, think,
         nor bear our part!


Page 333
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To think that we are now here, and bear our part!
Not a day passes, not a minute or second, without
         an accouchement!
Not a day passes, not a minute or second, without
         corpse!

The dull nights go over, and the dull days also,
The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over,
The physician, after long putting off, gives the
         silent and terrible look for an answer,
The children come hurried and weeping, and the
         brothers and sisters are sent for,
Medicines stand unused on the shelf—the cam-
         phor-smell has pervaded the rooms,
The faithful hand of the living does not desert the
         hand of the dying,
The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead
         of the dying,
The breath ceases and the pulse of the heart
         ceases,
The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living
         look upon it,
It is palpable as the living are palpable.

The living look upon the corpse with their eye-
         sight,
But without eye-sight lingers a different living,
         and looks curiously on the corpse.


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To think that the rivers will come to flow, and the
         snow fall, and fruits ripen, and act upon others
         as upon us now—yet not act upon us!
To think of all these wonders of city and country,
         and others taking great interest in them—and
         we taking no interest in them!

To think how eager we are in building our houses!
To think others shall be just as eager, and we
         quite indifferent!

I see one building the house that serves him a few
         years, or seventy or eighty years at most,
I see one building the house that serves him longer
         than that.

Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole
         earth—they never cease—they are the
         burial lines,
He that was President was buried, and he that is
         now President shall surely be buried.

Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf—posh and
         ice in the river, half-frozen mud in the streets,
         a gray discouraged sky overhead, the short
         last daylight of December,
A hearse and stages, other vehicles give place —
         the funeral of an old Broadway stage-driver,
         the cortege mostly drivers.


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Rapid the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the
         death-bell, the gate is passed, the grave is
         halted at, the living alight, the hearse
         uncloses,
The coffin is lowered and settled, the whip is laid
         on the coffin, the earth is swiftly shovelled in
         —a minute, no one moves or speaks—it is
         done,
He is decently put away—is there anything
         more?

He was a good fellow, free-mouthed, quick-tem-
         pered, not bad-looking, able to take his own
         part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready with
         life or death for a friend, fond of women,
         played some, ate hearty, drank hearty, had
         known what it was to be flush, grew low-
         spirited toward the last, sickened, was helped
         by a contribution, died aged forty-one years —
         and that was his funeral.

Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape,
         gloves, strap, wet-weather clothes, whip care-
         fully chosen, boss, spotter, starter, hostler,
         somebody loafing on you, you loafing on
         somebody, head-way, man before and man
         behind, good day's work, bad day's work, pet
         stock, mean stock, first out, last out, turning
         in at night,

Page 336
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To think that these are so much and so nigh to
         other drivers—and he there takes no interest
         in them!

The markets, the government, the working-man's
         wages—to think what account they are
         through our nights and days!
To think that other working-men will make just as
         great account of them—yet we make little
         or no account!

The vulgar and the refined, what you call sin and
         what you call goodness—to think how wide
         a difference!
To think the difference will still continue to oth-
         ers, yet we lie beyond the difference!

To think how much pleasure there is!
Have you pleasure from looking at the sky?
         have you pleasure from poems?
Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in
         business? or planning a nomination and elec-
         tion? or with your wife and family?
Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly
         house-work? or the beautiful maternal cares?
These also flow onward to others—you and I
         flow onward,
But in due time you and I shall take less interest
         in them.


Page 337
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Your farm, profits, crops—to think how engrossed
         you are!
To think there will still be farms, profits, crops —
         yet for you, of what avail?

What will be, will be well—for what is, is well,
To take interest is well, and not to take interest
         shall be well.

The sky continues beautiful, the pleasure of men
         with women shall never be sated, nor the
         pleasure of women with men, nor the pleas-
         ure from poems,
The domestic joys, the daily house-work or busi-
         ness, the building of houses—these are not
         phantasms, they have weight, form, location;
Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government,
         are none of them phantasms,
The difference between sin and goodness is no
         delusion,
The earth is not an echo—man and his life, and
         all the things of his life, are well-considered.

You are not thrown to the winds—you gather
         certainly and safely around yourself,
Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever!

It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your
         mother and father—it is to identify you,

Page 338
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It is not that you should be undecided, but that
         you should be decided;
Something long preparing and formless is arrived
         and formed in you,
You are thenceforth secure, whatever comes or
         goes.

The threads that were spun are gathered, the weft
         crosses the warp, the pattern is systematic.

The preparations have every one been justified,
The orchestra have tuned their instruments suffi-
         ciently, the baton has given the signal.

The guest that was coming—he waited long for
         reasons—he is now housed,
He is one of those who are beautiful and happy —
         he is one of those that to look upon and be
         with is enough.

The law of the past cannot be eluded!
The law of the present and future cannot be
         eluded!
The law of the living cannot be eluded—it is
         eternal!
The law of promotion and transformation cannot
         be eluded!
The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be
         eluded!


Page 339
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The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons,
         cannot be eluded!

Slow-moving and black lines go ceaselessly over
         the earth,
Northerner goes carried, and southerner goes car-
         ried, and they on the Atlantic side, and they
         on the Pacific, and they between, and all
         through the Mississippi country, and all over
         the earth.

The great masters and kosmos are well as they
         go—the heroes and good-doers are well,
The known leaders and inventors, and the rich
         owners and pious and distinguished, may be
         well,
But there is more account than that—there is
         strict account of all.

The interminable hordes of the ignorant and
         wicked are not nothing,
The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing,
The common people of Europe are not nothing —
         the American aborigines are not nothing,
The infected in the immigrant hospital are not
         nothing—the murderer or mean person is
         not nothing,
The perpetual successions of shallow people are
         not nothing as they go,

Page 340
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The prostitute is not nothing—the mocker of re-
         ligion is not nothing as he goes.

I shall go with the rest—we have satisfaction,
I have dreamed that we are not to be changed so
         much, nor the law of us changed,
I have dreamed that heroes and good-doers shall
         be under the present and past law,
And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be
         under the present and past law,
For I have dreamed that the law they are under
         now is enough.

And I have dreamed that the satisfaction is not so
         much changed, and that there is no life
         without satisfaction;
What is the earth? what are body and soul, with-
         out satisfaction?

I shall go with the rest,
We cannot be stopped at a given point—that is
         no satisfaction,
To show us a good thing, or a few good things,
         for a space of time—that is no satisfaction,
We must have the indestructible breed of the best,
         regardless of time.

If otherwise, all these things came but to ashes
         of dung,

Page 341
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If maggots and rats ended us, then suspicion,
         treachery, death.

Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect
         death, I should die now,
Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-
         suited toward annihilation?

Pleasantly and well-suited I walk,
Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is
         good,
The whole universe indicates that it is good,
The past and the present indicate that it is good.

How beautiful and perfect are the animals! How
         perfect is my soul!
How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing
         upon it!
What is called good is perfect, and what is called
         bad is just as perfect,
The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and
         the imponderable fluids are perfect;
Slowly and surely they have passed on to this,
         and slowly and surely they yet pass on.

My soul! if I realize you, I have satisfaction,
Animals and vegetables! if I realize you, I have
         satisfaction,
Laws of the earth and air! if I realize you, I
         have satisfaction.


Page 342
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I cannot define my satisfaction, yet it is so,
I cannot define my life, yet it is so.

O I swear I think now that every thing has an
         eternal soul!
The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds
         of the sea have! the animals!

I swear I think there is nothing but immortality!
That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebu-
         lous float is for it, and the cohering is for it!
And all preparation is for it! and identity is for
         it! and life and death are for it!
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