Published Works

Books by Whitman

contents   |   previous   |   next

Page 421
View Page 421


HE is wisest who has the most caution,
He only wins who goes far enough.

ANY thing is as good as established, when that is
         established that will produce it and continue it.

WHAT General has a good army in himself, has a
         good army;
He happy in himself, or she happy in herself, is
But I tell you you cannot be happy by others, any
         more than you can beget or conceive a child by

HAVE you learned lessons only of those who admired
         you, and were tender with you, and stood aside
         for you?
Have you not learned the great lessons of those who
         rejected you, and braced themselves against you?
         or who treated you with contempt, or disputed
         the passage with you?
Have you had no practice to receive opponents when
         they come?

Page 422
View Page 422

DESPAIRING cries float ceaselessly toward me, day and
The sad voice of Death—the call of my nearest
         lover, putting forth, alarmed, uncertain,
This sea I am quickly to sail, come tell me,
Come tell me where I am speeding—tell me my
          destination .

I UNDERSTAND your anguish, but I cannot help you,
I approach, hear, behold—the sad mouth, the look
         out of the eyes, your mute inquiry,
Whither I go from the bed I now recline on, come
          tell me;
Old age, alarmed, uncertain—A young woman's
         voice appealing to me, for comfort,
A young man's voice, Shall I not escape?

A THOUSAND perfect men and women appear,
Around each gathers a cluster of friends, and gay
         children and youths, with offerings.

A MASK—a perpetual natural disguiser of herself,
Concealing her face, concealing her form,
Changes and transformations every hour, every mo-
Falling upon her even when she sleeps.

Page 423
View Page 423

ONE sweeps by, attended by an immense train,
All emblematic of peace—not a soldier or menial
         among them.

ONE sweeps by, old, with black eyes, and profuse
         white hair,
He has the simple magnificence of health and
His face strikes as with flashes of lightning whoever
         it turns toward.

THREE old men slowly pass, followed by three others,
         and they by three others,
They are beautiful—the one in the middle of each
         group holds his companions by the hand,
As they walk, they give out perfume wherever they

WOMEN sit, or move to and fro—some old, some
The young are beautiful—but the old are more
         beautiful than the young.

WHAT weeping face is that looking from the window?
Why does it stream those sorrowful tears?
Is it for some burial place, vast and dry?
Is it to wet the soil of graves?

Page 424
View Page 424

I WILL take an egg out of the robin's nest in the
I will take a branch of gooseberries from the old bush
         in the garden, and go and preach to the world;
You shall see I will not meet a single heretic or
You shall see how I stump clergymen, and confound
You shall see me showing a scarlet tomato, and a
         white pebble from the beach.

BEHAVIOR—fresh, native, copious, each one for him-
         self or herself,
Nature and the Soul expressed—America and free-
         dom expressed—In it the finest art,
In it pride, cleanliness, sympathy, to have their
In it physique, intellect, faith—in it just as much as
         to manage an army or a city, or to write a book
         —perhaps more,
The youth, the laboring person, the poor person,
         rivalling all the rest—perhaps outdoing the
The effects of the universe no greater than its;
For there is nothing in the whole universe that can
         be more effective than a man's or woman's daily
         behavior can be,
In any position, in any one of These States.

Page 425
View Page 425

NOT the pilot has charged himself to bring his ship
         into port, though beaten back, and many times
Not the path-finder, penetrating inland, weary and
By deserts parched, snows chilled, rivers wet, per-
         severes till he reaches his destination,
More than I have charged myself, heeded or un-
         heeded, to compose a free march for These
To be exhilarating music to them, years, centuries

I THOUGHT I was not alone, walking here by the shore,
But the one I thought was with me, as now I walk by
         the shore,
As I lean and look through the glimmering light—
         that one has utterly disappeared,
And those appear that perplex me.
contents   |   previous   |   next


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.