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Page 285
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LEAVES OF GRASS.


1.


1  THINK of the Soul;
I swear to you that body of yours gives proportions
         to your Soul somehow to live in other spheres;
I do not know how, but I know it is so.

2  Think of loving and being loved;
I swear to you, whoever you are, you can interfuse
         yourself with such things that everybody that
         sees you shall look longingly upon you.

3  Think of the past;
I warn you that in a little while, others will find their
         past in you and your times.

4  The race is never separated—nor man nor woman
         escapes;
All is inextricable—things, spirits, nature, nations,
         you too—from precedents you come.

5  Recall the ever-welcome defiers, (The mothers pre-
         cede them;)
Recall the sages, poets, saviors, inventors, lawgivers,
         of the earth;
Recall Christ, brother of rejected persons—brother of
         slaves, felons, idiots, and of insane and diseas'd
         persons.

6  Think of the time when you was not yet born;
Think of times you stood at the side of the dying;
Think of the time when your own body will be dying.

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7  Think of spiritual results,
Sure as the earth swims through the heavens, does
         every one of its objects pass into spiritual
         results.

8  Think of manhood, and you to be a man;
Do you count manhood, and the sweet of manhood,
         nothing?

9  Think of womanhood, and you to be a woman;
The creation is womanhood;
Have I not said that womanhood involves all?
Have I not told how the universe has nothing better
         than the best womanhood?

2.

UNFOLDED out of the folds of the woman, man comes
         unfolded, and is always to come unfolded;
Unfolded only out of the superbest woman of the
         earth, is to come the superbest man of the
         earth;
Unfolded out of the friendliest woman, is to come the
         friendliest man;
Unfolded only out of the perfect body of a woman,
         can a man be form'd of perfect body;
Unfolded only out of the inimitable poem of the wo-
         man, can come the poems of man—(only
         thence have my poems come;)
Unfolded out of the strong and arrogant woman I
         love, only thence can appear the strong and
         arrogant man I love;
Unfolded by brawny embraces from the well-muscled
         woman I love, only thence come the brawny
         embraces of the man;
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman's brain, come
         all the folds of the man's brain, duly obedient;

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Unfolded out of the justice of the woman, all justice
         is unfolded;
Unfolded out of the sympathy of the woman is all
         sympathy:
A man is a great thing upon the earth, and through
         eternity—but every jot of the greatness of man
         is unfolded out of woman,
First the man is shaped in the woman, he can then be
         shaped in himself.

3.


1  NIGHT on the prairies;
The supper is over—the fire on the ground burns
         low;
The wearied emigrants sleep, wrapt in their blankets;
I walk by myself—I stand and look at the stars,
         which I think now I never realized before.

2  Now I absorb immortality and peace,
I admire death, and test propositions.

3  How plenteous! How spiritual! How resumé!
The same Old Man and Soul—the same old aspira-
         tions, and the same content.

4  I was thinking the day most splendid, till I saw
         what the not-day exhibited,
I was thinking this globe enough, till there sprang
         out so noiseless around me myriads of other
         globes.

5  Now, while the great thoughts of space and eternity
         fill me, I will measure myself by them;
And now, touch'd with the lives of other globes, ar-
         rived as far along as those of the earth,

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Or waiting to arrive, or pass'd on farther than those
         of the earth,
I henceforth no more ignore them, than I ignore my
         own life,
Or the lives of the earth arrived as far as mine, or
         waiting to arrive.

6  O I see now that life cannot exhibit all to me—as
         the day cannot,
I see that I am to wait for what will be exhibited by
         death.

4.

THE world below the brine;
Forests at the bottom of the sea—the branches and
         leaves,
Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds—
         the thick tangle, the openings, and the pink
         turf,
Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white,
         and gold—the play of light through the water,
Dumb swimmers there among the rocks—coral, gluten,
         grass, rushes—and the aliment of the swimmers,
Sluggish existences grazing there, suspended, or
         slowly crawling close to the bottom,
The sperm-whale at the surface, blowing air and
         spray, or disporting with his flukes,
The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the
         hairy sea-leopard, and the sting-ray;
Passions there—wars, pursuits, tribes—sight in those
         ocean-depths—breathing that thick-breathing
         air, as so many do;
The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle
         air breathed by beings like us, who walk this
         sphere;
The change onward from ours, to that of beings who
         walk other spheres.

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5.

I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world,
         and upon all oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at an-
         guish with themselves, remorseful after deeds
         done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children,
         dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate;
I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the
         treacherous seducer of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited
         love, attempted to be hid—I see these sights
         on the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I
         see martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors cast-
         ing lots who shall be kill'd, to preserve the
         lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arro-
         gant persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon
         negroes, and the like;
All these—All the meanness and agony without end,
         I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.
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