Published Works

Books by Whitman

contents   |   previous   |   next

Page 370
View Page 370

YEARS OF THE MODERN.


YEARS of the modern! years of the unperform'd!
Your horizon rises, I see it parting away for more august dramas,
I see not America only, not only Liberty's nation but other nations
         preparing,
I see tremendous entrances and exits, new combinations, the soli-
         darity of races,
I see that force advancing with irresistible power on the world's
         stage,
(Have the old forces, the old wars, played their parts? are the
         acts suitable to them closed?)
I see Freedom, completely arm'd and victorious and very haughty,
         with Law on one side and Peace on the other,
A stupendous trio all issuing forth against the idea of caste;
What historic denouements are these we so rapidly approach?
I see men marching and countermarching by swift millions,
I see the frontiers and boundaries of the old aristocracies broken,
I see the landmarks of European kings removed,
I see this day the People beginning their landmarks, (all others
         give way;)
Never were such sharp questions ask'd as this day,
Never was average man, his soul, more energetic, more like a God,

Page 371
View Page 371
Lo, how he urges and urges, leaving the masses no rest!
His daring foot is on land and sea everywhere, he colonizes the
         Pacific, the archipelagoes,
With the steamship, the electric telegraph, the newspaper, the
         wholesale engines of war,
With these and the world-spreading factories he interlinks all
         geography, all lands;
What whispers are these O lands, running ahead of you, passing
         under the seas?
Are all nations communing? is there going to be but one heart to
         the globe?
Is humanity forming en-masse? for lo, tyrants tremble, crowns
         grow dim,
The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a general divine war,
No one knows what will happen next, such portents fill the days
         and nights;
Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vainly try to
         pierce it, is full of phantoms,
Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes around me,
This incredible rush and heat, this strange ecstatic fever of dreams
         O years!
Your dreams O years, how they penetrate through me! (I know
         not whether I sleep or wake;)
The perform'd America and Europe grow dim, retiring in shadow
         behind me,
The unperform'd, more gigantic than ever, advance, advance upon
         me.
contents   |   previous   |   next

Comments?

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.