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           Walt Whitman
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Alone on the Beach at Night


  Walt Whitman

  * * *

  ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE

  Contents

  Birds of Passage

  Song of the Universal

  Pioneers! O Pioneers!

  To You

  France, the 18th Year of These States

  Myself and Mine

  Year of Meteors (1859–60)

  With Antecedents

  A Broadway Pageant

  Sea-Drift

  Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

  As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life

  Tears

  To the Man-of-War Bird

  Aboard at a Ship’s Helm

  On the Beach at Night

  The World Below the Brine

  On the Beach at Night Alone

  Song for All Seas, All Ships

  Patroling Barnegat

  After the Sea-Ship

  Follow Penguin

  WALT WHITMAN

  Born 1819 West Hills, Long Island

  Died 1892 Camden, New Jersey

  Leaves of Grass published in many different editions, with many additional poems, between 1855 and 1892. This book makes a small selection.

  WHITMAN IN PENGUIN CLASSICS

  Leaves of Grass

  The Complete Poems

  BIRDS OF PASSAGE

  * * *

  Song of the Universal

  1

  Come said the Muse,

  Sing me a song no poet yet has chanted,

  Sing me the universal.

  In this broad earth of ours,

  Amid the measureless grossness and the slag,

  Enclosed and safe within its central heart,

  Nestles the seed perfection.

  By every life a share or more or less,

  None born but it is born, conceal’d or unconceal’d the seed is waiting.

  2

  Lo! keen-eyed towering science,

  As from tall peaks the modern overlooking,

  Successive absolute fiats issuing.

  Yet again, lo! the soul, above all science,

  For it has history gather’d like husks around the globe,

  For it the entire star-myriads roll through the sky.

  In spiral routes by long detours,

  (As a much-tacking ship upon the sea,)

  For it the partial to the permanent flowing;

  For it the real to the ideal tends.

  For it the mystic evolution,

  Not the right only justified, what we call evil also justified.

  Forth from their masks, no matter what,

  From the huge festering trunk, from craft and guile and tears,

  Health to emerge and joy, joy universal.

  Out of the bulk, the morbid and the shallow,

  Out of the bad majority, the varied countless frauds of men and states,

  Electric, antiseptic yet, cleaving, suffusing all,

  Only the good is universal.

  3

  Over the mountain-growths disease and sorrow,

  An uncaught bird is ever hovering, hovering,

  High in the purer, happier air.

  From imperfection’s murkiest cloud,

  Darts always forth one ray of perfect light,

  One flash of heaven’s glory.

  To fashion’s, custom’s discord,

  To the mad Babel-din, the deafening orgies,

  Soothing each lull a strain is heard, just heard,

  From some far shore the final chorus sounding.

  O the blest eyes, the happy hearts,

  That see, that know the guiding thread so fine,

  Along the mighty labyrinth.

  4

  And thou America,

  For the scheme’s culmination, its thought and its reality,

  For these (not for thyself) thou has arrived.

  Thou too surroundest all,

  Embracing carrying welcoming all, thou too by pathways broad and new,

  To the ideal tendest.

  The measur’d faiths of other lands, the grandeurs of the past,

  Are not for thee, but grandeurs of thine own,

  Deific faiths and amplitudes, absorbing, comprehending all,

  All eligible to all.

  All, all for immortality,

  Love like the light silently wrapping all,

  Nature’s amelioration blessing all,

  The blossoms, fruits of ages, orchards divine and certain,

  Forms, objects, growths, humanities, to spirtual images ripening.

  Give me O God to sing that thought,

  Give me, give him or her I love this quenchless faith,

  In Thy ensemble, whatever else withheld withhold not from us,

  Belief in plan of Thee enclosed in Time and Space,

  Health, peace, salvation universal.

  Is it a dream?

  Nay but the lack of it the dream,

  And failing it life’s lore and wealth a dream,

  And all the world a dream.

  Pioneers! O Pioneers!

  Come my tan-faced children,

  Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,

  Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  For we cannot tarry here,

  We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,

  We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  O you youths, Western youths,

  So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,

  Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  Have the elder races halted?

  Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?

  We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  All the past we leave behind,

  We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,

  Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  We detachments steady throwing,

  Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,

  Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  We primeval forests felling,

  We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines within,

  We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  Colorado men are we,

  From the peaks gigantic, from the giant sierras and the high plateaus,

  From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  From Nebraska, from Arkansas,

  Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental blood intervein’d,

  All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  O resistless restless race!

  O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!

  O I mourn and yet exult, I am rapt with love for all,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  Raise the mighty mother mistress,

  Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress, (bend your heads all,)

  Raise the fang’d and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon’d mistress,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  See my children, resolute children,

  By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or falter,

  Ages back in ghostly millions frowning t
here behind us urging,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  On and on the compact ranks,

  With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly fill’d,

  Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  O to die advancing on!

  Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?

  Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill’d,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  All the pulses of the world,

  Falling in they beat for us, with the Western movement beat,

  Holding single or together, steady moving to the front, all for us,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  Life’s involv’d and varied pageants,

  All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,

  All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  All the hapless silent lovers,

  All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,

  All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  I too with my soul and body,

  We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,

  Through these shores amid the shadows, with the apparitions pressing,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  Lo, the darting bowling orb!

  Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets,

  All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  These are of us, they are with us,

  All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait behind,

  We to-day’s procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  O you daughters of the West!

  O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!

  Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  Minstrels latent on the prairies!

  (Shrouded bards of other lands, you may rest, you have done your work,)

  Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  Not for delectations sweet,

  Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious,

  Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  Do the feasters gluttonous feast?

  Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock’d and bolted doors?

  Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  Has the night descended?

  Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding on our way?

  Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  Till with sound of trumpet,

  Far, far off the daybreak call – hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind,

  Swift! to the head of the army!–swift! spring to your places,

  Pioneers! O pioneers!

  To You

  Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,

  I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and hands,

  Even now your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,

  Your true soul and body appear before me,

  They stand forth out of affairs, out of commerce, shops, work, farms, clothes, the house, buying, selling, eating,drinking, suffering, dying.

  Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem,

  I whisper with my lips close to your ear,

  I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.

  O I have been dilatory and dumb,

  I should have made my way straight to you long ago,

  I should have blabb’d nothing but you, I should have chanted nothing but you.

  I will leave all and come and make the hymns of you,

  None has understood you, but I understand you,

  None has done justice to you, you have not done justice to yourself,

  None but has found you imperfect, I only find no imperfection in you,

  None but would subordinate you, I only am he who will never consent to subordinate you,

  I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better, God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.

  Painters have painted their swarming groups and the centre-figure of all,

  From the head of the centre-figure spreading a nimbus of gold-color’d light,

  But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its nimbus of gold-color’d light,

  From my hand from the brain of every man and woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.

  O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!

  You have not known what you are, you have slumber’d upon yourself all your life,

  Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time,

  What you have done returns already in mockeries,

  (Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in mockeries, what is their return?)

  The mockeries are not you,

  Underneath them and within them I see you lurk,

  I pursue you where none else has pursued you,

  Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the accustom’d routine, if these conceal you from others or from yourself, they do not conceal you from me,

  The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if these balk others they do not balk me,

  The pert apparel, the deform’d attitude, drunkenness, greed, premature death, all these I part aside.

  There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you,

  There is no virtue, no beauty in man or woman, but as good is in you,

  No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you,

  No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits for you.

  As for me, I give nothing to any one except I give the like carefully to you,

  I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than

  I sing the songs of the glory of you.

  Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!

  These shows of the East and West are tame compared to you,

  These immense meadows, these interminable rivers, you are immense and interminable as they,

  These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of apparent dissolution, you are he or she who is master or mistress over them,

  Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements, pain, passion, dissolution.

  The hopples fall from your ankles, you find an unfailing sufficiency,

  Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest, whatever you are promulges itself,

  Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, nothing is scanted,

  Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what you are picks its way.

  France, the 18th Year of These States

  A great year and place.

  A harsh discordant natal scream out-sounding, to touch the mother’s heart closer than any yet.

  I walk’d the shores of my Eastern sea,

  Heard over the waves the little voice,

  Saw the divine infant where she woke mournfully wailing, amid the roar of cannon, curses, shouts, crash of falling buildings,

  Was not so sick from the blood in the gutters running, nor from the single corpses, nor those in heaps, nor those borne away in the tumbrils,

  Was not so desperate at the battues of death – was not so shock’d at the repeated fusillades of the guns.
<
br />   Pale, silent, stern, what could I say to that long-accrued retribution?

  Could I wish humanity different?

  Could I wish the people made of wood and stone?

  Or that there be no justice in destiny or time?

  O Liberty! O mate for me!

  Here too the blaze, the grape-shot and the axe, in reserve, to fetch them out in case of need,

  Here too, though long represt, can never be destroy’d,

  Here too could rise at last murdering and ecstatic,

  Here too demanding full arrears of vengeance.

  Hence I sign this salute over the sea,

  And I do not deny that terrible red birth and baptism,

  But remember the little voice that I heard wailing, and wait with perfect trust, no matter how long,

  And from to-day sad and cogent I maintain the bequeath’d cause, as for all lands,

  And I send these words to Paris with my love,

  And I guess some chansonniers there will understand them,

  For I guess there is latent music yet in France, floods of it,

  O I hear already the bustle of instruments, they will soon be drowning all that would interrupt them,

  O I think the east wind brings a triumphal and free march,

  It reaches hither, it swells me to joyful madness,

  I will run transpose it in words, to justify it,

  I will yet sing a song for you ma femme.

  Myself and Mine

  Myself and mine gymnastic ever,

  To stand the cold or heat, to take good aim with a gun, to sail a boat, to manage horses, to beget superb children,

  To speak readily and clearly, to feel at home among common people,

  And to hold our own in terrible positions on land and sea.

  Not for an embroiderer,

  (There will always be plenty of embroiderers, I welcome them also,)

  But for the fibre of things and for inherent men and women.

  Not to chisel ornaments,

  But to chisel with free stroke the heads and limbs of plenteous supreme Gods, that the States may realize them walking and talking.

  Let me have my own way,

  Let others promulge the laws, I will make no account of the laws,

  Let others praise eminent men and hold up peace, I hold up agitation and conflict.

 
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