Monday, July 3, 2017

America's Poet -- Walt Whitman

Selections from Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman
I Hear America Singing
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing
       on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning,
       or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl
       sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day -- at night the party of young fellows,
       robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
For You, O Democracy
Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon,
I will make divine magnetic lands,
       With the love of comrades,
         With the life-long love of comrades.
I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of
       America, and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over
       the prairies,
I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other's necks,
       By the love of comrades,
         By the manly love of comrades,
For you these from me, O Democracy, to serve you ma femme!
For you, for you I am trilling these songs.
Long, Too Long America
Long, too long America,
Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn'd from joys and prosperity only,
But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish, advancing, grappling with direst fate and recoiling
And now to conceive and show to the world what your children en masse really are,
(For who except myself has yet conceiv'd what your children en masse really are?)
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law, and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair'd in the adamant of Time.
One Song, America, Before I Go
One song, America, before I go,
I'd sing, o'er all the rest, with trumpet sound,
For thee -- the Future.
I'd sow a seed for thee of endless Nationality;
I'd fashion thy Ensemble, including Body and Soul;
I'd show, away ahead, the real Union, and how it may be accomplish'd.
(The paths to the House I seek to make,
But leave to those to come, the House itself.)
Belief I sing -- and Preparation;
As Life and Nature are not great with reference to the Present only,
But greater still from what is to come,
Out of that formula for Thee I sing.
BIO: Walt Whitman (1819-1892) worked as a printer, newspaper editor, and school teacher. He published the first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855 at his own expense. During the Civil War, he nursed wounded and dying soldiers in military hospitals. He is best known for his observations about 19th century American life and the Civil War -- and his poems dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln. 

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