Walt Whitman

Behold This Swarthy Face

Behold this swarthy face, these gray eyes, This beard, the white wool unclipt upon my neck, My brown hands and the silent manner of me without charm; Yet comes one a Manhattanese and ever at parting kisses me lightly on the lips with robust love, And I on the crossing of the street or on the ship's deck give a kiss in return, We observe that salute of American comrades land and sea, We are those two natural and nonchalant persons.

O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!

Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up -- for you the flag is flung -- for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths -- for you the shores a-crowding, For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; Here Captain! dear father! This arm beneath your head! It is some dream that on the deck, You've fallen cold and dead. My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; Exult O shores, and ring O bells! But I with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.

As I Walk These Broad Majestic Days

As I walk these broad majestic days of peace, (For the war, the struggle of blood finish'd, wherein, O terrific Ideal, Against vast odds erewhile having gloriously won, Now thou stridest on, yet perhaps in time toward denser wars, Perhaps to engage in time in still more dreadful contests, dangers, Longer campaigns and crises, labors beyond all others,) Around me I hear that eclat of the world, politics, produce, The announcements of recognized things, science, The approved growth of cities and the spread of inventions. I see the ships, (they will last a few years,) The vast factories with their foremen and workmen, And hear the indorsement of all, and do not object to it. But I too announce solid things, Science, ships, politics, cities, factories, are not nothing, Like a grand procession to music of distant bugles pouring, triumphantly moving, and grander heaving in sight, They stand for realities--all is as it should be. Then my realities; What else is so real as mine? Libertad and the divine average, freedom to every slave on the face of the earth, The rapt promises and lumine of seers, the spiritual world, these centuries-lasting songs, And our visions, the visions of poets, the most solid announcements of any.

ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE

On the beach at night alone, As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song, As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future. A vast similitude interlocks all, All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets, All distances of place however wide, All distances of time, all inanimate forms, All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds, All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes, All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages, All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe, All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future, This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann'd, And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

To A STRANGER

Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you, You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me as of a dream,) I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you, All is recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured, You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me, I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours only nor left my body mine only, You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return, I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone, I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again, I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

To a Common Prostitute

Be composed--be at ease with me--I am Walt Whitman, liberal and lusty as Nature, Not till the sun excludes you do I exclude you, Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you and the leaves to rustle for you, do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you. My girl I appoint with you an appointment, and I charge you that you make preparation to be worthy to meet me, And I charge you that you be patient and perfect till I come. Till then I salute you with a significant look that you do not forget me.

THE WORLD BELOW THE BRINE

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 openings, and 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.

A WOMAN WAITS FOR ME

A woman waits for me, she contains all, nothing is lacking, Yet all were lacking if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the right man were lacking.
Sex contains all, bodies, souls, Meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations, Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal milk, All hopes, benefactions, bestowals, all the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth, All the governments, judges, gods, follow'd persons of the earth, These are contain'd in sex as parts of itself and justifications of itself.
Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex, Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.
Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women, I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that are warm-blooded and sufficient for me, I see that they understand me and do not deny me, I see that they are worthy of me, I will be the robust husband of those women.
They are not one jot less than I am, They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and blowing winds, Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength, They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves, They are ultimate in their own right--they are calm, clear, well-possess'd of themselves.
I draw you close to me, you women, I cannot let you go, I would do you good, I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for others' sakes, Envelop'd in you sleep greater heroes and bards, They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.
It is I, you women, I make my way, I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable, but I love you, I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you, I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for these States, I press with slow rude muscle, I brace myself effectually, I listen to no entreaties, I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated within me.
Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself, In you I wrap a thousand onward years, On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America, The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new artists, musicians, and singers, The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn, I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings, I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you inter-penetrate now, I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now, I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death, immortality, I plant so lovingly now.

CITY OF ORGIES

City of orgies, walks and joys, City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one day make Not the pageants of you, not your shifting tableaus, your spectacles, repay me, Not the interminable rows of your houses, nor the ships at the wharves, Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright windows with goods in them, Nor to converse with learn'd persons, or bear my share in the soiree or feast; Not those, but as I pass O Manhattan, your frequent and swift flash of eyes offering me love, Offering response to my own--these repay me, Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.


Walter Whitman
(May 31, 1819 March 26, 1892)


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Walt Whitman - Song of myself

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©  Gaston D'Haese: 16-12-2009.
Update: 18-09-2017.