Edmond Gore Alexander Holmes.

Walt Whitman's poetry, a study & a selection online

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hurrying tides, and the ships,
The varied and ample land, the South and the North in

the light, Ohio s shores and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies cover d with grass

and corn.

Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty,
The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes,
The gentle soft-born measureless light,
The miracle-spreading bathing all, the fulfill d noon,
The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the

Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.


Sing on, sing on, you gray-brown bird,

Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant

from the bushes,
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.

Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.


O liquid and free and tender !

O wild and loose to my soul O wondrous singer !

You only I hear yet the star holds me, (but will soon

Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.

Now while I sat in the day and look d forth,

In the close of the day with its light and the fields of

spring, and the farmers preparing their crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its

lakes and forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb d winds

and the storms,)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing,

and the voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships, how

they sail d,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the

fields all busy with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on,

each with its meals and minutia of daily usages,
And the streets how their throbbings throbb d, and the

cities pent lo, then and there,
Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping

me with the rest,

Appear d the cloud, appear d the long black trail,
And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred know
ledge of death.

Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side

of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side

of me,

And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding

the hands of companions,

I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not,
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp

in the dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars and ghostly pines so still.

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv d me,
The gray-brown bird I know receiv d us comrades three,
And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I

From deep secluded recesses,

From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still,

Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol rapt me,

As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night.

And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.

Come lovely and soothing death,

Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving.

In the day, in the night, to all, to each,

Sooner or later delicate death.

Prais d be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,
And for love, sweet love but praise / praise / praist I
For the sure enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.

Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome ?
Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come

99 H 2

Approach strong deliver ess.

When it is so, when thou hast taken them I joyously sing the


Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O death.

From me to thee glad serenades,

Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feastings

for thee,
And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread sky

are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night in silence under many a star,

The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice

I know,

And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veil d death,
A nd the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

Over tlu tree-tops I float thee a song,

Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and

the prairies wide,
Ovtr the dense-pack d cities all and the teeming wharves and

I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O death.


To the tally of my soul,

Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night.

Loud in the pines and cedars dim,

Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume,

And I with my comrades there in the night.

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,

As to long panoramas of visions.


And I saw askant the armies,

I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags,

Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierc d with

missiles I saw them,
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn

and bloody,
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all

in silence,)
And the staffs all splinter d and broken.

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,

And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,

I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of

the war,

But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer d not,
The living remain d and suffer d, the mother suffer d,
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade

suffer d,
And the armies that remain d suffer d.


Passing the visions, passing the night,

Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades hands,

Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song

of my soul,

Victorious song, death s outlet song, yet varying ever-
altering song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling,

flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and

yet again bursting with joy,

Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,


Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning
with spring.

I cease from my song for thee,

From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west,

communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.

Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous d in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance

full of woe,
With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of

the bird,
Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory

ever to keep, for the dead I loved so well,
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands

and this for his dear sake,

Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.


OUT of the cradle endlessly rocking,

Out of the mocking-bird s throat, the musical shuttle,

Out of the Ninth-month midnight,

Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond, where the

child leaving his bed wander d alone, bareheaded,

Down from the shower d halo,


Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting

as if they were alive,

Out from the patches of briers and blackberries,
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
From your memories sad brother, from the fitful risings

and fallings I heard,
From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen

as if with tears,
From those beginning notes of yearning and love there

in the mist,

From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease,
From the myriad thence-arous d words,
From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
From such as now they start the scene revisiting,
As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing,
Borne hither, ere all eludes me, hurriedly,
A man, yet by these tears a little boy again,
Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves,
I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter,
Taking all hints to use them, but swiftly leaping beyond

A reminiscence sing.

Once Paumanok,

When the lilac-scent was in the air and Fifth-month

grass was growing,
Up this seashore in some briers,
Two feather d guests from Alabama, two together,
And their nest, and four light-green eggs spotted with


And every day the he-bird to and fro near at hand,
And every day the she-bird crouch d on her nest, silent,

with bright eyes,
And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never

disturbing them,
Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.


Shine / Shine ! Shine /

Pour down your warmth, great sun /

While we bask, we two together.

Two together /

Winds blow south, or winds blow north t
Day come white, or night come black,
Home, or rivers and mountains from home.
Singing all time, minding no time,
While we two keep together*

Till of a sudden,

May-be kill d, unknown to her mate,

One forenoon the she-bird crouch d not on the nest,

Nor return d that afternoon, nor the next,

Nor ever appeared again.

And thenceforward all summer in the sound of the sea,

And at night under the full of the moon in calmer

Over the hoarse surging of the sea,

Or flitting from brier to brier by day,

I saw, I heard at intervals the remaining one, the he-

The solitary guest from Alabama.

Blow / blow / blow /

Blow up sea-winds along Paumanok s shore ;

I wait and I wait till you blow my mate to me.

Yes, when the stars glisten d,

All night long on the prong of a moss-scallop d stake,

Down almost amid the slapping waves,

Sat the lone singer wonderful causing tears.

He call d on his mate,

He pour d forth the meanings which I of all men know.


Yes my brother 1 know,

The rest might not, but I have treasur d every note,
For more than once dimly down to the beach gliding,
Silent, avoiding the moonbeams, blending myself with

the shadows,
Recalling now the obscure shapes, the echoes, the sounds

and sights after their sorts,

The white arms out in the breakers tirelessly tossing,
I, with bare feet, a child, the wind wafting my hair,
Listen d long and long.

Listen d to keep, to sing, now translating the notes,
Following you my brother.

Soothe I soothe f soothe !

Close, on its wave soothes the wave behind,

And again anothtr behind embracing and lapping, every one

But my love soothes itot me, not me.

Low hangs the moon, it rose late,

It is lagging O / think it is heavy with love, with love.

O madly the sea pushes upon the land,
With lovt, with love.

O night/ do I not see my love f uttering out among the

breakers ?
What is that little black thing I see there in the white f

Loud ! loud ! loud !

Loud I call to you, my love /

High and clear I shoot my voice over the waves,

Surely you must know who is here, is here,

You must know who I am, my love.


Low -hanging moon !

What is that dusky spot in your brown yellow ?
O it is the shape, the shape of my mate /
O moon do not keep her from me any longer.

Land / land / O land /

Whichever way I turn, O I think you could give me my mate

back again if you only would,
For I am almost sure I see her dimly whichever way I look.

O rising stars /

Perhaps the one I want so much will rise, will rise with some
of you.

O throat / O trembling throat /

Sound clearer through the atmosphere !

Pierce the woods, the earth,

Somewhere listening to catch you must be the one I want.

Shake out carols I

Solitary here, the night s carols !

Carols of lonesome love ! death s carols !

Carols under that lagging, yellow, waning moon !

O under that moon where she droops almost down into the sea !

O reckless despairing carols.

But soft ! sink low !
Soft ! let me just murmur ,
A nd do you wait a moment you husky-noised sea t
For somewhere I believe I heard my mate responding to me,
So faint, I must be still, be still to listen,
But not altogether still, for then she might not come immediately
to me.

Hither my love /

Here I am ! here /

With this just-sustain* d note I announce myself to you,

This gentle call is for you my love, for you.

1 06

Do not be decoy d elsewhere.
That is the whistle of the wind, it is not my voice,
That is the fluttering, the fluttering of the spray,
Those are the shadows of leaves.

O darkness ! in vain /

O I am very sick and sorrowful.

O brown halo in the sky near th* moon, drooping upon the sea !

O troubled reflection in the sea I

O throat / O throbbing heart /

And I singing uselessly, uselessly all the night.

O past / happy life ! O songs of joy f
In the air, in the woods, over fields,
Loved! loved! loved! loved ! loved!
But my matt no more, no more with me !
We two together no more.

The aria sinking,

All else continuing, the stars shining,

The winds blowing, the notes of the bird continuous

With angry moans the fierce old mother incessantly


On the sands of Paumanok s shore grey and rustling,
The yellow half-moon enlarged, sagging down, drooping,

the face of the sea almost touching,
The boy ecstatic, with his bare feet the waves, with his

hair the atmosphere dallying,
The love in the heart long pent, now loose, now at last

tumultuously bursting,

The aria s meaning, the ears, the soul, swiftly depositing,
The strange tears down the cheeks coursing,
The colloquy there, the trio, each uttering,
The undertone, the savage old mother incessantly crying,


To the boy s soul s questions sullenly timing, some

drown d secret hissing,
To the outsetting bard.

Demon or bird ! (said the boy s soul,)

Is it indeed toward your mate you sing ? or is it really

to me ?
For I, that was a child, my tongue s use sleeping, now I

have heard you,

Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake,
And already a thousand singers, a thousand songs,

clearer, louder and more sorrowful than yours,
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within

me, never to die.

O you singer solitary, singing by yourself, projecting me,
O solitary me listening, never more shall I cease per
petuating you,

Never more shall I escape, never more the reverberations.
Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from

Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was

before what there in the night,
By the sea under the yellow and sagging moon,
The messenger there arous d, the fire, the sweet hell

The unknown want, the destiny of me.

O give me the clew ! (it lurks in the night here some
O if I am to have so much, let me have more !

A word then, (for I will conquer it,)
The word final, superior to all,
Subtle, sent up what is it ? I listen ;

1 08

Are you whispering it, and have been all the time, you

sea-waves ?
Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands ?

Whereto answering, the sea,

Delaying not, hurrying not,

Whisper d me through the night, and very plainly before


Lisp d to me the low and delicious word death,
And again death, death, death, death,
Hissing melodious, neither like the bird nor like my

arous d child s heart,

But edging near as privately for me rustling at my feet,
Creeping thence steadily up to my ears and laving me

softly all over,
Death, death, death, death, death.

Which I do not forget,

But fuse the song of my dusky demon and brother,

That he sang to me in the moonlight on Paumanok s

gray beach,

With the thousand responsive songs at random,
My own songs awaked from that hour,
And with them the key, the word up from the waves,
The word of the sweetest song and all songs,
That strong and delicious word which, creeping to my

(Or like some old crone rocking the cradle, swathed in

sweet garments, bending aside,)
The sea whisper d me.


TEARS! tears! tears!
In the night, in solitude, tears,

On the white shore dripping, dripping, suck d in by the


Tears, not a star shining, all dark and desolate,

Moist tears from the eyes of a muffled head ;

O who is that ghost? that form in the dark, with

tears ?
What shapeless lump is that, bent, crouch d there on

the sand?
Streaming tears, sobbing tears, throes, choked with wild

cries ;
O storm, embodied, rising, careering with swift steps

along the beach !
O wild and dismal night storm, with wind O belching

and desperate !

O shade so sedate and decorous by day, with calm coun
tenance and regulated pace,
But away at night as you fly, none looking O then the

unloosen d ocean
Of tears! tears! tears!


THOU who hast slept all night upon the storm,

Waking renew d on thy prodigious pinions,

(Burst the wild storm ? above it thou ascend st,

And rested on the sky, thy slave that cradled thee,)

Now a blue point, far, far in heaven floating,

As to the light emerging here on deck I watch thee,

(Myself a speck, a point on the world s floating vast.)

Far, far at sea,

After the night s fierce drifts have strewn the shore with


With re-appearing day as now so happy and serene,
The rosy and elastic dawn, the flashing sun,
The limpid spread of air cerulean,
Thou also re-appearest.


Thou born to match the gale, (thou art all wings,)
To cope with heaven and earth and sea and hurricane,
Thou ship of air that never furl st thy sails,
Days, even weeks untired and onward, through spaces,

realms gyrating,

At dusk that look st on Senegal, at morn America.
That sport st amid the lightning-flash and thunder

In them, in thy experiences, had st thou my soul,
What joys ! what joys were thine !


WILD, wild the storm, and the sea high running,
Steady the roar of the gale, with incessant undertone


Shouts of demoniac laughter fitfully piercing and pealing,
Waves, air, midnight, their savagest trinity lashing,
Out in the shadows their milk-white combs careering,
On beachy slush and sand spirts of snow fierce

Where through the murk the easterly death-wind

Through cutting swirl and spray watchful and firm

(That in the distance ! is that a wreck ? is the red signal

flaring ?)

Slush and sand of the beach tireless till daylight wending,
Steadily, slowly, through hoarse roar never remitting,
Along the midnight edge by those milk-white combs

A group of dim, weird forms, struggling, the night

That savage trinity warily watching.


WITH husky-haughty lips, O sea !
Where day and night I wend thy surf-beat shore,
Imaging to my sense thy varied strange suggestions,
(I see and plainly list thy talk and conference here,)
Thy troops of white-maned racers racing to the goal,
Thy ample, smiling face, dash d with the sparkling

dimples of the sun,

Thy brooding scowl and murk thy unloos d hurricanes,
Thy unsubduedness, caprices, wilfulness ;
Great as thou art above the rest, thy many tears a lack

from all eternity in thy content,
(Naught but the greatest struggles, wrongs, defeats,

could make thee greatest no less could make thee,)
Thy lonely state something thou ever seek st and

seek st, yet never gain st,
Surely some right withheld some voice, in huge

monotonous rage, of freedom-lover pent,
Some vast heart, like a planet s, chain d and chafing

in those breakers,

By lengthen d swell, and spasm, and panting breath,
And rhythmic rasping of thy sands and waves,
And serpent hiss, and savage peals of laughter,
And undertones of distant lion roar,
(Sounding, appealing to the sky s deaf earbut now,

rapport for once,

A phantom in the night thy confidant for once,)
The first and last confession of the globe,
Outsurging, muttering from thy soul s abysms,
The tale of cosmic elemental passion
Thou tellest to a kindred soul.


I STAND as on some mighty eagle s beak,
Eastward the sea absorbing, viewing, (nothing but sea
and sky,)


The tossing waves, the foam, the ships in the distance,
The wild unrest, the snowy, curling caps that inbound

urge and urge of waves,
Seeking the shores forever.


PROUDLY the flood comes in, shouting, foaming,


Long it holds at the high, with bosom broad outswelling,
All throbs, dilates the farms, woods, streets of cities

workmen at work,
Mainsails, topsails, jibs, appear in the offing steamers

pennants of smoke and under the forenoon sun,
Freighted with human lives, gaily the outward bound,

gaily the inward bound,
Flaunting from many a spar the flag I love.


HAD I the choice to tally greatest bards,

To limn their portraits, stately, beautiful, and emulate

at will,
Homer with all his wars and warriors Hector, Achilles,

Or Shakspere s woe-entangled Hamlet, Lear, Othello

Tennyson s fair ladies,
Metre or wit the best, or choice conceit to wield in

perfect rhyme, delight of singers ;
These, these, O sea, all these I d gladly barter,
Would you the undulation of one wave, its trick to me


Or breathe one breath of yours upon my verse,
And leave its odor there.


BY that long scan of waves, myself call d back, resumed

upon myself,
In every crest some undulating light or shade some


Joys, travels, studies, silent panoramas scenes ephemeral,
The long past war, the battles, hospital sights, the

wounded and the dead,
Myself through every by-gone phase my idle youth

old age at hand,
My three-score years of life summ d up, and more, and

By any grand ideal tried, intentionless, the whole a

And haply yet some drop within God s scheme s

ensemble some wave, or part of wave,
Like one of yours, ye multitudinous ocean.


Not from successful love alone,

Nor wealth, nor honor d middle age, nor victories of

politics or war ;

But as life wanes, and all the turbulent passions calm,
As gorgeous, vapory, silent hues cover the evening

As softness, fulness, rest, suffuse the frame, like freshier,

balmier air,
As the days take on a mellower light, and the apple at

last hangs really fmish d and indolent-ripe on the


Then for the teeming quietest, happiest days of all !
The brooding and blissful halcyon days !



Shot gold, maroon and violet, dazzling silver, emerald,

The earth s whole amplitude and Nature s multiform

power consign d for once to colors ;
The light, the general air possess d by them colors till

now unknown,
No limit, confine not the Western sky alone the high

meridian North, South, all,
Pure luminous color fighting the silent shadows to the



WHISPERS of heavenly death murmur d I hear,

Labial gossip of night, sibilant chorals,

Footsteps gently ascending, mystical breezes wafted soft

and low,
Ripples of unseen rivers, tides of a current flowing,

forever flowing,
(Or is it the plashing of tears ? the measureless waters

of human tears ?)

I see, just see skyward, great cloud-masses,
Mournfully slowly they roll, silently swelling and


With at times a half-dimm d sadden d far-off star,
Appearing and disappearing.

(Some parturition rather, some solemn immortal birth ;
On the frontiers to eyes impenetrable,
Some soul is passing over.)

115 12


I NEED no assurances, I am a man who is pre-occupied
of his own soul ;

I do not doubt that from under the feet and beside the
hands and face I am cognizant of, are now looking
faces I am not cognizant of, calm and actual faces,

I do not doubt but the majesty and beauty of the world
are latent in any iota of the world,

I do not doubt I am limitless, and that the universes are
limitless, in vain I try to think how limitless,

I do not doubt that the orbs and the systems of orbs
play their swift sports through the air on purpose,
and that I shall one day be eligible to do as much
as they, and more than they,

I do not doubt that temporary affairs keep on and on
millions of years,

I do not doubt interiors have their interiors, and exteriors
have their exteriors, and that the eyesight has
another eyesight, and the hearing another hearing,
and the voice another voice,

I do not doubt that the passionately-wept deaths of
young men are provided for, and that the deaths
of young women and the deaths of little children
are provided for,

(Did you think Life was so well provided for, and Death,
the purport of all Life, is not well provided for ?)

I do not doubt that wrecks at sea, no matter what the
horrors of them, no matter whose wife, child, hus
band, father, lover, has gone down, are provided for,

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Online LibraryEdmond Gore Alexander HolmesWalt Whitman's poetry, a study & a selection → online text (page 6 of 7)