Edmond Gore Alexander Holmes.

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

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to the minutest points,

I do not doubt that whatever can possibly happen any
where at any time, is provided for in the inherences
of things,

I do not think Life provides for all and for Time and
Space, but I believe Heavenly Death provides
for all.


NIGHT on the prairies,

The supper is over, the fire on the ground burns low,
The wearied emigrants sleep, wrapt in their blankets ;
I walk by myself I stand and look at the stars, which

I think now I never realized before.
Now I absorb immortality and peace,
I admire death and test propositions.

How plenteous ! how spiritual ! how resume* !
The same old man and soul the same old aspirations,
and the same content.

I was thinking the day most splendid till I saw what the

not-day exhibited,
I was thinking this globe enough till there sprang out so

noiseless around me myriads of other globes.

Now while the great thoughts of space and eternity fill

me I will measure myself by them,
And now touch d with the lives of other globes arrived

as far along as those of the earth,
Or waiting to arrive, or pass d on farther than those of

the earth,
I henceforth no more ignore them than I ignore my own

Or the lives of the earth arrived as far as mine, or

waiting to arrive.

I see now that life cannot exhibit all to me, as the

day cannot,

1 see that I am to wait for what will be exhibited by




THIS is thy hour, O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the

lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the

themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.


To accompany a picture ; by request. " The Valley of the Shadow of
Death" from the painting by George Inness.

NAY, do not dream, designer dark,

Thou hast portray d or hit thy theme entire ;

I, hoverer of late by this dark valley, by its confines,

having glimpses of it,
Here enter lists with thee, claiming my right to make a

symbol too.

For I have seen many wounded soldiers die,
After dread suffering have seen their lives pass off with

smiles ;
And I have watch d the death-hours of the old ; and seen

the infant die ;

The rich, with all his nurses and his doctors ;
And then the poor, in meagreness and poverty ;
And I myself for long, O Death, have breath d my every


Amid the nearness and the silent thought of thee.
And out of these and thee,
I make a scene, a song (not fear of thee,
Nor gloom s ravines, nor bleak, nor dark for I do not

fear thee,
Nor celebrate the struggle, or contortion, or hard-tied


Of the broad blessed light and perfect air, with meadows,
rippling tides, and trees and flowers and grass,

And the low hum of living breeze and in the midst
God s beautiful eternal right hand,

Thee, holiest minister of Heaven thee, envoy, usherer,
guide at last of all,

Rich, florid, loosener of the stricture-knot call d life,

Sweet, peaceful, welcome Death.


SINGING my days,

Singing the great achievements of the present,

Singing the strong light works of engineers,

Our modern wonders, (the antique ponderous Seven


In the Old World the east the Suez canal,
The New by its mighty railroad spann d,
The seas inlaid with eloquent gentle wires ;
Yet first to sound, and ever sound, the cry with thee, O

The Past ! the Past ! the Past !

The Past the dark unfathom d retrospect !

The teeming gulf the sleepers and the shadows !

The past the infinite greatness of the past !

For what is the present after all but a growth out of the

past ?
(As a projectile form d, impell d, passing a certain line,

still keeps on,
So the present, utterly form d, impell d by the past.)


Passage, O soul, to India !

Eclaircise the myths Asiatic, the primitive fables.

Not you alone, proud truths of the world,

Nor you alone, ye facts of modern science,

But myths and fables of eld, Asia s, Africa s fables,

The far-darting beams of the spirit, the unloos d dreams,

The deep diving bibles and legends,

The daring plots of the poets, the elder religions ;

O you temples fairer than lilies pour d over by the rising

sun !
O you fables spurning the known, eluding the hold of

the known, mounting to heaven !
You lofty and dazzling towers, pinnacled, red as roses,

burnish d with gold !

Towers of fables immortal fashion d from mortal dreams !
You too I welcome and fully the same as the rest !
You too with joy I sing.

Passage to India !

Lo, soul, seest thou not God s purpose from the first ?

The earth to be spann d, connected by network,

The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,

The oceans to be cross d, the distant brought near,

The lands to be welded together.

A worship new I sing,

You captains, voyagers, explorers, yours,

You engineers, you architects, machinists, yours,

You, not for trade or transportation only,

But in God s name, and for thy sake, O soul.


Passage to India !

Lo soul for thee of tableaus twain,

1 2O

I see in one the Suez canal initiated, open d,

I see the procession of steamships, the Empress Eugenie s

leading the van,
I mark from on deck the strange landscape, the pure

sky, the level sand in the distance,
I pass swiftly the picturesque groups, the workmen

gather d.
The gigantic dredging machines.

In one again, different, (yet thine, all thine, O soul, the


I see over my own continent the pacific railroad sur
mounting every barrier,
I see continual trains of cars winding along the Platte

carrying freight and passengers,
I hear the locomotives rushing and roaring, and the

shrill steam-whistle,
I hear the echoes reverberate through the grandest

scenery in the world,
I cross the Laramie plains, I note the rocks in grotesque

shapes, the buttes,
I see the plentiful larkspur and wild onions, the barren,

colorless, sage-deserts,
I see in glimpses afar or towering immediately above me

the great mountains, I see the Wind river and the

Wahsatch mountains,
I see the Monument mountain and the Eagle s Nest, I

pass the Promontory, I ascend the Nevadas,
I scan the noble Elk mountain and wind around its

I see the Humboldt range, I thread the valley and cross

the river,
I see the clear waters of lake Tahoe, I see forests of

majestic pines,
Or crossing the great desert, the alkaline plains, I behold

enchanting mirages of waters and meadows,


Marking through these and after all, in duplicate slender


Bridging the three or four thousand miles of land travel,
Tying the Eastern to the Western sea,
The road between Europe and Asia.

(Ah Genoese thy dream ! thy dream !
Centuries after thou art laid in thy grave,
The shore thou foundest verifies thy dream.)


Passage to India !

Struggles of many a captain, tales of many a sailor dead,
Over my mood stealing and spreading they come,
Like clouds and cloudlets in the unreach d sky.

Along all history, down the slopes,

As a rivulet running, sinking now, and now again to the

surface rising,
A ceaseless thought, a varied train lo, soul, to thee,

thy sight, they rise,

The plans, the voyages again, the expeditions ;
Again Vasco de Gama sails forth,
Again the knowledge gain d, the mariner s compass,
Lands found and nations born, thou born America,
For purpose vast, man s long probation fill d,
Thou rondure of the world at last accomplish d.


O vast Rondure, swimming in space,
Cover d all over with visible power and beauty,
Alternate light and day and the teeming spiritual dark

Unspeakable high processions of sun and moon and
countless stars above,


Below, the manifold grass and waters, animals, moun
tains, trees,

With inscrutable purpose, some hidden prophetic in

Now first it seems my thought begins to span thee.

Down from the gardens of Asia descending radiating,
Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after


Wandering, yearning, curious, with restless explorations,
With questionings, baffled, formless, feverish, with never-
happy hearts,

With that sad incessant refrain. Wherefore unsatisfied
soul P and Whither O mocking life ?

Ah who shall soothe these feverish children ?

Who justify these restless explorations ?

Who speak the secret of impassive earth ?

Who bind it to us ? what is this separate Nature so

unnatural ?
What is this earth to our affections ? (unloving earth,

without a throb to answer ours,
Cold earth, the place of graves.)

Yet soul be sure the first intent remains, and shall be

carried out,
Perhaps even now the time has arrived.

After the seas are all cross d, (as they seem already

cross d,)
After the great captains and engineers have accomplish d

their work,
After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the

chemist, the geologist, ethnologist,
Finally shall come the poet worthy that name,
The true son of God shall come singing his songs.


Then not your deeds only, O voyagers, O scientists and

inventors, shall be justified,

All these hearts as of fretted children shall be sooth d,
All affection shall be fully responded to, the secret shall

be told,
All these separations and gaps shall be taken up and

hook d and link d together,
The whole earth, this cold, impassive, voiceless earth,

shall be completely justified,
Trinitas divine shall be gloriously accomplish d and

compacted by the true son of God, the poet,
(He shall indeed pass the straits and conquer the


He shall double the cape of Good Hope to some purpose,)
Nature and Man shall be disjoin d and diffused no more,
The true son of God shall absolutely fuse them.

Year at whose wide-flung door I sing !

Year of the purpose accomplish d !

Year of the marriage of continents, climates and oceans !

(No mere doge of Venice now wedding the Adriatic,)

I see O year in you the vast terraqueous globe given

and giving all,
Europe to Asia, Africa join d, and they to the New

The lands, geographies, dancing before you, holding a

festival garland,
As brides and bridegrooms hand in hand.

Passage to India !

Cooling airs from Caucasus far, soothing cradle of man,

The river Euphrates flowing, the past lit up again.

Lo soul, the retrospect brought forward,

The old, most populous, wealthiest of earth s lands,


The streams of the Indus and the Ganges and their

many affluents,
(I my shores of America walking to-day behold, resuming

The tale of Alexander on his warlike marches suddenly

On one side China and on the other side Persia and


To the south the great seas and the bay of Bengal,
The flowing literatures, tremendous epics, religions,

Old occult Brahma interminably far back, the tender

and junior Buddha,
Central and southern empires and all their belongings,


The wars of Tamerlane, the reign of Aurungzebe,
The traders, rulers, explorers, Moslems, Venetians,

Byzantium, the Arabs, Portuguese,
The first travelers famous yet, Marco Polo, Batouta the

Doubts to be solv d, the map incognita, blanks to be

fill d,

The foot of man unstay d, the hands never at rest,
Thyself, O soul, that will not brook a challenge.

The mediaeval navigators rise before me,

The world of 1492, with its awaken d enterprise,

Something swelling in humanity now like the sap of the

earth in spring,
The sunset splendor of chivalry declining.

And who art thou sad shade ?
Gigantic, visionary, thyself a visionary,
With majestic limbs and pious beaming eyes,
Spreading around with every look of thine a golden world,
Enhuing it with gorgeous hues.


As the chief histrion,

Down to the footlights walks in some great scena,

Dominating the rest I see the Admiral himself,

(History s type of courage, action, faith,)

Behold him sail from Palos leading his little fleet,

His voyage behold, his return, his great fame,

His misfortunes, calumniators, behold him a prisoner,

chain d,
Behold his dejection, poverty, death.

(Curious in time I stand, noting the efforts of heroes,
Is the deferment long? bitter the slander, poverty, death?
Lies the seed unreck d for centuries in the ground ? lo,

to God s due occasion,
Uprising in the night, it sprouts, blooms,
And fills the earth with use and beauty.)


Passage indeed, O soul, to primal thought,
Not lands and seas alone, thy own clear freshness,
The young maturity of brood and bloom,
To realms of budding bibles.

O soul, repressless, I with thee and thou with me,

Thy circumnavigation of the world begin,

Of man, the voyage of his mind s return,

To reason s early paradise,

Back, back to wisdom s birth, to innocent intuitions,

Again with fair creation.


O we can wait no longer,
We too take ship, O soul,
Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas,


Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to sail
Amid the wafting winds, (thou pressing me to thee, I

thee to me, O soul,)
Caroling free, singing our song of God,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.

With laugh and many a kiss,

(Let others deprecate, let others weep for sin, remorse,

O soul thou pleasest me, I thee.

Ah more than any priest, O soul, we too believe in God,
But with the mystery of God we dare not dally.

soul thou pleasest me, I thee,

Sailing these seas or on the hills, or waking in the night,
Thoughts, silent thoughts, of Time and Space and

Death, like waters flowing,
Bear me indeed as through the regions infinite,
Whose air I breathe, whose ripples hear, lave me all

Bathe me, O God, in thee, mounting to thee,

1 and my soul to range in range of thee.

O Thou transcendent,

Nameless, the fibre and the breath,

Light of the light, shedding forth universes, thou centre

of them,

Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving,
Thou moral, spiritual fountain affection s source thou

(O pensive soul of me O thirst unsatisfied waitest

not there ?
Waitest not haply for us somewhere there the Comrade

perfect ?)


Thou pulse thou motive of the stars, suns, systems,
That, circling, move in order, safe, harmonious,
Athwart the shapeless vastnesses of space,
How should I think, how breathe a single breath, how

speak, if, out of myself,
I could not launch, to those, superior universes ?

Swiftly I shrivel at the thought of God,

At Nature and its wonders, Time and Space and Death,

But that I, turning, call to thee, O soul, thou actual Me,

And lo, thou gently masterest the orbs,

Thou matest Time, smilest content at Death,

And fillest, swellest full the vastnesses of Space.

Greater than stars or suns,

Bounding, O soul, thou journeyest forth ;

What love than thine and ours could wider amplify ?

What aspirations, wishes, outvie thine and ours, O soul ?

What dreams of the ideal ? what plans of purity,

perfection, strength ?

What cheerful willingness for others sake to give up all ?
For others sake to suffer all ?

Reckoning ahead, O soul, when thou, the time achiev d,
The seas all cross d, weather d the capes, the voyage

Surrounded, copest, frontest God, yieldest, the aim

attain d,
As fill d with friendship, love complete, the Elder

Brother found,
The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.


Passage to more than India !
Are thy wings plumed indeed for such far flights ?


O soul, voyagest thou indeed on voyages like those ?
Disportest thou on waters such as those ?
Soundest below the Sanscrit and the Vedas ?
Then have thy bent unleash d.

Passage to you, your shores, ye aged fierce enigmas !
Passage to you, to mastership of you, ye strangling

problems !
You, strew d with the wrecks of skeletons, that, living,

never reach d you.

Passage to more than India !

O secret of the earth and sky !

Of you, O waters of the sea ! O winding creeks and

rivers !
Of you, O woods and fields ! of you, strong mountains of

my land !

Of you, O prairies ! of you, gray rocks !
O morning red ! O clouds ! O rain and snows I
O day and night, passage to you I

O sun and moon, and all you stars ! Sirius and Jupiter !
Passage to you !

Passage, immediate passage! the blood burns in my

veins !

Away, O soul ! hoist instantly the anchor !
Cut the hawsers haul out shake out every sail !
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long

enough ?
Have we not grovel d here long enough, eating and

drinking like mere brutes ?
Have we not darken d and dazed ourselves with books

long enough ?


Sail forth steer for the deep waters only,

Reckless O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with

For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared

to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul !

O farther farther sail !

O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of

O farther, farther, farther sail !


THAT music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning,

yet long untaught I did not hear,
But now the chorus I hear and am elated,
A tenor, strong, ascending with power and health, with

glad notes of daybreak I hear,
A soprano at intervals sailing buoyantly over the tops of

immense waves,
A transparent base shuddering lusciously under and

through the universe,
The triumphant tutti, the funeral wailings with sweet

flutes and violins, all these I fill myself with,
I hear not the volumes of sound merely, I am moved by

the exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving,

contending with fiery vehemence to excel each other

in emotion
I do not thing the performers know themselves but

now I think I begin to know them.


How dare one say it ?

After the cycles, poems, singers, plays,

Vaunted Ionia s, India s Homer, Shakspere the long,
long times thick dotted roads, areas,

The shining clusters and the Milky Ways of stars-
Nature s pulses reap d,

All retrospective passions, heroes, war, love, adoration,

All ages plummets dropt to their utmost depths,

All human lives, throats, wishes, brains all experiences*
utterance ;

After the countless songs, or long or short, all tongues,
all lands,

Still something not yet told in poesy s voice or print
something lacking,

(Who knows ? the best yet unexpress d and lacking.)


THAT which eludes this verse and any verse,

Unheard by sharpest ear, unform d in clearest eye or

cunningest mind,

Nor lore nor fame, nor happiness nor wealth,
And yet the pulse of every heart and life throughout the

world incessantly,

Which you and I and all pursuing ever ever miss,
Open but still a secret, the real of the real, an illusion,
Costless, vouchsafed to each, yet never man the owner,
Which poets vainly seek to put in rhyme, historians in


Which sculptor never chisel d yet, nor painter painted,
Which vocalist never sung, nor orator nor actor ever

utter d,
Invoking here and now I challenge for my song.

Indifferently, mid public, private haunts, in solitude,

Behind the mountain and the wood,

Companion of the city s busiest streets, through the

It and its radiations constantly glide.

In looks of fair unconscious babes,

Or strangely in the coffin d dead,

Or show of breaking dawn or stars by night,

As some dissolving delicate film of dreams,

Hiding yet lingering.

Two little breaths of words comprising it,

Two words, yet all from first to last comprised in it.

How ardently for it !

How many ships have sail d and sunk for it !

How many travelers started from their homes and ne er

return d !

How much of genius boldly staked and lost for it !
What countless stores of beauty, love, ventur d for it !
How all superbest deeds since Time began are traceable

to it and shall be to the end !
How all heroic martyrdoms to it !
How, justified by it, the horrors, evils, battles of the

earth !
How the bright fascinating lambent flames of it, in every

age and land, have drawn men s eyes,
Rich as a sunset on the Norway coast, the sky, the

islands, and the cliffs,
Or midnight s silent glowing northern lights unreachable.

Haply God s riddle it, so vague and yet so certain,
The soul for it, and all the visible universe for it,
And heaven at last for it.



Uniform in size and price with this volume. Also to be had
in " The Lover s Library." Bound in Leather or Cloth.


TIMES. " A volume of quite uncommon beauty and distinction.
The Shakesperian influence that is suggested shows that the author has
gone to school with the best masters, and his mastery of the form he
has chosen gives the best evidence of conscientious workmanship."

ECHO. " The work of an artist. All of them are distinguished
by a lucidity, a sweetness, and a sincerity that will commend them to
the lover of poetry."

OUTLOOK. " Contains work of much more than ordinary quality,
there is power behind it, and faculty."

SCOTSMAN. "These sonnets are always clear in expression . . .
readers must admire the dignity and elevation of their style. . . . He
is more cultured and more intellectual than most singers upon this theme."

LITERATURE. "Remarkable activity of imagination, and ample
command of the technical resources of his art. . . . The little
volume contains a good deal of work of no little beauty and power."

DAILY MAIL. " These are scholarly sonnets, full of passion and

PILOT. "Mr. Holmes, in his book of sonnets, The Silence of
Love, proved himself a verse writer of more than ordinary merit and,
indeed, many on slighter grounds have received nomen famamque


Uniform in Size and Price with this Volume.


TIMES. " Mr. Holmes has the first requisite of one who would
write philosophically upon poetry ; he has a clear understanding of the
main problems that have to be met. . . . Writes both clearly and
agreeably, has a ready command of illustration, and, though he is
dealing with truths that sound elementary, he has a true instinct for
the avoidance of the commonplace."

SATURDAY REVIEW. Full of profoundly suggestive and really
illumining remarks expressed with an eloquence and fervour not
unworthy of the author of the Second Apology for Poetry."

SPECTATOR. " When Mr. Holmes gives us detailed criticism of
poetry, he is quite admirable."

ACADEMY. " A deeply conceived and mainly right essay. . . .
A brilliant essay, full of the insight of which he speaks. It is essentially
poets work."

REVIEW OF THE WEEK. " This ingenious and suggestive essay
seems to us to stand alone as a sustained effort of thought to get to the
root of a very difficult matter.

BOOKMAN. "A strong and serious and dignified piece of work,
which rouses admiration in us far more than disagreement."

ECHO. " A piece of admirable and stimulating criticism well
worth reading."





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