Best Poems From
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
Rise, O Days
RISE, O days, from your fathomless deeps, till you loftier, fiercer
Long for my soul, hungering gymnastic, I devour'd what the earth gave
Long I roam'd the woods of the north--long I watch'd Niagara pouring;
I travel'd the prairies over, and slept on their breast--I cross'd
the Nevadas, I cross'd the plateaus;
I ascended the towering rocks along the Pacific, I sail'd out to sea;
I sail'd through the storm, I was refresh'd by the storm;
I watch'd with joy the threatening maws of the waves;
I mark'd the white combs where they career'd so high, curling over;
I heard the wind piping, I saw the black clouds;
Saw from below what arose and mounted, (O superb! O wild as my heart,
and powerful!) 10
Heard the continuous thunder, as it bellow'd after the lightning;
Noted the slender and jagged threads of lightning, as sudden and fast
amid the din they chased each other across the sky;
--These, and such as these, I, elate, saw--saw with wonder, yet
pensive and masterful;
All the menacing might of the globe uprisen around me;
Yet there with my soul I fed--I fed content, supercilious.
'Twas well, O soul! 'twas a good preparation you gave me!
Now we advance our latent and ampler hunger to fill;
Now we go forth to receive what the earth and the sea never gave us;
Not through the mighty woods we go, but through the mightier cities;
Something for us is pouring now, more than Niagara pouring; 20
Torrents of men, (sources and rills of the Northwest, are you indeed
What, to pavements and homesteads here--what were those storms of the
mountains and sea?
What, to passions I witness around me to-day? Was the sea risen?
Was the wind piping the pipe of death under the black clouds?
Lo! from deeps more unfathomable, something more deadly and savage;
Manhattan, rising, advancing with menacing front--Cincinnati,
--What was that swell I saw on the ocean? behold what comes here!
How it climbs with daring feet and hands! how it dashes!
How the true thunder bellows after the lightning! how bright the
flashes of lightning!
How DEMOCRACY, with desperate vengeful port strides on, shown through
the dark by those flashes of lightning! 30
(Yet a mournful wail and low sob I fancied I heard through the dark,
In a lull of the deafening confusion.)
Thunder on! stride on, Democracy! strike with vengeful stroke!
And do you rise higher than ever yet, O days, O cities!
Crash heavier, heavier yet, O storms! you have done me good;
My soul, prepared in the mountains, absorbs your immortal strong
--Long had I walk'd my cities, my country roads, through farms, only
One doubt, nauseous, undulating like a snake, crawl'd on the ground
Continually preceding my steps, turning upon me oft, ironically
--The cities I loved so well, I abandon'd and left--I sped to the
certainties suitable to me; 40
Hungering, hungering, hungering, for primal energies, and Nature's
I refresh'd myself with it only, I could relish it only;
I waited the bursting forth of the pent fire--on the water and air I
--But now I no longer wait--I am fully satisfied--I am glutted;
I have witness'd the true lightning--I have witness'd my cities
I have lived to behold man burst forth, and warlike America rise;
Hence I will seek no more the food of the northern solitary wilds,
No more on the mountains roam, or sail the stormy sea.
Read more: sea poems, snake poems, travel poems, wind poems, dark poems, food poems, ocean poems, nature poems, water poems, joy poems, fire poems, sky poems, death poems, city poems, rose poems, sleep poems
Walt Whitman's Caution
TO The States, or any one of them, or any city of The States,
Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth, ever
afterward resumes its liberty.
Read more: city poems
How I wish I could impress others as you have just been impressing
As I ebb'd with an ebb of the ocean of life,
As I wended the shores I know,
As I walk'd where the ripples continually wash you, Paumanok,
Where they rustle up, hoarse and sibilant,
Where the fierce old mother endlessly cries for her castaways,
I, musing, late in the autumn day, gazing off southward,
Alone, held by this eternal Self of me, out of the pride of which I
utter my poems,
Was seiz'd by the spirit that trails in the lines underfoot, 10
In the rim, the sediment, that stands for all the water and all the
land of the globe.
Fascinated, my eyes, reverting from the south, dropt, to follow those
Chaff, straw, splinters of wood, weeds, and the sea-gluten,
Scum, scales from shining rocks, leaves of salt-lettuce, left by the
Miles walking, the sound of breaking waves the other side of me,
Paumanok, there and then, as I thought the old thought of likenesses,
These you presented to me, you fish-shaped island,
As I wended the shores I know,
As I walk'd with that eternal Self of me, seeking types.
As I wend to the shores I know not, 20
As I list to the dirge, the voices of men and women wreck'd,
As I inhale the impalpable breezes that set in upon me,
As the ocean so mysterious rolls toward me closer and closer,
I, too, but signify, at the utmost, a little wash'd-up drift,
A few sands and dead leaves to gather,
Gather, and merge myself as part of the sands and drift.
O baffled, balk'd, bent to the very earth,
Oppress'd with myself that I have dared to open my mouth,
Aware now, that, amid all that blab whose echoes recoil upon me, I
have not once had the least idea who or what I am,
But that before all my insolent poems the real ME stands yet
untouch'd, untold, altogether unreach'd, 30
Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and bows,
With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written,
Pointing in silence to these songs, and then to the sand beneath.
Now I perceive I have not understood anything--not a single object--
and that no man ever can.
I perceive Nature, here in sight of the sea, is taking advantage of
me, to dart upon me, and sting me,
Because I have dared to open my mouth, to sing at all.
You oceans both! I close with you;
We murmur alike reproachfully, rolling our sands and drift, knowing
These little shreds indeed, standing for you and me and all.
You friable shore, with trails of debris! 40
You fish-shaped island! I take what is underfoot;
What is yours is mine, my father.
I too Paumanok,
I too have bubbled up, floated the measureless float, and been wash'd
on your shores;
I too am but a trail of drift and debris,
I too leave little wrecks upon you, you fish-shaped island.
I throw myself upon your breast, my father,
I cling to you so that you cannot unloose me,
I hold you so firm, till you answer me something.
Kiss me, my father, 50
Touch me with your lips, as I touch those I love,
Breathe to me, while I hold you close, the secret of the murmuring I
Ebb, ocean of life, (the flow will return,)
Cease not your moaning, you fierce old mother,
Endlessly cry for your castaways--but fear not, deny not me,
Rustle not up so hoarse and angry against my feet, as I touch you, or
gather from you.
I mean tenderly by you and all,
I gather for myself, and for this phantom, looking down where we
lead, and following me and mine.
Me and mine!
We, loose winrows, little corpses, 60
Froth, snowy white, and bubbles,
(See! from my dead lips the ooze exuding at last!
See--the prismatic colors, glistening and rolling!)
Tufts of straw, sands, fragments,
Buoy'd hither from many moods, one contradicting another,
From the storm, the long calm, the darkness, the swell;
Musing, pondering, a breath, a briny tear, a dab of liquid or soil;
Up just as much out of fathomless workings fermented and thrown;
A limp blossom or two, torn, just as much over waves floating,
drifted at random;
Just as much for us that sobbing dirge of Nature; 70
Just as much, whence we come, that blare of the cloud-trumpets;
We, capricious, brought hither, we know not whence, spread out before
You, up there, walking or sitting,
Whoever you are--we too lie in drifts at your feet.
Sea-raff! Crook-tongued waves,
O, I will yet sing, some day, what you have said to me."
Read more: fish poems, ocean poems, father poems, sea poems, nature poems, mother poems, autumn poems, laughter poems, women poems, pride poems, kiss poems, silence poems, water poems, fear poems, alone poems, fishing poems, woman poems
Here The Frailest Leaves Of Me
HERE the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-lasting:
Here I shade and hide my thoughts--I myself do not expose them,
And yet they expose me more than all my other poems.
Read more: poem poems