Best Poems From
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
Years Of The Modern
YEARS of the modern! years of the unperform'd!
Your horizon rises--I see it parting away for more august dramas;
I see not America only--I see not only Liberty's nation, but other
I see tremendous entrances and exits--I see new combinations--I see
the solidarity of races;
I see that force advancing with irresistible power on the world's
(Have the old forces, the old wars, played their parts? are the acts
suitable to them closed?)
I see Freedom, completely arm'd, and victorious, and very haughty,
with Law on one side, and Peace on the other,
A stupendous Trio, all issuing forth against the idea of caste;
--What historic denouements are these we so rapidly approach?
I see men marching and countermarching by swift millions; 10
I see the frontiers and boundaries of the old aristocracies broken;
I see the landmarks of European kings removed;
I see this day the People beginning their landmarks, (all others give
--Never were such sharp questions ask'd as this day;
Never was average man, his soul, more energetic, more like a God;
Lo! how he urges and urges, leaving the masses no rest;
His daring foot is on land and sea everywhere--he colonizes the
Pacific, the archipelagoes;
With the steam-ship, the electric telegraph, the newspaper, the
wholesale engines of war,
With these, and the world-spreading factories, he interlinks all
geography, all lands;
--What whispers are these, O lands, running ahead of you, passing
under the seas? 20
Are all nations communing? is there going to be but one heart to the
Is humanity forming, en-masse?--for lo! tyrants tremble, crowns grow
The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a general divine
No one knows what will happen next--such portents fill the days and
Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vainly try to
pierce it, is full of phantoms;
Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes around me;
This incredible rush and heat--this strange extatic fever of dreams,
Your dreams, O year, how they penetrate through me! (I know not
whether I sleep or wake!)
The perform'd America and Europe grow dim, retiring in shadow behind
The unperform'd, more gigantic than ever, advance, advance upon
Read more: america poems, august poems, war poems, running poems, freedom poems, power poems, peace poems, sleep poems, world poems, people poems, sea poems, rose poems, dream poems
As Consequent, Etc.
AS consequent from store of summer rains,
Or wayward rivulets in autumn flowing,
Or many a herb-lined brook's reticulations,
Or subterranean sea-rills making for the sea,
Songs of continued years I sing.
Life's ever-modern rapids first, (soon, soon to blend,
With the old streams of death.)
Some threading Ohio's farm-fields or the woods,
Some down Colorado's caρons from sources of perpetual snow,
Some half-hid in Oregon, or away southward in Texas, 10
Some in the north finding their way to Erie, Niagara, Ottawa,
Some to Atlantica's bays, and so to the great salt brine.
In you whoe'er you are my book perusing,
In I myself, in all the world, these currents flowing,
All, all toward the mystic ocean tending.
Currents for starting a continent new,
Overtures sent to the solid out of the liquid,
Fusion of ocean and land, tender and pensive waves,
(Not safe and peaceful only, waves rous'd and ominous too,
Out of the depths the storm's abysmic waves, who knows whence? 20
Raging over the vast, with many a broken spar and tatter'd sail.)
Or from the sea of Time, collecting vasting all, I bring,
A windrow-drift of weeds and shells.
O little shells, so curious-convolute, so limpid-cold and voiceless,
Will you not little shells to the tympans of temples held,
Murmurs and echoes still call up, eternity's music faint and far,
Wafted inland, sent from Atlantica's rim, strains for the soul of the
Whisper'd reverberations, chords for the ear of the West joyously
Your tidings old, yet ever new and untranslatable,
Infinitesimals out of my life, and many a life, 30
(For not my life and years alone I give--all, all I give,)
These waifs from the deep, cast high and dry,
Wash'd on America's shores?
Read more: america poems, ocean poems, sea poems, autumn poems, snow poems, music poems, summer poems, alone poems, life poems, death poems, world poems
From Far Dakota's Canons
FROM far Dakota's caρons,
Lands of the wild ravine, the dusky Sioux, the lonesome stretch, the
Haply to-day a mournful wail, haply a trumpet-note for heroes.
The Indian ambuscade, the craft, the fatal environment,
The cavalry companies fighting to the last in sternest heroism,
In the midst of their little circle, with their slaughter'd horses
The fall of Custer and all his officers and men.
Continues yet the old, old legend of our race,
The loftiest of life upheld by death, 10
The ancient banner perfectly maintain'd,
O lesson opportune, O how I welcome thee!
As sitting in dark days,
Lone, sulky, through the time's thick murk looking in vain for light,
From unsuspected parts a fierce and momentary proof,
(The sun there at the centre though conceal'd,
Electric life forever at the centre,)
Breaks forth a lightning flash.
Thou of the tawny flowing hair in battle,
I erewhile saw, with erect head, pressing ever in front, bearing a
bright sword in thy hand, 20
Now ending well in death the splendid fever of thy deeds,
(I bring no dirge for it or thee, I bring a glad triumphal sonnet,)
Desperate and glorious, aye in defeat most desperate, most glorious,
After thy many battles in which never yielding up a gun or a color
Leaving behind thee a memory sweet to soldiers,
Thou yieldest up thyself.
Read more: sonnet poems, memory poems, death poems, silence poems, hair poems, hope poems, dark poems, sun poems, light poems, life poems, soldier poems, horse poems, hero poems
In Former Songs
IN former songs Pride have I sung, and Love, and passionate, joyful
But here I twine the strands of Patriotism and Death.
And now, Life, Pride, Love, Patriotism and Death,
To you, O FREEDOM, purport of all!
(You that elude me most--refusing to be caught in songs of mine,)
I offer all to you.
'Tis not for nothing, Death,
I sound out you, and words of you, with daring tone--embodying you,
In my new Democratic chants--keeping you for a close,
For last impregnable retreat--a citadel and tower, 10
For my last stand--my pealing, final cry.
Read more: pride poems, freedom poems, death poems, life poems, love poems, song poems