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Are all nations communing ? is there going to be but
one heart to the globe ? Is humanity forming en masse ?—for lo ! tyrants trem
ble, crowns grow dim; The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a
general divine war ; No one knows what will happen next—such portents
fill the days and nights. 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 ecstatic
fever of dreams, O years ! Your dreams, 0 years, how they penetrate through me!
(I know not whether I sleep or wake !) The performed America and Europe grow dim, retiring
in shadow behind me, The unperformed, more gigantic than ever, advance, ad
vance upon me.
TO THINK OF TIME.
To think of time—of all that retrospection !
ward ! Have you guessed you yourself would not continue ?
dreaded these earth-beetles ? Have you feared the future would be nothing to you? Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing? If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing. To think that the sun rose in the east! that men and
women were flexible, real, alive! that everything
was alive! To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor
bear our part ! To think that we are now here, and bear our part !
Not a day passes--not a minute or second, without an
accouchement! Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without a
The dull nights go over, and the dull days also,
and terrible look for an answer, The children come hurried and weeping, and the bro
thers and sisters are sent for, Medicines stand unused on the shelf—(the camphor
smell has long pervaded the rooms,) The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand
of the dying, The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the
dying, The breath ceases, and the pulse of the heart ceases, The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living look
It is palpable as the living are palpable.
curiously on the corpse.
3. To think the thought of Death, merged in the thought
of materials ! To think that the rivers will flow, and the snow fall, and
fruits ripen, and act upon others as upon us now
—yet not act upon us ! To think of all these wonders of city and country, and
others taking great interest in them and we
taking no interest in them! To think how eager we are in building our houses ! To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite in(I see one building the house that serves him a few
years, or seventy or eighty years at most; I see one building the house that serves him longer than
that.) Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole
earth--they never cease—they are the burial
lines, He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall surely be buried.
4. A reminiscence of the vulgar fate, A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen, Each after his kind. Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf-posh and ice in
the river, half-frozen mud in the streets, a grey discouraged sky overhead, the short last daylight
of Twelfth-month, A hearse and stages—other vehicles give place—the
funeral of an old Broadway stage-driver, the
cortege niostly drivers. Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death
bell, the gate is passed, the new-dug grave is
halted at, the living alight, the hearse uncloses, The coffin is passed out, lowered and settled, the whip
is laid on the coffin, the earth is swiftly shovelled
in, The mound above is flatted with the spades-silence, A minute—no one moves or speaks--it is done, He is decently put away-is there anything more? He was a good fellow, free
mouthed, quick-tempered, not bad-looking, able to take his own part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready with life or death foi a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate hearty, drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited toward the last, sickened, was helped by a contribution, died, aged forty-onę years—and that was his funeral,
Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves,
strap, wet-weather clothes, whip carefully chosen, boss, spotter, starter, hostler, somebody loafing on you, you loafing on somebody, headway, man before and man behind, good day's work, bad day's work, pet stock, mean stock, first out, last
out, turning-in at night; To think that these are so much and so nigh to other
drivers—and he there takes no interest in them!
5. The markets, the government, the working-inan's wages
-to think what account they are through our
nights and days! To think that other working-men will make just as
great account of them-yet we make little or no
account ! The vulgar and the refined—what you call sin, and
what you call goodness—to think how wide a
difference ! To think the difference will still continue to others, yet
we lie beyond the difference. To think how much pleasure there is ! Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you
pleasure from poems? Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in busi
ness? or planning a nomination and election ?
or with your wife and family? Or with your inother and sisters ? or in womanly house
work? or the beautiful maternal cares? — These also flow onward to others—you and I flow
onward, But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in
them. Your farm, profits, crops,-to think how engrossed you
are ! To think there will still be farms, profits, crops-yet, 6. What will be will be well--for what is is well, To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall
of what avail ?
The sky continues beautiful,
nor the pleasure of women with men, nor the
pleasure from poems, The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the
building of houses—these are not phantasms
they have weight, form, location ; Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are
none of them phantasms, The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion, The earth is not an echo—man and his life, and all the
things of his life, are well-considered. You are not thrown to the winds—you gather certainly
and safely around yourself; Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, for ever and ever!
7. It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your
mother and father-it is to identify you ; It is not that you should be undecided, but that you
should be decided ; Something long preparing and formless is arrived and
formed in you, You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes. The threads that were spun are gathered, the weft
crosses the warp, the pattern is systematic. The preparations have every one been justified, The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments
—the baton has given the signal. The guest that was coming-he waited long, for reasons
- he is now housed,