Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]

In winter I take my eel-basket and eel-spear and travel out on foot on the ice- I have a small axe to cut holes in the ice, Behold me well-clothed going gayly or returning in the afternoon, my brood of tough boys accompanying me,

My brood of grown and part-grown boys, who love to be with no one else so well as they love to be with me, By day to work with me, and by night to sleep with me.

Another time in warm weather out in a boat, to lift the lobster-pots where they are sunk with heavy stones, (I know the buoys,)

O the sweetness of the Fifth-month morning upon the water as I row just before sunrise toward the buoys,

I pull the wicker pots up slantingly, the dark green lobsters are desperate with their claws as I take them out, I insert wooden pegs in the joints of their pincers,

I go to all the places one after another, and then row back to the


There in a huge kettle of boiling water the lobsters shall be boil'd till their color becomes scarlet.

Another time mackerel-taking,

Voracious, mad for the hook, near the surface, they seem to fill the water for miles;

Another time fishing for rock-fish in Chesapeake bay, I one of the brown-faced crew;

Another time trailing for blue-fish off Paumanok, I stand with braced body,

My left foot is on the gunwale, my right arm throws far out the coils of slender rope,

In sight around me the quick veering and darting of fifty skiffs, my companions.

O boating on the rivers,

The voyage down the St. Lawrence, the superb scenery, the


The ships sailing, the Thousand Islands, the occasional timber-raft and the raftsmen with long-reaching sweep-oars,

The little huts on the rafts, and the stream of smoke when they cook supper at evening.

(O something pernicious and dread!

Something far away from a puny and pious life!
Something unproved! something in a trance!
Something escaped from the anchorage and driving free.)

[ocr errors]

O to work in mines, or forging iron,

Foundry casting, the foundry itself, the rude high roof, the ample and shadow'd space,

The furnace, the hot liquid pour'd out and running.

O to resume the joys of the soldier!

To feel the presence of a brave commanding officer-to feel his sympathy!

To behold his calmness to be warm'd in the rays of his smile!
To go to battle to hear the bugles play and the drums beat!
To hear the crash of artillery-to see the glittering of the bayonets
and musket-barrels in the sun!

[ocr errors]

To see men fall and die and not complain!

To taste the savage taste of blood-to be so devilish!
To gloat so over the wounds and deaths of the enemy.

O the whaleman's joys! O I cruise my old cruise again!

I feel the ship's motion under me, I feel the Atlantic breezes fanning me,

I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-head, There — she blows!

Again I spring up the rigging to look with the rest—we descend, wild with excitement,

I leap in the lower'd boat, we row toward our prey where he lies, We approach stealthy and silent, I see the mountainous mass, lethargic, basking,

I see the harpooneer standing up, I see the weapon dart from his vigorous arm;

O swift again far out in the ocean the wounded whale, settling, running to windward, tows me,

Again I see him rise to breathe, we row close again,

I see a lance driven through his side, press'd deep, turn'd in the wound,

Again we back off, I see him settle again, the life is leaving him fast,

As he rises he spouts blood, I see him swim in circles narrower and narrower, swiftly cutting the water—I see him die, He gives one convulsive leap in the centre of the circle, and then falls flat and still in the bloody foam.

O the old manhood of me, my noblest joy of all!
My children and grand-children, my white hair and beard,
My largeness, calmness, majesty, out of the long stretch of my life.

O ripen'd joy of womanhood! O happiness at last!

[ocr errors]

I am more than eighty years of age, I am the most venerable mother,

How clear is my mind - how all people draw nigh to me! What attractions are these beyond any before? what bloom more than the bloom of youth?

What beauty is this that descends upon me and rises out of me?

O the orator's joys!

To inflate the chest, to roll the thunder of the voice out from the ribs and throat,

To make the people rage, weep, hate, desire, with yourself,

To lead America—to quell America with a great tongue.


O the joy of my soul leaning pois'd on itself, receiving identity through materials and loving them, observing characters and absorbing them,

My soul vibrated back to me from them, from sight, hearing, touch, reason, articulation, comparison, memory, and the like,

The real life of my senses and flesh transcending my senses and flesh, My body done with materials, my sight done with my material eyes, Proved to me this day beyond cavil that it is not my material eyes which finally see,

Nor my material body which finally loves, walks, laughs, shouts, embraces, procreates.

O the farmer's joys!

Ohioan's, Illinoisian's, Wisconsinese', Kanadian's, Iowan's, Kansian's, Missourian's, Oregonese' joys!

To rise at peep of day and pass forth nimbly to work,

To plough land in the fall for winter-sown crops,

To plough land in the spring for maize,

To train orchards, to graft the trees, to gather apples in the fall.

O to bathe in the swimming-bath, or in a good place along shore, To splash the water! to walk ankle-deep, or race naked along the shore.

O to realize space!

The plenteousness of all, that there are no bounds,

To emerge and be of the sky, of the sun and moon and flying clouds, as one with them.

O the joy of a manly self-hood!

To be servile to none, to defer to none, not to any tyrant known or unknown,

[ocr errors]

To walk with erect carriage, a step springy and elastic,
To look with calm gaze or with a flashing eye,

To speak with a full and sonorous voice out of a broad chest,
To confront with your personality all the other personalities of the

Know'st thou the excellent joys of youth?

Joys of the dear companions and of the merry word and laughing face?

Joy of the glad light-beaming day, joy of the wide-breath'd games? Joy of sweet music, joy of the lighted ball-room and the dancers? Joy of the plenteous dinner, strong carouse and drinking?

Yet O my soul supreme!

Know'st thou the joys of pensive thought?

Joys of the free and lonesome heart, the tender, gloomy heart? Joys of the solitary walk, the spirit bow'd yet proud, the suffering and the struggle?

The agonistic throes, the ecstasies, joys of the solemn musings day or night?

Joys of the thought of Death, the great spheres Time and Space? Prophetic joys of better, loftier love's ideals, the divine wife, the sweet, eternal, perfect comrade?

Joys all thine own undying one, joys worthy thee O soul.

O while I live to be the ruler of life, not a slave,

To meet life as a powerful conqueror,

No fumes, no ennui, no more complaints or scornful criticisms, To these proud laws of the air, the water and the ground, proving my interior soul impregnable,

And nothing exterior shall ever take command of me.

For not life's joys alone I sing, repeating—the joy of death! The beautiful touch of Death, soothing and benumbing a few moments, for reasons,

Myself discharging my excrementitious body to be burn'd, or render'd to powder, or buried,

My real body doubtless left to me for other spheres,

My voided body nothing more to me, returning to the purifications, further offices, eternal uses of the earth.

O to attract by more than attraction !

How it is I know not-yet behold! the something which obeys none of the rest,

It is offensive, never defensive—yet how magnetic it draws.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

O to struggle against great odds, to meet enemies undaunted!
To be entirely alone with them, to find how much one can stand!
To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, face to face!

To mount the scaffold, to advance to the muzzles of guns with
perfect nonchalance !

To be indeed a God!

O to sail to sea in a ship!

To leave this steady unendurable land,

To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, the sidewalks and
the houses,

To leave you O you solid motionless land, and entering a ship,
To sail and sail and sail!

O to have life henceforth a poem of new joys!

To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on, float on!
To be a sailor of the world bound for all ports,

A ship itself, (see indeed these sails I spread to the sun and air,)
A swift and swelling ship full of rich words, full of joys.



WEAPON shapely, naked, wan,

Head from the mother's bowels drawn,

Wooded flesh and metal bone, limb only one and lip only one,
Gray-blue leaf by red-heat grown, helve produced from a little

seed sown,

Resting the grass amid and upon,

To be lean'd and to lean on.

Strong shapes and attributes of strong shapes, masculine trades, sights and sounds,

Long varied train of an emblem, dabs of music,

Fingers of the organist skipping staccato over the keys of the great organ.


Welcome are all earth's lands, each for its kind,

Welcome are lands of pine and oak,

Welcome are lands of the lemon and fig,
Welcome are lands of gold,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »