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Than this nothing has better served, it has served all,
Served in building the buildings that last longer than any,
Served Albic temples in woods or on plains, with unhewn pillars and the druids,
Served the artificial clefts, vast, high, silent, on the snow-cover'd hills of Scandinavia,
Served those who time out of mind made on the granite walls rough sketches of the sun, moon, stars, ships, ocean waves, Served the paths of the irruptions of the Goths, served the pas
toral tribes and nomads,
Served the long distant Kelt, served the hard; pirates of the Baltic, Served before any of those the venerable and harmless men of Ethiopia,
Served the making of helms for the galleys of pleasure and the making of those for war,
Served all great works on land and all great works on the sea,
I see the European headsman,
He stands mask'd, clothed in red, with huge legs and strong naked
And leans on a ponderous axe.
(Whom have you slaughter'd lately European headsinan? Whose is that blood upon you so wet and sticky?)
I see the clear sunsets of the martyrs,
I see from the scaffolds the descending ghosts,
Ghosts of dead lords, uncrown'd ladies, impeach'd ministers, rejected kings,
Rivals, traitors, poisoners, disgraced chieftains and the rest.
I see those who in any land have died for the good cause, The seed is spare, nevertheless the crop shall never run out, (Mind you O foreign kings, O priests, the crop shall never run out.)
I see the blood wash'd entirely away from the axe,
They spirt no more the blood of European nobles, they clasp no more the necks of queens.
I see the headsman withdraw and become useless,
I see the scaffold untrodden and mouldy, I see no longer any axe upon it,
I see the mighty and friendly emblem of the power of my own race, the newest, largest race.
Flail, plough, pick, crowbar, spade,
Shingle, rail, prop, wainscot, jamb, lath, panel, gable,
Citadel, ceiling, saloon, academy, organ, exhibition-house, library,
Cornice, trellis, pilaster, balcony, window, turret, porch,
Hoe, rake, pitchfork, pencil, wagon, staff, saw, jack-plane, mallet, wedge, rounce,
Chair, tub, hoop, table, wicket, vane, sash, floor,
Work-box, chest, string'd instrument, boat, frame, and what not, Capitols of States, and capitol of the nation of States,
Long stately rows in avenues, hospitals for orphans or for the poor
Manhattan steamboats and clippers taking the measure of all seas.
The shapes arise !
Shapes of the using of axes anyhow, and the users and all that neighbors them,
Cutters down of wood and haulers of it to the Penobscot or Kennebec,
Dwellers in cabins among the Californian mountains or by the little lakes, or on the Columbia,
Dwellers south on the banks of the Gila or Rio Grande, friendly gatherings, the characters and fun,
Dwellers along the St. Lawrence, or north in Kanada, or down by the Yellowstone, dwellers on coasts and off coasts, Seal-fishers, whalers, arctic seamen breaking passages through the
The shapes arise !
Shapes of factories, arsenals, foundries, markets,
Shapes of the sleepers of bridges, vast frameworks, girders, arches,
The live-oak kelsons, the pine planks, the spars, the hackmatack-
The ships themselves on their ways, the tiers of scaffolds, the workmen busy outside and inside,
The tools lying around, the great auger and little auger, the adze, bolt, line, square, gouge, and bead-plane.
The shapes arise !
The shape measur'd, saw'd, jack'd, join'd, stain'd,
The shape got out in posts, in the bedstead posts, in the posts of
The shape of the little trough, the shape of the rockers beneath, the shape of the babe's cradle,
The shape of the floor-planks, the floor-planks for dancers' feet, The shape of the planks of the family home, the home of the friendly parents and children,
The shape of the roof of the home of the happy young man and woman, the roof over the well-married young man and
The roof over the supper joyously cook'd by the chaste wife, and joyously eaten by the chaste husband, content after his day's work.
The shapes arise !
The shape of the prisoner's place in the court-room, and of him or her seated in the place,
The shape of the liquor-bar lean'd against by the young rumdrinker and the old rum-drinker,
The shape of the shamed and angry stairs trod by sneaking foot
The shape of the sly settee, and the adulterous unwholesome couple,
The shape of the gambling-board with its devilish winnings and losings,
The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted. and sentenced murderer, the murderer with haggard face and pinion'd arms,
The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent and white-lipp'd crowd, the dangling of the rope.
The shapes arise!
Shapes of doors giving many exits and entrances,
The door passing the dissever'd friend flush'd and in haste,
The door whence the son left home confident and puff'd up,
Her shape arises,
She less guarded than ever, yet more guarded than ever, The gross and soil'd she moves among do not make her gross and soil'd,
She knows the thoughts as she passes, nothing is conceal'd from her, She is none the less considerate or friendly therefor,
She is the best belov'd, it is without exception, she has no reason to fear and she does not fear,
Oaths, quarrels, hiccupp'd songs, smutty expressions, are idle to her as she passes,
She is silent, she is possess'd of herself, they do not offend her, She receives them as the laws of Nature receive them, she is strong, She too is a law of Nature - there is no law stronger than she is.
The main shapes arise !
Shapes of Democracy total, result of centuries,
Shapes ever projecting other shapes,
Shapes of turbulent manly cities,
Shapes of the friends and home-givers of the whole earth,
(AH little recks the laborer,
After all not to create only, or found only,
But to bring perhaps from afar what is already founded,
To obey as well as command, to follow more than to lead,
While how little the New after all, how much the Old, Old World!
Long and long has the grass been growing,
Come Muse migrate from Greece and Ionia,
Cross out please those immensely overpaid accounts,
That matter of Troy and Achilles' wrath, and Æneas', Odysseus' wanderings,
Placard "Removed" and "To Let" on the rocks of your snowy
Repeat at Jerusalem, place the notice high on Jaffa's gate and on
The same on the walls of your German, French and Spanish castles, and Italian collections,
For know a better, fresher, busier sphere, a wide, untried domain awaits, demands you.
Responsive to our summons,
I scent the odor of her breath's delicious fragrance,
I mark her step divine, her curious eyes a-turning, rolling,
The dame of dames! can I believe then,
Those ancient temples, sculptures classic, could none of them retain her?
Nor shades of Virgil and Dante, nor myriad memories, poems,
Yes, if you will allow me to say so,
I, my friends, if you do not, can plainly see her,