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Saw from below what arose and mounted, (O superb! O wild as my heart, and powerful!)
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,
'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
Not through the mighty woods we go, but through the mightier cities,
Something for us is pouring now more than Niagara pouring, Torrents of men, (sources and rills of the Northwest are you indeed inexhaustible?)
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 Democracy with desperate vengeful port strides on, shown through the dark by those flashes of lightning !
(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!
Long had I walk'd my cities, my country roads through farms, only half satisfied,
One doubt nauseous undulating like a snake, crawl'd on the ground before me,
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,
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 waited long;
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 electric,
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 the mountains roam or sail the stormy sea.
THE noble sire fallen on evil days,
I saw with hand uplifted, menacing, brandishing,
The noble son on sinewy feet advancing,
I saw, out of the land of prairies, land of Ohio's waters and of Indiana,
To the rescue the stalwart giant hurry his plenteous offspring,
Then the Mother of All with calm voice speaking,
As to you Rebellious, (I seemed to hear her say,) why strive against me, and why seek my life?
When you yourself forever provide to defend me?
CITY OF SHIPS.
CITY of ships!
(O the black ships! O the fierce ships!
O the beautiful sharp-bow'd steam-ships and sail-ships!)
City of the world! (for all races are here,
All the lands of the earth make contributions here ;)
City of wharves and stores-city of tall façades of marble and iron !
Proud and passionate city-mettlesome, mad, extravagant city!
I have rejected nothing you offer'd me whom you adopted I
submit to no models but your own O city !
Good or bad I never question you - I love all - I do not condemn any thing,
I chant and celebrate all that is yours - yet peace no more,
THE CENTENARIAN'S STORY.
Volunteer of 1861-2, (at Washington Park, Brooklyn, assisting the Centenarian.)
GIVE me your hand old Revolutionary,
The hill-top is nigh, but a few steps, (make room gentlemen,)
You can walk old man, though your eyes are almost done,
Rest, while I tell what the crowd around us means,
Why what comes over you now old man?
Why do you tremble and clutch my hand so convulsively?
O'er proud and peaceful cities and arm of the sea between.
But drill and parade are over, they march back to quarters,
As wending the crowds now part and disperse but we old man,
we must remain,
When I clutch'd your hand it was not with terror,
And where tents are pitch'd, and wherever you see south and south-east and south-west,
Over hills, across lowlands, and in the skirts of woods,
And along the shores, in mire (now fill'd over) came again and suddenly raged,
As eighty-five years a-gone no mere parade receiv'd with applause
But a battle which I took part in myself-aye, long ago as it is, I took part in it,
Walking then this hilltop, this same ground.
Aye, this is the ground,
My blind eyes even as I speak behold it re-peopled from graves,
As I talk I remember all, I remember the Declaration,
It glitter'd in the sun in full sight of the army.
'Twas a bold act then- the English war-ships had just arrived, We could watch down the lower bay where they lay at anchor, And the transports swarming with soldiers.
A few days more and they landed, and then the battle.
Twenty thousand were brought against us,
I tell not now the whole of the battle,
But one brigade early in the forenoon order'd forward to engage the red-coats,
Of that brigade I tell, and how steadily it march'd,
Who do you think that was marching steadily sternly confronting death?
It was the brigade of the youngest men, two thousand strong, Rais'd in Virginia and Maryland, and most of them known personally to the General.
Jauntily forward they went with quick step toward Gowanus' waters, Till of a sudden unlook'd for by defiles through the woods, gain'd at night,
The British advancing, rounding in from the east, fiercely playing their guns,
That brigade of the youngest was cut off and at the enemy's mercy.
The General watch'd them from this hill,
They made repeated desperate attempts to burst their environment, Then drew close together, very compact, their flag flying in the middle,
But O from the hills how the cannon were thinning and thinning them!
It sickens me yet, that slaughter!
I saw the moisture gather in drops on the face of the General.
Meanwhile the British manoeuvr'd to draw us out for a pitch'd
But we dared not trust the chances of a pitch'd battle.
We fought the fight in detachments,
Sallying forth we fought at several points, but in each the luck was
Our foe advancing, steadily getting the best of it, push'd us back to the works on this hill,
Till we turn'd menacing here, and then he left us.
That was the going out of the brigade of the youngest men, two thousand strong,
Few return'd, nearly all remain in Brooklyn.