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The strata of color'd clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint away

solitary by itself, the spread of purity it lies motionless in, The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt

marsh and shore mud, These became part of that child who went forth every day, and

who now goes, and will always go forth every day. The idea has another setting in 'Salut au • Monde,' Walt Whitman's brotherly wave of the hand to the whole world. It is a vision of kingdoms and nations, comprehensive, detailed; it is geography and the catalogue raised to the dignity of eloquence. Latitude and longitude and the hot equator ‘banding the bulge of the earth’acquire new meaning in this strange chant. The poet hears the myriad sound of the life of all peoples :I hear the Arab muezzin calling from the top of the mosque, I hear the Christian priests at the altars of their churches, I

hear the responsive bass and soprano, I hear the Hebrew reading his records and psalms, I hear the rhythmic myths of the Greeks, and the strong legends

of the Romans, I hear the tale of the divine life and the bloody death of the

beautiful God the Christ, I hear the Hindoo teaching his favorite pupil the loves, wars,

adages, transmitted safely to this day from poets who

wrote three thousand years ago. The mountains, the rivers, the stormy seas,

the pageant of fallen empires and ancient religions, of cities and plains, all sweep past in this survey of the world. And to all, salutation :My spirit has pass'd in compassion and determination around

the whole earth, I have look'd for equals and lovers and found them ready for

me in all lands, I think some divine rapport has equalized me with them.


The 'Song of the Open Road,' which may very well be read next, is a challenge to a larger life than that which conventions, and modes, and common social habits will permit:

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary

lines, Going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds

that would hold me.

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It is no journey of ease to which the poet invites his followers ; he offers none of the old smooth prizes :'

My call is the call of battle, I nourish active rebellion,
He going with me must go well arm’d,
He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry

enemies, desertion.

Notable among Whitman's best poems, and most important to an understanding of him, is the

Song of the Answerer,' that is to say, of the Poet. He it is who puts things in their right relations :

Every existence has its idiom, every thing has an idiom and a

tongue, He resolves all tongues into his own and bestows it upon


The Answerer is quite other than the Singer - he is more powerful, his existence is more significant, his words are of weight and insight:

The words of the singers are the hours or minutes of the light

or dark, but the words of the maker of poems are the

general light and dark, The maker of poems settles justice, reality, immortality, His insight and power encircle things and the human race, He is the glory and extract thus far of things and of the bu

man race.

In that fine rhapsody By Blue Ontario's Shore' Whitman restates his doctrine while

applying it to the need of his own America :Rhymes and rhymers pass away, poems distill'd from poems

pass away, The swarms of reflectors and the polite pass, and leave ashes, Admirers, importers, obedient persons, make but the soil of

literature, America justifies itself, give it time, no disguise can deceive

it or conceal from it, it is impassive enough, Only toward the likes of itself will it advance to meet them, If its poets appear it will in due time advance to meet them,

there is no fear of mistake, (The proof of a poet shall be sternly deferr'd till his country

absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorb'd it.)

By Blue Ontario's Shore,' from which these lines are taken, is a chant for America. Patriotism is Whitman's darling theme. Love of native land, confidence in democracy, the self-sufficiency of the Republic and the certainty of its future — with these ideas and with this spirit his verse is charged to the full :A breed whose proof is in time and deeds, What we are we are, nativity is answer enough to objections, We wield ourselves as a weapon is wielded, We are powerful and tremendous in ourselves, We are executive in ourselves, we are sufficient in the variety of ourselves,


We are the most beautiful to ourselves and in ourselves,
We stand self-pois'd in the middle, branching thence over the

world, From Missouri, Nebraska, or Kansas, laughing attacks to


America is safe, thought Whitman, so long as she does her own work in her own way and cultivates a wholesome fear of civilization.

America, curious toward foreign characters, stands by its own

at all hazards, Stands removed, spacious, composite, sound, initiates the

true use of precedents, Does not repel them or the past or what they have produced

under their forms,

These States are the amplest poem,
Here is not merely a nation but a teeming Nation of nations,
Here the doings of men correspond with the broadcast doings

of the day and night, Here is what moves in magnificent masses careless of particu

lars, Here are the roughs, beards, friendliness, combativeness, the

soul loves, Here the flowing trains, here the crowds, equality, diversity,

the soul loves. One of the most magnificent of Whitman's patriotic chants is that known by its opening line, As a Strong Bird on Pinions Free. He would be a hardened sceptic who, after reading these superb and uplifting verses, found himself still unconverted to some portion of the gospel of poetry as preached by Walt Whitman. There is no resisting the man here, or when he shows his power in pieces like ‘Proud Music of the Storm,' * Passage to India,' “The Mystic Trumpeter,'

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With Husky-Haughty Lips, O Sea !’ ‘To the ‘Man-of-War-Bird,'•Song of the Universal,' and *Chanting the Square Deific.'

Admirable, even wonderful, as these verses are, it may be after all that the little volume called Drum-Taps (together with its Sequel) is Whitman's best gift to the literature of his country. Vivid pictures of battle-field, camp, and hospital, they are not to be forgotten by him who has once looked on them. The ‘Prelude,''Cavalry Crossing a Ford,'' By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame,'The *Dresser,' the impressive' Vigil strange I kept on the field one night, and the no less striking 'A march in the ranks hard-prest, and the road un'known,' together with ‘As toilsome I wander'd Virginia's woods,' the ‘Hymn of Dead Soldiers,' and 'Spirit whose Work is Done,' — these and

many more have accomplished for Whitman's reputation what the 'Song of Myself' and kindred poems could not.

In Drum-Taps appeared the tributes to Lincoln, O Captain, my Captain, and the great lament beginning When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d. Here the poet rises to his supreme height. For pathos and tenderness, for beauty of phrase, nobility of thought, and a grand yet simple manner this threnody is indeed worthy of the praise bestowed on it by those critics whose praise is most to be desired.' See, for example, Stedman's tribute in Poets of America.

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