Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

Apostroph


O MATER! O fils!
O brood continental!
O flowers of the prairies!
O space boundless! O hum of mighty products!
O you teeming cities! O so invincible, turbulent, proud!
O race of the future! O women!
O fathers! O you men of passion and the storm!
O native power only! O beauty!
O yourself! O God! O divine average!
O you bearded roughs! O bards! O all those slumberers! 10
O arouse! the dawn bird's throat sounds shrill! Do you not hear the
cock crowing?
O, as I walk'd the beach, I heard the mournful notes foreboding a
tempest--the low, oft-repeated shriek of the diver, the long-
lived loon;
O I heard, and yet hear, angry thunder;--O you sailors! O ships! make
quick preparation!
O from his masterful sweep, the warning cry of the eagle!
(Give way there, all! It is useless! Give up your spoils;)
O sarcasms! Propositions! (O if the whole world should prove indeed a
sham, a sell!)
O I believe there is nothing real but America and freedom!
O to sternly reject all except Democracy!
O imperator! O who dare confront you and me?
O to promulgate our own! O to build for that which builds for
mankind! 20
O feuillage! O North! O the slope drained by the Mexican sea!
O all, all inseparable--ages, ages, ages!
O a curse on him that would dissever this Union for any reason
whatever!
O climates, labors! O good and evil! O death!
O you strong with iron and wood! O Personality!
O the village or place which has the greatest man or woman! even if
it be only a few ragged huts;
O the city where women walk in public processions in the streets, the
same as the men;
O a wan and terrible emblem, by me adopted!
O shapes arising! shapes of the future centuries!
O muscle and pluck forever for me! 30
O workmen and workwomen forever for me!
O farmers and sailors! O drivers of horses forever for me!
O I will make the new bardic list of trades and tools!
O you coarse and wilful! I love you!
O South! O longings for my dear home! O soft and sunny airs!
O pensive! O I must return where the palm grows and the mocking-bird
sings, or else I die!
O equality! O organic compacts! I am come to be your born poet!
O whirl, contest, sounding and resounding! I am your poet, because I
am part of you;
O days by-gone! Enthusiasts! Antecedents!
O vast preparations for These States! O years! 40
O what is now being sent forward thousands of years to come!
O mediums! O to teach! to convey the invisible faith!
To promulge real things! to journey through all The States!
O creation! O to-day! O laws! O unmitigated adoration!
O for mightier broods of orators, artists, and singers!
O for native songs! carpenter's, boatman's, ploughman's songs!
shoemaker's songs!
O haughtiest growth of time! O free and extatic!
O what I, here, preparing, warble for!
O you hastening light! O the sun of the world will ascend, dazzling,
and take his height--and you too will ascend;
O so amazing and so broad! up there resplendent, darting and
burning; 50
O prophetic! O vision staggered with weight of light! with pouring
glories!
O copious! O hitherto unequalled!
O Libertad! O compact! O union impossible to dissever!
O my Soul! O lips becoming tremulous, powerless!
O centuries, centuries yet ahead!
O voices of greater orators! I pause--I listen for you
O you States! Cities! defiant of all outside authority! I spring at
once into your arms! you I most love!
O you grand Presidentiads! I wait for you!
New history! New heroes! I project you!
Visions of poets! only you really last! O sweep on! sweep on! 60
O Death! O you striding there! O I cannot yet!
O heights! O infinitely too swift and dizzy yet!
O purged lumine! you threaten me more than I can stand!
O present! I return while yet I may to you!
O poets to come, I depend upon you!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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