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Walt Whitman

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

To Oratists



TO ORATISTS--to male or female,
Vocalism, measure, concentration, determination, and the divine power
to use words.
Are you full-lung'd and limber-lipp'd from long trial? from vigorous
practice? from physique?
Do you move in these broad lands as broad as they?
Come duly to the divine power to use words?

For only at last, after many years--after chastity, friendship,
procreation, prudence, and nakedness;
After treading ground and breasting river and lake;
After a loosen'd throat--after absorbing eras, temperaments, races--
after knowledge, freedom, crimes;
After complete faith--after clarifyings, elevations, and removing
obstructions;
After these, and more, it is just possible there comes to a man, a
woman, the divine power to use words. 10

Then toward that man or that woman, swiftly hasten all--None refuse,
all attend;
Armies, ships, antiquities, the dead, libraries, paintings, machines,
cities, hate, despair, amity, pain, theft, murder, aspiration,
form in close ranks;
They debouch as they are wanted to march obediently through the mouth
of that man, or that woman.

.... O I see arise orators fit for inland America;
And I see it is as slow to become an orator as to become a man;
And I see that all power is folded in a great vocalism.

Of a great vocalism, the merciless light thereof shall pour, and the
storm rage,
Every flash shall be a revelation, an insult,
The glaring flame on depths, on heights, on suns, on stars,
On the interior and exterior of man or woman, 20
On the laws of Nature--on passive materials,
On what you called death--(and what to you therefore was death,
As far as there can be death.)

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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