Walt Whitman

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

With Antecedents


WITH antecedents;
With my fathers and mothers, and the accumulations of past ages;
With all which, had it not been, I would not now be here, as I am:
With Egypt, India, Phenicia, Greece and Rome;
With the Kelt, the Scandinavian, the Alb, and the Saxon;
With antique maritime ventures,--with laws, artizanship, wars and
journeys;
With the poet, the skald, the saga, the myth, and the oracle;
With the sale of slaves--with enthusiasts--with the troubadour, the
crusader, and the monk;
With those old continents whence we have come to this new continent;
With the fading kingdoms and kings over there; 10
With the fading religions and priests;
With the small shores we look back to from our own large and present
shores;
With countless years drawing themselves onward, and arrived at these
years;
You and Me arrived--America arrived, and making this year;
This year! sending itself ahead countless years to come.


O but it is not the years--it is I--it is You;
We touch all laws, and tally all antecedents;
We are the skald, the oracle, the monk, and the knight--we easily
include them, and more;
We stand amid time, beginningless and endless--we stand amid evil and
good;
All swings around us--there is as much darkness as light; 20
The very sun swings itself and its system of planets around us;
Its sun, and its again, all swing around us.
As for me, (torn, stormy, even as I, amid these vehement days,)
I have the idea of all, and am all, and believe in all;
I believe materialism is true, and spiritualism is true--I reject no
part.

Have I forgotten any part?
Come to me, whoever and whatever, till I give you recognition.

I respect Assyria, China, Teutonia, and the Hebrews;
I adopt each theory, myth, god, and demi-god;
I see that the old accounts, bibles, genealogies, are true, without
exception; 30
I assert that all past days were what they should have been;
And that they could no-how have been better than they were,
And that to-day is what it should be--and that America is,
And that to-day and America could no-how be better than they are.


In the name of These States, and in your and my name, the Past,
And in the name of These States, and in your and my name, the Present
time.

I know that the past was great, and the future will be great,
And I know that both curiously conjoint in the present time,
(For the sake of him I typify--for the common average man's sake--
your sake, if you are he;)
And that where I am, or you are, this present day, there is the
centre of all days, all races, 40
And there is the meaning, to us, of all that has ever come of races
and days, or ever will come.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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