Mannahatta Poem by Walt Whitman


Rating: 2.9

I WAS asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon, lo! upsprang the aboriginal name!

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly,
musical, self-sufficient;
I see that the word of my city is that word up there,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays, superb, with
tall and wonderful spires,
Rich, hemm'd thick all around with sailships and steamships--an
island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets--high growths of iron, slender, strong,
light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies;
Tide swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining
islands, the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters, the
ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model'd; 10
The down-town streets, the jobbers' houses of business--the houses of
business of the ship-merchants, and money-brokers--the river-
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week;
The carts hauling goods--the manly race of drivers of horses--the
brown-faced sailors;
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing clouds aloft;
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells--the broken ice in the river,
passing along, up or down, with the flood tide or ebb-tide;
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form'd, beautiful-faced,
looking you straight in the eyes;
Trottoirs throng'd--vehicles--Broadway--the women--the shops and
The parades, processions, bugles playing, flags flying, drums
A million people--manners free and superb--open voices--hospitality--
the most courageous and friendly young men;
The free city! no slaves! no owners of slaves! 20
The beautiful city, the city of hurried and sparkling waters! the
city of spires and masts!
The city nested in bays! my city!
The city of such women, I am mad to be with them! I will return after
death to be with them!
The city of such young men, I swear I cannot live happy, without I
often go talk, walk, eat, drink, sleep, with them!

Michael Morgan 11 December 2014

The city of such women! The city of such young men~ I swear I cannot live happy without!

2 3 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 23 March 2023

A beautiful poem to read and reread. We are constantly learning from the past in the present. A memorable and contemporary poem about the city of New York, a worthy choice as the classic poem of the day. Thanks for sharing

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Sylvia Frances Chan 23 March 2023

but to be more precise are to describe. New York was already so busy in Walt Whitman's time.

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Sylvia Frances Chan 23 March 2023

Mannahatta, very beautiful and sweet sounding poem, but a bit like loose sand on the seabed, know that they are there, but too deep to walk on, his poems are often so 'floating' not to offend,

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Naida Nepascua Supnet 15 July 2015

so crowded out there. all I see are people.

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Kim Barney 15 July 2015

Do we really need lines 10 and 20 numbered? Do we really need this poem as poem of the day? There are countless better ones that PH could have chosen, many of them by Whitman himself!

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Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

New York / United States
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