Verse > Walt Whitman > Leaves of Grass
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Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

178. Thoughts


1

OF these years I sing,
 
How they pass and have pass’d, through convuls’d pains as through parturitions; 
How America illustrates birth, muscular youth, the promise, the sure fulfillment, the Absolute Success, despite of people—Illustrates evil as well as good; 
How many hold despairingly yet to the models departed, caste, myths, obedience, compulsion, and to infidelity; 
How few see the arrived models, the Athletes, the Western States—or see freedom or spirituality—or hold any faith in results,         5
(But I see the Athletes—and I see the results of the war glorious and inevitable—and they again leading to other results;) 
How the great cities appear—How the Democratic masses, turbulent, wilful, as I love them; 
How the whirl, the contest, the wrestle of evil with good, the sounding and resounding, keep on and on; 
How society waits unform’d, and is for awhile between things ended and things begun; 
How America is the continent of glories, and of the triumph of freedom, and of the Democracies, and of the fruits of society, and of all that is begun;  10
And how The States are complete in themselves—And how all triumphs and glories are complete in themselves, to lead onward, 
And how these of mine, and of The States, will in their turn be convuls’d, and serve other parturitions and transitions, 
And how all people, sights, combinations, the Democratic masses, too, serve—and how every fact, and war itself, with all its horrors, serves, 
And how now, or at any time, each serves the exquisite transition of death. 
  
2

OF seeds dropping into the ground—of birth,
  15
Of the steady concentration of America, inland, upward, to impregnable and swarming places, 
Of what Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and the rest, are to be, 
Of what a few years will show there in Nebraska, Colorado, Nevada, and the rest; 
(Or afar, mounting the Northern Pacific to Sitka or Aliaska;) 
Of what the feuillage of America is the preparation for—and of what all sights, North, South, East and West, are;  20
Of This Union, soak’d, welded in blood—of the solemn price paid—of the unnamed lost, ever present in my mind; 
—Of the temporary use of materials, for identity’s sake, 
Of the present, passing, departing—of the growth of completer men than any yet, 
Of myself, soon, perhaps, closing up my songs by these shores, 
Of California, of Oregon—and of me journeying to live and sing there;  25
Of the Western Sea—of the spread inland between it and the spinal river, 
Of the great pastoral area, athletic and feminine, 
of all sloping down there where the fresh free giver, the mother, the Mississippi flows, 
Of future women there—of happiness in those high plateaus, ranging three thousand miles, warm and cold; 
Of mighty inland cities yet unsurvey’d and unsuspected, (as I am also, and as it must be;)  30
Of the new and good names—of the modern developments—of inalienable homesteads; 
Of a free and original life there—of simple diet and clean and sweet blood; 
Of litheness, majestic faces, clear eyes, and perfect physique there; 
Of immense spiritual results, future years, far west, each side of the Anahuacs; 
Of these leaves, well understood there, (being made for that area;)  35
Of the native scorn of grossness and gain there; 
(O it lurks in me night and day—What is gain, after all, to savageness and freedom?) 


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