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

299. States!


STATES! 
Were you looking to be held together by the lawyers? 
By an agreement on a paper? Or by arms? 
  
Away! 
I arrive, bringing these, beyond all the forces of courts and arms,         5
These! to hold you together as firmly as the earth itself is held together. 
  
The old breath of life, ever new, 
Here! I pass it by contact to you, America. 
  
O mother! have you done much for me? 
Behold, there shall from me be much done for you.  10
  
There shall from me be a new friendship—It shall be called after my name, 
It shall circulate through The States, indifferent of place, 
It shall twist and intertwist them through and around each other—Compact shall they be, showing new signs, 
Affection shall solve every one of the problems of freedom, 
Those who love each other shall be invincible,  15
They shall finally make America completely victorious, in my name. 
  
One from Massachusetts shall be comrade to a Missourian, 
One from Maine or Vermont, and a Carolinian and an Oregonese, shall be friends triune, more precious to each other than all the riches of the earth. 
  
To Michigan shall be wafted perfume from Florida, 
To the Mannahatta from Cuba or Mexico,  20
Not the perfume of flowers, but sweeter, and wafted beyond death. 
  
No danger shall balk Columbia’s lovers, 
If need be, a thousand shall sternly immolate themselves for one, 
The Kanuck shall be willing to lay down his life for the Kansian, and the Kansian for the Kanuck, on due need. 
  
It shall be customary in all directions, in the houses and streets, to see manly affection,  25
The departing brother or friend shall salute the remaining brother or friend with a kiss. 
  
There shall be innovations, 
There shall be countless linked hands—namely, the Northeasterner’s, and the Northwesterner’s, and the Southwesterner’s, and those of the interior, and all their brood, 
These shall be masters of the world under a new power, 
They shall laugh to scorn the attacks of all the remainder of the world.  30
  
The most dauntless and rude shall touch face to face lightly, 
The dependence of Liberty shall be lovers, 
The continuance of Equality shall be comrades. 
  
These shall tie and band stronger than hoops of iron, 
I, extatic, O partners! O lands! henceforth with the love of lovers tie you.  35


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