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

89. The Indications


THE indications, and tally of time; 
Perfect sanity shows the master among philosophs; 
Time, always without flaw, indicates itself in parts; 
What always indicates the poet, is the crowd of the pleasant company of singers, and their words; 
The words of the singers are the hours or minutes of the light or dark—but the words of the maker of poems are the general light and dark;         5
The maker of poems settles justice, reality, immortality, 
His insight and power encircle things and the human race, 
He is the glory and extract thus far, of things, and of the human race. 
  
The singers do not beget—only the POET begets; 
The singers are welcom’d, understood, appear often enough—but rare has the day been, likewise the spot, of the birth of the maker of poems, the Answerer,  10
(Not every century, or every five centuries, has contain’d such a day, for all its names.) 
  
The singers of successive hours of centuries may have ostensible names, but the name of each of them is one of the singers, 
The name of each is, eye-singer, ear-singer, head-singer, sweet-singer, echo-singer, parlor-singer, love-singer, or something else. 
  
All this time, and at all times, wait the words of true poems; 
The words of true poems do not merely please,  15
The true poets are not followers of beauty, but the august masters of beauty; 
The greatness of sons is the exuding of the greatness of mothers and fathers, 
The words of poems are the tuft and final applause of science. 
  
Divine instinct, breadth of vision, the law of reason, health, rudeness of body, withdrawnness, 
Gayety, sun-tan, air-sweetness—such are some of the words of poems.  20
  
The sailor and traveler underlie the maker of poems, the answerer; 
The builder, geometer, chemist, anatomist, phrenologist, artist—all these underlie the maker of poems, the answerer. 
  
The words of the true poems give you more than poems, 
They give you to form for yourself, poems, religions, politics, war, peace, behavior, histories, essays, romances, and everything else, 
They balance ranks, colors, races, creeds, and the sexes,  25
They do not seek beauty—they are sought, 
Forever touching them, or close upon them, follows beauty, longing, fain, love-sick. 
  
They prepare for death—yet are they not the finish, but rather the outset, 
They bring none to his or her terminus, or to be content and full; 
Whom they take, they take into space, to behold the birth of stars, to learn one of the meanings,  30
To launch off with absolute faith—to sweep through the ceaseless rings, and never be quiet again. 


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