Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 120. From ‘Passage to India’
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
120. From ‘Passage to India’
By Walt Whitman  (1819–1892)
  
O VAST Rondure, swimming in space,
  Cover’d all over with visible power and beauty,
Alternate light and day and the teeming spiritual darkness,
Unspeakable high processions of sun and moon and countless stars above,
Below, the manifold grass and waters, animals, mountains, trees,        5
With inscrutable purpose, some hidden prophetic intention,
Now first it seems my thought begins to span thee.
 
Down from the gardens of Asia descending radiating,
Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after them,
Wandering, yearning, curious, with restless explorations,       10
With questionings, baffled, formless, feverish, with neverhappy hearts,
With that sad incessant refrain, Wherefore unsatisfied soul? and Whither O mocking life?
 
Ah, who shall soothe these feverish children?
Who justify these restless explorations?
Who speak the secret of impassive earth?       15
Who bind it to us? what is this separate Nature so unnatural?
What is this earth to our affections? (unloving earth, without a throb to answer ours,
Cold earth, the place of graves.)
 
Yet soul be sure the first intent remains, and shall be carried out,
Perhaps even now the time has arrived.       20
After the seas are all cross’d, (as they seem already cross’d,)
After the great captains and engineers have accomplish’d their work,
After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the geologist, ethnologist,
Finally shall come the poet worthy that name,
The true son of God shall come singing his songs.       25
 
Then not your deeds only O voyagers, O scientists and inventors, shall be justified;
All these hearts as of fretted children shall be sooth’d,
All affection shall be fully responded to, the secret shall be told,
All these separations and gaps shall be taken up and hook’d and link’d together,
The whole earth, this cold, impassive, voiceless earth, shall be completely justified,       30
Trinitas divine shall be gloriously accomplish’d and compacted by the true son of God, the poet,
(He shall indeed pass the straits and conquer the mountains,
He shall double the cape of Good Hope to some purpose,)
Nature and Man shall be disjoin’d and diffused no more,
The true son of God shall absolutely fuse them.…       35
 
Passage indeed O soul to primal thought,
Not lands and seas alone, thy own clear freshness,
The young maturity of brood and bloom,
To realms of budding bibles.
 
O soul, repressless, I with thee and thou with me,       40
Thy circumnavigation of the world begin,
Of man, the voyage of his mind’s return,
To reason’s early paradise,
Back, back to wisdom’s birth, to innocent intuitions,
Again with fair creation.       45
 
O we can wait no longer,
We too take ship O soul
Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas,
Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to sail,
Amid the wafting winds, (thou pressing me to thee, I thee to me, O soul,)       50
Caroling free, singing our song of God,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.
 
With laugh and many a kiss,
(Let others deprecate, let others weep for sin, remorse, humiliation,)
O soul thou pleasest me, I thee.       55
 
Ah more than any priest O soul we too believe in God,
But with the mystery of God we dare not dally.
 
O soul thou pleasest me, I thee,
Sailing these seas or on the hills, or waking in the night,
Thoughts, silent thoughts, of Time and Space and Death, like waters flowing,       60
Bear me indeed as through the regions infinite,
Whose air I breathe, whose ripples hear, lave me all over,
Bathe me O God in thee, mounting to thee,
I and my soul to range in range of thee.
 
O Thou transcendent,       65
Nameless, the fibre and the breath,
Light of the light, shedding forth universes, thou centre of them,
Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving,
Thou moral, spiritual fountain—affection’s source—thou reservoir,
(O pensive soul of me—O thirst unsatisfied—waitest not there?       70
 
Waitest not haply for us somewhere there the Comrade perfect?)
Thou pulse—thou motive of the stars, suns, systems,
That, circling, move in order, safe, harmonious,
Athwart the shapeless vastnesses of space,
How should I think, how breathe a single breath, how speak, if, out of myself,       75
I could not launch, to those, superior universes?
 
Swiftly I shrivel at the thought of God,
At Nature and its wonders, Time and Space and Death,
But that I, turning, call to thee O soul, thou actual Me,
And lo, thou gently masterest the orbs,       80
Thou matest Time, smilest content at Death,
And fillest, swellest full the vastnesses of Space.
 
Greater than stars or suns,
Bounding O soul thou journeyest forth;
What love than thine and ours could wider amplify?       85
What aspirations, wishes, outvie thine and ours O soul?
What dreams of the ideal? what plans of purity, perfection, strength?
What cheerful willingness for others’ sake to give up all?
For others’ sake to suffer all?
 
Reckoning ahead O soul, when thou, the time achiev’d,       90
The seas all cross’d, weather’d the capes, the voyage done,
Surrounded, copest, frontest God, yieldest, the aim attain’d,
As fill’d with friendship, love complete, the Elder Brother found,
The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.
 
Passage to more than India!       95
Are thy wings plumed indeed for such far flights?
O soul, voyagest thou indeed on voyages like those?
Disportest thou on waters such as those?
Soundest below the Sanscrit and the Vedas?
Then have thy bent unleash’d.      100
 
Passage to you, your shores, ye aged fierce enigmas!
Passage to you, to mastership of you, ye strangling problems!
You, strew’d with the wrecks of skeletons, that, living, never reach’d you.
 
Passage to more than India!
O secret of the earth and sky!      105
Of you O waters of the sea! O winding creeks and rivers!
Of you O woods and fields! of you strong mountains of my land!
Of you O prairies! of you gray rocks!
O morning red! O clouds! O rain and snows!
O day and night, passage to you!      110
 
O sun and moon and all you stars! Sirius and Jupiter!
Passage to you!
 
Passage, immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins!
Away O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!      115
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovel’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?
Sail forth—steer for the deep waters only,
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me,      120
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
 
O my brave soul!
O farther farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! are they not all the seas of God?      125
O farther, farther, farther sail!

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