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Song of Myself

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Icelebratemyself,andsingmyself,
AndwhatIassumeyoushallassume,
Foreveryatombelongingtomeasgoodbelongstoyou.
Iloafeandinvitemysoul,
Ileanandloafeatmyeaseobservingaspearofsummergrass.
Mytongue,everyatomofmyblood,formdfromthissoil,thisair,
Bornhereofparentsbornherefromparentsthesame,andtheirparentsthesame,
I,nowthirty-sevenyearsoldinperfecthealthbegin,
Hopingtoceasenottilldeath.
Creedsandschoolsinabeyance,
Retiringbackawhilesufficedatwhattheyare,butneverforgotten,
Iharborforgoodorbad,Ipermittospeakateveryhazard,
Naturewithoutcheckwithoriginalenergy.
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Achildsaid,Whatisthegrass?fetchingittomewithfullhands;
HowcouldIanswerthechild?Idonotknowwhatitisanymorethanhe.
Iguessitmustbetheflagofmydisposition,outofhopefulgreenstuffwoven.
OrIguessitisthehandkerchiefoftheLord,
Ascentedgiftandremembrancerdesignedlydropt,
Bearingtheownersnamesomewayinthecorners,thatwemayseeandremark,andsay,Whose?
OrIguessthegrassisitselfachild,theproducedbabeofthevegetation.
OrIguessitisauniformhieroglyphic,
Anditmeans,Sproutingalikeinbroadzonesandnarrowzones,
Growingamongblackfolksasamongwhite;

Kanuck,Tuckahoe,Congressman,Cuff,Igivethemthesame,Ireceivethemthesame.
Andnowitseemstomethebeautifuluncuthairofgraves.
TenderlywillIuseyoucurlinggrass,
Itmaybeyoutranspirefromthebreastsofyoungmen,
ItmaybeifIhadknownthemIwouldhavelovedthem,
Itmaybeyouarefromoldpeople,orfromoffspringtakensoonoutoftheirmotherslaps,
Andhereyouarethemotherslaps.
Thisgrassisverydarktobefromthewhiteheadsofoldmothers,
Darkerthanthecolorlessbeardsofoldmen,
Darktocomefromunderthefaintredroofsofmouths.
OIperceiveafterallsomanyutteringtongues,
AndIperceivetheydonotcomefromtheroofsofmouthsfornothing.
IwishIcouldtranslatethehintsaboutthedeadyoungmenandwomen,
Andthehintsaboutoldmenandmothers,andtheoffspringtakensoonoutoftheirlaps.
Whatdoyouthinkhasbecomeoftheyoungandoldmen?
Andwhatdoyouthinkhasbecomeofthewomenandchildren?
Theyarealiveandwellsomewhere,
Thesmallestsproutshowsthereisreallynodeath,
Andifevertherewasitledforwardlife,anddoesnotwaitattheendtoarrestit,
Andceasdthemomentlifeappeard.
Allgoesonwardandoutward,nothingcollapses,
Andtodieisdifferentfromwhatanyonesupposed,andluckier.
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Iamofoldandyoung,ofthefoolishasmuchasthewise,
Regardlessofothers,everregardfulofothers,
Maternalaswellaspaternal,achildaswellasaman,
Stuffdwiththestuffthatiscoarseandstuffdwiththestuffthatisfine,
OneoftheNationofmanynations,thesmallestthesameandthelargestthesame,
ASouthernersoonasaNortherner,aplanternonchalantandhospitabledownbytheOconeeIlive,
AYankeeboundmyownwayreadyfortrade,myjointsthelimberestjointsonearthandthesternest
jointsonearth,
AKentuckian,walkingthevaleoftheElkhorninmydeer-skinleggings,aLouisianianorGeorgian,

Aboatmanoverlakesorbaysoralongcoasts,aHoosier,Badger,Buckeye;
AthomeonKanadiansnow-shoesorupinthebush,orwithfishermenoffNewfoundland,
Athomeinthefleetofice-boats,sailingwiththerestandtacking,
AthomeonthehillsofVermontorinthewoodsofMaine,ortheTexanranch,
ComradeofCalifornians,comradeoffreeNorth-Westerners,(lovingtheirbigproportions,)
Comradeofraftsmenandcoalmen,comradeofallwhoshakehandsandwelcometodrinkandmeat,
Alearnerwiththesimplest,ateacherofthethoughtfullest,
Anovicebeginningyetexperientofmyriadsofseasons,
OfeveryhueandcasteamI,ofeveryrankandreligion,
Afarmer,mechanic,artist,gentleman,sailor,quaker,
Prisoner,fancy-man,rowdy,lawyer,physician,priest.
Iresistanythingbetterthanmyowndiversity,
Breathetheairbutleaveplentyafterme,
Andamnotstuckup,andaminmyplace.
(Themothandthefish-eggsareintheirplace,
ThebrightsunsIseeandthedarksunsIcannotseeareintheirplace,
Thepalpableisinitsplaceandtheimpalpableisinitsplace.)
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IknowIhavethebestoftimeandspace,andwasnevermeasuredandneverwillbemeasured.
Itrampaperpetualjourney,(comelistenall!)
Mysignsarearain-proofcoat,goodshoes,andastaffcutfromthewoods,
Nofriendofminetakeshiseaseinmychair,
Ihavenochair,nochurch,nophilosophy,
Ileadnomantoadinner-table,library,exchange,
ButeachmanandeachwomanofyouIleaduponaknoll,
Mylefthandhookingyouroundthewaist,
Myrighthandpointingtolandscapesofcontinents,andthepublicroad.
NotI,notanyoneelse,cantravelthatroadforyou,
Youmusttravelitforyourself.
Itisnotfar,itiswithinreach,
Perhapsyouhavebeenonitsinceyouwerebornanddidnotknow,
Perhapsitiseverywhereonwaterandonland.
Shoulderyourdudsdearson,andIwillmine,andletushastenforth,
Wonderfulcitiesandfreenationsweshallfetchaswego.

Ifyoutire,givemebothburdens,andrestthechuffofyourhandonmyhip,
Andinduetimeyoushallrepaythesameservicetome,
Forafterwestartweneverliebyagain.
ThisdaybeforedawnIascendedahill,andlookdatthecrowdedheaven,
AndIsaidtomyspiritWhenwebecometheenfoldersofthoseorbs,andthepleasureandknowledgeof

everythinginthem,shallwebefilldandsatisfiedthen?
AndmyspiritsaidNo,webutlevelthatlifttopassandcontinuebeyond.
YouarealsoaskingmequestionsandIhearyou,
IanswerthatIcannotanswer,youmustfindoutforyourself.
Sitawhiledearson,
Herearebiscuitstoeatandhereismilktodrink,
Butassoonasyousleepandrenewyourselfinsweetclothes,Ikissyouwithagood-bykissandopenthe
gateforyouregresshence.
Longenoughhaveyoudreamdcontemptibledreams,
NowIwashthegumfromyoureyes,
Youmusthabityourselftothedazzleofthelightandofeverymomentofyourlife.
Longhaveyoutimidlywadedholdingaplankbytheshore,
NowIwillyoutobeaboldswimmer,
Tojumpoffinthemidstofthesea,riseagain,nodtome,shout,andlaughinglydashwithyourhair.
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Thespottedhawkswoopsbyandaccusesme,hecomplainsofmygabandmyloitering.
Itooamnotabittamed,Itooamuntranslatable.
Isoundmybarbaricyawpovertheroofsoftheworld.
Thelastscudofdayholdsbackforme,
Itflingsmylikenessaftertherestandtrueasanyontheshadowdwilds,
Itcoaxesmetothevaporandthedusk.
Idepartasair,Ishakemywhitelocksattherunawaysun,
Ieffusemyfleshineddies,anddriftitinlacyjags.
IbequeathmyselftothedirttogrowfromthegrassIlove,
Ifyouwantmeagainlookformeunderyourboot-soles.

YouwillhardlyknowwhoIamorwhatImean,
ButIshallbegoodhealthtoyounevertheless,
Andfilterandfibreyourblood.
Failingtofetchmeatfirstkeepencouraged,
Missingmeoneplacesearchanother,
Istopsomewherewaitingforyou.

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