I CELEBRATE myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs
[ to you.
I loafe and invite my Soul;
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear
[ of summer grass.
Houses and rooms are full of perfumes—the
[ shelves are crowded with perfumes;
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and
[ like it;
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I
[ shall not let it.
The atmosphere is not a perfume—it has no taste
[ of the distillation—it is odorless;
It is for my mouth forever—I am in love with it;
I will go to the bank by the wood, and become
[ undisguised and naked;
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.
The smoke of my own breath;
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root,
[ silk-thread, crotch and vine;
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my
[ heart, the passing of blood and air through
[ my lungs;
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of
[ the shore, and dark-color’d sea-rocks,
[ and of hay in the barn;
The sound of the belch’d words of my voice,
[ words loos’d to the eddies of the wind;
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching
[ around of arms;
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the
[ supple boughs wag;
The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets,
[ or along the fields and hill-sides;
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill,
[ the song of me rising from bed and
[ meeting the sun.
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me
[ with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know
[ what it is, any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition,
[ out of hopeful green stuff woven.
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer, designedly
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the
[ corners, that we may see and remark,
[ and say,
The blab of the pave, the tires of carts, sluff of
[ boot-soles, talk of the promenaders;
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his
[ interrogating thumb, the clank of the shod
[ horses on the granite floor;
The snow-sleighs, the clinking, shouted jokes,
[ pelts of snowballs;
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of
[ rous’d mobs;
The flap of the curtain’d litter, a sick man
[ inside, borne to the hospital;
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the
[ blows and fall;
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star,
[ quickly working his passage to the centre of
[ the crowd;
The impassive stones that receive and return so
[ many echoes;
What groans of over-fed or half-starv’d who fall
[ sun-struck, or in fits;
What exclamations of women taken suddenly,
[ who hurry home and give birth to babes;
What living and buried speech is always vibrating
[ here—what howls restrain’d by decorum;
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers
[ made, acceptances, rejections with convex
I mind them or the show or resonance of them —
[ I come again and again.
I am the poet of the Body;
And I am the poet of the Soul.
The pleasures of heaven are with me, and the
[ pains of hell are with me;
The first I graft and increase upon myself—the
[ latter I translate into a new tongue.
I am the poet of the woman the same as the
And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be
[ a man;
And I say there is nothing greater than the
[ mother of men.
I tramp a perpetual journey,
My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a
[ staff cut from the woods; 1200
No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair;
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy;
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, or
But each man and each woman of you I lead
[ upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of
[ continents, and a plain public road.
Not I—not any one else, can travel that road
[ for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far—it is within reach;
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born,
[ and did not know;
Perhaps it is every where on water and on land.
Shoulder your duds, dear son, and I will mine,
[ and let us hasten forth,
Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch
[ as we go.
If you tire, give me both burdens, and rest the
[ chuff of your hand on my hip,
And in due time you shall repay the same service
[ to me;
For after we start, we never lie by again.