Walt Whitman: A Song of the Rolling Earth, Part 1
A song of the rolling earth, and of words according,
Were you thinking that those were the words, those upright lines?
those curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words, the substantial words are in the ground
They are in the air, they are in you.
Were you thinking that those were the words, those delicious sounds
out of your friends' mouths?
No, the real words are more delicious than they.
Human bodies are words, myriads of words,
(In the best poems re-appears the body, man's or woman's,
well-shaped, natural, gay,
Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or the need of shame.)
Air, soil, water, fire—those are words,
I myself am a word with them—my qualities interpenetrate with
theirs—my name is nothing to them,
Though it were told in the three thousand languages, what would
air, soil, water, fire, know of my name?
A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding gesture, are words,
The charms that go with the mere looks of some men and women,
are sayings and meanings also.
The workmanship of souls is by those inaudible words of the earth,
The masters know the earth's words and use them more than audible words.
Amelioration is one of the earth's words,
The earth neither lags nor hastens,
It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in itself from the jump,
It is not half beautiful only, defects and excrescences show just as
much as perfections show.
The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough,
The truths of the earth continually wait, they are not so conceal'd either,
They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print,
They are imbued through all things conveying themselves willingly,
Conveying a sentiment and invitation, I utter and utter,
I speak not, yet if you hear me not of what avail am I to you?
To bear, to better, lacking these of what avail am I?
Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
Will you squat and stifle there?)
The earth does not argue,
Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none out.
The earth does not exhibit itself nor refuse to exhibit itself,
possesses still underneath,
Underneath the ostensible sounds, the august chorus of heroes, the
wail of slaves,
Persuasions of lovers, curses, gasps of the dying, laughter of young
people, accents of bargainers,
Underneath these possessing words that never fall.
To her children the words of the eloquent dumb great mother never fail,
The true words do not fail, for motion does not fail and reflection
does not fall,
Also the day and night do not fall, and the voyage we pursue does not fall.
Of the interminable sisters,
Of the ceaseless cotillons of sisters,
Of the centripetal and centrifugal sisters, the elder and younger sisters,
The beautiful sister we know dances on with the rest.
With her ample back towards every beholder,
With the fascinations of youth and the equal fascinations of age,
Sits she whom I too love like the rest, sits undisturb'd,
Holding up in her hand what has the character of a mirror, while her
eyes glance back from it,
Glance as she sits, inviting none, denying none,
Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before her own face.
Seen at hand or seen at a distance,
Duly the twenty-four appear in public every day,
Duly approach and pass with their companions or a companion,
Looking from no countenances of their own, but from the countenances
of those who are with them,
From the countenances of children or women or the manly countenance,
From the open countenances of animals or from inanimate things,
From the landscape or waters or from the exquisite apparition of the sky,
From our countenances, mine and yours, faithfully returning them,
Every day in public appearing without fall, but never twice with the
Embracing man, embracing all, proceed the three hundred and
sixty-five resistlessly round the sun;
Embracing all, soothing, supporting, follow close three hundred and
sixty-five offsets of the first, sure and necessary as they.
Tumbling on steadily, nothing dreading,
Sunshine, storm, cold, heat, forever withstanding, passing, carrying,
The soul's realization and determination still inheriting,
The fluid vacuum around and ahead still entering and dividing,
No balk retarding, no anchor anchoring, on no rock striking,
Swift, glad, content, unbereav'd, nothing losing,
Of all able and ready at any time to give strict account,
The divine ship sails the divine sea.