Walt Whitman: Year of Meteors [1859-60]

Year of Meteors [1859-60]

Year of meteors! brooding year! I would bind in words retrospective some of your deeds and signs, I would sing your contest for the 19th Presidentiad, I would sing how an old man, tall, with white hair, mounted the     scaffold in Virginia, (I was at hand, silent I stood with teeth shut close, I watch'd, I stood very near you old man when cool and indifferent, but trembling     with age and your unheal'd wounds you mounted the scaffold;) I would sing in my copious song your census returns of the States, The tables of population and products, I would sing of your ships     and their cargoes, The proud black ships of Manhattan arriving, some fill'd with     immigrants, some from the isthmus with cargoes of gold, Songs thereof would I sing, to all that hitherward comes would welcome give, And you would I sing, fair stripling! welcome to you from me, young     prince of England! (Remember you surging Manhattan's crowds as you pass'd with your     cortege of nobles? There in the crowds stood I, and singled you out with attachment;) Nor forget I to sing of the wonder, the ship as she swam up my bay, Well-shaped and stately the Great Eastern swam up my bay, she was     600 feet long, Her moving swiftly surrounded by myriads of small craft I forget not     to sing; Nor the comet that came unannounced out of the north flaring in heaven, Nor the strange huge meteor-procession dazzling and clear shooting     over our heads, (A moment, a moment long it sail'd its balls of unearthly light over     our heads, Then departed, dropt in the night, and was gone;) Of such, and fitful as they, I sing—with gleams from them would     gleam and patch these chants, Your chants, O year all mottled with evil and good—year of forebodings! Year of comets and meteors transient and strange—lo! even here one     equally transient and strange! As I flit through you hastily, soon to fall and be gone, what is this chant, What am I myself but one of your meteors?