Verse > Walt Whitman > Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

227. Sparkles from The Wheel


WHERE the city’s ceaseless crowd moves on, the live-long day,
Withdrawn, I join a group of children watching—I pause aside with them. 
By the curb, toward the edge of the flagging, 
A knife-grinder works at his wheel, sharpening a great knife; 
Bending over, he carefully holds it to the stone—by foot and knee,         5
With measur’d tread, he turns rapidly—As he presses with light but firm hand, 
Forth issue, then, in copious golden jets, 
Sparkles from the wheel. 

The scene, and all its belongings—how they seize and affect me!
The sad, sharp-chinn’d old man, with worn clothes, and broad shoulder-band of leather;  10
Myself, effusing and fluid—a phantom curiously floating—now here absorb’d and arrested; 
The group, (an unminded point, set in a vast surrounding;) 
The attentive, quiet children—the loud, proud, restive base of the streets; 
The low, hoarse purr of the whirling stone—the light-press’d blade, 
Diffusing, dropping, sideways-darting, in tiny showers of gold,  15
Sparkles from the wheel. 



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