Verse > Walt Whitman > Leaves of Grass

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

294. Apostroph

O MATER! O fils! 
O brood continental! 
O flowers of the prairies! 
O space boundless! O hum of mighty products! 
O you teeming cities! O so invincible, turbulent, proud!         5
O race of the future! O women! 
O fathers! O you men of passion and the storm! 
O native power only! O beauty! 
O yourself! O God! O divine average! 
O you bearded roughs! O bards! O all those slumberers!  10
O arouse! the dawn bird’s throat sounds shrill! Do you not hear the cock crowing? 
O, as I walk’d the beach, I heard the mournful notes foreboding a tempest—the low, oft-repeated shriek of the diver, the long-lived loon; 
O I heard, and yet hear, angry thunder;—O you sailors! O ships! make quick preparation! 
O from his masterful sweep, the warning cry of the eagle! 
(Give way there, all! It is useless! Give up your spoils;)  15
O sarcasms! Propositions! (O if the whole world should prove indeed a sham, a sell!) 
O I believe there is nothing real but America and freedom! 
O to sternly reject all except Democracy! 
O imperator! O who dare confront you and me? 
O to promulgate our own! O to build for that which builds for mankind!  20
O feuillage! O North! O the slope drained by the Mexican sea! 
O all, all inseparable—ages, ages, ages! 
O a curse on him that would dissever this Union for any reason whatever! 
O climates, labors! O good and evil! O death! 
O you strong with iron and wood! O Personality!  25
O the village or place which has the greatest man or woman! even if it be only a few ragged huts; 
O the city where women walk in public processions in the streets, the same as the men; 
O a wan and terrible emblem, by me adopted! 
O shapes arising! shapes of the future centuries! 
O muscle and pluck forever for me!  30
O workmen and workwomen forever for me! 
O farmers and sailors! O drivers of horses forever for me! 
O I will make the new bardic list of trades and tools! 
O you coarse and wilful! I love you! 
O South! O longings for my dear home! O soft and sunny airs!  35
O pensive! O I must return where the palm grows and the mocking-bird sings, or else I die! 
O equality! O organic compacts! I am come to be your born poet! 
O whirl, contest, sounding and resounding! I am your poet, because I am part of you; 
O days by-gone! Enthusiasts! Antecedents! 
O vast preparations for These States! O years!  40
O what is now being sent forward thousands of years to come! 
O mediums! O to teach! to convey the invisible faith! 
To promulge real things! to journey through all The States! 
O creation! O to-day! O laws! O unmitigated adoration! 
O for mightier broods of orators, artists, and singers!  45
O for native songs! carpenter’s, boatman’s, ploughman’s songs! shoemaker’s songs! 
O haughtiest growth of time! O free and extatic! 
O what I, here, preparing, warble for! 
O you hastening light! O the sun of the world will ascend, dazzling, and take his height—and you too will ascend; 
O so amazing and so broad! up there resplendent, darting and burning;  50
O prophetic! O vision staggered with weight of light! with pouring glories! 
O copious! O hitherto unequalled! 
O Libertad! O compact! O union impossible to dissever! 
O my Soul! O lips becoming tremulous, powerless! 
O centuries, centuries yet ahead!  55
O voices of greater orators! I pause—I listen for you 
O you States! Cities! defiant of all outside authority! I spring at once into your arms! you I most love! 
O you grand Presidentiads! I wait for you! 
New history! New heroes! I project you! 
Visions of poets! only you really last! O sweep on! sweep on!  60
O Death! O you striding there! O I cannot yet! 
O heights! O infinitely too swift and dizzy yet! 
O purged lumine! you threaten me more than I can stand! 
O present! I return while yet I may to you! 
O poets to come, I depend upon you!  65


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