NATIONS ten thousand years before These States, and many times ten thousand years before
Garnerd clusters of ages, that men and women like us grew up and traveld their
course, and passd on;
What vast-built citieswhat orderly republicswhat pastoral tribes and nomads;
What histories, rulers, heroes, perhaps transcending all others;
What laws, customs, wealth, arts, traditions;
What sort of marriagewhat costumeswhat physiology and phrenology;
What of liberty and slavery among themwhat they thought of death and the soul;
Who were witty and wisewho beautiful and poeticwho brutish and
Not a mark, not a record remainsAnd yet all remains.
O I know that those men and women were not for nothing, any more than we are for nothing;
I know that they belong to the scheme of the world every bit as much as we now belong to
and as all will henceforth belong to it.
Afar they standyet near to me they stand,
Some with oval countenances, learnd and calm,
Some naked and savageSome like huge collections of insects,
Some in tentsherdsmen, patriarchs, tribes, horsemen,
Some prowling through woodsSome living peaceably on farms, laboring, reaping,
Some traversing paved avenues, amid temples, palaces, factories, libraries, shows, courts,
theatres, wonderful monuments.
Are those billions of men really gone?
Are those women of the old experience of the earth gone?
Do their lives, cities, arts, rest only with us?
Did they achieve nothing for good, for themselves?
I believe of all those billions of men and women that filld the unnamed lands, every
exists this hour, here or elsewhere, invisible to us, in exact proportion to what he or
grew from in life, and out of what he or she did, felt, became, loved, sinnd, in
I believe that was not the end of those nations, or any person of them, any more than this
shall be the end of my nation, or of me;
Of their languages, governments, marriage, literature, products, games, wars, manners,
prisons, slaves, heroes, poets, I suspect their results curiously await in the yet unseen
worldcounterparts of what accrued to them in the seen world.
I suspect I shall meet them there,
I suspect I shall there find each old particular of those unnamed lands.