SINGING my days,
Singing the great achievements of the present,
Singing the strong, light works of engineers,
Our modern wonders, (the antique ponderous Seven outvied,)
In the Old World, the east, the Suez canal,
The New by its mighty railroad spannd,
The seas inlaid with eloquent, gentle wires,
I sound, to commence, the cry, with thee, O soul,
The Past! the Past! the Past!
The Past! the dark, unfathomd retrospect!
The teeming gulf! the sleepers and the shadows!
The past! the infinite greatness of the past!
For what is the present, after all, but a growth out of the past?
(As a projectile, formd, impelld, passing a certain line, still keeps on,
So the present, utterly formd, impelld by the past.)
Passage, O soul, to India!
Eclaircise the myths Asiaticthe primitive fables.
Not you alone, proud truths of the world!
Nor you alone, ye facts of modern science!
But myths and fables of eldAsias, Africas fables!
The far-darting beams of the spirit!the unloosd dreams!
The deep diving bibles and legends;
The daring plots of the poetsthe elder religions;
O you temples fairer than lilies, pourd over by the rising sun!
O you fables, spurning the known, eluding the hold of the known, mounting to heaven!
You lofty and dazzling towers, pinnacled, red as roses, burnishd with gold!
Towers of fables immortal, fashiond from mortal dreams!
You too I welcome, and fully, the same as the rest;
You too with joy I sing.
Passage to India!
Lo, soul! seest thou not Gods purpose from the first?
The earth to be spannd, connected by net-work,
The people to become brothers and sisters,
The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,
The oceans to be crossd, the distant brought near,
The lands to be welded together.
(A worship new, I sing;
You captains, voyagers, explorers, yours!
You engineers! you architects, machinists, your!
You, not for trade or transportation only,
But in Gods name, and for thy sake, O soul.)
Passage to India!
Lo, soul, for thee, of tableaus twain,
I see, in one, the Suez canal initiated, opend,
I see the procession of steamships, the Empress Eugenies leading the van;
I mark, from on deck, the strange landscape, the pure sky, the level sand in the distance;
I pass swiftly the picturesque groups, the workmen gatherd,
The gigantic dredging machines.
In one, again, different, (yet thine, all thine, O soul, the same,)
I see over my own continent the Pacific Railroad, surmounting every barrier;
I see continual trains of cars winding along the Platte, carrying freight and passengers;
I hear the locomotives rushing and roaring, and the shrill steam-whistle,
I hear the echoes reverberate through the grandest scenery in the world;
I cross the Laramie plainsI note the rocks in grotesque shapesthe buttes;
I see the plentiful larkspur and wild onionsthe barren, colorless, sage-deserts;
I see in glimpses afar, or towering immediately above me, the great mountainsI see
Wind River and the Wahsatch mountains;
I see the Monument mountain and the Eagles NestI pass the PromontoryI
I scan the noble Elk mountain, and wind around its base;
I see the Humboldt rangeI thread the valley and cross the river,
I see the clear waters of Lake TahoeI see forests of majestic pines,
Or, crossing the great desert, the alkaline plains, I behold enchanting mirages of waters
Marking through these, and after all, in duplicate slender lines,
Bridging the three or four thousand miles of land travel,
Tying the Eastern to the Western sea,
The road between Europe and Asia.
(Ah Genoese, thy dream! thy dream!
Centuries after thou art laid in thy grave,
The shore thou foundest verifies thy dream!)
Passage to India!
Struggles of many a captaintales of many a sailor dead!
Over my mood, stealing and spreading they come,
Like clouds and cloudlets in the unreachd sky.
Along all history, down the slopes,
As a rivulet running, sinking now, and now again to the surface rising,
A ceaseless thought, a varied trainLo, soul! to thee, thy sight, they rise,
The plans, the voyages again, the expeditions:
Again Vasco de Gama sails forth;
Again the knowledge gaind, the mariners compass,
Lands found, and nations bornthou born, America, (a hemisphere unborn,)
For purpose vast, mans long probation filld,
Thou, rondure of the world, at last accomplishd.
O, vast Rondure, swimming in space!
Coverd all over with visible power and beauty!
Alternate light and day, and the teeming, spiritual darkness;
Unspeakable, high processions of sun and moon, and countless stars, above;
Below, the manifold grass and waters, animals, mountains, trees;
With inscrutable purposesome hidden, prophetic intention;
Now, first, it seems, my thought begins to span thee.
Down from the gardens of Asia, descending, radiating,
Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after them,
Wandering, yearning, curiouswith restless explorations,
With questionings, baffled, formless, feverishwith never-happy hearts,
With that sad, incessant refrain, Wherefore, unsatisfied Soul? and Whither, O
Ah, who shall soothe these feverish children?
Who justify these restless explorations?
Who speak the secret of impassive Earth?
Who bind it to us? What is this separate Nature, so unnatural?
What is this Earth, to our affections? (unloving earth, without a throb to answer ours;
Cold earth, the place of graves.)
Yet, soul, be sure the first intent remainsand shall be carried out;
(Perhaps even now the time has arrived.)
After the seas are all crossd, (as they seem already crossd,)
After the great captains and engineers have accomplishd their work,
After the noble inventorsafter the scientists, the chemist, the geologist,
Finally shall come the Poet, worthy that name;
The true Son of God shall come, singing his songs.
Then, not your deeds only, O voyagers, O scientists and inventors, shall be justified,
All these hearts, as of fretted children, shall be soothd,
All affection shall be fully responded tothe secret shall be told;
All these separations and gaps shall be taken up, and hookd and linkd
The whole Earththis cold, impassive, voiceless Earth, shall be completely justified;
Trinitas divine shall be gloriously accomplishd and compacted by the the Son of God,
(He shall indeed pass the straits and conquer the mountains,
He shall double the Cape of Good Hope to some purpose;)
Nature and Man shall be disjoind and diffused no more,
The true Son of God shall absolutely fuse them.
Year at whose opend, wide-flung door I sing!
Year of the purpose accomplishd!
Year of the marriage of continents, climates and oceans!
(No mere Doge of Venice now, wedding the Adriatic;)
I see, O year, in you, the vast terraqueous globe, given, and giving all,
Europe to Asia, Africa joind, and they to the New World;
The lands, geographies, dancing before you, holding a festival garland,
As brides and bridegrooms hand in hand.
Passage to India!
Cooling airs from Caucasus far, soothing cradle of man,
The river Euphrates flowing, the past lit up again.
Lo, soul, the retrospect, brought forward;
The old, most populous, wealthiest of Earths lands,
The streams of the Indus and the Ganges, and their many affluents;
(I, my shores of America walking to-day, behold, resuming all,)
The tale of Alexander, on his warlike marches, suddenly dying,
On one side China, and on the other side Persia and Arabia,
To the south the great seas, and the Bay of Bengal;
The flowing literatures, tremendous epics, religions, castes,
Old occult Brahma, interminably far backthe tender and junior Buddha,
Central and southern empires, and all their belongings, possessors,
The wars of Tamerlane, the reign of Aurungzebe,
The traders, rulers, explorers, Moslems, Venetians, Byzantium, the Arabs, Portuguese,
The first travelers, famous yet, Marco Polo, Batouta the Moor,
Doubts to be solvd, the map incognita, blanks to be filld,
The foot of man unstayd, the hands never at rest,
Thyself, O soul, that will not brook a challenge.
The medieval navigators rise before me,
The world of 1492, with its awakend enterprise;
Something swelling in humanity now like the sap of the earth in spring,
The sunset splendor of chivalry declining.
And who art thou, sad shade?
Gigantic, visionary, thyself a visionary,
With majestic limbs, and pious, beaming eyes,
Spreading around, with every look of thine, a golden world,
Enhuing it with gorgeous hues.
As the chief histrion,
Down to the footlights walks, in some great scena,
Dominating the rest, I see the Admiral himself,
(Historys type of courage, action, faith;)
Behold him sail from Palos, leading his little fleet;
His voyage beholdhis returnhis great fame,
His misfortunes, calumniatorsbehold him a prisoner, chaind,
Behold his dejection, poverty, death.
(Curious, in time, I stand, noting the efforts of heroes;
Is the deferment long? bitter the slander, poverty, death?
Lies the seed unreckd for centuries in the ground? Lo! to Gods due occasion,
Uprising in the night, it sprouts, blooms,
And fills the earth with use and beauty.)
Passage indeed, O soul, to primal thought!
Not lands and seas alonethy own clear freshness,
The young maturity of brood and bloom;
To realms of budding bibles.
O soul, repressless, I with thee, and thou with me,
Thy circumnavigation of the world begin;
Of man, the voyage of his minds return,
To reasons early paradise,
Back, back to wisdoms birth, to innocent intuitions,
Again with fair Creation.
O we can wait no longer!
We too take ship, O soul!
Joyous, we too launch out on trackless seas!
Fearless, for unknown shores, on waves of extasy to sail,
Amid the wafting winds, (thou pressing me to thee, I thee to me, O soul,)
Caroling freesinging our song of God,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.
With laugh, and many a kiss,
(Let others deprecatelet others weep for sin, remorse, humiliation;)
O soul, thou pleasest meI thee.
Ah, more than any priest, O soul, we too believe in God;
But with the mystery of God we dare not dally.
O soul, thou pleasest meI thee;
Sailing these seas, or on the hills, or waking in the night,
Thoughts, silent thoughts, of Time, and Space, and Death, like waters flowing,
Bear me, indeed, as through the regions infinite,
Whose air I breathe, whose ripples hearlave me all over;
Bathe me, O God, in theemounting to thee,
I and my soul to range in range of thee.
O Thou transcendant!
Namelessthe fibre and the breath!
Light of the lightshedding forth universesthou centre of them!
Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving!
Thou moral, spiritual fountain! affections source! thou reservoir!
(O pensive soul of me! O thirst unsatisfied! waitest not there?
Waitest not haply for us, somewhere there, the Comrade perfect?)
Thou pulse! thou motive of the stars, suns, systems,
That, circling, move in order, safe, harmonious,
Athwart the shapeless vastnesses of space!
How should I thinkhow breathe a single breathhow speakif, out of myself,
I could not launch, to those, superior universes?
Swiftly I shrivel at the thought of God,
At Nature and its wonders, Time and Space and Death,
But that I, turning, call to thee, O soul, thou actual Me,
And lo! thou gently masterest the orbs,
Thou matest Time, smilest content at Death,
And fillest, swellest full, the vastnesses of Space.
Greater than stars or suns,
Bounding, O soul, thou journeyest forth;
What love, than thine and ours could wider amplify?
What aspirations, wishes, outvie thine and ours, O soul?
What dreams of the ideal? what plans of purity, perfection, strength?
What cheerful willingness, for others sake, to give up all?
For others sake to suffer all?
Reckoning ahead, O soul, when thou, the time achievd,
(The seas all crossd, weatherd the capes, the voyage done,)
Surrounded, copest, frontest God, yieldest, the aim attaind,
As, filld with friendship, love complete, the Elder Brother found,
The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.
Passage to more than India!
Are thy wings plumed indeed for such far flights?
O Soul, voyagest thou indeed on voyages like these?
Disportest thou on waters such as these?
Soundest below the Sanscrit and the Vedas?
Then have thy bent unleashd.
Passage to you, your shores, ye aged fierce enigmas!
Passage to you, to mastership of you, ye strangling problems!
You, strewd with the wrecks of skeletons, that, living, never reachd you.
Passage to more than India!
O secret of the earth and sky!
Of you, O waters of the sea! O winding creeks and rivers!
Of you, O woods and fields! Of you, strong mountains of my land!
Of you, O prairies! Of you, gray rocks!
O morning red! O clouds! O rain and snows!
O day and night, passage to you!
O sun and moon, and all you stars! Sirius and Jupiter!
Passage to you!
Passageimmediate passage! the blood burns in my veins!
Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsershaul outshake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovelld here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darkend and dazed ourselves with books long enough?
Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!