TO think of timeof all that retrospection!
To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward!
Have you guessd you yourself would not continue?
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?
Have you feard the future would be nothing to you?
Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing?
If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing.
To think that the sun rose in the east! that men and women were flexible, real, alive!
everything was alive!
To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our part!
To think that we are now here, and bear our part!
Not a day passesnot a minute or second, without an accouchement!
Not a day passesnot a minute or second, without a corpse!
The dull nights go over, and the dull days also,
The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over,
The physician, after long putting off, gives the silent and terrible look for an answer,
The children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters are sent for,
Medicines stand unused on the shelf(the camphor-smell has long pervaded the rooms,)
The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the dying,
The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying,
The breath ceases, and the pulse of the heart ceases,
The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living look upon it,
It is palpable as the living are palpable.
The living look upon the corpse with their eye-sight,
But without eye-sight lingers a different living, and looks curiously on the corpse.
To think the thought of Death, merged in the thought of materials!
To think that the rivers will flow, and the snow fall, and fruits ripen, and act upon
upon us nowyet not act upon us!
To think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking great interest in
themand we taking no interest in them!
To think how eager we are in building our houses!
To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent!
(I see one building the house that serves him a few years, or seventy or eighty years at
I see one building the house that serves him longer than that.)
Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earththey never ceasethey are
He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall surely be buried.
A reminiscence of the vulgar fate,
A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen,
Each after his kind:
Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharfposh and ice in the river, half-frozen mud in
streets, a gray, discouraged sky overhead, the short, last daylight of Twelfth-month,
A hearse and stagesother vehicles give placethe funeral of an old Broadway
stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers.
Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, the gate is passd, the
new-dug grave is halted at, the living alight, the hearse uncloses,
The coffin is passd out, lowerd and settled, the whip is laid on the coffin,
earth is swiftly shoveld in,
The mound above is flatted with the spadessilence,
A minuteno one moves or speaksit is done,
He is decently put awayis there anything more?
He was a good fellow, free-mouthd, quick-temperd, not bad-looking, able to
own part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready with life or death for a friend, fond of
gambled, ate hearty, drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited
the last, sickend, was helpd by a contribution, died, aged forty-one
that was his funeral.
Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves, strap, wet-weather clothes, whip
carefully chosen, boss, spotter, starter, hostler, somebody loafing on you, you loafing
somebody, headway, man before and man behind, good days work, bad days work,
stock, mean stock, first out, last out, turning-in at night;
To think that these are so much and so nigh to other driversand he there takes no
interest in them!
The markets, the government, the working-mans wagesto think what account they
through our nights and days!
To think that other working-men will make just as great account of themyet we make
or no account!
The vulgar and the refinedwhat you call sin, and what you call goodnessto
wide a difference!
To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie beyond the difference.
To think how much pleasure there is!
Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you pleasure from poems?
Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or planning a nomination and
election? or with your wife and family?
Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the beautiful maternal cares?
These also flow onward to othersyou and I flow onward,
But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them.
Your farm, profits, crops,to think how engrossd you are!
To think there will still be farms, profits, cropsyet for you, of what avail?
What will be, will be wellfor what is, is well,
To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well.
The sky continues beautiful,
The pleasure of men with women shall never be sated, nor the pleasure of women with men,
the pleasure from poems,
The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the building of housesthese are
phantasmsthey have weight, form, location;
Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them phantasms,
The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion,
The earth is not an echoman and his life, and all the things of his life, are
You are not thrown to the windsyou gather certainly and safely around yourself;
Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever!
It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and fatherit is to
It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided;
Something long preparing and formless is arrived and formd in you,
You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes.
The threads that were spun are gatherd, the weft crosses the warp, the pattern is
The preparations have every one been justified,
The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instrumentsthe baton has given the
The guest that was cominghe waited long, for reasonshe is now housed,
He is one of those who are beautiful and happyhe is one of those that to look upon
with is enough.
The law of the past cannot be eluded,
The law of the present and future cannot be eluded,
The law of the living cannot be eludedit is eternal,
The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded,
The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded,
The law of drunkards, informers, mean personsnot one iota thereof can be eluded.
Slow moving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth,
Northerner goes carried, and Southerner goes carried, and they on the Atlantic side, and
on the Pacific, and they between, and all through the Mississippi country, and all over
The great masters and kosmos are well as they gothe heroes and good-doers are well,
The known leaders and inventors, and the rich owners and pious and distinguishd, may
But there is more account than thatthere is strict account of all.
The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing,
The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing,
The common people of Europe are not nothingthe American aborigines are not nothing,
The infected in the immigrant hospital are not nothingthe murderer or mean person is
The perpetual successions of shallow people are not nothing as they go,
The lowest prostitute is not nothingthe mocker of religion is not nothing as he
Of and in all these things,
I have dreamd that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law of us changed,
I have dreamd that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present and past law,
And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present and past law,
For I have dreamd that the law they are under now is enough.
If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung,
If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betrayd!
Then indeed suspicion of death.
Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die now,
Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward annihilation?
Pleasantly and well-suited I walk,
Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good,
The whole universe indicates that it is good,
The past and the present indicate that it is good.
How beautiful and perfect are the animals!
How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it!
What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just as perfect,
The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable fluids are perfect;
Slowly and surely they have passd on to this, and slowly and surely they yet pass
I swear I think now that everything without exception has an eternal Soul!
The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have! the animals!
I swear I think there is nothing but immortality!
That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is for it, and the cohering is
And all preparation is for it! and identity is for it! and life and materials are