COME, my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp edged axes? Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you, western youths, see you tramping with the foremost, Pioneers! O

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied, over there beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden, and the lesson, Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind;
We debouch upon a newer, mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march, Pioneers! O pioneers!

We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing, as we go, the unknown ways, Pioneers! O pioneers!

We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we, and piercing deep the mines within;
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving, Pioneers! O pioneers!

Colorado men are we,
From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high plateaus,
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come, Pioneers! O pioneers!

From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental blood intervein’d;
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern, Pioneers! O

O resistless, restless race!
O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult-I am rapt with love for all, Pioneers! O pioneers!

Raise the mighty mother mistress,
Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress, (bend your heads all,)
Raise the fang’d and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon’d mistress, Pioneers! O

See, my children, resolute children,
By those swarms upon our rear, we must never yield or falter,
Ages back in ghostly millions, frowning there behind us urging, Pioneers! O pioneers!

On and on, the compact ranks,
With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly fill’d,
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping, Pioneers! O pioneers!

O to die advancing on!
Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?
Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill’d, Pioneers! O

All the pulses of the world,
Falling in, they beat for us, with the western movement beat;
Holding single or together, steady moving, to the front, all for us, Pioneers! O

Life’s involv’d and varied pageants,
All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,
All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves, Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the hapless silent lovers,
All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying, Pioneers! O pioneers!

I too with my soul and body,
We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
Through these shores, amid the shadows, with the apparitions pressing, Pioneers! O


Lo! the darting bowling orb!
Lo! the brother orbs around! all the clustering suns and planets,
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams, Pioneers! O pioneers!

These are of us, they are with us,
All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait behind,
We to-day’s procession heading, we the route for travel clearing, Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you daughters of the west!
O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!
Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united, Pioneers! O pioneers!

Minstrels latent on the prairies!
(Shrouded bards of other lands! you may sleep-you have done your work;)
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us, Pioneers! O pioneers!

Not for delectations sweet;
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious;
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment, Pioneers! O pioneers!

Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock’d and bolted doors?
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground, Pioneers! O pioneers!

Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged, nodding on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you, in your tracks to pause oblivious, Pioneers! O pioneers!

Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the day-break call-hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind;
Swift! to the head of the army!-swift! spring to your places, Pioneers! O pioneers.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Walt Whitman's poem Pioneers! O Pioneers!


  1. C. Courtnay says:

    Obviously some of you do not understand that people talked differently 25, 50 100, 250, 500 years ago. Walt Whitman was a very deep thinker. He wrote outstanding poetry. The individual(someonereal) who wrote that this poem is a waste of time needs to question their motives for making such a comment. He or she obviously does not understand that most poetry is allegorical or metaphorical in nature and is not meant to be taken literally. My suggestion is to stop and READ the poem. Find a good synopsis of the poem. Read the poem with the meaning of each stanza in hand. Teachers have you read poetry because is show us many things about the prevailing thought patterns of the time period in which they are written.
    My next comment to someonereal is to go back to school and learn to speak and write properly. Learn to spell also. You need to clean up your mind. It is filled with very unhealthy thoughts. You have a potty mind and need to fill with the Grace of Jesus Christ.
    This poem was written at a time of great turmoil in the United States. People had moved west and were farmers. The west did not farm well in terms of raising cash crops. It does farm well for raising beef cattle. Those who moved west found this out. If you have never been out west. Especially the southwest, it is a very desolate land. Not much grass for grazing. Some breeds of cattle do better than others. Summers are hot and winters are harsh and in many places very cold. The desert of the southwest is a place of extremes.
    The northwest is also a place of extremes. But not the extremes of heat in the summer. But extremes of cold and snow in the winter.
    The pioneers of the east were used to four distinct seasons. They were used to gradual changes in weather. They had to deal with people who did not want them there. Namely Indians, the pioneers had to start everything from scratch. They had to carve out from a very harsh environment and land, lives for themselves. This poem is about that harshness and what they had to live with.
    Read this poem carefully it is an amazing account of what pioneers dealt with.
    I would recommend the companion book “O Pioneers”, by Willa Cather. It goes with the poem and explains much of what pioneers had to deal with in terms of settling land and dealing with the harshness of the environment. It is a great book about the history of this great nation of ours.

  2. someone real :D says:

    I think this poem is a waste of time and if anyone needs to do an essay “cough” I think i noe what school “cough” then the school IS OBVIOUSLY DUMB … this is not even for college students and NO ONE NOES WTF THIS MEANS BC IT WAS RITTEN like 100 years ago!!!

  3. austin says:

    this poem has probably nothing to do with space it is in the 1900’s obviously its supposed to mean the united state’s pioneers. about the exploration of the united state’s. or as some like to call it manifest destiny!!!. it could also referr to the civil war with all the refernces to the war. Through the north and south at the begining and ending with the westerner’s at the end. “oh western youth’s how plain i see you” hmm i wonder what that means??? naw it just has no affiliation with the United State’s

  4. Zach says:

    Inspiring poem on all counts but this cannot be transcribed into the space race. Space is a scientific arena of study and maybe-could-be’s. It is extremely expensive and inaccessible except to the old, fat cats who have no desire or need to do anything further. Whereas the West during Whitman’s time was a wild expanse that Everyman could search for his own adventure and successes. Interesting, inspiring, patriotic, yes. Applicable to today? Maybe not?

  5. Ryan says:

    I think this poem could be meant different ways by whitman but we may never know.(unless he explained it specifically somewhere) I would say that it does have tones of western imperialism and over patriotism but notice that it never mentions anything about white people! I relate to it in a very different fashion. I believe it is about the hope of youth and the championing of the youth. It is a poem of hope and how hope can be battle field. In our youthful tension there is a battle that must be fought for a new age that must come about to progress humanity and since the youth is always the coming generation we are responsible for battling for the progression of humanity. We are the pioneers.

  6. Doug Hendrix says:

    There is still a place for Pioneers, it’s called “Space”. But, the USA after standing on the precipice of this new adventure, blinked and backed away. Shame on us! Maybe China will pick up the reins?

  7. Elliott says:

    Pioneers! O Pioneers! was written during the civil war when Americans were very pessimistic and it was a bad time for just about everyone. But Whitman was optimistic with his poetry and i see a paralell of those bad days with todays situation and so yes you could say it literally was about Manifest Destiny or a rallying cry, which it was. But i believe its purpose was to bring hope, a proud feeling of who we are and our country, and motivation to carry on and adapt just as Americans have always done. So in that respect the poem is timeless.

  8. Chloe says:

    I only know this poem from a Levi’s jean commerical, but it is very inspiring!

  9. Catherine says:

    This poem is not about white male supremacy or intergenerational struggle. It’s about Manifest Destiny, the great Westward expansion of the mid-to-late 1800s. When Whitman writes about youth, he refers to the young nation, the United States. Elders refer to the countries that the new Americans emigrated from. You have to remember that this poem was written 150 years ago, and to look at it with 21st Century attitudes and values will completely change its meaning from what the author intended.

  10. Julie says:

    I think “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” is about how the soul of America is the regular people, not the fat cats, and that Americans are tough and never give up, marching on to uphold their morals and liberties. It’s like a rallying cry to remind the people of that. We carry on the work of our ancestors, carry on the work that those who become weary can no longer bear. It’s a shame that we have become so complacent, it usually takes something catastrophic to shake us back into the strong America we started out as and make us appreciate our liberties more.

  11. Paul says:

    This has to do with Manifest destiny

  12. Amanda says:

    I think he is talking about how we are all pioneers, since we all lead the way in doing new things, or old things in a new way.

  13. Alexis says:

    I really wish I could understand this more. I know that Langston Hughes used quite a few juxtapositions with Walt Whitman’s poetry, and I’m trying to find them. “Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!” is what I’m looking at. My guess is that it’s calling for a march for liberty, but I’m still not certain. If anyone wants to help me out, though, please comment more.

  14. Rose says:

    Well that was a bunch of words that i didnt understand. I wouldnt even have read this if it werent for a summer reading project i had to do. Good try buddy.

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