1 O TO make the most jubilant poem! Even to set off these, and merge with these, the carols of Death. O full of music! full of manhood, womanhood, infancy! Full of common employments! full of grain and trees.
O for the voices of animals! O for the swiftness and balance of fishes! O for the dropping of rain-drops in a poem! O for the sunshine, and motion of waves in a poem.
O the joy of my spirit! it is uncaged! it darts like lightning! It is not enough to have this globe, or a certain timeâ€”I will have thousands of globes, and all time.
2 O the engineerâ€™s joys! To go with a locomotive! To hear the hiss of steamâ€”the merry shriekâ€”the steam-whistleâ€”the laughing locomotive! To push with resistless way, and speed off in the distance.
O the gleesome saunter over fields and hill-sides! The leaves and flowers of the commonest weedsâ€”the moist fresh stillness of the woods, The exquisite smell of the earth at day-break, and all through the forenoon.
O the horsemanâ€™s and horsewomanâ€™s joys! The saddleâ€”the gallopâ€”the pressure upon the seatâ€”the cool gurgling by the ears and hair.
3 O the firemanâ€™s joys! I hear the alarm at dead of night, I hear bellsâ€”shouts!â€”I pass the crowdâ€”I run! The sight of the flames maddens me with pleasure.
O the joy of the strong-brawnâ€™d fighter, towering in the arena, in perfect condition, conscious of power, thirsting to meet his opponent.
O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which only the human Soul is capable of generating and emitting in steady and limitless floods.
4 O the motherâ€™s joys! The watchingâ€”the enduranceâ€”the precious loveâ€”the anguishâ€”the patiently yielded life.
O the joy of increase, growth, recuperation; The joy of soothing and pacifyingâ€”the joy of concord and harmony.
O to go back to the place where I was born! To hear the birds sing once more! To ramble about the house and barn, and over the fields, once more, And through the orchard and along the old lanes once more.
5 O male and female! O the presence of women! (I swear there is nothing more exquisite to me than the mere presence of women;) O for the girl, my mate! O for the happiness with my mate! O the young man as I pass! O I am sick after the friendship of him who, I fear, is indifferent to me.
O the streets of cities! The flitting facesâ€”the expressions, eyes, feet, costumes! O I cannot tell how welcome they are to me.
6 O to have been brought up on bays, lagoons, creeks, or along the coast! O to continue and be employâ€™d there all my life! O the briny and damp smellâ€”the shoreâ€”the salt weeds exposed at low water, The work of fishermenâ€”the work of the eel-fisher and clam-fisher.
O it is I! I come with my clam-rake and spade! I come with my eel-spear; Is the tide out? I join the group of clam-diggers on the flats, I laugh and work with themâ€”I joke at my work, like a mettlesome young man.
In winter I take my eel-basket and eel-spear and travel out on foot on the iceâ€”I have a small axe to cut holes in the ice; Behold me, well-clothed, going gaily, or returning in the afternoonâ€”my brood of tough boys accompaning me, My brood of grown and part-grown boys, who love to be with no one else so well as they love to be with me, By day to work with me, and by night to sleep with me.
Or, another time, in warm weather, out in a boat, to lift the lobster-pots, where they are sunk with heavy stones, (I know the buoys;) O the sweetness of the Fifth-month morning upon the water, as I row, just before sunrise, toward the buoys; I pull the wicker pots up slantinglyâ€”the dark-green lobsters are desperate with their claws, as I take them outâ€”I insert wooden pegs in the joints of their pincers, I go to all the places, one after another, and then row back to the shore, There, in a huge kettle of boiling water, the lobsters shall be boilâ€™d till their color becomes scarlet.
Or, another time, mackerel-taking, Voracious, mad for the hook, near the surface, they seem to fill the water for miles: Or, another time, fishing for rock-fish, in Chesapeake Bayâ€”I one of the brown-faced crew: Or, another time, trailing for blue-fish off Paumanok, I stand with braced body, My left foot is on the gunwaleâ€”my right arm throws the coils of slender rope, In sight around me the quick veering and darting of fifty skiffs, my companions.
7 O boating on the rivers! The voyage down the Niagara, (the St. Lawrence,)â€”the superb sceneryâ€”the steamers, The ships sailingâ€”the Thousand Islandsâ€”the occasional timber-raft, and the raftsmen with long-reaching sweep-oars, The little huts on the rafts, and the stream of smoke when they cook their supper at evening.
O something pernicious and dread! Something far away from a puny and pious life! Something unproved! Something in a trance! Something escaped from the anchorage, and driving free.
O to work in mines, or forging iron! Foundry castingâ€”the foundry itselfâ€”the rude high roofâ€”the ample and shadowâ€™d space, The furnaceâ€”the hot liquid pourâ€™d out and running.
8 O to resume the joys of the soldier: To feel the presence of a brave general! to feel his sympathy! To behold his calmness! to be warmâ€™d in the rays of his smile! To go to battle! to hear the bugles play, and the drums beat! To hear the crash of artillery! to see the glittering of the bayonets and musket-barrels in the sun! To see men fall and die, and not complain! To taste the savage taste of blood! to be so devilish! To gloat so over the wounds and deaths of the enemy.
9 O the whalemanâ€™s joys! O I cruise my old cruise again! I feel the shipâ€™s motion under meâ€”I feel the Atlantic breezes fanning me, I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-headâ€”Thereâ€”she blows! â€”Again I spring up the rigging, to look with the restâ€”We seeâ€”we descend, wild with excitement, I leap in the lowerâ€™d boatâ€”We row toward our prey, where he lies, We approach, stealthy and silentâ€”I see the mountainous mass, lethargic, basking, I see the harpooneer standing upâ€”I see the weapon dart from his vigorous arm: O swift, again, now, far out in the ocean, the wounded whale, settling, running to windward, tows me; â€”Again I see him rise to breatheâ€”We row close again, I see a lance driven through his side, pressâ€™d deep, turnâ€™d in the wound, Again we back offâ€”I see him settle againâ€”the life is leaving him fast, As he rises, he spouts bloodâ€”I see him swim in circles narrower and narrower, swiftly cutting the waterâ€”I see him die; He gives one convulsive leap in the centre of the circle, and then falls flat and still in the bloody foam.
10 O the old manhood of me, my joy! My children and grand-childrenâ€”my white hair and beard, My largeness, calmness, majesty, out of the long stretch of my life.
O the ripenâ€™d joy of womanhood! O perfect happiness at last! I am more than eighty years of ageâ€”my hair, too, is pure whiteâ€”I am the most venerable mother; How clear is my mind! how all people draw nigh to me! What attractions are these, beyond any before? what bloom, more than the bloom of youth? What beauty is this that descends upon me, and rises out of me?
O the oratorâ€™s joys! To inflate the chestâ€”to roll the thunder of the voice out from the ribs and throat, To make the people rage, weep, hate, desire, with yourself, To lead Americaâ€”to quell America with a great tongue.
O the joy of my soul leaning poisâ€™d on itselfâ€”receiving identity through materials, and loving themâ€”observing characters, and absorbing them; O my soul, vibrated back to me, from themâ€”from facts, sight, hearing, touch, my phrenology, reason, articulation, comparison, memory, and the like; The real life of my senses and flesh, transcending my senses and flesh; My body, done with materialsâ€”my sight, done with my material eyes; Proved to me this day, beyond cavil, that it is not my material eyes which finally see, Nor my material body which finally loves, walks, laughs, shouts, embraces, procreates.
11 O the farmerâ€™s joys! Ohioanâ€™s, Illinoisianâ€™s, Wisconsineseâ€™, Kanadianâ€™s, Iowanâ€™s, Kansianâ€™s, Missourianâ€™s, Oregoneseâ€™ joys; To rise at peep of day, and pass forth nimbly to work, To plow land in the fall for winter-sown crops, To plough land in the spring for maize, To train orchardsâ€”to graft the treesâ€”to gather apples in the fall.
O the pleasure with trees! The orchardâ€”the forestâ€”the oak, cedar, pine, pekan-tree, The honey-locust, black-walnut, cottonwood, and magnolia.
12 O Death! the voyage of Death! The beautiful touch of Death, soothing and benumbing a few moments, for reasons; Myself, discharging my excrementitious body, to be burnâ€™d, or renderâ€™d to powder, or buried, My real body doubtless left to me for other spheres, My voided body, nothing more to me, returning to the purifications, further offices, eternal uses of the earth.
13 O to bathe in the swimming-bath, or in a good place along shore! To splash the water! to walk ankle-deepâ€”to race naked along the shore.
O to realize space! The plenteousness of allâ€”that there are no bounds; To emerge, and be of the skyâ€”of the sun and moon, and the flying clouds, as one with them.
O the joy of a manly self-hood! Personalityâ€”to be servile to noneâ€”to defer to noneâ€”not to any tyrant, known or unknown, To walk with erect carriage, a step springy and elastic, To look with calm gaze, or with a flashing eye, To speak with a full and sonorous voice, out of a broad chest, To confront with your personality all the other personalities of the earth.
14 Knowâ€™st thou the excellent joys of youth? Joys of the dear companions, and of the merry word, and laughing face? Joys of the glad, light-beaming dayâ€”joy of the wide-breathâ€™d games? Joy of sweet musicâ€”joy of the lighted ball-room, and the dancers? Joy of the friendly, plenteous dinnerâ€”the strong carouse, and drinking?
15 Yet, O my soul supreme! Knowâ€™st thou the joys of pensive thought? Joys of the free and lonesome heartâ€”the tender, gloomy heart? Joy of the solitary walkâ€”the spirit bowed yet proudâ€”the suffering and the struggle? The agonistic throes, the extasiesâ€”joys of the solemn musings, day or night? Joys of the thought of Deathâ€”the great spheres Time and Space? Prophetic joys of better, loftier loveâ€™s idealsâ€”the Divine Wifeâ€”the sweet, eternal, perfect Comrade? Joys all thine own, undying oneâ€”joys worthy thee, O Soul.
16 O, while I live, to be the ruler of lifeâ€”not a slave, To meet life as a powerful conqueror, No fumesâ€”no ennuiâ€”no more complaints, or scornful criticisms.
O me repellent and ugly! To these proud laws of the air, the water, and the ground, proving my interior Soul impregnable, And nothing exterior shall ever take command of me.
O to attract by more than attraction! How it is I know notâ€”yet behold! the something which obeys none of the rest, It is offensive, never defensiveâ€”yet how magnetic it draws.
17 O joy of suffering! To struggle against great odds! to meet enemies undaunted! To be entirely alone with them! to find how much one can stand! To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, death, face to face! To mount the scaffold! to advance to the muzzles of guns with perfect nonchalance! To be indeed a God!
18 O, to sail to sea in a ship! To leave this steady, unendurable land! To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, the sidewalks and the houses; To leave you, O you solid motionless land, and entering a ship, To sail, and sail, and sail!
19 O to have my life henceforth a poem of new joys! To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on, float on, To be a sailor of the world, bound for all ports, A ship itself, (see indeed these sails I spread to the sun and air,) A swift and swelling ship, full of rich wordsâ€”full of joys.