THERE was a child went forth every day; And the first object he lookâ€™d upon, that object he became; And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child, And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird, And the Third-month lambs, and the sowâ€™s pink-faint litter, and the mareâ€™s foal, and the cowâ€™s calf, And the noisy brood of the barn-yard, or by the mire of the pond-side, And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below thereâ€”and the beautiful curious liquid, And the water-plants with their graceful flat headsâ€”all became part of him.
The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him; Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees coverâ€™d with blossoms, and the fruit afterward, and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road; And the old drunkard staggering home from the out-house of the tavern, whence he had lately risen, And the school-mistress that passâ€™d on her way to the school, And the friendly boys that passâ€™dâ€”and the quarrelsome boys, And the tidy and fresh-cheekâ€™d girlsâ€”and the barefoot negro boy and girl, And all the changes of city and country, wherever he went.
His own parents, He that had fatherâ€™d him, and she that had conceivâ€™d him in her womb, and birthâ€™d him, They gave this child more of themselves than that; They gave him afterward every dayâ€”they became part of him.
The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table; The mother with mild wordsâ€”clean her cap and gown, a wholesome odor falling off her person and clothes as she walks by; The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, angerâ€™d, unjust; The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure, The family usages, the language, the company, the furnitureâ€”the yearning and swelling heart, Affection that will not be gainsayâ€™dâ€”the sense of what is realâ€”the thought if, after all, it should prove unreal, The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-timeâ€”the curious whether and how, Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks? Men and women crowding fast in the streetsâ€”if they are not flashes and specks, what are they? The streets themselves, and the faÃ§ades of houses, and goods in the windows, Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plankâ€™d wharvesâ€”the huge crossing at the ferries, The village on the highland, seen from afar at sunsetâ€”the river between, Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown, three miles off,
The schooner near by, sleepily dropping down the tideâ€”the little boat slack-towâ€™d astern, The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping, The strata of colorâ€™d clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint, away solitary by itselfâ€”the spread of purity it lies motionless in, The horizonâ€™s edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud; These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.