1 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 spannâ€™d, 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, unfathomâ€™d 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, formâ€™d, impellâ€™d, passing a certain line, still keeps on, So the present, utterly formâ€™d, impellâ€™d by the past.)
2 Passage, O soul, to India! Eclaircise the myths Asiaticâ€”the primitive fables.
Not you alone, proud truths of the world! Nor you alone, ye facts of modern science! But myths and fables of eldâ€”Asiaâ€™s, Africaâ€™s fables! The far-darting beams of the spirit!â€”the unloosâ€™d dreams! The deep diving bibles and legends; The daring plots of the poetsâ€”the elder religions; â€”O you temples fairer than lilies, pourâ€™d 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, burnishâ€™d with gold! Towers of fables immortal, fashionâ€™d from mortal dreams! You too I welcome, and fully, the same as the rest; You too with joy I sing.
3 Passage to India! Lo, soul! seest thou not Godâ€™s purpose from the first? The earth to be spannâ€™d, 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 crossâ€™d, 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 Godâ€™s name, and for thy sake, O soul.)
4 Passage to India! Lo, soul, for thee, of tableaus twain, I see, in one, the Suez canal initiated, openâ€™d, I see the procession of steamships, the Empress Eugenieâ€™s 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 gatherâ€™d, 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 plainsâ€”I note the rocks in grotesque shapesâ€”the buttes; I see the plentiful larkspur and wild onionsâ€”the barren, colorless, sage-deserts; I see in glimpses afar, or towering immediately above me, the great mountainsâ€”I see the Wind River and the Wahsatch mountains; I see the Monument mountain and the Eagleâ€™s Nestâ€”I pass the Promontoryâ€”I ascend the Nevadas; I scan the noble Elk mountain, and wind around its base; I see the Humboldt rangeâ€”I thread the valley and cross the river, I see the clear waters of Lake Tahoeâ€”I see forests of majestic pines, Or, crossing the great desert, the alkaline plains, I behold enchanting mirages of waters and meadows; 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!)
5 Passage to India! Struggles of many a captainâ€”tales of many a sailor dead! Over my mood, stealing and spreading they come, Like clouds and cloudlets in the unreachâ€™d 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 trainâ€”Lo, soul! to thee, thy sight, they rise, The plans, the voyages again, the expeditions: Again Vasco de Gama sails forth; Again the knowledge gainâ€™d, the marinerâ€™s compass, Lands found, and nations bornâ€”thou born, America, (a hemisphere unborn,) For purpose vast, manâ€™s long probation fillâ€™d, Thou, rondure of the world, at last accomplishâ€™d.
6 O, vast Rondure, swimming in space! Coverâ€™d 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 purposeâ€”some 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, curiousâ€”with restless explorations, With questionings, baffled, formless, feverishâ€”with never-happy hearts, With that sad, incessant refrain, Wherefore, unsatisfied Soul? and Whither, O mocking Life?
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 remainsâ€”and shall be carried out; (Perhaps even now the time has arrived.)
After the seas are all crossâ€™d, (as they seem already crossâ€™d,) After the great captains and engineers have accomplishâ€™d their work, After the noble inventorsâ€”after the scientists, the chemist, the geologist, ethnologist, 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 soothâ€™d, All affection shall be fully responded toâ€”the secret shall be told; All these separations and gaps shall be taken up, and hookâ€™d and linkâ€™d together; The whole Earthâ€”this cold, impassive, voiceless Earth, shall be completely justified;
Trinitas divine shall be gloriously accomplishâ€™d and compacted by the the Son of God, the poet, (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 disjoinâ€™d and diffused no more, The true Son of God shall absolutely fuse them.
7 Year at whose openâ€™d, wide-flung door I sing! Year of the purpose accomplishâ€™d! 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 joinâ€™d, and they to the New World; The lands, geographies, dancing before you, holding a festival garland, As brides and bridegrooms hand in hand.
8 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 Earthâ€™s 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 backâ€”the 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 solvâ€™d, the map incognita, blanks to be fillâ€™d, The foot of man unstayâ€™d, the hands never at rest, Thyself, O soul, that will not brook a challenge.
9 The medieval navigators rise before me, The world of 1492, with its awakenâ€™d 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, (Historyâ€™s type of courage, action, faith;) Behold him sail from Palos, leading his little fleet; His voyage beholdâ€”his returnâ€”his great fame, His misfortunes, calumniatorsâ€”behold him a prisoner, chainâ€™d, 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 unreckâ€™d for centuries in the ground? Lo! to Godâ€™s due occasion, Uprising in the night, it sprouts, blooms, And fills the earth with use and beauty.)
10 Passage indeed, O soul, to primal thought! Not lands and seas aloneâ€”thy 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 mindâ€™s return, To reasonâ€™s early paradise, Back, back to wisdomâ€™s birth, to innocent intuitions, Again with fair Creation.
11 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 freeâ€”singing our song of God, Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.
With laugh, and many a kiss, (Let others deprecateâ€”let others weep for sin, remorse, humiliation;) O soul, thou pleasest meâ€”I 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 meâ€”I 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 hearâ€”lave me all over; Bathe me, O God, in theeâ€”mounting to thee, I and my soul to range in range of thee.
O Thou transcendant! Namelessâ€”the fibre and the breath! Light of the lightâ€”shedding forth universesâ€”thou centre of them! Thou mightier centre of the true, the good, the loving! Thou moral, spiritual fountain! affectionâ€™s 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 thinkâ€”how breathe a single breathâ€”how speakâ€”if, 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; â€”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 othersâ€™ sake, to give up all? For othersâ€™ sake to suffer all?
Reckoning ahead, O soul, when thou, the time achievâ€™d, (The seas all crossâ€™d, weatherâ€™d the capes, the voyage done,) Surrounded, copest, frontest God, yieldest, the aim attainâ€™d, As, fillâ€™d with friendship, love complete, the Elder Brother found, The Younger melts in fondness in his arms.
12 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 unleashâ€™d.
Passage to you, your shores, ye aged fierce enigmas! Passage to you, to mastership of you, ye strangling problems! You, strewâ€™d with the wrecks of skeletons, that, living, never reachâ€™d you.
13 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!
Passageâ€”immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor! Cut the hawsersâ€”haul outâ€”shake out every sail! Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough? Have we not grovellâ€™d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes? Have we not darkenâ€™d 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!