Brother of All, with Generous Hand. by Walt Whitman
1 BROTHER of all, with generous hand, Of thee, pondering on thee, as oâ€™er thy tomb, I and my Soul, A thought to launch in memory of thee, A burial verse for thee.
What may we chant, O thou within this tomb? What tablets, pictures, hang for thee, O millionaire? â€”The life thou livedâ€™st we know not, But that thou walkâ€™dst thy years in barter, â€™mid the haunts of brokers; Nor heroism thine, nor war, nor glory.
Yet lingering, yearning, joining soul with thine, If not thy past we chant, we chant the future, Select, adorn the future.
2 Lo, Soul, the graves of heroes! The pride of landsâ€”the gratitudes of men, The statues of the manifold famous dead, Old World and New, The kings, inventors, generals, poets, (stretch wide thy vision, Soul,) The excellent rulers of the races, great discoverers, sailors, Marble and brass select from them, with pictures, scenes, (The histories of the lands, the races, bodied there, In what theyâ€™ve built for, graced and graved, Monuments to their heroes.)
3 Silent, my Soul, With drooping lids, as waiting, ponderâ€™d, Turning from all the samples, all the monuments of heroes.
While through the interior vistas, Noiseless uprose, phantasmic (as, by night, Auroras of the North,) Lambent tableaux, prophetic, bodiless scenes, Spiritual projections.
In one, among the city streets, a laborerâ€™s home appearâ€™d, After his dayâ€™s work done, cleanly, sweet-airâ€™d, the gaslight burning, The carpet swept, and a fire in the cheerful stove.
In one, the sacred parturition scene, A happy, painless mother birthâ€™d a perfect child.
In one, at a bounteous morning meal, Sat peaceful parents, with contented sons.
In one, by twos and threes, young people, Hundreds concentering, walkâ€™d the paths and streets and roads, Toward a tall-domed school.
In one a trio, beautiful, Grandmother, loving daughter, loving daughterâ€™s daughter, sat, Chatting and sewing.
In one, along a suite of noble rooms, â€™Mid plenteous books and journals, paintings on the walls, fine statuettes, Were groups of friendly journeymen, mechanics, young and old, Reading, conversing.
All, all the shows of laboring life, City and country, womenâ€™s, menâ€™s and childrenâ€™s, Their wants provided for, hued in the sun, and tinged for once with joy, Marriage, the street, the factory, farm, the house-room, lodging-room, Labor and toil, the bath, gymnasium, play-ground, library, college, The student, boy or girl, led forward to be taught; The sick cared for, the shoeless shodâ€”the orphan fatherâ€™d and motherâ€™d, The hungry fed, the houseless housed; (The intentions perfect and divine, The workings, details, haply human.)
4 O thou within this tomb, From thee, such scenesâ€”thou stintless, lavish Giver, Tallying the gifts of Earthâ€”large as the Earth, Thy name an Earth, with mountains, fields and rivers.
Nor by your streams alone, you rivers, By you, your banks, Connecticut, By you, and all your teeming life, Old Thames, By you, Potomac, laving the ground Washington trodâ€”by you Patapsco, You, Hudsonâ€”you, endless Mississippiâ€”not by you alone, But to the high seas launch, my thought, his memory.
5 Lo, Soul, by this tombâ€™s lambency, The darkness of the arrogant standards of the world, With all its flaunting aims, ambitions, pleasures.
(Old, commonplace, and rusty saws, The rich, the gay, the supercilious, smiled at long, Now, piercing to the marrow in my bones, Fused with each drop my heartâ€™s blood jets, Swim in ineffable meaning.)
Lo, Soul, the sphere requireth, portioneth, To each his share, his measure, The moderate to the moderate, the ample to the ample.
Lo, Soul, seeâ€™st thou not, plain as the sun, The only real wealth of wealth in generosity, The only life of life in goodness?