1 A CALIFORNIA song! A prophecy and indirectionâ€”a thought impalpable, to breathe, as air; A chorus of dryads, fading, departingâ€”or hamadryads departing; A murmuring, fateful, giant voice, out of the earth and sky, Voice of a mighty dying tree in the Redwood forest dense.
Farewell, my brethren, Farewell, O earth and skyâ€”farewell, ye neighboring waters; My time has ended, my term has come.
2 Along the northern coast, Just back from the rock-bound shore, and the caves, In the saline air from the sea, in the Mendocino country, With the surge for bass and accompaniment low and hoarse, With crackling blows of axes, sounding musically, driven by strong arms, Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axesâ€”there in the Redwood forest dense, I heard the mighty tree its death-chant chanting.
The choppers heard notâ€”the camp shanties echoed not; The quick-earâ€™d teamsters, and chain and jack-screw men, heard not, As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand years, to join the refrain; But in my soul I plainly heard.
Murmuring out of its myriad leaves, Down from its lofty top, rising two hundred feet high, Out of its stalwart trunk and limbsâ€”out of its foot-thick bark, That chant of the seasons and timeâ€”chant, not of the past only, but the future.
3 You untold life of me, And all you venerable and innocent joys, Perennial, hardy life of me, with joys, â€™mid rain, and many a summer sun, And the white snows, and night, and the wild winds; O the great patient, rugged joys! my soulâ€™s strong joys, unreckâ€™d by man; (For know I bear the soul befitting meâ€”I too have consciousness, identity, And all the rocks and mountains haveâ€”and all the earth;) Joys of the life befitting me and brothers mine, Our time, our term has come.
Nor yield we mournfully, majestic brothers, We who have grandly fillâ€™d our time; With Natureâ€™s calm content, and tacit, huge delight, We welcome what we wrought for through the past, And leave the field for them.
For them predicted long, For a superber Raceâ€”they too to grandly fill their time, For them we abdicateâ€”in them ourselves, ye forest kings! In them these skies and airsâ€”these mountain peaksâ€”Shastaâ€”Nevadas, These huge, precipitous cliffsâ€”this amplitudeâ€”these valleys grandâ€”Yosemite, To be in them absorbâ€™d, assimilated.
4 Then to a loftier strain, Still prouder, more ecstatic, rose the chant, As if the heirs, the Deities of the West, Joining, with master-tongue, bore part.
Not wan from Asiaâ€™s fetishes, Nor red from Europeâ€™s old dynastic slaughter-house, (Area of murder-plots of thrones, with scent left yet of wars and scaffolds every where,) But come from Natureâ€™s long and harmless throesâ€”peacefully builded thence, These virgin landsâ€”Lands of the Western Shore, To the new Culminating Manâ€”to you, the Empire New, You, promisâ€™d long, we pledge, we dedicate.
You occult, deep volitions, You average Spiritual Manhood, purpose of all, poisâ€™d on yourselfâ€”giving, not taking law, You Womanhood divine, mistress and source of all, whence life and love, and aught that comes from life and love, You unseen Moral Essence of all the vast materials of America, (age upon age, working in Death the same as Life,) You that, sometimes known, oftener unknown, really shape and mould the New World, adjusting it to Time and Space, You hidden National Will, lying in your abysms, concealâ€™d, but ever alert, You past and present purposes, tenaciously pursued, may-be unconscious of yourselves, Unswervâ€™d by all the passing errors, perturbations of the surface; You vital, universal, deathless germs, beneath all creeds, arts, statutes, literatures,
Here build your homes for goodâ€”establish hereâ€”These areas entire, Lands of the Western Shore, We pledge, we dedicate to you.
For man of youâ€”your characteristic Race, Here may be hardy, sweet, gigantic growâ€”here tower, proportionate to Nature, Here climb the vast, pure spaces, unconfined, uncheckâ€™d by wall or roof, Here laugh with storm or sunâ€”here joyâ€”here patiently inure, Here heed himself, unfold himself (not othersâ€™ formulas heed)â€”here fill his time, To duly fall, to aid, unreckâ€™d at last, To disappear, to serve.
Thus, on the northern coast, In the echo of teamstersâ€™ calls, and the clinking chains, and the music of choppersâ€™ axes,
The falling trunk and limbs, the crash, the muffled shriek, the groan, Such words combined from the Redwood-treeâ€”as of wood-spiritsâ€™ voices ecstatic, ancient and rustling, The century-lasting, unseen dryads, singing, withdrawing, All their recesses of forests and mountains leaving, From the Cascade range to the Wasatchâ€”or Idaho far, or Utah, To the deities of the Modern henceforth yielding, The chorus and indications, the vistas of coming humanityâ€”the settlements, features all, In the Mendocino woods I caught.
5 The flashing and golden pageant of California! The sudden and gorgeous dramaâ€”the sunny and ample lands; The long and varied stretch from Puget Sound to Colorado south; Lands bathed in sweeter, rarer, healthier airâ€”valleys and mountain cliffs; The fields of Nature long prepared and fallowâ€”the silent, cyclic chemistry; The slow and steady ages ploddingâ€”the unoccupied surface ripeningâ€”the rich ores forming beneath; At last the New arriving, assuming, taking possession, A swarming and busy race settling and organizing every where; Ships coming in from the whole round world, and going out to the whole world, To India and China and Australia, and the thousand island paradises of the Pacific; Populous citiesâ€”the latest inventionsâ€”the steamers on the riversâ€”the railroadsâ€”with many a thrifty farm, with machinery, And wool, and wheat, and the grapeâ€”and diggings of yellow gold.
6 But more in you than these, Lands of the Western Shore! (These but the means, the implements, the standing-ground,) I see in you, certain to come, the promise of thousands of years, till now deferrâ€™d, Promisâ€™d, to be fulfillâ€™d, our common kind, the Race.
The New Society at last, proportionate to Nature, In Man of you, more than your mountain peaks, or stalwart trees imperial, In Woman more, far more, than all your gold, or vines, or even vital air.
Fresh come, to a New World indeed, yet long prepared, I see the Genius of the Modern, child of the Real and Ideal, Clearing the ground for broad humanity, the true America, heir of the past so grand, To build a grander future.