Posted by ricardo marcenaro | Posted in Poetry: Walt Whitman - A Proadway Pageant - A Promise To California - Gallery 30 Photos - Links | Posted on 14:34
Over the western sea, hither from Niphon come,
Courteous, the swart-cheek'd two-sworded envoys,
Leaning back in their open barouches, bare-headed, impassive,
Ride to-day through Manhattan.
I do not know whether others behold what I behold,
In the procession, along with the nobles of Asia, the errand-
Bringing up the rear, hovering above, around, or in the ranks
But I will sing you a song of what I behold, Libertad.
When million-footed Manhattan, unpent, descends to her pavements;
When the thunder-cracking guns arouse me with the proud roar I love;
When the round-mouth'd guns, out of the smoke and smell I love, spit
When the fire-flashing guns have fully alerted me--when heaven-clouds
canopy my city with a delicate thin haze;
When, gorgeous, the countless straight stems, the forests at the
wharves, thicken with colors;
When every ship, richly drest, carries her flag at the peak;
When pennants trail, and street-festoons hang from the windows;
When Broadway is entirely given up to foot-passengers and foot-
standers--when the mass is densest;
When the façades of the houses are alive with people--when eyes gaze,
riveted, tens of thousands at a time;
When the guests from the islands advance--when the pageant moves
When the summons is made--when the answer that waited thousands of
I too, arising, answering, descend to the pavements, merge with the
crowd, and gaze with them.
Comrade Americanos!--to us, then, at last, the Orient comes.
To us, my city,
Where our tall-topt marble and iron beauties range on opposite
sides--to walk in the space between,
To-day our Antipodes comes.
The Originatress comes,
The nest of languages, the bequeather of poems, the race of eld,
Florid with blood, pensive, rapt with musings, hot with passion,
Sultry with perfume, with ample and flowing garments,
With sunburnt visage, with intense soul and glittering eyes,
The race of Brahma comes!
See, my cantabile! these, and more, are flashing to us from the
As it moves, changing, a kaleidoscope divine it moves, changing,
For not the envoys, nor the tann'd Japanee from his island only;
Lithe and silent, the Hindoo appears--the Asiatic continent itself
appears--the Past, the dead,
The murky night morning of wonder and fable, inscrutable,
The envelop'd mysteries, the old and unknown hive-bees,
The North--the sweltering South--eastern Assyria--the Hebrews--the
Ancient of Ancients,
Vast desolated cities--the gliding Present--all of these, and more,
are in the pageant-procession.
Geography, the world, is in it;
The Great Sea, the brood of islands, Polynesia, the coast beyond;
The coast you, henceforth, are facing--you Libertad! from your
Western golden shores
The countries there, with their populations--the millions en-masse,
are curiously here;
The swarming market places--the temples, with idols ranged along the
sides, or at the end--bonze, brahmin, and lama;
The mandarin, farmer, merchant, mechanic, and fisherman;
The singing-girl and the dancing-girl--the ecstatic person--the
Confucius himself--the great poets and heroes--the warriors, the
Trooping up, crowding from all directions--from the Altay mountains,
From Thibet--from the four winding and far-flowing rivers of
From the Southern peninsulas, and the demi-continental islands--from
These, and whatever belongs to them, palpable, show forth to me, and
are seiz'd by me,
And I am seiz'd by them, and friendlily held by them,
Till, as here, them all I chant, Libertad! for themselves and for
For I too, raising my voice, join the ranks of this pageant;
I am the chanter--I chant aloud over the pageant;
I chant the world on my Western Sea;
I chant, copious, the islands beyond, thick as stars in the sky;
I chant the new empire, grander than any before--As in a vision it
comes to me;
I chant America, the Mistress--I chant a greater supremacy;
I chant, projected, a thousand blooming cities yet, in time, on those
groups of sea-islands;
I chant my sail-ships and steam-ships threading the archipelagoes;
I chant my stars and stripes fluttering in the wind;
I chant commerce opening, the sleep of ages having done its work--
races, reborn, refresh'd;
Lives, works, resumed--The object I know not--but the old, the
Asiatic, renew'd, as it must be,
Commencing from this day, surrounded by the world.
And you, Libertad of the world!
You shall sit in the middle, well-pois'd, thousands of years;
As to-day, from one side, the nobles of Asia come to you;
As to-morrow, from the other side, the Queen of England sends her
eldest son to you.
The sign is reversing, the orb is enclosed,
The ring is circled, the journey is done;
The box-lid is but perceptibly open'd--nevertheless the perfume pours
copiously out of the whole box.
With the venerable Asia, the all-mother,
Be considerate with her, now and ever, hot Libertad--for you are all;
Bend your proud neck to the long-off mother, now sending messages
over the archipelagoes to you;
Bend your proud neck low for once, young Libertad.
Were the children straying westward so long? so wide the tramping?
Were the precedent dim ages debouching westward from Paradise so
Were the centuries steadily footing it that way, all the while
unknown, for you, for reasons?
They are justified--they are accomplish'd--they shall now be turn'd
the other way also, to travel toward you thence;
They shall now also march obediently eastward, for your sake,
A promise to California,
Also to the great Pastoral Plains, and for Oregon:
Sojourning east a while longer, soon I travel toward you, to remain,
to teach robust American love;
For I know very well that I and robust love belong among you, inland,
and along the Western Sea;
For These States tend inland, and toward the Western Sea--and I will
That which eludes this verse and any verse,
Unheard by sharpest ear, unform'd in clearest eye or cunningest mind,
Nor lore nor fame, nor happiness nor wealth,
And yet the pulse of every heart and life throughout the world
Which you and I and all pursuing ever ever miss,
Open but still a secret, the real of the real, an illusion,
Costless, vouchsafed to each, yet never man the owner,
Which poets vainly seek to put in rhyme, historians in prose,
Which sculptor never chisel'd yet, nor painter painted,
Which vocalist never sung, nor orator nor actor ever utter'd,
Invoking here and now I challenge for my song.
Indifferently, 'mid public, private haunts, in solitude,
Behind the mountain and the wood,
Companion of the city's busiest streets, through the assemblage,
It and its radiations constantly glide.
In looks of fair unconscious babes,
Or strangely in the coffin'd dead,
Or show of breaking dawn or stars by night,
As some dissolving delicate film of dreams,
Hiding yet lingering.
Two little breaths of words comprising it.
Two words, yet all from first to last comprised in it.
How ardently for it!
How many ships have sail'd and sunk for it!
How many travelers started from their homes and ne'er return'd!
How much of genius boldly staked and lost for it!
What countless stores of beauty, love, ventur'd for it!
How all superbest deeds since Time began are traceable to it--and
shall be to the end!
How all heroic martyrdoms to it!
How, justified by it, the horrors, evils, battles of the earth!
How the bright fascinating lambent flames of it, in every age and
land, have drawn men's eyes,
Rich as a sunset on the Norway coast, the sky, the islands, and the
Or midnight's silent glowing northern lights unreachable.
Haply God's riddle it, so vague and yet so certain,
The soul for it, and all the visible universe for it,
And heaven at last for it.
Poetry: Walt Whitman - A Proadway Pageant - A Promise To California - Gallery 30 Photos - Links
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