Walt Whitman Poems

O Captain! My Captain!, by Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up - for you the flag is flung - for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths - for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.



Among the Multitude, by Walt Whitman

Among the men and women, the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else--not parent, wife, husband, brother, child, any nearer than I am;
Some are baffled--But that one is not--that one knows me.

Ah, lover and perfect equal!
I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint indirections;
And I, when I meet you, mean to discover you by the like in you.




As A Strong Bird On Pinious Free, By Walt Whitman

AS a strong bird on pinions free,
Joyous, the amplest spaces heavenward cleaving,
Such be the thought I'd think to-day of thee, America,
Such be the recitative I'd bring to-day for thee.

The conceits of the poets of other lands I bring thee not,
Nor the compliments that have served their turn so long,
Nor rhyme--nor the classics--nor perfume of foreign court, or indoor library;
But an odor I'd bring to-day as from forests of pine in the north, in
Maine--or breath of an Illinois prairie,
With open airs of Virginia, or Georgia, or Tennessee--or from Texas uplands, or Florida's glades,
With presentment of Yellowstone's scenes, or Yosemite; 10
And murmuring under, pervading all, I'd bring the rustling sea-sound,
That endlessly sounds from the two great seas of the world.

And for thy subtler sense, subtler refrains, O Union!
Preludes of intellect tallying these and thee--mind-formulas fitted
for thee--real, and sane, and large as these and thee;
Thou, mounting higher, diving deeper than we knew--thou transcendental Union!
By thee Fact to be justified--blended with Thought;
Thought of Man justified--blended with God:
Through thy Idea--lo! the immortal Reality!
Through thy Reality--lo! the immortal Idea!


Brain of the New World! what a task is thine!
To formulate the Modern.....Out of the peerless grandeur of the modern,
Out of Thyself--comprising Science--to recast Poems, Churches, Art,
(Recast--may-be discard them, end them--May-be their work is done--who knows?)
By vision, hand, conception, on the background of the mighty past, the dead,
To limn, with absolute faith, the mighty living present.

(And yet, thou living, present brain! heir of the dead, the Old World brain!
Thou that lay folded, like an unborn babe, within its folds so long!
Thou carefully prepared by it so long!--haply thou but unfoldest it--only maturest it;
It to eventuate in thee--the essence of the by-gone time contain'd in thee;
Its poems, churches, arts, unwitting to themselves, destined with reference to thee,
The fruit of all the Old, ripening to-day in thee.)


Sail--sail thy best, ship of Democracy!
Of value is thy freight--'tis not the Present only,
The Past is also stored in thee!
Thou holdest not the venture of thyself alone--not of thy western continent alone;
Earth's résumé entire floats on thy keel, O ship--is steadied by thy spars;
With thee Time voyages in trust--the antecedent nations sink or swim with thee;
With all their ancient struggles, martyrs, heroes, epics, wars, thou bear'st the other continents;
Theirs, theirs as much as thine, the destination-port triumphant:
--Steer, steer with good strong hand and wary eye, O helmsman--thou
carryest great companions,
Venerable, priestly Asia sails this day with thee,
And royal, feudal Europe sails with thee.


Beautiful World of new, superber Birth, that rises to my eyes,
Like a limitless golden cloud, filling the western sky;
Emblem of general Maternity, lifted above all;
Sacred shape of the bearer of daughters and sons;
Out of thy teeming womb, thy giant babes in ceaseless procession issuing,
Acceding from such gestation, taking and giving continual strength and life;
World of the Real! world of the twain in one!
World of the Soul--born by the world of the real alone--led to identity, body, by it alone;
Yet in beginning only--incalculable masses of composite, precious materials,
By history's cycles forwarded--by every nation, language, hither sent,
Ready, collected here--a freer, vast, electric World, to be constructed here,
(The true New World--the world of orbic Science, Morals, Literatures to come,)
Thou Wonder World, yet undefined, unform'd--neither do I define thee;
How can I pierce the impenetrable blank of the future?
I feel thy ominous greatness, evil as well as good;
I watch thee, advancing, absorbing the present, transcending the past;
I see thy light lighting and thy shadow shadowing, as if the entire globe;
But I do not undertake to define thee--hardly to comprehend thee;
I but thee name--thee prophecy--as now!
I merely thee ejaculate!

Thee in thy future;
Thee in thy only permanent life, career--thy own unloosen'd mind--thy soaring spirit;
Thee as another equally needed sun, America--radiant, ablaze, swift-moving, fructifying all;
Thee! risen in thy potent cheerfulness and joy--thy endless, great hilarity!
(Scattering for good the cloud that hung so long--that weigh'd so long upon the mind of man,
The doubt, suspicion, dread, of gradual, certain decadence of man;)
Thee in thy larger, saner breeds of Female, Male--thee in thy athletes, moral, spiritual, South, North, West, East,
(To thy immortal breasts, Mother of All, thy every daughter, son, endear'd alike, forever equal;)
Thee in thy own musicians, singers, artists, unborn yet, but certain;
Thee in thy moral wealth and civilization (until which thy proudest material wealth and civilization must remain in vain;)
Thee in thy all-supplying, all-enclosing Worship--thee in no single bible, saviour, merely,
Thy saviours countless, latent within thyself--thy bibles incessant, within thyself, equal to any, divine as any;
Thee in an education grown of thee--in teachers, studies, students, born of thee;
Thee in thy democratic fetes, en masse--thy high original festivals, operas, lecturers, preachers;
Thee in thy ultimata, (the preparations only now completed--the edifice on sure foundations tied,)
Thee in thy pinnacles, intellect, thought--thy topmost rational joys--thy love, and godlike aspiration,
In thy resplendent coming literati--thy full-lung'd orators--thy sacerdotal bards--kosmic savans,
These! these in thee, (certain to come,) to-day I prophecy.


Land tolerating all--accepting all--not for the good alone--all good for thee;
Land in the realms of God to be a realm unto thyself;
Under the rule of God to be a rule unto thyself.

(Lo! where arise three peerless stars,
To be thy natal stars, my country--Ensemble--Evolution--Freedom,
Set in the sky of Law.)

Land of unprecedented faith--God's faith!
Thy soil, thy very subsoil, all upheav'd;
The general inner earth, so long, so sedulously draped over, now and hence for what it is, boldly laid bare,
Open'd by thee to heaven's light, for benefit or bale.

Not for success alone;
Not to fair-sail unintermitted always;
The storm shall dash thy face--the murk of war, and worse than war, shall cover thee all over;
(Wert capable of war--its tug and trials? Be capable of peace, its trials;
For the tug and mortal strain of nations come at last in peace--not war;)
In many a smiling mask death shall approach, beguiling thee--thou in disease shalt swelter;
The livid cancer spread its hideous claws, clinging upon thy breasts, seeking to strike thee deep within;
Consumption of the worst--moral consumption--shall rouge thy face with hectic:
But thou shalt face thy fortunes, thy diseases, and surmount them all,
Whatever they are to-day, and whatever through time they may be,
They each and all shall lift, and pass away, and cease from thee;
While thou, Time's spirals rounding--out of thyself, thyself still extricating, fusing,
Equable, natural, mystical Union thou--(the mortal with immortal blent,)
Shalt soar toward the fulfilment of the future--the spirit of the body and the mind,
The Soul--its destinies.

The Soul, its destinies--the real real,
(Purport of all these apparitions of the real;)
In thee, America, the Soul, its destinies;
Thou globe of globes! thou wonder nebulous!
By many a throe of heat and cold convuls'd--(by these thyself solidifying;)
Thou mental, moral orb! thou New, indeed new, Spiritual World!
The Present holds thee not--for such vast growth as thine--for such unparallel'd flight as thine,
The Future only holds thee, and can hold thee.

Walt Whitman Examples
Walt Whitman


I Hear America Singing, by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics - each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat - the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench - the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter's song - the ploughboy's, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother - or of the young wife at work - or of the girl sewing or washing - Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day - At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.



To a Stranger, by Walt Whitman

Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me, as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl with me,
I ate with you, and slept with you, your body has become not yours only, nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.





Darest Thou Now, O Soul, By Walt Whitman


Darest thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?

No map, there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.

I know it not, O Soul;
Nor dost thou--all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream'd of, in that region--that inaccessible land.

Till, when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds, bound us.

Then we burst forth--we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul--prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last--(O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.