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As A Strong Bird On Pinious Free

Walt Whitman 1819 (West Hills) – 1892 (Camden)

  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
  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! 20
  To formulate the Modern.....Out of the peerless grandeur of the
  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
  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
  Its poems, churches, arts, unwitting to themselves, destined with
  reference to thee, 30
  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
  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, 40
  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
  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; 50
  Yet in beginning only--incalculable masses of composite, precious
  By history's cycles forwarded--by every nation, language, hither
  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
  I see thy light lighting and thy shadow shadowing, as if the entire
  But I do not undertake to define t
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:16 min read

Walt Whitman

Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. more…

All Walt Whitman poems | Walt Whitman Books

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