Carol Of Occupations

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

   COME closer to me;
   Push close, my lovers, and take the best I possess;
   Yield closer and closer, and give me the best you possess.

   This is unfinish'd business with me--How is it with you?
   (I was chill'd with the cold types, cylinder, wet paper between us.)

   Male and Female!
   I pass so poorly with paper and types, I must pass with the contact
         of bodies and souls.

   American masses!
   I do not thank you for liking me as I am, and liking the touch of
         me--I know that it is good for you to do so.

   This is the carol of occupations;                                  10
   In the labor of engines and trades, and the labor of fields, I find the developments,
   And find the eternal meanings.

   Workmen and Workwomen!
   Were all educations, practical and ornamental, well display'd out of
         me, what would it amount to?
   Were I as the head teacher, charitable proprietor, wise statesman,
         what would it amount to?
   Were I to you as the boss employing and paying you, would that
         satisfy you?

   The learn'd, virtuous, benevolent, and the usual terms;
   A man like me, and never the usual terms.

   Neither a servant nor a master am I;
   I take no sooner a large price than a small price--I will have my
         own, whoever enjoys me;                                      20
   I will be even with you, and you shall be even with me.

   If you stand at work in a shop, I stand as nigh as the nighest in the
         same shop;
   If you bestow gifts on your brother or dearest friend, I demand as
         good as your brother or dearest friend;
   If your lover, husband, wife, is welcome by day or night, I must be
         personally as welcome;
   If you become degraded, criminal, ill, then I become so for your
   If you remember your foolish and outlaw'd deeds, do you think I
         cannot remember my own foolish and outlaw'd deeds?
   If you carouse at the table, I carouse at the opposite side of the
   If you meet some stranger in the streets, and love him or her--why I
         often meet strangers in the street, and love them.

   Why, what have you thought of yourself?
   Is it you then that thought yourself less?                         30
   Is it you that thought the President greater than you?
   Or the rich better off than you? or the educated wiser than you?

   Because you are greasy or pimpled, or that you were once drunk, or a
   Or diseas'd, or rheumatic, or a prostitute--or are so now;
   Or from frivolity or impotence, or that you are no scholar, and never
         saw your name in print,
   Do you give in that you are any less immortal?

   Souls of men and women! it is not you I call unseen, unheard,
         untouchable and untouching;
   It is not you I go argue pro and con about, and to settle whether you
         are alive or no;
   I own publicly who you are, if nobody else owns.

   Grown, half-grown, and babe, of this country and every country, in-
         doors and out-doors, one just as much as the other, I see,   40
   And all else behind or through them.

   The wife--and she is not one jot less than the husband;
   The daughter--and she is just as good as the son;
   The mother--and she is every bit as much as the father.

   Offspring of ignorant and poor, boys apprenticed to trades,
   Young fellows working on farms, and old fellows working on farms,
   Sailor-men, merchant-men, coasters, immigrants,
   All these I see--but nigher and farther the same I see;
   None shall escape me, and none shall wish to escape me.

   I bring what you much need, yet always have,                       50
   Not money, amours, dress, eating, but as good;
   I send no agent or medium, offer no representative of value, but
         offer the value itself.

   There is something that comes home to one now and perpetually;
   It is not what is printed, preach'd, discussed--it eludes discussion
         and print;
   It is not to be put in a book--it is not in this book;
   It is for you, whoever you are--it is no farther from you than your
         hearing and sight are from you;
   It is hinted by nearest, commonest, readiest--it is ever provoked by

   You may read in many languages, yet read nothing about it;
   You may read the President's Message, and read nothing about it
   Nothing in the reports from the State department or Treasury
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on May 02, 2023

3:45 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 4,382
Words 743
Stanzas 18
Stanza Lengths 3, 2, 3, 3, 3, 7, 2, 4, 14, 4, 6, 5, 3, 3, 5, 4, 8, 5

Walt Whitman

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

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    Are you a poetry master?

    "I celebrate myself, and sing myself."
    A William Wordsworth
    B Countee Cullen
    C Billy Collins
    D Walt Whitman