Carol Of Words

   EARTH, round, rolling, compact--suns, moons, animals--all these are
         words to be said;
   Watery, vegetable, sauroid advances--beings, premonitions, lispings
         of the future,
   Behold! these are vast words to be said.

   Were you thinking that those were the words--those upright lines?
         those curves, angles, dots?
   No, those are not the words--the substantial words are in the ground
         and sea,
   They are in the air--they are in you.

   Were you thinking that those were the words--those delicious sounds
         out of your friends' mouths?
   No, the real words are more delicious than they.

   Human bodies are words, myriads of words;
   In the best poems re-appears the body, man's or woman's, well-shaped,
         natural, gay,                                                10
   Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or the need of

   Air, soil, water, fire--these are words;
   I myself am a word with them--my qualities interpenetrate with
         theirs--my name is nothing to them;
   Though it were told in the three thousand languages, what would air,
         soil, water, fire, know of my name?

   A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding gesture, are words,
         sayings, meanings;
   The charms that go with the mere looks of some men and women, are
         sayings and meanings also.

   The workmanship of souls is by the inaudible words of the earth;
   The great masters know the earth's words, and use them more than the
         audible words.

   Amelioration is one of the earth's words;
   The earth neither lags nor hastens;                                20
   It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in itself from the
   It is not half beautiful only--defects and excrescences show just as
         much as perfections show.

   The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough;
   The truths of the earth continually wait, they are not so conceal'd
   They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print;
   They are imbued through all things, conveying themselves willingly,
   Conveying a sentiment and invitation of the earth--I utter and utter,
   I speak not, yet if you hear me not, of what avail am I to you?
   To bear--to better--lacking these, of what avail am I?

   Accouche! Accouchez!                                               30
   Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there?
   Will you squat and stifle there?

   The earth does not argue,
   Is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
   Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise,
   Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures,
   Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
   Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none out.

   The earth does not exhibit itself, nor refuse to exhibit itself--
         possesses still underneath;
   Underneath the ostensible sounds, the august chorus of heroes, the
         wail of slaves,                                              40
   Persuasions of lovers, curses, gasps of the dying, laughter of young
         people, accents of bargainers,
   Underneath these, possessing the words that never fail.

   To her children, the words of the eloquent dumb great mother never
   The true words do not fail, for motion does not fail, and reflection
         does not fail;
   Also the day and night do not fail, and the voyage we pursue does not

   Of the interminable sisters,
   Of the ceaseless cotillions of sisters,
   Of the centripetal and centrifugal sisters, the elder and younger
   The beautiful sister we know dances on with the rest.
   With her ample back towards every beholder,                        50
   With the fascinations of youth, and the equal fascinations of age,
   Sits she whom I too love like the rest--sits undisturb'd,
   Holding up in her hand what has the character of a mirror, while her
         eyes glance back from it,
   Glance as she sits, inviting none, denying none,
   Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before her own face.

   Seen at hand, or seen at a distance,
   Duly the twenty-four appear in public every day,
   Duly approach and pass with their companions, or a companion,
   Looking from no countenances of their own, but from the countenances
         of those who are with them,
   From the countenances of children or women, or the manly
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

3:14 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme abcdb ccxce ccf cxfxg cxhig ccac xjc ccjxcx xxdxkdex cii ecccll xxjcxcm dMnmxM ccdcxdxxdxnc cfnchk
Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 4,370
Words 643
Stanzas 15
Stanza Lengths 5, 5, 3, 5, 5, 4, 3, 6, 8, 3, 6, 7, 6, 12, 6

Walt Whitman

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

All Walt Whitman poems | Walt Whitman Books

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