Poems Of Joys

   O TO make the most jubilant poem!
   Even to set off these, and merge with these, the carols of Death.
   O full of music! full of manhood, womanhood, infancy!
   Full of common employments! full of grain and trees.

   O for the voices of animals! O for the swiftness and balance of
   O for the dropping of rain-drops in a poem!
   O for the sunshine, and motion of waves in a poem.

   O the joy of my spirit! it is uncaged! it darts like lightning!
   It is not enough to have this globe, or a certain time--I will have
         thousands of globes, and all time.

   O the engineer's joys!                                             10
   To go with a locomotive!
   To hear the hiss of steam--the merry shriek--the steam-whistle--the
         laughing locomotive!
   To push with resistless way, and speed off in the distance.

   O the gleesome saunter over fields and hill-sides!
   The leaves and flowers of the commonest weeds--the moist fresh
         stillness of the woods,
   The exquisite smell of the earth at day-break, and all through the

   O the horseman's and horsewoman's joys!
   The saddle--the gallop--the pressure upon the seat--the cool gurgling
         by the ears and hair.

   O the fireman's joys!
   I hear the alarm at dead of night,                                 20
   I hear bells--shouts!--I pass the crowd--I run!
   The sight of the flames maddens me with pleasure.

   O the joy of the strong-brawn'd fighter, towering in the arena, in
         perfect condition, conscious of power, thirsting to meet his

   O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which only the human Soul
         is capable of generating and emitting in steady and limitless

   O the mother's joys!
   The watching--the endurance--the precious love--the anguish--the
         patiently yielded life.

   O the joy of increase, growth, recuperation;
   The joy of soothing and pacifying--the joy of concord and harmony.

   O to go back to the place where I was born!
   To hear the birds sing once more!                                  30
   To ramble about the house and barn, and over the fields, once more,
   And through the orchard and along the old lanes once more.

   O male and female!
   O the presence of women! (I swear there is nothing more exquisite to
         me than the mere presence of women;)
   O for the girl, my mate! O for the happiness with my mate!
   O the young man as I pass! O I am sick after the friendship of him
         who, I fear, is indifferent to me.

   O the streets of cities!
   The flitting faces--the expressions, eyes, feet, costumes! O I cannot
         tell how welcome they are to me.

   O to have been brought up on bays, lagoons, creeks, or along the
   O to continue and be employ'd there all my life!                   40
   O the briny and damp smell--the shore--the salt weeds exposed at low
   The work of fishermen--the work of the eel-fisher and clam-fisher.

   O it is I!
   I come with my clam-rake and spade! I come with my eel-spear;
   Is the tide out? I join the group of clam-diggers on the flats,
   I laugh and work with them--I joke at my work, like a mettlesome
         young man.

   In winter I take my eel-basket and eel-spear and travel out on foot
         on the ice--I have a small axe to cut holes in the ice;
   Behold me, well-clothed, going gaily, or returning in the afternoon--
         my brood of tough boys accompaning me,
   My brood of grown and part-grown boys, who love to be with no one
         else so well as they love to be with me,
   By day to work with me, and by night to sleep with me.             50

   Or, another time, in warm weather, out in a boat, to lift the
         lobster-pots, where they are sunk with heavy stones, (I know
         the buoys;)
   O the sweetness of the Fifth-month morning upon the water, as I row,
         just before sunrise, toward the buoys;
   I pull the wicker pots up slantingly--the dark-green lobsters are
         desperate with their claws, as I take them out--I insert wooden
         pegs in the joints of their pincers,
   I go to all the places, one after another, and then row back to the
   There, in a huge kettle of boiling water, the lobsters shall be
         boil'd till their color becomes scarlet.

   Or, another time, mackerel-taking,
   Voracious, mad for
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 08, 2023

3:36 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 4,358
Words 712
Stanzas 19
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 3, 5, 5, 3, 4, 3, 3, 3, 2, 4, 6, 3, 6, 5, 7, 12, 2

Walt Whitman

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

All Walt Whitman poems | Walt Whitman Books

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