Song Of The Redwood-Tree

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




   A CALIFORNIA song!
   A prophecy and indirection--a thought impalpable, to breathe, as air;
   A chorus of dryads, fading, departing--or hamadryads departing;
   A murmuring, fateful, giant voice, out of the earth and sky,
   Voice of a mighty dying tree in the Redwood forest dense.

   Farewell, my brethren,
   Farewell, O earth and sky--farewell, ye neighboring waters;
   My time has ended, my term has come.

   Along the northern coast,
   Just back from the rock-bound shore, and the caves,                10
   In the saline air from the sea, in the Mendocino country,
   With the surge for bass and accompaniment low and hoarse,
   With crackling blows of axes, sounding musically, driven by strong
         arms,
   Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axes--there in the Redwood
         forest dense,
   I heard the mighty tree its death-chant chanting.

   The choppers heard not--the camp shanties echoed not;
   The quick-ear'd teamsters, and chain and jack-screw men, heard not,
   As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand years, to
         join the refrain;
   But in my soul I plainly heard.

   Murmuring out of its myriad leaves,                                20
   Down from its lofty top, rising two hundred feet high,
   Out of its stalwart trunk and limbs--out of its foot-thick bark,
   That chant of the seasons and time--chant, not of the past only, but
         the future.

   You untold life of me,
   And all you venerable and innocent joys,
   Perennial, hardy life of me, with joys, 'mid rain, and many a summer
         sun,
   And the white snows, and night, and the wild winds;
   O the great patient, rugged joys! my soul's strong joys, unreck'd by
         man;
   (For know I bear the soul befitting me--I too have consciousness,
         identity,
   And all the rocks and mountains have--and all the earth;)          30
   Joys of the life befitting me and brothers mine,
   Our time, our term has come.

   Nor yield we mournfully, majestic brothers,
   We who have grandly fill'd our time;
   With Nature's calm content, and tacit, huge delight,
   We welcome what we wrought for through the past,
   And leave the field for them.

   For them predicted long,
   For a superber Race--they too to grandly fill their time,
   For them we abdicate--in them ourselves, ye forest kings!          40
   In them these skies and airs--these mountain peaks--Shasta--Nevadas,
   These huge, precipitous cliffs--this amplitude--these valleys grand--
         Yosemite,
   To be in them absorb'd, assimilated.

   Then to a loftier strain,
   Still prouder, more ecstatic, rose the chant,
   As if the heirs, the Deities of the West,
   Joining, with master-tongue, bore part.

   Not wan from Asia's fetishes,
   Nor red from Europe's old dynastic slaughter-house,
   (Area of murder-plots of thrones, with scent left yet of wars and
         scaffolds every where,)                                      50
   But come from Nature's long and harmless throes--peacefully builded
         thence,
   These virgin lands--Lands of the Western Shore,
   To the new Culminating Man--to you, the Empire New,
   You, promis'd long, we pledge, we dedicate.

   You occult, deep volitions,
   You average Spiritual Manhood, purpose of all, pois'd on yourself--
         giving, not taking law,
   You Womanhood divine, mistress and source of all, whence life and
         love, and aught that comes from life and love,
   You unseen Moral Essence of all the vast materials of America, (age
         upon age, working in Death the same as Life,)
   You that, sometimes known, oftener unknown, really shape and mould
         the New World, adjusting it to Time and Space,
   You hidden National Will, lying in your abysms, conceal'd, but ever
         alert,                                                       60
   You past and present purposes, tenaciously pursued, may-be
         unconscious of yourselves,
   Unswerv'd by all the passing errors, perturbations of the surface;
   You vital, universal, deathless germs, beneath all creeds, arts,
         statutes, literatures,
   Here build your homes for good--establish here--These areas entire,
         Lands of the Western Shore,
   We pledge, we dedicate to you.

   For man of you--your characteristic Race,
   Here may be hardy, sweet, gigantic grow--here tower, proportionate to
         Nature,
   Here climb the vast, pure spaces, unconfined, uncheck'd by wall or
         
Font size:
Collection  PDF     
 

Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on May 03, 2023

3:17 min read
634

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABCDE FGH IXJXAXXEC KKLMX XDXXN JXNFXDXOJXXH GPXXX APXEXJX MXXX EXQBIERLX EXXQXXXXSNXJXOXENRL SLNR
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,388
Words 643
Stanzas 12
Stanza Lengths 5, 3, 9, 5, 5, 12, 5, 7, 4, 9, 19, 4

Walt Whitman

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

All Walt Whitman poems | Walt Whitman Books

35 fans

Discuss the poem Song Of The Redwood-Tree with the community...

0 Comments

    Translation

    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)

    Citation

    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:

    Style:MLAChicagoAPA

    "Song Of The Redwood-Tree" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 13 Jun 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/38148/song-of-the-redwood-tree>.

    Become a member!

    Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

    June 2024

    Poetry Contest

    Join our monthly contest for an opportunity to win cash prizes and attain global acclaim for your talent.
    17
    days
    20
    hours
    43
    minutes

    Special Program

    Earn Rewards!

    Unlock exciting rewards such as a free mug and free contest pass by commenting on fellow members' poems today!

    Browse Poetry.com

    Quiz

    Are you a poetry master?

    »
    Who wrote the poem "Phenomenal Woman"?
    A Emily Dickinson
    B Maya Angelou
    C Rumi
    D Sylvia Plath