Song of Myself, 42
A call in the midst of the crowd, My own voice, orotund sweeping and final. Come my children, Come my boys and girls, my women, household and intimates, Now the performer launches his nerve, he has pass'd his prelude on the reeds within. Easily written loose-finger'd chords—I feel the thrum of your climax and close. My head slues round on my neck, Music rolls, but not from the organ, Folks are around me, but they are no household of mine. Ever the hard unsunk ground, Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and downward sun, ever the air and the ceaseless tides, Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, real, Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorn'd thumb, that breath of itches and thirsts, Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly one hides and bring him forth, Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life, Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the trestles of death. Here and there with dimes on the eyes walking, To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally spooning, Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never once going. Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff for payment receiving, A few idly owning, and they the wheat continually claiming. This is the city and I am one of the citizens, Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars, markets, newspapers, schools, The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships, factories, stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate. The little plentiful manikins skipping around in collars and tail'd coats, I am aware who they are, (they are positively not worms or fleas,) I acknowledge the duplicates of myself, the weakest and shallowest is deathless with me, What I do and say the same waits for them, Every thought that flounders in me the same flounders in them. I know perfectly well my own egotism, Know my omnivorous lines and must not write any less, And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself. Not words of routine this song of mine, But abruptly to question, to leap beyond yet nearer bring; This printed and bound book—but the printer and the printing-office boy? The well-taken photographs—but your wife or friend close and solid in your arms? The black ship mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in her turrets—but the pluck of the captain and engineers? In the houses the dishes and fare and furniture—but the host and hostess, and the look out of their eyes? The sky up there—yet here or next door, or across the way? The saints and sages in history—but you yourself? Sermons, creeds, theology—but the fathomless human brain, And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?
This poem is in the public domain.