A Woman Waits For Me
A woman waits for me--she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the
right man were lacking.
Sex contains all,
Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery,
the seminal milk,
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow'd persons of the earth,
These are contain'd in sex, as parts of itself,
and justifications of itself.
Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.
Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that
are warm-blooded and sufficient for me;
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me;
I see that they are worthy of me
I will be the robust husband of those women.
They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann'd in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike,
retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right--they are calm, clear, well-
possess'd of themselves. 20
I draw you close to me, you women!
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for
Envelop'd in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.
It is I, you women--I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable--but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for These States--I
press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually--I listen to no entreaties, 30
I dare not withdraw till ,
I deposit what has so long accumulated within me.
Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new
artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings,
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I
count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death,
immortality, I plant so lovingly now. 40....
To A STRANGER
ASSING stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
All is recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours only nor left my body mine only,
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
BEAT! BEAT! DRUMS!
Eat! beat! drums! blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows through doors burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet -- no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums -- so shrill you bugles blow.
Beat! beat! drums! blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities -- over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers' bargains by day -- no brokers or speculators -- would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums you bugles wilder blow.
Beat! beat! drums! blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley -- stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid -- mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump, o terrible drums so loud you bugles blow...
A March In The Ranks, Hard-prest
A MARCH in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown;
A route through a heavy wood, with muffled steps in the darkness;
Our army foil'd with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating;
Till after midnight glimmer upon us, the lights of a dim-lighted
We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by the dim-lighted
'Tis a large old church at the crossing roads--'tis now an impromptu
--Entering but for a minute, I see a sight beyond all the pictures
and poems ever made:
Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving candles and
And by one great pitchy torch, stationary, with wild red flame, and
clouds of smoke;
By these, crowds, groups of forms, vaguely I see, on the floor, some
in the pews laid down; 10
At my feet more distinctly, a soldier, a mere lad, in danger of
bleeding to death, (he is shot in the abdomen;)
I staunch the blood temporarily, (the youngster's face is white as a
Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o'er the scene, fain to absorb
Faces, varieties, postures beyond description, most in obscurity,
some of them dead;
Surgeons operating, attendants holding lights, the smell of ether,
the odor of blood;
The crowd, O the crowd of the bloody forms of soldiers--the yard
outside also fill'd;
Some on the bare ground, some on planks or stretchers, some in the
An occasional scream or cry, the doctor's shouted orders or calls;
The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the glint of the
These I resume as I chant--I see again the forms, I smell the
Then hear outside the orders given, Fall in, my men, Fall in;
But first I bend to the dying lad--his eyes open--a half-smile gives
Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to the darkness,
Resuming, marching, ever in darkness marching, on in the ranks,
The unknown road still marching.