I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash'd babe, and am not contain'd between my hat and boots, And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good, The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.
I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth, I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself, (They do not know how immortal, but I know.) Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female, For me those that have been boys and that love women, For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted, For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the mothers of mothers, For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears, For me children and the begetters of children. you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded, I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no, And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away.
8 The little one sleeps in its cradle, I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand.
The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill, I peeringly view them from the top.
The smoke of my own breath, Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine, My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs, The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn, The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind, A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms, The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag, The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides, The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun. 3 I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end, But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is now, Nor any more youth or age than there is now, And will never be any more perfection than there is now, Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women, And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
They are alive and well somewhere, The smallest sprout shows there is really no death, And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.
All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier. I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.
Tenderly will I use you curling grass, It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men, It may be if I had known them I would have loved them, It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out of their mothers' laps, And here you are the mothers' laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers, Darker than the colorless beards of old men, Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.