Leaves of Grass
13. Song of the Exposition
(Ah little recks the laborer,
How near his work is holding him to God,
The loving Laborer through space and time.)
After all not to create only, or found only,
But to bring perhaps from afar what is already founded,
To give it our own identity, average, limitless, free,
To fill the gross the torpid bulk with vital religious fire,
Not to repel or destroy so much as accept, fuse, rehabilitate,
To obey as well as command, to follow more than to lead,
These also are the lessons of our New World;
While how little the New after all, how much the Old, Old World!
Long and long has the grass been growing,
Long and long has the rain been falling,
Long has the globe been rolling round.
Come Muse migrate from Greece and Ionia,
Cross out please those immensely overpaid accounts,
That matter of Troy and Achilles' wrath, and AEneas', Odysseus' wanderings,
Placard "Removed" and "To Let" on the rocks of your snowy Parnassus,
Repeat at Jerusalem, place the notice high on jaffa's gate and on
The same on the walls of your German, French and Spanish castles,
and Italian collections,
For know a better, fresher, busier sphere, a wide, untried domain
awaits, demands you.
Responsive to our summons,
Or rather to her long-nurs'd inclination,
Join'd with an irresistible, natural gravitation,
She comes! I hear the rustling of her gown,
I scent the odor of her breath's delicious fragrance,
I mark her step divine, her curious eyes a-turning, rolling,
Upon this very scene.
The dame of dames! can I believe then,
Those ancient temples, sculptures classic, could none of them retain her?
Nor shades of Virgil and Dante, nor myriad memories, poems, old
associations, magnetize and hold on to her?
But that she's left them all--and here?