Leaves of Grass
15. A Song for Occupations
A song for occupations!
In the labor of engines and trades and the labor of fields I find
And find the eternal meanings.
Workmen and Workwomen!
Were all educations practical and ornamental well display'd out of
me, what would it amount to?
Were I as the head teacher, charitable proprietor, wise statesman,
what would it amount to?
Were I to you as the boss employing and paying you, would that satisfy you?
The learn'd, virtuous, benevolent, and the usual terms,
A man like me and never the usual terms.
Neither a servant nor a master I,
I take no sooner a large price than a small price, I will have my
own whoever enjoys me,
I will be even with you and you shall be even with me.
If you stand at work in a shop I stand as nigh as the nighest in the
If you bestow gifts on your brother or dearest friend I demand as
good as your brother or dearest friend,
If your lover, husband, wife, is welcome by day or night, I must be
personally as welcome,
If you become degraded, criminal, ill, then I become so for your sake,
If you remember your foolish and outlaw'd deeds, do you think I
cannot remember my own foolish and outlaw'd deeds?
If you carouse at the table I carouse at the opposite side of the table,
If you meet some stranger in the streets and love him or her, why
I often meet strangers in the street and love them.
Why what have you thought of yourself?
Is it you then that thought yourself less?
Is it you that thought the President greater than you?
Or the rich better off than you? or the educated wiser than you?
(Because you are greasy or pimpled, or were once drunk, or a thief,
Or that you are diseas'd, or rheumatic, or a prostitute,
Or from frivolity or impotence, or that you are no scholar and never
saw your name in print,
Do you give in that you are any less immortal?)