Leaves of Grass
16. A Song of the Rolling Earth
A song of the rolling earth, and of words according,
Were you thinking that those were the words, those upright lines?
those curves, angles, dots?
No, those are not the words, the substantial words are in the ground
They are in the air, they are in you.
Were you thinking that those were the words, those delicious sounds
out of your friends' mouths?
No, the real words are more delicious than they.
Human bodies are words, myriads of words,
(In the best poems re-appears the body, man's or woman's,
well-shaped, natural, gay,
Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or the need of shame.)
Air, soil, water, fire--those are words,
I myself am a word with them--my qualities interpenetrate with
theirs--my name is nothing to them,
Though it were told in the three thousand languages, what would
air, soil, water, fire, know of my name?
A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding gesture, are words,
The charms that go with the mere looks of some men and women,
are sayings and meanings also.
The workmanship of souls is by those inaudible words of the earth,
The masters know the earth's words and use them more than audible words.
Amelioration is one of the earth's words,
The earth neither lags nor hastens,
It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in itself from the jump,
It is not half beautiful only, defects and excrescences show just as
much as perfections show.
The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough,
The truths of the earth continually wait, they are not so conceal'd either,
They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print,
They are imbued through all things conveying themselves willingly,
Conveying a sentiment and invitation, I utter and utter,
I speak not, yet if you hear me not of what avail am I to you?
To bear, to better, lacking these of what avail am I?