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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

O Vast Rondure!

By Walt Whitman (1819–1892)

[Leaves of Grass. 1855.—Leaves of Grass, and Two Rivulets: Centennial Edition. 1876.—Leaves of Grass: with additions. 1881.—November Boughs. 1888.—Complete Works. 1888. See full text.]

O VAST Rondure, swimming in space,

Cover’d all over with visible power and beauty,

Alternate light and day and the teeming spiritual darkness,

Unspeakable high processions of sun and moon and countless stars above,

Below, the manifold grass and waters, animals, mountains, trees.

With inscrutable purpose, some hidden prophetic intention,

Now first it seems my thought begins to span thee.

Down from the gardens of Asia descending radiating,

Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after them,

Wandering, yearning, curious, with restless explorations,

With questionings, baffled, formless, feverish, with never-happy hearts,

With that sad incessant refrain, Wherefore unsatisfied soul? and Whither O mocking life?

Ah who shall soothe these feverish children?

Who justify these restless explorations?

Who speak the secret of impassive earth?

Who bind it to us? what is this separate Nature so unnatural?

What is this earth to our affections? (unloving earth, without a throb to answer ours,

Cold earth, the place of graves.)

Yet soul be sure the first intent remains, and shall be carried out,

Perhaps even now the time has arrived.

After the seas are all cross’d, (as they seem already cross’d,)

After the great captains and engineers have accomplish’d their work,

After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the geologist, ethnologist,

Finally shall come the poet worthy that name,

The true son of God shall come singing his songs.