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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

153. Pioneers! O Pioneers!


COME, my tan-faced children,

Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;

Have you your pistols? have you your sharp edged axes?Pioneers! O pioneers!


For we cannot tarry here,

We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,

We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,Pioneers! O pioneers!


O you youths, western youths,

So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,

Plain I see you, western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,Pioneers! O pioneers!


Have the elder races halted?

Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied, over there beyond the seas?

We take up the task eternal, and the burden, and the lesson,Pioneers! O pioneers!


All the past we leave behind;

We debouch upon a newer, mightier world, varied world,

Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,Pioneers! O pioneers!


We detachments steady throwing,

Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,

Conquering, holding, daring, venturing, as we go, the unknown ways,Pioneers! O pioneers!


We primeval forests felling,

We the rivers stemming, vexing we, and piercing deep the mines within;

We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,Pioneers! O pioneers!


Colorado men are we,

From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high plateaus,

From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,Pioneers! O pioneers!


From Nebraska, from Arkansas,

Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental blood intervein’d;

All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern,Pioneers! O pioneers!


O resistless, restless race!

O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!

O I mourn and yet exult—I am rapt with love for all,Pioneers! O pioneers!


Raise the mighty mother mistress,

Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress, (bend your heads all,)

Raise the fang’d and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon’d mistress,Pioneers! O pioneers!


See, my children, resolute children,

By those swarms upon our rear, we must never yield or falter,

Ages back in ghostly millions, frowning there behind us urging,Pioneers! O pioneers!


On and on, the compact ranks,

With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly fill’d,

Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,Pioneers! O pioneers!


O to die advancing on!

Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?

Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill’d,Pioneers! O pioneers!


All the pulses of the world,

Falling in, they beat for us, with the western movement beat;

Holding single or together, steady moving, to the front, all for us,Pioneers! O pioneers!


Life’s involv’d and varied pageants,

All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,

All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,Pioneers! O pioneers!


All the hapless silent lovers,

All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,

All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,Pioneers! O pioneers!


I too with my soul and body,

We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,

Through these shores, amid the shadows, with the apparitions pressing,Pioneers! O pioneers!


Lo! the darting bowling orb!

Lo! the brother orbs around! all the clustering suns and planets,

All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,Pioneers! O pioneers!


These are of us, they are with us,

All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait behind,

We to-day’s procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,Pioneers! O pioneers!


O you daughters of the west!

O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!

Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,Pioneers! O pioneers!


Minstrels latent on the prairies!

(Shrouded bards of other lands! you may sleep—you have done your work;)

Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,Pioneers! O pioneers!


Not for delectations sweet;

Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious;

Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,Pioneers! O pioneers!


Do the feasters gluttonous feast?

Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock’d and bolted doors?

Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,Pioneers! O pioneers!


Has the night descended?

Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged, nodding on our way?

Yet a passing hour I yield you, in your tracks to pause oblivious,Pioneers! O pioneers!


Till with sound of trumpet,

Far, far off the day-break call—hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind;

Swift! to the head of the army!—swift! spring to your places,Pioneers! O pioneers.