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

300. Long I Thought that Knowledge

LONG I thought that knowledge alone would suffice me—O if I could but obtain knowledge!

Then my lands engrossed me—Lands of the prairies, Ohio’s land, the southern savannas, engrossed me—For them I would live—I would be their orator;

Then I met the examples of old and new heroes—I heard of warriors, sailors, and all dauntless persons—And it seemed to me that I too had it in me to be as dauntless as any—and would be so;

And then, to enclose all, it came to me to strike up the songs of the New World—And then I believed my life must be spent in singing;

But now take notice, land of the prairies, land of the south savannas, Ohio’s land,

Take notice, you Kanuck woods—and you Lake Huron—and all that with you roll toward Niagara—and you Niagara also,

And you, Californian mountains—That you each and all find somebody else to be your singer of songs,

For I can be your singer of songs no longer—One who loves me is jealous of me, and withdraws me from all but love,

With the rest I dispense—I sever from what I thought would suffice me, for it does not—it is now empty and tasteless to me,

I heed knowledge, and the grandeur of The States, and the example of heroes, no more,

I am indifferent to my own songs—I will go with him I love,

It is to be enough for us that we are together—We never separate again.