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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Prose Works. 1892.

I. Specimen Days

204. Upon Our Own Land

“ALWAYS, after supper, take a walk half a mile long,” says an old proverb, dryly adding, “and if convenient let it be upon your own land.” I wonder does any other nation but ours afford opportunity for such a jaunt as this? Indeed has any previous period afforded it? No one, I discover, begins to know the real geographic, democratic, indissoluble American Union in the present, or suspect it in the future, until he explores these Central States, and dwells awhile observantly on their prairies, or amid their busy towns, and the mighty father of waters. A ride of two or three thousand miles, “on one’s own land,” with hardly a disconnection, could certainly be had in no other place than the United States, and at no period before this. If you want to see what the railroad is, and how civilization and progress date from it—how it is the conqueror of crude nature, which it turns to man’s use, both on small scales and on the largest—come hither to inland America.

I return’d home, east, Jan. 5, 1880, having travers’d, to and fro and across, 10,000 miles and more. I soon resumed my seclusions down in the woods, or by the creek, or gaddings about cities, and an occasional disquisition, as will be seen following.