Who do you think that was marching steadily sternly confronting death?
To a Certain Cantatrice Here, take this gift, I was reserving it for some hero, speaker, or general, One who should serve the good old cause, the great idea, the progress and freedom of the race, Some brave confronter of despots, some daring rebel; But I see that what I was reserving belongs to you just as much as to any.
I tell not now the whole of the battle, But one brigade early in the forenoon order’d forward to engage the red-coats, Of that brigade I tell, and how steadily it march’d, And how long and well it stood confronting death.
All waits or goes by default till a strong being appears; A strong being is the proof of the race and of the ability of the universe, When he or she appears materials are overaw’d, The dispute on the soul stops, The old customs and phrases are confronted, turn’d back, or laid away.
To be servile to none, to defer to none, not to any tyrant known or unknown, To walk with erect carriage, a step springy and elastic, To look with calm gaze or with a flashing eye, To speak with a full and sonorous voice out of a broad chest, To confront with your personality all the other personalities of the earth.
…receptive, silent as they, Finding my occupation, poverty, notoriety, foibles, crimes, less important than I thought, Me toward the Mexican sea, or in the Mannahatta or the Tennessee, or far north or inland, A river man, or a man of the woods or of any farm-life of these States or of the coast, or the lakes or Kanada, Me wherever my life is lived, O to be self-balanced for contingencies, To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs, as the trees and animals do.
…to cease, From the myriad thence-arous’d words, From the word stronger and more delicious than any, From such as now they start the scene revisiting, As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing, Borne hither, ere all eludes me, hurriedly, A man, yet by these tears a little boy again, Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves, I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter, Taking all hints to use them, but swiftly leaping beyond them, A reminiscence sing.
…Your Lap Camerado As I lay with my head in your lap camerado, The confession I made I resume, what I said to you and the open air I resume, I know I am restless and make others so, I know my words are weapons full of danger, full of death, For I confront peace, security, and all the settled laws, to unsettle them, I am more resolute because all have denied me than I could ever have been had all accepted me, I heed not and have never heeded either experience, cautions, majorities, nor…
…excitement, and rack’d by the war-strife,) These to procure incessantly asking, rising in cries from my heart, While yet incessantly asking still I adhere to my city, Day upon day and year upon year O city, walking your streets, Where you hold me enchain’d a certain time refusing to give me up, Yet giving to make me glutted, enrich’d of soul, you give me forever faces; (O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing my cries, see my own soul trampling down what it ask’d for.
Is humanity forming en-masse? for lo, tyrants tremble, crowns grow dim, The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a general divine war, No one knows what will happen next, such portents fill the days and nights; Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vainly try to pierce it, is full of phantoms, Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes around me, This incredible rush and heat, this strange ecstatic fever of dreams O years!
) The male and female many laboring not, Shall ever here confront the laboring many, With precious benefits to both, glory to all, To thee America, and thee eternal Muse.
) Slush and sand of the beach tireless till daylight wending, Steadily, slowly, through hoarse roar never remitting, Along the midnight edge by those milk-white combs careering, A group of dim, weird forms, struggling, the night confronting, That savage trinity warily watching.
Out from Behind This Mask [To Confront a Portrait] 1 Out from behind this bending rough-cut mask, These lights and shades, this drama of the whole, This common curtain of the face contain’d in me for me, in you for you, in each for each, (Tragedies, sorrows, laughter, tears—0 heaven!
) 18 I will confront these shows of the day and night, I will know if I am to be less than they, I will see if I am not as majestic as they, I will see if I am not as subtle and real as they, I will see if I am to be less generous than they, I will see if I have no meaning, while the houses and ships have meaning, I will see if the fishes and birds are to be enough for themselves, and I am not to be enough for myself.