Whitman texts from Leaves of Grass and Specimen Days
There was a child went forth every day.
And the first object he looked upon and received with wonder or pity or love or dread,
That object he became.
The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass and white and red morning-glories,
And the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the mare’s foal, and the cow’s calf,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there…
All became part of him.
And the field-sprouts of April and May,
The light-yellow corn,
And the apple-trees covered with blossoms,
And all the changes of city and country, wherever he went.
The sense of what is real…
The thought if after all it should prove unreal,
Men and women crowding fast in the streets…
The streets themselves…
The village on the highland, seen from afar at sunset…
The river between, shadows…and mist….
Light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown,
The hurrying tumbling waves and quick-broken crests;
The horizon’s edge,
The fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud;
These became part of that child who now goes,
And will always go forth every day.
I salute the air, the ocean and the land.
I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Behaviour lawless as snowflakes…words simple as grass…
I seize the descending man… I raise him…I lend him my own tongue;
I do not ask who you are…I follow you from the present hour…
I dart like a snake from your mouth.
I make holy whatever I touch or am touched from,
Not till the sun excludes you do I exclude you,
Creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me.
Passing stranger! You must be he I was seeking,
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
You grew up with me, I ate with you and slept with you,
I am to think of you when I sit alone, I am to wait,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
The War department estimate is twenty-five thousand soldiers kill’d in battle and never buried. Fifteen thousand buried in hitherto unfound localities. Two thousand graves cover’d by sand and mud. Three thousand carried away by caving-in of river banks. Countless thousands dead from starvation, disease and wanton cruelty in the burial-pits of the prisons in Andersonville, Salisbury and Belle-Isle.
I think it is the heartfelt wish of all the nations of the world that the United States may be effectually split, crippled and dismember’d. We need this hot lesson of general hatred, and must never forget it.
Text by Whittier
O, Sabbath rest of Galilee!
O, calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee,
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess,
The beauty of Thy peace.
Like a Sick Eagle
Text by J Keats
The spirit is too weak; mortality
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die,
Like a sick eagle looking towards the sky.
The Things Our Fathers Loved
Text by Ives
I think there must be a place in the soul
all made of tunes, of tunes of long ago;
I hear the organ on the Main Street corner,
Aunt Sarah humming Gospels; Summer evenings,
The village cornet band, playing in the square.
The town's Red, White and Blue,
all Red, White and Blue; Now! Hear the songs!
I know not what are the words
But they sing in my soul of the things our Fathers loved.
The New River
text by Ives
Down the river comes a noise!
It is not the voice of rolling waters.
It's only the sound of man,
phonographs and gasoline,
dancing halls and tambourine;
Killed is the blare of the hunting horn
The River Gods are gone.
Text from Walt Whitman A Song of Myself
Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, and nude;
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?
What is man anyhow? what am I? what are you?
All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own,
Else it were time lost a-listening to me.
Text by Ives
A leopard went around his cage
from one side back to the other side;
he stopped only when the keeper came around with meat;
A boy who had been there three hours
began to wonder, "Is life anything like that?"
Ruth Crawford Seeger
Text by Carl Sandberg
The sea rocks have a green moss.
The pine rocks have red berries.
I have memories of you.
Speak to me of how you miss me.
Tell me the hours go long and slow.
Speak to me of the drag on your heart,
The iron drag of the long days.
I know hours empty as a beggar's tin cup on a rainy day,
Empty as a soldier's sleeve with an arm lost.
Speak to me.
Ruth Crawford Seeger
Text by C Sandberg
White Moon comes in on a baby face.
The shafts across her bed are flimmering.
Out on the land White Moon shines,
Shines and glimmers against gnarled shadows,
All silver to slow twisted shadows
Falling across the long road that runs from the house.
Keep a little of your beauty
And some of your flimmering silver
For her by the window tonight
Where you come in, white moon.
Texts by Gertrude Stein
Twenty years after, as much as twenty years after in as much as twenty years after, after twenty years.
If it was to be a prize a surprise if it was to be a surprise to realise, if it was to be if it were to be, was it to be. What was it to be. It was to be what it was. And it was. So it was. As it was. As it is. Is it as it as. It is and as it is and as it is. And...as it was.
At East and Ingredients
Setting of a text by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by J. B. Leishman
Only when flight shall soar
not for its own sake only
up into heaven's lonely
silence, and be no more
merely the lightly profiling,
proudly successful tool,
playmate of winds, beguiling
time there, careless and cool:
only when some pure Whither
outweighs boyish insistence
on the achieved machine
Text by Thomas Hardy
I play my sweet old airs,
The airs he knew when our love was true,
But he does not balk his determined walk,
And passes up the stairs.
I sing my song once more,
And presently hear his footsteps near
As if it would stay; but he goes his way,
And shuts a distant door.
So I wait for another morn, and another night
In this soul-sick blight;
And I wonder much as I sit,
Why such a woman as I was born.
An Exquisite Line
Text from Villanelle by Willian Empson
It is the pain, it is the pain, endures,
Your chemic beauty burned my muscles through.
Text by Boris Pasternak
I have died, but you are still among the living.
And the wind, keening and complaining,
Makes the country house and the forest rock,
Not each pine by itself but all trees as if one,
Together with the illimitable distance,
It makes them rock as the hulls of boats
On mirrorous waters in the wind.
Not in a senseless rage
But to fashion a lullaby for you.
The Widow’s Lament in Springtime
Text by William Carlos Williams
Sorrow is my own yard
Where the new grass
Flames as it has flamed
Often before but not
With the cold fire
That closes round me this year.
I lived with my husband.
The plumtree is white today
With masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
Load the cherry branches
And color some bushes
Yellow and some red
But the grief in my heart
Is stronger than they
For though they were my joy
Formerly, today I notice them
And turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
That in the meadows,
At the edge of the heavy woods
In the distance, he saw
Trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
To go there
And fall into those flowers
And sink into the marsh near them.
Edgar Allan Poe
At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And softly, softly wafting
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley.
The lady sleeps! My love, she sleeps!
Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Laura Bowler A Damned Mob of Scribbling Women
Ruth Hall Preface by Fanny Fern
I present you with my first continuous story. I do not dignify it by the name of " A novel." I am aware that it is entirely at variance with all set rules for novel-writing. There is no intricate plot ; there are no startling developments, no hair-breadth escapes. I have compressed into one volume what I might have expanded into two or three. I have avoided long introductions and descriptions, and have entered unceremoniously and unannounced, into people’s houses, without stopping to ring the bell. Whether you will fancy this primitive mode of calling, whether you will like the company to which it introduces you, or whether you will like the book at all, I cannot tell. Still, I cherish the hope that, somewhere in the length and breadth of the land, it may fan into a flame, in some tried heart, the fading embers of hope, well-nigh extinguished by wintry fortune and summer friends.
America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public is occupied with their trash. This woman writes as if the devil was in her; and that is the only condition under which a woman ever writes anything worth reading. Generally women write like emasculated men, and are only to be distinguished from male authors by greater feebleness and folly.
Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Is what you hear at church religion? Is that which can bend, turn, and descend and ascend, to fit every crooked phrase of selfish, worldly society religion? Is that religion which is scrupulous, less generous, less just, less considerate for man, than even my own ungodly, worldly, blinded nature? No! When I look for religion, I must look for something above me, and not something beneath.
"You mean to take my wife to sell in New Orleans, and put my boy like a calf in a trader's pen, and send Jim's old mother to the brute that whipped and abused her before, because he couldn't abuse her son. You want to send Jim and me back to be whipped and tortured, and ground down under the heels of them that you call masters; and your laws will bear you out in it. More shame for you and them! But you haven't got us. We don't own your laws; we don't own your country; we stand here as free, under God's sky, as you are; and, by the great God that made us, we'll fight for our liberty till we die."
Elizabeth Cady Stanton The Destructive Male
The male element is a destructive force, stern, selfish, aggrandizing, loving war, violence, conquest, acquisition, breeding in the material and moral world alike discord, disorder, disease, and death. See what a record of blood and cruelty the pages of history reveal! Through what slavery, slaughter, and sacrifice, through what inquisitions and imprisonments, pains and persecutions, black codes and gloomy creeds, the soul of humanity has struggled for the centuries, while mercy has veiled her face and all hearts have been dead alike to love and hope!
Gertrude Stein from The Making of Americans
It happens very often that a man has it in him, that a man does something, that he does it very often that he does many things, when he is a young man when he is an old man, when he is an older man. One of such of these kind of them had a little boy and this one, the little son wanted to make a collection of butterflies and beetles and it was all exciting to him and it was all arranged then and then the father said to the son you are certain this is not a cruel thing that you are wanting to be doing, killing things to make collections of them, and the son was very disturbed then and they talked about it together the two of them and more and more they talked about it then and then at last the boy was convinced it was a cruel thing and he said he would not do it and his father said the little boy was a noble boy to give up pleasure when it was a cruel one. The boy went to bed then and then the father when he got up in the early morning saw a wonderfully beautiful moth in the room and he caught him and he killed him and he pinned him and he woke up his son then and showed it to him and he said to him see what a good father I am to have caught and killed this one, the boy was all mixed up inside him and then he said he would go on with his collecting and that was all there was then of discussing and this is a little description of something that happened once and it is very interesting.
Gloria Steinham If Men Could Menstruate
What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not? Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event. Men would brag about how long and how much. Young boys would talk about it as the enviable beginning of manhood. Gifts, religious ceremonies, family dinners, and stag parties would mark the day. Sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free. Statistical surveys would show that men did better in sports and won more Olympic medals during their periods. TV shows would treat the subject more openly. Men would convince women that sex was more pleasurable at “that time of month”. Lesbians would be said to fear blood and therefore life itself: “All they need is a good menstruating man!” Medical schools would limit women’s entry: “They might faint at the sight of blood.”
Kate Chopin The Awakening
The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth.
We believe in total freedom of communication, and we will not be compromised.
A spectrum of greens bright, filtered, silvery, drained of their greenness, and left over is a fragility known only to the girl no longer young, with skin like parchment, drinking of the air the rain. Not with gratitude but with pleasure. Not with greediness but with disdain. I was awakened by hands white as snow.
Interludes from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
Universal Food Machine
Text by Mina Loy
Open radiators at regular intervals along the streets to temperate the rigours of winter — and as an integral part of the architecture heated shelters for those anonymous creatures who seem to come from nowhere and to be going nowhere.
Also automatic distributors of some luscious soup most carefully composed of the essential elements of perfect nurture, and so savoury that it stimulates the more subtle faculties — together with exquisite croutons to furnish the necessary sensation of solidity that is needful for the ease of the digestive organs. How much would be saved by calling in the vast sums in disseminated charity
and pooling them for a national distribution of general welfare. How easily would such an overhaulment occupy the millions of unemployed.
What a reduction in in the donations for hospitals.
Halt says the practical moralist — would you encourage thriftlessness and idleness — but what has become of thrift in the face of unemployment — and idleness is abnormal — a paralysis of the nervous system resulting from blind education.
As by all the laws of psychology — the equality clamoured for by the socialist is an obvious impossibility — and as such equality is the desire of a type of mind whose experience has been too rude a familiarity with the elemental necessities of life — and therefore with little apprehension of those aesthetic necessities of leisure.
The trend of politics tends towards a levelling down — but what is there impractical in the conception of levelling up--
There may be an inevitable social ladder — and consequently a lowest rung — but it is a matter of merely humane decency that that lowest rung should be shifted higher up.
For surely we have sufficient knowledge to discern that human life constrained to concentrate on the preservation of the body alone — has no value — and the more we shall come to realise that the body is merely an instrument — we shall realise the moral obligation of setting society on such a basis as will provide.