Song Of The Exposition


  AFTER all, not to create only, or found only,
  But to bring, perhaps from afar, what is already founded,
  To give it our own identity, average, limitless, free;
  To fill the gross, the torpid bulk with vital religious fire;
  Not to repel or destroy, so much as accept, fuse, rehabilitate;
  To obey, as well as command--to follow, more than to lead;
  These also are the lessons of our New World;
  --While how little the New, after all--how much the Old, Old World!

  Long, long, long, has the grass been growing,
  Long and long has the rain been falling, 10
  Long has the globe been rolling round.

  Come, Muse, migrate from Greece and Ionia;
  Cross out, please, those immensely overpaid accounts,
  That matter of Troy, and Achilles' wrath, and Eneas', Odysseus'
  wanderings;
  Placard "Removed" and "To Let" on the rocks of your snowy Parnassus;
  Repeat at Jerusalem--place the notice high on Jaffa's gate, and on
  Mount Moriah;
  The same on the walls of your Gothic European Cathedrals, and German,
  French and Spanish Castles;
  For know a better, fresher, busier sphere--a wide, untried domain
  awaits, demands you.

  Responsive to our summons,
  Or rather to her long-nurs'd inclination, 20
  Join'd with an irresistible, natural gravitation,

  She comes! this famous Female--as was indeed to be expected;
  (For who, so-ever youthful, 'cute and handsome, would wish to stay in
  mansions such as those,
  When offer'd quarters with all the modern improvements,
  With all the fun that 's going--and all the best society?)

  She comes! I hear the rustling of her gown;
  I scent the odor of her breath's delicious fragrance;
  I mark her step divine--her curious eyes a-turning, rolling,
  Upon this very scene.

  The Dame of Dames! can I believe, then, 30
  Those ancient temples classic, and castles strong and feudalistic,
  could none of them restrain her?
  Nor shades of Virgil and Dante--nor myriad memories, poems, old
  associations, magnetize and hold on to her?
  But that she 's left them all--and here?

  Yes, if you will allow me to say so,
  I, my friends, if you do not, can plainly see Her,
  The same Undying Soul of Earth's, activity's, beauty's, heroism's
  Expression,
  Out from her evolutions hither come--submerged the strata of her
  former themes,
  Hidden and cover'd by to-day's--foundation of to-day's;
  Ended, deceas'd, through time, her voice by Castaly's fountain;
  Silent through time the broken-lipp'd Sphynx in Egypt--silent those
  century-baffling tombs; 40
  Closed for aye the epics of Asia's, Europe's helmeted warriors;
  Calliope's call for ever closed--Clio, Melpomene, Thalia closed and
  dead;
  Seal'd the stately rhythmus of Una and Oriana--ended the quest of the
  Holy Graal;
  Jerusalem a handful of ashes blown by the wind--extinct;
  The Crusaders' streams of shadowy, midnight troops, sped with the
  sunrise;
  Amadis, Tancred, utterly gone--Charlemagne, Roland, Oliver gone,
  Palmerin, ogre, departed--vanish'd the turrets that Usk reflected,
  Arthur vanish'd with all his knights--Merlin and Lancelot and
  Galahad--all gone--dissolv'd utterly, like an exhalation;
  Pass'd! pass'd! for us, for ever pass'd! that once so mighty World--
  now void, inanimate, phantom World!

  Embroider'd, dazzling World! with all its gorgeous legends, myths, 50
  Its kings and barons proud--its priests, and warlike lords, and
  courtly dames;
  Pass'd to its charnel vault--laid on the shelf--coffin'd, with Crown
  and Armor on,
  Blazon'd with Shakspeare's purple page,
  And dirged by Tennyson's sweet sad rhyme.

  I say I see, my friends, if you do not, the Animus of all that World,
  Escaped, bequeath'd, vital, fugacious as ever, leaving those dead
  remains, and now this spot approaching, filling;
  --And I can hear what maybe you do not--a terrible aesthetical
  commotion,
  With howling, desperate gulp of "flower" and "bower,"
  With "Sonnet to Matilda's Eyebrow" quite, quite frantic;
  With gushing, sentimental reading circles turn'd to ice or stone; 60
  With many a squeak, (in metre choice,) from Boston, New York,
  Philadelphia, London;
  As she, the illustrious Emigré,
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Walt Whitman

Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. more…

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"Song Of The Exposition" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/38146/song-of-the-exposition>.

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