Another time mackerel-taking,
Voracious, mad for the hook, near the surface, they seem to fill
Another time fishing for rock-fish in Chesapeake Bay, I one of
the brown-faced crew;
time trailing for blue-fish off Paumanok, I stand with
My left foot is on the gunwale, my right
arm throws far out the
coils of slender rope,
In sight around me the quick veering and darting of fifty
O boating on the rivers,
The voyage down the St. Lawrence, the superb scenery, the steamers,
sailing, the Thousand Islands, the occasional timber-raft
and the raftsmen with long-reaching sweepoars,
little huts on the rafts, and the stream of smoke when they
cook supper at evening.
(O something pernicious and dread!
Something far away from a puny and pious life!
something in a trance!
Something escaped from the anchorage and driving free.)
O to work in mines, or forging iron,
Foundry casting, the foundry itself, the rude high roof, the
The furnace, the hot liquid pour'd out and running.
O to resume the joys of the soldier!
To feel the presence of a brave commanding officer to feel
To behold his calmness to be warm'd in the rays of his smile!
To go to battle to hear the
bugles play and the drums beat!
To hear the crash of artillery to see the glittering of the
musket-barrels in the sun!
To see men fall and die and not complain!
To taste the savage taste of blood
to be so devilish!
To gloat so over the wounds and deaths of the enemy.
O the whaleman's joys! O I cruise my old cruise again!
I feel the ship's motion under me, I feel the Atlantic
I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-head, There
spring up the rigging to look with the rest we
descend, wild with excitement,
I leap in the lower'd boat,
we row toward our prey where he lies,
We approach stealthy and silent, I see the mountainous mass,
I see the harpooner standing up, I see the weapon dart from
his vigorous arm;
again far out in the ocean the wounded whale, settling,
running to windward, tows me,
Again I see him
rise to breathe, we row close again,
I see a lance driven through his side, press'd deep, turn'd
Again we back off, I see him settle again, the life is leaving
As he rises he spouts blood, I see
him swim in circles narrower and
narrower, swiftly cutting the water I see him die,
He gives one convulsive
leap in the centre of the circle, and then
falls flat and still in the bloody foam.
O the old manhood of me, my noblest joy of all!
My children and grand-children, my white hair and beard,
largeness, calmness, majesty, out of the long stretch of my life.
O ripen'd joy of womanhood! O happiness at last!
I am more than eighty years of age, I am the most
How clear is my mind how all people draw night to me!
What attractions are these
beyond any before? what bloom more
than the bloom of youth?
What beauty is this that descends upon
me and rises out of me?
O the orator's joys!
To inflate the chest, to roll the thunder of the voice out from
the ribs and throat,
make the people rage, weep, hate, desire, with yourself,
To lead America to quell America with a great
O the joy of my soul leaning pois'd on itself, receiving
identity through materials and loving them, observing
characters and absorbing them,
My soul vibrated back to me from them, from sight, hearing,
articulation, comparison, memory, and the like,
The real life of my senses and flesh transcending my
senses and flesh,
My body done with materials, my sight done with my material eyes,
Proved to me this
day beyond cavil that it is not my material eyes
which finally see,
Nor my material body which finally
loves, walks, laughs, shouts,