Passage to India
Passage to India1
Singing my days,
Singing the great achievements of the present,
Singing the strong light works of engineers,
modern wonders, (the antique ponderous Seven outvied,)
In the Old World the east the Suez canal,
New by its mighty railroad spann'd,
The seas inlaid with eloquent gentle wires;
Yet first to sound, and ever
sound, the cry with thee O soul,
The Past! the Past! the Past!
The Past the dark unfathom'd retrospect!
The teeming gulf the sleepers and the shadows!
the infinite greatness of the past!
For what is the present after all but a growth out of the past?
projectile form'd, impell'd, passing a certain line, still
So the present, utterly form'd, impell'd by
Passage O soul to India!
Eclaircise the myths Asiatic, the primitive fables.
Not you alone proud truths of
Nor you alone ye facts of modern science,
But myths and fables of eld, Asia's, Africa's fables,
far-darting beams of the spirit, the unloos'd dreams,
The deep diving bibles and legends,
The daring plots
of the poets, the elder religions;
O you temples fairer than lilies pour'd over by the rising
O you fables
spurning the known, eluding the hold of the
known, mounting to heaven!
You lofty and dazzling towers,
pinnacled, red as roses,
burnish'd with gold!
Towers of fables immortal fashion'd from mortal dreams!
too I welcome and fully the same as the rest!
You too with joy I sing.
Passage to India!
Lo, soul, seest thou not God's purpose from the first?
The earth to be spann'd, connected
The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,
The oceans to be cross'd, the distant
The lands to be welded together.
A worship new I sing,
You captains, voyagers, explorers, yours,
You engineers, you architects, machinists,
You, not for trade or transportation only,
But in God's name, and for thy sake O soul.
Passage to India!
Lo soul for thee of tableaus twain,
I see in one the Suez canal initiated, open'd,
the procession of steamships, the Empress Eugenie's
leading the van,
I mark from on deck the strange
landscape, the pure sky, the
level sand in the distance,
I pass swiftly the picturesque groups, the workmen
The gigantic dredging machines.
In one again, different, (yet thine, all thine, O soul, the same,)
I see over my own continent the Pacific
I see continual trains of cars winding along the Platte carrying
I hear the locomotives rushing and roaring, and the shrill
I hear the echoes
reverberate through the grandest scenery in
I cross the Laramie plains, I note the rocks in grotesque
I see the plentiful larkspur and wild onions, the barren,
I see in glimpses
afar or towering immediately above me the
great mountains, I see the Wind river and the Wahsatch
see the Monument mountain and the Eagle's Nest, I pass
the Promontory, I ascend the Nevadas,
the noble Elk mountain and wind around its base,
I see the Humboldt range, I thread the valley and cross
I see the clear waters of lake Tahoe, I see forests of majestic
Or crossing the great desert,
the alkaline plains, I behold
enchanting mirages of waters and meadows,
Marking through these and after
all, in duplicate slender
Bridging the three or four thousand miles of land travel,
Tying the Eastern to
the Western sea,
The road between Europe and Asia.
(Ah Genoese thy dream! thy dream!
thou art laid in thy grave,
The shore thou foundest verifies thy dream.)
Passage to India!
Struggles of many a captain, tales of many a sailor dead,
Over my mood stealing and
spreading they come,
Like clouds and cloudlets in the unreach'd sky.
Along all history, down the slopes,
As a rivulet running, sinking now, and now again to the
ceaseless thought, a varied train lo, soul, to thee, thy
sight, they rise,
The plans, the voyages again,
Again Vasco de Gama sails forth,
Again the knowledge gain'd, the mariner's compass,