My soul is borne through the fresh, free, open air,
Soothing, sane, open air hours.
My song is there,
And I must sing my joys in the open 
(I stifle in the confinement of rooms.)

The open air I sing, freedom, toleration—
This is the common air that bathes the globe,
It is for the heroes and sages, it is for the workingmen and farmers,
It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous.

To breathe the air, how delicious!
I inhale great draughts of space,
I inhale the impalpable breezes that set in upon me,
The sane impalpable air that serves me with breath to speak.

The subtle nourishment of the air tastes good to my palate,
The luscious air, mellow as a full–ripe peach.
The atmosphere is not a perfume—the air is more than the costliest perfumes,
It has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever,
I am in love with it,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

What virtue there is in the open air,
Beyond all charms or medications, it is what renews vitality.
Whatever is done ought to be in the open air;
Don’t be afraid of that—drink it in—it won’t hurt you—there is a curious virtue in it, to be found in nothing else.

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.
What a charm there is about men that have lived mainly in the open air,
Men taciturn yet loving, used to the open air, and the manners of the open air.
In them nature justifies herself,
Their indefinable excellence gives out something as much beyond the special productions of colleges and pews and parlors as the morning air of the prairie or the sea-shore outsmells the costliest scents of the perfume shop.
I think heroic deeds were all conceiv’d in the open air, and all free poems also.

Read these “Leaves” in the open air every season of every year of your life, like healthy nourishment or pure air,
Try them by trees, stars, rivers,
If you would understand me go to the heights or water-shore—
It makes such difference where you read.
I swear I will never again mention love or death inside a house,
And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only to him or her who privately stays with me in the open air.

NEXT: The Daytime Sky