Who shall speak the secret of impassive earth? who bind it to us?
O earth that hast no voice, confide to me a voice.
Reclining on thy breast, giving myself to thee, tuning a verse for thee,
Answering the pulses of thy sane and equable heart,
I for the old round earth these “Leaves” utter,
A song to narrate the melodious character of the earth.
This is the earth’s word—the round and compact earth’s.
How the earth darts on and on.
It is no small matter, this round and delicious, ever-darting globe,
A great round wonder rolling through space, carrying fire and snow,
Onward beneath the sun following its course,
Moving so exactly in its orbit forever and ever—
The old, forever young, and solid earth, tumbling on steadily,
Through space and air the resistless motion of the globe that rolls through the illimitable areas,
Light as a feather, though weighing billions of tons,
Passing unsuspected but quick as lightning along its orbit.
Lo, the darting bowling orb!
Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets.
Of the interminable sisters,
Of the ceaseless cotillons of sisters,
The beautiful sister we know dances on with the rest.
No balk retarding, no anchor anchoring, on no rock striking,
Of all able and ready at any time to give strict account,
The divine ship sails the divine sea.
The calming thought of all:
Coursing on, whate’er men’s speculations,
The round earth’s silent vital laws, facts, modes continue,
Sunshine, storm, cold, heat, forever withstanding, passing, carrying.
Banding the bulge of the earth winds the hot equator,
Curiously north and south turn the axis-ends.
Great is the earth, and the way it became what it is,
Product of deathly fire and turbulent chaos,
Forth from spasms of fury and poisons,
Issuing at last in perfect power and beauty.
I do not think it was made in six days, nor in ten thousand years, nor ten decillions of years,
Nor planned and built one thing after another, as an architect plans and builds a house,
The processes of the refinement and perfection of the earth are in steps, the least part of which involves trillions of years.
Do you imagine it is stopped at this, and the increase abandoned?
Understand then that it goes as far onward from this as this is from the times when it lay in covering waters and gases.
Amelioration is one of the earth’s words—this earth is under a constant process of amelioration as it always has been;
In due time the earth, beautiful as it is now, will be as proportionately different from what it is now, as it now is proportionately different from what it was in its earlier gaseous or marine period, uncounted cycles before man and woman grew;
Our immortality is located here upon earth. We also shall be here, proportionately different from now and beautiful.
O truth of the earth!
The truths of the earth continually wait,
The truths of the earth are not so conceal’d either,
They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print.
I cannot put my toe anywhere to the ground,
But it must touch numberless and curious books,
Each one scorning all that school and science can do fully to translate them.
The only good of learning the theory of the fluency and generosity and impartiality, largeness and exactitude, of the earth, the coarseness and sexuality and great charity of the earth, and the equilibrium also, is to use all those toward the theory of human character.
There can be no theory of any account unless it corroborate the theory of the earth,
No politics, song, religion, behavior, or what not, is of account, unless it compare with the amplitude of the earth,
Unless it face the exactness, vitality, impartiality, rectitude of the earth.
There is no greatness or power that does not emulate those of the earth,
The simple shows, the delicate miracles of earth, the melodious character of the earth.
The earth neither lags nor hastens,
It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in itself from the jump.
The earth does not exhibit itself nor refuse to exhibit itself,
The earth does not argue, is not pathetic, has no arrangements,
Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise.
The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough,
Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out,
The earth makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures—
Swift, glad, content, unbereav’d,
Nothing dreading, nothing losing.
Long for my soul hungering gymnastic I devour’d what the earth gave me.
I suppose I shall have myriads of new experiences,
And that the experience of this earth will prove only one out of myriads,
But I believe whatever happens I shall not forget this earth,
I believe I shall find nothing in the stars more majestic and beautiful than I have already found on the earth,
Wherever I go I believe I shall often return.
This is my first—how can I like the rest any better?
Here I grew up—the studs and rafters are grown parts of me.
(I suppose the pink nipples of the breasts of women with whom I shall sleep will touch the side of my face the same,
But this is the nipple of a breast of my mother, always near and always divine to me, her true child and son, whatever comes.)
I say distinctly I comprehend no better sphere than this earth,
She whom I too love like the rest—
The vast terraqueous globe given and giving all.
Smile, O voluptuous cool-breath’d earth!
Far-swooping, elbowed, procreant earth!
Smile, for your lover comes.
O smiling earth, give me of you!
Spread round me earth! spread with your curtained hours.
Prodigal, you have given me love,
Sustenance, happiness, health have given—
Therefore I to you give love!
O unspeakable passionate love.
The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections,
They scorn the best I can do to relate them.
But what is this earth to our affections?
Cold, impassive, voiceless earth, rude, silent,
Unloving earth, without a throb to answer ours,
Incomprehensible at first,
To ordinary scansion full of vulgar contradictions and offence—
Ever the hard unsunk ground, the place of graves,
Bringing to practical, vulgar tests all of my ideal dreams,
And of me, as lover and hero.
Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands,
Say, old top-knot, what do you want?
Master of all, and matter of fact!—at last I accept your terms.
How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it,
Not half beautiful only, defects and excrescences show just as much as perfections show—
Is not the earth free, wicked, terrible,
Full of alkaline plains, barren, colorless, sage-deserts?
Think you the fertile oases only are beautiful and mean something?
I am for those who walk abreast with the whole earth,
The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light.
(What is the part the wicked and the loathsome bear within earth’s orbic scheme?
The roughness of the earth and of man encloses as much as the delicatesse of the earth and of man.)
I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be complete,
The earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who remains jagged and broken.
How curious is the brown, divine, coarse, substantial earth,
Curious realities now everywhere on the surface of the earth—
The hid footholds of the earth,
On which arising rest, and leaping forth depend,
All shapes of beauty, grace and strength, all hues we know.
In the interior of the earth, What is it?
Is it liquid fire? Is there not toward the core, some vast strange stifling vacuum?
Is there anything in that vacuum? Any kind of curious flying or floating life with its nature fitted?
I am the poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea,
Upward to heaven, whence the clouds of heaven above,
Vaguely form’d, altogether changed, and yet the same.
As rain falls from the heaven,
I descend to lave the drouths, atomies, dust-layers of the globe,
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent, unborn—
The rain-shower at night, skies so transparent after the rain,
The irregular tapping of rain down on the leaves after the storm is lull’d,
And the fresh smell next morning, and vapors rise from earth,
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own origin, and make pure and beautify it.