I announce what comes after me,
I announce natural persons to arise,
I announce the great individual, fluid as nature,
A man or woman coming—perhaps you are the one.
I announce a life that shall be copious, vehement, spiritual, bold,
I announce a race of splendid and savage old men,
I announce an end that shall lightly and joyfully meet its translation.
I project the ideal American of the future.
Of course, we shall have a national character, an identity. Such character is the brain and spine to all. Such character, strong, limber, just, open-mouthed, American-blooded, full of pride, full of ease, of passionate friendliness, is to stand compact upon that vast basis of the supremacy of individuality.
What is now wanted in these states—and what will be wanted, a hundred years hence, and ever so many hundred years hence—is clear-eyed, well-informed, healthy-brained, bold-mouthed men, men possessed of such native resolution that they readily part aside authority, law, custom, officers, popularities, to walk sternly on with their own divine conviction of what is right.
Such men stand to nothing less than the freshest and freest expression—
Each indeed free, each idiomatic, as becomes live states and men, but each adhering to one enclosing general form of politics, manners, talk, personal style, as the plenteous varieties of the race adhere to one physical form.
See here the phallic choice of America, her crowning theory:
Seeking the strong and full and perfect individual man—one full-sized man or woman,
A natural, well-trained man or woman, unconquerable and simple,
The average, strong, complete, sweet-blooded, perfect-bodied, noble-souled man or woman,
Possessed with the eternal American ideas of liberty, friendliness, amplitude, and courage.
The phallic choice of America leaves the finesse of cities, and all the returns of commerce or agriculture, and achievements of literature and art, and all the shows of exterior victory, to enjoy the perennial influences of nature at first hand, the savage and sane nourishment indispensable to a hardy nation; of the passions, in all their fullest heat and potency; and of immense pride—
The true America, the new society at last, proportionate to nature,
In woman more, far more, than all your gold or vines, or even vital air,
In man of you, more than your mountain peaks or stalwart trees imperial.
Here may he hardy, sweet, gigantic grow, here tower proportionate to nature,
Here climb the vast pure spaces unconfined, uncheck’d by wall or roof,
Here laugh with storm or sun, here joy, here patiently inure,
Here heed himself, unfold himself, (not others’ formulas heed,) the freshest and freest of men.
I would raise my voice jocund and strong with reference to consummations:
When America does what was promis’d,
To chisel with free stroke the heads and limbs of plenteous supreme gods, that the states may realize them walking and talking,
When through these states walk a hundred millions of superb persons,
When breeds of the most perfect mothers denote America,
Breeding a larger, brawnier, more candid, more democratic, lawless, sweet-bodied, completer, dauntless, flowing, masterful, new race,
Then to me and mine our due fruition.
True, noble, expanding American character is to be illimitably proud, independent, self-possessed, generous, and gentle.
The American character has enormous pride and self-assertion,
But underneath, living good will and sympathy are far more enormous—
The American people, ever sturdy, ever instinctively just, have only to perceive any great wrong and the work of redemption is begun from that hour.
The largeness of the nation were monstrous without a corresponding largeness and generosity of the spirit of the citizen;
We want, for these states, for the general character, a cheerful, religious fervor, endued with the ever-present modifications of the human emotions, friendship, benevolence, with the right of individual judgment, and always the cooling influences of material nature.
I believe the main purport of these states is to found a superb friendship, exalte, previously unknown—equal freemen and freewomen, amicably joined—
It is the quality which makes the states whole—it is their thread—but oh! the significant thread!—by which the nation is held together, to tie all and each with resistless double ties not only of inter-trade barter, but human comradeship—a chain of comrades.
I will show what alone must finally compact these,
I believe these are to found their own ideal of manly love.
Intense and loving comradeship, the personal and passionate attachment of man to man—which, hard to define, underlies the lessons and ideals of the profound saviours of every land and age—seems to promise, when thoroughly develop’d, cultivated and recognized, the most substantial hope and safety of the future of these states.
The life of the present and the future makes undeniable demands upon us each and all—south, north, east, west—to help put the United States (even if only in imagination) hand in hand, in one unbroken circle.
I wish to infuse myself among you till I see it common for you to walk hand in hand;
There shall be countless linked hands.
It is to the development, identification, and general prevalence of that fervid comradeship, that I look for the counterbalance and offset of our materialistic and vulgar American democracy, and for the spiritualization thereof. I confidently expect a time when there will be seen, running like a half-hid warp through all the myriad audible and visible worldly interests of America, threads of manly friendship, fond and loving, pure and sweet, strong and life-long, carried to degrees hitherto unknown—not only giving tone to individual character, and making it unprecedently emotional, muscular, heroic, and refined, but having the deepest relations to general politics.
O shapes arising! shapes of the future centuries!
Be not dishearten’d, affection will solve every one of the problems of freedom.
The dependence of liberty shall be lovers,
The continuance of equality shall be comrades,
These shall tie you and band you stronger than hoops of iron.
I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America, and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over the prairies,
I will make divine magnetic lands,
I will make inseparable cities, with their arms about each other’s necks,
Ever-growing communes of brothers and lovers, large, well-united, proud beyond the old models, generous beyond all models,
More precious to each other than all the riches of the earth—
If need be, a thousand shall sternly immolate themselves for one,
Then we should see an American democracy with thews and sinews worthy this sublime age.
It is by a fervent, accepted development of comradeship, the beautiful and sane affection of man for man, latent in all the young fellows, north and south, east and west—it is by this, I say, and by what goes directly and indirectly along with it, that the United States of the future, (I cannot too often repeat,) are to be most effectually welded together, intercalated, anneal’d into a living union.
I travel toward you, ecstatic, O partners! O lands! to teach robust American love,
For I know very well that I and robust love belong among you,
I henceforth with the love of lovers tie you,
With the life-long love of comrades.
I am he who kisses his comrade lightly on the lips at parting, and I am one who is kissed in return,
I introduce that new American salute;
It shall be customary in the houses and streets to see manly affection,
The departing brother or friend shall salute the remaining brother or friend with a kiss,
The most dauntless and rude shall touch face to face lightly, full of manly pride and friendship.
A palpable outcropping of personal comradeship—this old, eternal, yet ever-new interchange of adhesiveness, so fitly emblematic of America—I look forward to as the subtlest, strongest future hold of this many-item’d Union.
With all thy gifts America,
What if one gift thou lackest?
The towering feminine of thee? the beauty, health, completion, fit for thee?
The mothers fit for thee?
The gift of perfect women fit for thee?—what if that gift of gifts thou lackest?
With determined will, I seek the woman of the future—a new and grand race of women—the women of America, (extricated from this daze, this fossil and unhealthy air which hangs about the word lady,) develop’d, raised to become the robust equals, workers, and, it may be, even practical and political deciders with the men.
Sometimes I have fancied that only from superior, hardy women can rise the future superiorities of these states,
I say an unnumbered new race of hardy and well-defined women are to spread through all these states.
O race of the future! O women!
I promulge new races of perfect women, indispensable—
Anticipate the best women, the great women’s land! the feminine!
The author himself never ceases to bring in other people, the British, the French, the German, etc., and never loses sight of them and indeed of entire humanity.
America to me includes humanity and is the universal,
What the mother, our continent, in reference to humanity, finally means is individuality strong and superb, for broadest average use;
It is to be a large, tolerant, and all-inclusive individuality,
The final aim of the United States of America is the solidarity of the world.
We of the New World are perhaps not so new as we are apt to think,
The main points of all ages and nations are points of resemblance, and, even while granting evolution, are substantially the same.
We all, of all ages, share the common human attributes,
The same old laws of history, the same old laws over and under humanity,
They have not been changed an iota for us,
Though we often act as if we thought so.
(You Russians and we Americans! Our countries so distant, so unlike at first glance, and yet in certain features, and vastest ones, so resembling each other—
Both have the fervent element of manly friendship throughout the whole people.)
The United States may only become the greatest and the most continuous, by understanding well their harmonious relations with entire humanity,
The United States must establish a democratic governmental policy founded upon the universal principles of all government.
Liberty, with law by her side, will one day be paramount—will at any rate be the central idea—
This is the American programme, not for classes, but for universal man.
One song, America, before I go:
O America because you build for mankind I build for you!
I see not America only, but other nations preparing,
I see that this world of the West, as part of all, fuses inseparably with the East, and with all,
Uniting closer and closer not only the American states, but all nations, and all humanity.
Toward you all, in America’s name,
I raise high the perpendicular hand,
I make the signal—Salut au monde!
To remain after me in sight forever,
For all the haunts and homes of men—
As if some miracle, anthems in new tongues I hear, saluting me.
NEXT: WAR AND PEACE