You on the Open Road

On the road or at some crevice door by chance, or open’d window,
Pausing, inclining, baring my head, you specially I greet,
To draw and clinch your soul for once inseparably with mine.

Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
Whoever you are, come forth! or man or woman come forth!
You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you—
Out of the dark confinement! out from behind the screen!
It is useless to protest.

Each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road,
The endless and beginningless road, which leads to all learning and knowledge and truth and pleasure, up along the sidewalks of eternity.
Allons! the road is before us!
It is safe
—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d!

Shoulder your duds dear son, and I will mine, and let us hasten forth;
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovel’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
The stale cadaver blocks up the passage—the burial waits no longer,
Come, let us lag here no longer, let us be up and away!

Sweet, fresh, and compact, we will go forth in the open sky, under the sun;
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of your life.

O friend, whoe’er you are, at last arriving hither to commence,
Now we start hence, I with the rest, on our journeys,
To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them,
To gather the love out of their hearts,
We willing learners of all, teachers of all, and lovers of all.

Traveling with me you find what never tires,
I feel sure you will learn a good deal and get experience of the world and people, and of yourself too—
All of which is the wisdom described in scripture as better than riches.

All the pulses of the world,
Falling in they beat for us,
Two blended, parallel, strolling tides,
Companions, travelers, gossiping as they journey,
Up and down the curious roads going, north and south excursions making,

Power enjoying, elbows stretching, fingers clutching,
Arm’d and fearless, eating, drinking, sleeping, loving,
Misers, menials, priests alarming, air breathing, water drinking,
On the turf or the sea-beach dancing,
No law less than ourselves owning.

Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go,
Mighty inland cities yet unsurvey’d and unsuspected,
Or vast and ruin’d desolated cities—
We will interrogate curious silent objects,
The nameless masonries, venerable messages of unknown events, heroes, records,
The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities of the globe.

Allons! we must not stop here,
However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
However shelter’d this port and however calm these waters, we must not anchor here.
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin’d, you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction, before you are call’d by an irresistible call to depart;
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach’d hands toward you,
What beckonings of love you receive you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting,
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind 

Thus upon our journey, footing the road, and more than once, and link’d together let us go,
We the route for travel clearing,
While the followers there in embryo wait behind.
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you,
With me with firm holding, yet haste, haste on,
To glide swift in our spirits over all continents and seas,
That we possess ourselves of the great round globe, and lose these little nuisances that we were too long dwelling upon,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration,
Fulfilling our foray.

Listen! I will be honest with you,
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes,
For after we start we never lie by again.

Not for us the tame enjoyment, not the riches safe and palling,
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious.
He going with me leaves peace and routine behind him to undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
(Still be ours the blanket on the ground,)
He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry enemies, desertions,
And stakes his life to be lost at any moment. 

I am he who tauntingly compels men, women, nations,
Crying, Allons! through struggles and wars!
Leap from your seats and contend for your lives!
(The element of danger adds zest to it all.)

He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance,
None may come to the trial till he or she bring courage and health.

Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,
Sit awhile, wayfarer; I give you biscuits to eat and milk to drink.
But as soon as you sleep and bathe and renew yourself in sweet clothes,
I kiss you with a good-bye kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.

I hear your mute inquiry,
“Whither I go from the bed I recline on, come tell me;
Come tell me where I am speeding—tell me my destination.”
I understand your anguish, but I cannot help you,
I warn thee in advance that it will depend entirely upon thyself how thee gets along,
My own part will be nothing more than to point out the best road.

Not I, not anyone else, not God can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on land—and on water.