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Outlines for a Tomb


Outlines for a Tomb [G. P., Buried 1870]

1
What may we chant, O thou within this tomb?
What tablets, outlines, hang for thee, O millionnaire?
The life thou lived'st we know not,
But that thou walk'dst thy years in barter, 'mid the haunts of
brokers,
Nor heroism thine, nor war, nor glory.

2
Silent, my soul,
With drooping lids, as waiting, ponder'd,
Turning from all the samples, monuments of heroes.

While through the interior vistas,
Noiseless uprose, phantasmic, (as by night Auroras of the north,)
Lambent tableaus, prophetic, bodiless scenes,
Spiritual projections.

In one, among the city streets a laborer's home appear'd,
After his day's work done, cleanly, sweet-air'd, the gaslight burning,
The carpet swept and a fire in the cheerful stove.

In one, the sacred parturition scene,
A happy painless mother birth'd a perfect child.

In one, at a bounteous morning meal,
Sat peaceful parents with contented sons.

In one, by twos and threes, young people,
Hundreds concentring, walk'd the paths and streets and roads,
Toward a tall-domed school.

In one a trio beautiful,
Grandmother, loving daughter, loving daughter's daughter, sat,
Chatting and sewing.

In one, along a suite of noble rooms,
'Mid plenteous books and journals, paintings on the walls, fine statuettes,
Were groups of friendly journeymen, mechanics young and old,
Reading, conversing.

All, all the shows of laboring life,
City and country, women's, men's and children's,
Their wants provided for, hued in the sun and tinged for once with joy,
Marriage, the street, the factory, farm, the house-room, lodging-room,
Labor and toll, the bath, gymnasium, playground, library, college,
The student, boy or girl, led forward to be taught,
The sick cared for, the shoeless shod, the orphan father'd and mother'd,
The hungry fed, the houseless housed;
(The intentions perfect and divine,
The workings, details, haply human.)

3
O thou within this tomb,
From thee such scenes, thou stintless, lavish giver,
Tallying the gifts of earth, large as the earth,
Thy name an earth, with mountains, fields and tides.

Nor by your streams alone, you rivers,
By you, your banks Connecticut,
By you and all your teeming life old Thames,
By you Potomac laving the ground Washington trod, by you Patapsco,
You Hudson, you endless Mississippi--nor you alone,
But to the high seas launch, my thought, his memory.

Walt Whitman

    Book 1 - Inscriptions

    Book II

    Book III

    Book IV - Children of Adam

    Book V - Calamus

    Book VI

    Book VII

    Book VIII

    Book IX

    Book X

    Book XI

    Book XII

    Book XIII

    Book XIV

    Book XV

    Book XVI

    Book XVII - Birds of Passage

    Book XVIII

    Book XIX - Sea-Drift

    Book XX - By the Roadside

    Book XXI - Drum Taps

    Book XXII - Memories of President Lincoln

    Book - XXIII

    Book XXIV - Autumn Rivulets

    Book XXV

    Book XXVI

    Book XXVII

    Book XXVIII

    Book XXIX

    Book XXX - Whispers of Heavenly Death

    Book XXXI

    Book XXXII - From Noon to Starry Night

    Book XXXIII - Songs of Parting

    Book XXXIV - Sands at Seventy

    Book XXXV - Good-bye My Fancy

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