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Walt Whitman: Prayers

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Give me, O God, to sing;
Give me, give him or her I love this quenchless faith,
In your ensemble;
Whatever else witheld, withold not from us
Belief in plan of You enclosed in Time and Space,
Health, peace, salvation universal.
Is it a dream?
Nay but the lack of a dream,
And failing it life’s lore and wealth a dream,
And all the world a dream.


Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling,
Give me juicy autumnal fruit ripe and red from the orchard,
Give me a field where the unmowed grass grows,
Give me an arbor, give me the trellised grape,
Give me fresh corn and wheat, give me serene-moving animals teaching content,
Give me nights perfectly quiet as on high plateaus west of the Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars,
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed,
Give me for marriage a sweet-breathed woman of whom I should never tire,
Give me a perfect child, give me a way aside from the noise of the world, a rural domestic life,
Give me to warble spontaneous songs reclusive by myself,
Give me solitude, give me Nature, give me again, O Nature, your primal sanities!


How admirable—the cool-breathed earth!
Earth of the slumbering liquid trees!
Earth of departed sunsets!
Earth of the mountains!
Earth of the full moon tinged with blue!
Earth of the limpid grey of clouds!
Far-swooping, elbow’d earth!
Rich apple-blossomed earth!
How reverence-waking—the voluptuous earth!
How welcome all earth’s lands, O God, each for its kind.
Welcome are lands of pine and oak.
Welcome are lands of the lemon and fig.
Welcome are lands of gold.
Welcome are lands of wheat and maize, welcome those of grape,
Welcome are lands of sugar and rice,
Welcome the cotton-lands, welcome those of the white potato and sweet potato,
Welcome are the mountains, flats, sands, forests, prairies,
Welcome the rich borders of rivers, table-lands, openings,
Welcome the measurelesss grazing-lands,
Welcome the teeming soil of orchards, flax, honey, hemp;
Welcome just as much are the other more hard-faced lands,
Lands rich as lands of gold or wheat and fruit lands,
Lands of mines, lands of manly and rugged ores,
Lands of coal, copper, lead, tin, zinc,
Lands of iron—lands of the make of the axe
How glad and firm the clasp of all earth’s lands, to those who run to greet You in their presence.


I cannot rest, O God; I cannot eat or drink or slelep
Till I put forth myself, my prayer, once more to You,
Breathe, bathe myself once more in You, commune with You,
Report myself once more to You.
You know my years entire, my life,
My long and crowded life of active work, not adoration merely,
You know the prayers and vigils of my youth,
You know my later solemn and visionary meditations;
You know how, before I commenced, I devoted all to come to You,
Accepting all from You, as duly comes from You.
All my undertakings have been filled with You:
The urge, the ardor, the unconquerable will.
O, I am sure they really came from You.
The end I know not; it is all in You.
You have lighted my life, O God,
With array of light, steady, ineffable,
Light rare untellable, lighting the very light,
Beyond all signs, descriptions, languages;
For that, O God, I thank You.


Why should I wish to see You better than this day?
I see something of You in each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then;
In the faces of men and women I see You, and in my own face in the glass.
I find letters from You dropped in the street, and every one is signed by Your name;
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

 Walt Whitman (1819-1892) is among the most influential and revolutionary poets and writers in American literature. Among his most well-known publications are Leaves of Grass (1855) and O Captain! My Captain! written to honor Abraham Lincoln after the president’s assassination.