Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love . . .
Embedded into this video is a 36-second wax cylinder recording of what is thought to be Whitman's voice reading four lines from the poem "America:” Recording: Copyright Eric Forsythe, 2012–2013. Made available on the Whitman Archive with permission of the rights holder. Audio may be reused for non-commercial purposes, with credit to Eric Forsythe and the Walt Whitman Archive. For more information on this recording, see Ed Folsom, "The Whitman Recording," Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 9 (Spring 1992), 214-16.
I see you, Walt Whitman---an American
Rough, a Cosmos! I see you face to face!
I see you and the nameless faceless
Faces in America's timeless crowds of men
and women who you saw in your mind's eye.
I see you crossing the river on your ferry.
I see you walking down the public road
Where everyone is worthy. Neither time,
Place nor distance separates.
You once saw the currents of corruption,
Fast flowing into the land that you loved.
You once saw that which had departed
With the setting sun, half an hour high,
For when another is degraded,
so are you and I.
You once saw what had flowed in with the
Rising flood-tides feverishly pouring---
Tides saturated and soaked with exploitation,
Bribery, falsehood and maladministration.
When you saw the motionless wings of
Twelfth-month sea-gulls, When you walked
Along Manhattan Island---When you watched the
Ships of Manhattan, north and west---
Could you see Wall Street banks
Seizing the homes of your beloved countrymen,
Voyaging in their fragile ferryboats? The carpenters,
Quakers, scientists and opium eaters; The immigrants,
Squaws, boatmen and blacksmiths; The farmers,
Mechanics, sailors and priests?
Could you see the monstrous megaton corporations
Feasting on America's flesh blood bones, those
Nameless faceless parasites
Sucking the soul from your loved land,
Like a malevolent disease?
For you saw quite clearly the political and
Economic malfunctioning mutant ties that connect us.
Neither time, place nor distance separates.
And you saw very clearly the sickly green sludge
Secreted by lobbyists to their bought and sold
Henchmen soldier baby-kissers, to slow and
Stop the flow of nourishing rushing sea tides
Into your dear, revered democracy.
You saw the evil dark patches---the clinging selfish
Steadfast pernicious grasp of the flourishing one
Per cent oligarchs, Who lusted, grubbed, lied, stole--
Were greedy, shallow, sly, angry, vain, cowardly,
malignant--Seeking only to hold onto their fool's
Gold and preserve the status quo.
Each still furnishes its part towards the death of
America's democracy. Each still furnishes its part
Towards destroying her soul. The mocking bird
Still sings the musical shuttle to the tearful
Bareheaded child, and the final word superior for
America may still be her death, death, death,
Death. The sea has whisper'd me, too.
Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer who is currently studying poetry at Boston University, through its Evergreen program, where he previously received a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Hoy received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy started writing poetry two years ago. Since then, his work has appeared in Third Wednesday, The Write Room, The Eclectic Muse, Clark Street Review, TheNewVerse.News , Harbinger Asylum, Soul Fountain, The Story Teller Magazine, Eye on Life Magazine, Stepping Stones Magazine, The Penmen Review, To Hold A Moment Still, Harbinger Asylum’s 2014 Holidays Anthology, The Zodiac Review, Earl of Plaid Literary Journal, The Potomac, Antarctica Journal, The Montucky Review and elsewhere.