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Leaves of Grass.


It seems to me that everything in the light and air ought to be happy;
Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave, let him know he has enough.

I sec a beautiful gigantic swimmer swimming naked through the eddies of the sea,
His brown hair lies close and even to his head .... he strikes out with courageous arms .... he urges himself with his legs.

I see his white body .... I see his undaunted eyes;
I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash him headforemost on the rocks.

What are you doing you ruffianly red-trickled waves?
Will you kill the courageous giant? Will you kill him in the prime of his middle age?

Steady and long he struggles;
He is baffled and banged and bruised .... he holds out while his strength holds out,
The slapping eddies are spotted with his blood .... they bear him away .... they roll him and swing him and turn him:
His beautiful body is borne in the circling eddies .... it 1s continually bruised on rocks,
Swiftly and out of sight is borne the brave corpse.

I turn but do not extricate myself;
Confused .... a pastreading .... another, but with darkness yet.

The beach is cut by the razory ice-wind .... the wreck-guns sound,
The tempest lulls and the moon comes floundering through the drifts.

I look where the ship helplessly heads end on .... I hear the burst as she strikes .. I hear the howls of dismay .... they grow fainter and fainter.

I cannot aid with my wringing fingers;
I can but rush to the surf and let it drench me and freeze upon me.

I search with the crowd .... not one of the company is washed to us alive;
In the morning I help pick up the dead and lay them in rows in a barn.

Now of the old war-days .. the defeat at Brooklyn;
Washington stands inside the lines .. he stands on the entrenched hills amid a crowd of officers,
His face is cold and damp .... he cannot repress the weeping drops .... he lifts the glass perpetually to his eyes .... the color is blanched from his cheeks,
He sees the slaughter of the southern braves confided to him by their parents.

The same at last and at last when peace is declared,
He stands in the room of the old tavern .... the wellbeloved soldiers all pass through,