Tenderly will I use you curling grass, It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men, It may be if I had known them I would have loved them, It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out of their mothers' laps, And here you are the mothers' laps.
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers, Darker than the colorless beards of old men, Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues, And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women, And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, Hoping to cease not till death.
Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy.
And what do you think has become of the women and children?Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.To elaborate is no avail, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is so.Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well entretied, braced in the beams, Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical, I and this mystery here we stand.Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt, Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose?Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation.8 The little one sleeps in its cradle, I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand.The youngster and the red-faced girl turn aside up the bushy hill, I peeringly view them from the top.The smoke of my own breath, Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine, My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs, The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn, The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind, A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms, The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag, The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides, The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun. 3 I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end, But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.There was never any more inception than there is now, Nor any more youth or age than there is now, And will never be any more perfection than there is now, Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.