by Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892)

O vast Rondure, swimming in space
Language: English 
O vast Rondure, swimming in space,
Cover'd all over with visible power and beauty,
Alternate light and day and the teeming spiritual darkness,
Unspeakable high processions of sun and moon and countless stars above,
Below, the manifold grass and waters, animals, mountains, trees,
With inscrutable purpose, some hidden prophetic intention,
Now first it seems my thought begins to span thee.

Down from the gardens of Asia descending [radiating]1,
Adam and Eve appear, then their myriad progeny after them,
Wandering, yearning, curious, with restless explorations,
With questionings, baffled, formless, feverish, with never-happy hearts,
With that sad incessant refrain, Wherefore unsatisfied soul? and
     Whither O mocking life?

Ah who shall soothe these feverish children?
Who Justify these restless explorations?
Who speak the secret of impassive earth?
[Who bind it to us? what is this separate Nature so unnatural?
What is this earth to our affections? (unloving earth, without a
     throb to answer ours,
Cold earth, the place of graves.)]1

Yet soul be sure the first intent remains, and shall be carried out,
Perhaps even now the time has arrived.

After the seas are all cross'd, [(as they seem already cross'd,)]1
After the great captains and engineers have accomplish'd their work,
After the noble inventors, [after the scientists, the chemist, the
     geologist, ethnologist,]1
Finally shall come the poet worthy that name,
The true son of God shall come singing his songs.

[Then, not your deeds only, O voyagers, O scientists and inventors, shall be justified,
All these hearts, as of fretted children, shall be sooth'd,
All affection shall be fully responded to -- the secret shall be told;
All these separations and gaps shall be taken up, and hook'd and link'd together;
The whole Earth -- this cold, impassive, voiceless Earth, shall be completely justified;
Trinitas divine shall be gloriously accomplish'd and compacted by the the Son of God, the poet,
(He shall indeed pass the straits and conquer the mountains,
He shall double the Cape of Good Hope to some purpose;)
Nature and Man shall be disjoin'd and diffused no more,
The true Son of God shall absolutely fuse them.]1

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1 omitted by Vaughan Williams

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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)


Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

Text added to the website: 2004-07-06 00:00:00
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:02:08
Line count: 38
Word count: 346