Walt Whitman

Here you will find the Long Poem Faces of poet Walt Whitman


SAUNTERING the pavement, or riding the country by-road--lo! such
 Faces of friendship, precision, caution, suavity, ideality;
 The spiritual, prescient face--the always welcome, common, benevolent
 The face of the singing of music--the grand faces of natural lawyers
 and judges, broad at the back-top;
 The faces of hunters and fishers, bulged at the brows--the shaved
 blanch'd faces of orthodox citizens;
 The pure, extravagant, yearning, questioning artist's face;
 The ugly face of some beautiful Soul, the handsome detested or
 despised face;
 The sacred faces of infants, the illuminated face of the mother of
 many children;
 The face of an amour, the face of veneration;
 The face as of a dream, the face of an immobile rock; 10
 The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a castrated face;
 A wild hawk, his wings clipp'd by the clipper;
 A stallion that yielded at last to the thongs and knife of the

 Sauntering the pavement, thus, or crossing the ceaseless ferry,
 faces, and faces, and faces:
 I see them, and complain not, and am content with all.

 Do you suppose I could be content with all, if I thought them their
 own finale?

 This now is too lamentable a face for a man;
 Some abject louse, asking leave to be--cringing for it;
 Some milk-nosed maggot, blessing what lets it wrig to its hole.

 This face is a dog's snout, sniffing for garbage; 20
 Snakes nest in that mouth--I hear the sibilant threat.

 This face is a haze more chill than the arctic sea;
 Its sleepy and wobbling icebergs crunch as they go.

 This is a face of bitter herbs--this an emetic--they need no label;
 And more of the drug-shelf, laudanum, caoutchouc, or hog's-lard.

 This face is an epilepsy, its wordless tongue gives out the unearthly
 Its veins down the neck distended, its eyes roll till they show
 nothing but their whites,
 Its teeth grit, the palms of the hands are cut by the turn'd-in
 The man falls struggling and foaming to the ground while he
 speculates well.

 This face is bitten by vermin and worms, 30
 And this is some murderer's knife, with a half-pull'd scabbard.

 This face owes to the sexton his dismalest fee;
 An unceasing death-bell tolls there.

 Those then are really men--the bosses and tufts of the great round

 Features of my equals, would you trick me with your creas'd and
 cadaverous march?
 Well, you cannot trick me.

 I see your rounded, never-erased flow;
 I see neath the rims of your haggard and mean disguises.

 Splay and twist as you like--poke with the tangling fores of fishes
 or rats;
 You'll be unmuzzled, you certainly will. 40

 I saw the face of the most smear'd and slobbering idiot they had at
 the asylum;
 And I knew for my consolation what they knew not;
 I knew of the agents that emptied and broke my brother,
 The same wait to clear the rubbish from the fallen tenement;
 And I shall look again in a score or two of ages,
 And I shall meet the real landlord, perfect and unharm'd, every inch
 as good as myself.

 The Lord advances, and yet advances;
 Always the shadow in front--always the reach'd hand bringing up the

 Out of this face emerge banners and horses--O superb! I see what is
 I see the high pioneer-caps--I see the staves of runners clearing the
 way, 50
 I hear victorious drums.

 This face is a life-boat;
 This is the face commanding and bearded, it asks no odds of the rest;
 This face is flavor'd fruit, ready for eating;
 This face of a healthy honest boy is the programme of all good.

 These faces bear testimony, slumbering or awake;
 They show their descent from the Master himself.

 Off the word I have spoken, I except not one--red, white, black, are
 all deific;
 In each house is the ovum--it comes forth after a thousand years.

 Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb me; 60
 Tall and sufficient stand behind, and make signs to me;
 I read the promise, and patiently wait.

 This is a full-grown lily's face,
 She speaks to the limber-hipp'd man near the garden pickets,
 Come here, she blushingly cries--Come nigh to me, limber-hipp'd man,
 Stand at my side till I lean as high as I can upon you,
 Fill me with albescent honey, bend down to me,
 Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my breast and shoulders.

 The old face of the mother of many children!
 Whist! I am fully content. 70

 Lull'd and late is the smoke of the First-day morning,
 It hangs low over the rows of trees by the fences,
 It hangs thin by the sassafras, the wild-cherry, and the cat-brier
 under them.

 I saw the rich ladies in full dress at the soiree,
 I heard wha