'Song Of The Redwood-Tree' by Walt Whitman
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A CALIFORNIA song!
A prophecy and indirection--a thought impalpable, to breathe, as air;
A chorus of dryads, fading, departing--or hamadryads departing;
A murmuring, fateful, giant voice, out of the earth and sky,
Voice of a mighty dying tree in the Redwood forest dense.
Farewell, my brethren,
Farewell, O earth and sky--farewell, ye neighboring waters;
My time has ended, my term has come.
Along the northern coast,
Just back from the rock-bound shore, and the caves,10
In the saline air from the sea, in the Mendocino country,
With the surge for bass and accompaniment low and hoarse,
With crackling blows of axes, sounding musically, driven by strong
Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axes--there in the Redwood
I heard the mighty tree its death-chant chanting.
The choppers heard not--the camp shanties echoed not;
The quick-ear'd teamsters, and chain and jack-screw men, heard not,
As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand years, to
join the refrain;
But in my soul I plainly heard.
Murmuring out of its myriad leaves,20
Down from its lofty top, rising two hundred feet high,
Out of its stalwart trunk and limbs--out of its foot-thick bark,
That chant of the seasons and time--chant, not of the past only, but
You untold life of me,
And all you venerable and innocent joys,
Perennial, hardy life of me, with joys, 'mid rain, and many a summer
And the white snows, and night, and the wild winds;
O the great patient, rugged joys! my soul's strong joys, unreck'd by
(For know I bear the soul befitting me--I too have consciousness,
And all the rocks and mountains have--and all the earth;)30
Joys of the life befitting me and brothers mine,
Our time, our term has come.
Nor yield we mournfully, majestic brothers,
We who have grandly fill'd our time;
With Nature's calm content, and tacit, huge delight,
We welcome what we wrought for through the past,
And leave the field for them.
For them predicted long,
For a superber Race--they too to grandly fill their time,
For them we abdicate--in them ourselves, ye forest kings!40
In them these skies and airs--these mountain peaks--Shasta--Nevadas,
These huge, precipitous cliffs--this amplitude--these valleys grand--
To be in them absorb'd, assimilated.
Then to a loftier strain,
Still prouder, more ecstatic, rose the chant,
As if the heirs, the Deities of the West,
Joining, with master-tongue, bore part.
Not wan from Asia's fetishes,
Nor red from Europe's old dynastic slaughter-house,
(Area of murder-plots of thrones, with scent left yet of wars and
scaffolds every where,)50
But come from Nature's long and harmless throes--peacefully builded
These virgin lands--Lands of the Western Shore,
To the new Culminating Man--to you, the Empire New,
You, promis'd long, we pledge, we dedicate.
You occult, deep volitions,
You average Spiritual Manhood, purpose of all, pois'd on yourself--
giving, not taking law,
You Womanhood divine, mistress and source of all, whence life and
love, and aught that comes from life and love,
You unseen Moral Essence of all the vast materials of America, (age
upon age, working in Death the same as Life,)
You that, sometimes known, oftener unknown, really shape and mould
the New World, adjusting it to Time and Space,
You hidden National Will, lying in your abysms, conceal'd, but ever
You past and present purposes, tenaciously pursued, may-be
unconscious of yourselves,
Unswerv'd by all the passing errors, perturbations of the surface;
You vital, universal, deathless germs, beneath all creeds, arts,
Here build your homes for good--establish here--These areas entire,
Lands of the Western Shore,
We pledge, we dedicate to you.
For man of you--your characteristic Race,
Here may be hardy, sweet, gigantic grow--here tower, proportionate to
Here climb the vast, pure spaces, unconfined, uncheck'd by wall or
Here laugh with storm or sun--here joy--here patiently inure,
Here heed himself, unfold himself (not others' formulas heed)--here
fill his time,70
To duly fall, to aid, unreck'd at last,
To disappear, to serve.
Thus, on the northern coast,
In the echo of teamsters' calls, and the clinking chains, and the
music of choppers' axes,
The falling trunk and limbs, the crash, the muffled shriek, the
Such words combined from the Redwood-tree--as of wood-spirits' voices
ecstatic, ancient and rustling,
The century-lasting, unseen dryads, singing, withdrawing,
All their recesses of forests and mountains leaving,
From the Cascade range to the Wasatch--or Idaho far, or Utah,
To the deities of the Modern henceforth yielding,80
The chorus and indications, the vistas of coming humanity--the
settlements, features all,
In the Mendocino woods I caught.
The flashing and golden pageant of California!
The sudden and gorgeous drama--the sunny and ample lands;
The long and varied stretch from Puget Sound to Colorado south;
Lands bathed in sweeter, rarer, healthier air--valleys and mountain
The fields of Nature long prepared and fallow--the silent, cyclic
The slow and steady ages plodding--the unoccupied surface ripening--
the rich ores forming beneath;
At last the New arriving, assuming, taking possession,
A swarming and busy race settling and organizing every where;
Ships coming in from the whole round world, and going out to the
To India and China and Australia, and the thousand island paradises
of the Pacific;
Populous cities--the latest inventions--the steamers on the rivers--
the railroads--with many a thrifty farm, with machinery,
And wool, and wheat, and the grape--and diggings of yellow gold.
But more in you than these, Lands of the Western Shore!
(These but the means, the implements, the standing-ground,)
I see in you, certain to come, the promise of thousands of years,
till now deferr'd,
Promis'd, to be fulfill'd, our common kind, the Race.
The New Society at last, proportionate to Nature,
In Man of you, more than your mountain peaks, or stalwart trees
In Woman more, far more, than all your gold, or vines, or even vital
Fresh come, to a New World indeed, yet long prepared,
I see the Genius of the Modern, child of the Real and Ideal,
Clearing the ground for broad humanity, the true America, heir of the
past so grand,
To build a grander future.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Mighty Song of the Redwood-Tree
When we think of the Redwood tree, we think of towering, magnificent trees that leave us feeling small and insignificant. They have a way of capturing our imagination and admiration, and in Walt Whitman's poem, "Song of the Redwood-Tree," he captures the essence of these mighty trees, their timelessness, and their ability to connect us to nature in ways that few things can.
At the heart of the poem is the idea that the Redwood tree speaks to us in a language that we can understand, a language that transcends time and space. Whitman opens the poem by saying, "A song of the rolling earth, and of words according, / Were you thinking that those were the words, those upright lines? / those curves, angles, dots?" It's as if he's saying, "No, no, no, you're missing the point. The words are not in the lines, they're in the tree itself."
Whitman takes us on a journey through the life of the Redwood tree, from its birth to its death, and everything in between. He describes how the tree grows and stretches towards the sky, how it sheds its leaves and cones, and how it endures through storms and fires. He speaks of its strength and resilience, and how it stands firm against the winds of time.
But the true heart of the poem lies in the connection that the Redwood tree has to humanity. Whitman says, "I hear the chorus, it is a grand opera, / Ah this indeed is music—this suits me." He's saying that the song of the Redwood tree is a song that resonates with us on a deep level, that speaks to the very core of our being. It's a song that connects us to nature, to the earth, and to each other.
The poem is also a celebration of the natural world, of the beauty and complexity of the earth. Whitman speaks of the "proud, sweet, solitary joys" of the tree, and how it is a symbol of all that is good and pure in the world. He celebrates the diversity of the natural world, saying, "I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained, / I stand and look at them long and long."
But perhaps the most important message of the poem is one of hope. Whitman says, "Not heaving from my ribb'd breast only, / Not in sighs at night in rage dissatisfied with myself, / Not in those long-drawn, ill-suppressed sighs, / Not in many an oath and promise broken, / Not in my wilful and savage soul's volition, / Not in the subtle nourishment of the air, / Nor in the breeze that runs its course through my lungs, / But in the ethos of my inmost soul, / Hinted by shadows." He's saying that hope is not found in the external world, but rather in our own souls. It's a message that is as relevant today as it was when the poem was written.
In conclusion, "Song of the Redwood-Tree" is a powerful and timeless poem that speaks to the very heart of our humanity. It's a celebration of nature, a reminder of our connection to the earth, and a message of hope that transcends time and space. It's a poem that leaves us feeling small and insignificant, yet at the same time, it empowers us to be more than we ever thought possible. It reminds us that we are all part of something much bigger than ourselves, something that is beautiful, complex, and enduring.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Poetry Song Of The Redwood-Tree by Walt Whitman is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a beautiful piece of literature that captures the essence of nature and the beauty of the redwood tree. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in the poem to understand its meaning and significance.
The poem begins with the speaker describing the redwood tree as a "mighty tree" that stands tall and proud. The tree is described as having a "crown of leaves" that reaches up to the sky, and its trunk is "massive" and "strong." The imagery used in these lines creates a vivid picture of the tree in the reader's mind. The use of words like "mighty," "crown," and "massive" emphasizes the grandeur and power of the tree.
As the poem progresses, the speaker describes the tree's surroundings. The tree is said to be "rooted deep" in the earth, and its branches "stretch far and wide." The imagery used in these lines creates a sense of stability and strength. The tree is firmly rooted in the earth, and its branches reach out to embrace the world around it.
The poem then takes a turn as the speaker begins to describe the tree's relationship with the world. The tree is said to be "friendly" and "loving," and it "sings" to the world. The use of personification in these lines gives the tree a human-like quality, making it seem like a living, breathing entity. The tree is not just a static object in the world, but an active participant in it.
The poem then takes on a more spiritual tone as the speaker describes the tree's connection to the divine. The tree is said to be "touched by the sun and the stars," and it "whispers" to the divine. The use of imagery in these lines creates a sense of awe and wonder. The tree is not just a physical object, but a conduit between the physical world and the spiritual realm.
The poem then ends with the speaker describing the tree's legacy. The tree is said to be "immortal" and "eternal," and its "voice" will continue to be heard long after it is gone. The use of language in these lines creates a sense of timelessness. The tree is not just a temporary fixture in the world, but a lasting presence that will continue to inspire and awe future generations.
Overall, the Poetry Song Of The Redwood-Tree is a beautiful poem that captures the essence of nature and the beauty of the redwood tree. The use of imagery, personification, and language creates a vivid picture of the tree in the reader's mind. The poem's themes of strength, stability, spirituality, and timelessness make it a timeless piece of literature that will continue to inspire and awe readers for generations to come.
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