Passage to India
by Walt Whitman
Singing my days,
Singing the great achievements of the present,
Singing the strong, light works of engineers,
Our modern wonders, (the antique ponderous Seven
In the Old World the east the Suez canal,
The New by its mighty railroad spann'd,
The seas inlaid with eloquent gentle wires,
Yet first to sound, and ever sound, the cry with thee
The Past! the Past! the Past!
The Past--the dark, unfathom'd retrospect!
The teeming gulf--the sleepers and the shadows!
The past--the infinite greatness of the past!
For what is the present after all but a growth out of
(As a projectile form'd, impell'd, passing a certain
line, still keeps on,
So the present, utterly form'd, impell'd by the past.)
Passage O soul to India!
Eclaircise the myths Asiatic, the primitive fables.
Not you alone proud truths of the world,
Nor you alone ye facts of modern science,
But myths and fables of eld, Asia's, Africa's fables,
The far-darting beams of the spirit, the unloos'd
The deep diving bibles and legends,
The daring plots of the poets, the elder religions;
O you temples fairer than lilies pour'd over by the
O you fables spurning the known, eluding the hold of
the known, mounting to heaven!
You lofty and dazzling towers, pinnacled, red as
roses, burnish'd with gold!
Towers of fables immortal fashion'd from mortal
You too I welcome and fully the same as the rest;
You too with joy I sing.
Passage to India!
Lo, soul, seest thou not God's purpose from the first?
The earth to be spann'd, connected by network,
The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in
The oceans to be cross'd, the distant brought near,
The lands to be welded together.
A worship new I sing,
You captains, voyagers, explorers, yours,
You engineers, you architects, machinists, yours,
You, not for trade or transportation only,
But in God's name, and for thy sake O soul.
Passage to India!
Lo soul for thee of tableaus twain,
I see in one the Suez canal initiated, open'd,
I see the procession of steamships, the Empress
Eugenie's leading the band
I mark from on deck the strange landscape, the pure
sky, the level sand in the distance,
I pass swiftly the picturesque groups, the workmen
The gigantic dredging machines.
In one again, different, (yet thine, all thine, O soul,
I see over my own continent the Pacific railroad
surmounting every barrier,
I see continual trains of cars winding along the Platte,
carrying freight and passengers,
I hear the locomotives rushing and roaring, and the
I hear the echoes reverberate through the grandest
scenery in the world,
I cross the Laramie plains, I note the rocks in
grotesque shapes, the buttes,
I see the plentiful larkspur and wild onions, the
barren, colorless, sage-deserts,
I see in glimpses afar or towering immediately above
me, the great mountains, I see the Wind River
and the Wahsatch mountains,
I see the Monument mountain and the Eagle's Nest, I