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The Transpartisan Review Blog Special Note #3

Walt Whitman’s “Election Day, November, 1884”

posted by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

If I should need to name, O Western World!

your powerfulest scene to-day,

‘Twould not be you, Niagara – nor you, ye

limitless prairies — nor your huge

rifts of canyons, Colorado,

Nor you, Yosemitie, with all your spasmic

geyser-loops ascending to the skies, ap-

pearing and disappearing,

Nor Oregon’s white cones – nor Huron’s belt

of mighty lakes — nor Mississippie’s stream:

This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now,

I’d name — the still small voice preparing —

America’s choosing day,

(The heart of it not in the chosen — the act

itself the main, the quadrennial

choosing,)

The stretch of North and South arous’d –

seaboard and inland — Texas to Maine,

The Prairie States – Vermont, Virginia, Cali-

fornia ,

The final ballot-shower from East to West –

the paradox and conflict,

The countless snow-flakes falling — (a sword-

less conflict,

Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old,

or modern Napoleon’s:)

Or good or ill humanity — welcoming the

darker odds, the dross, the scene’s debris:

–Foams and ferments the wine? It serves to

purify — while the heart pants, life glows:

These stormy gusts and winds waft previous

ships,

Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s

sails.

(The is an original draft; for the final version Whitman published, click here).

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