Walt Whitman: Poems

Chants Democratic: Years of the Unperformed

Years of the unperformed! your horizon rises--I see it part away for more

august dramas;

I see not America only--I see not only Liberty's nation but other nations


I see tremendous entrances and exits--I see new combinations--I see the

solidarity of races;

I see that force advancing with irresistible power on the world's stage;

Have the old forces played their parts? are the acts suitable to them


I see Freedom, completely armed, and victorious, and very haughty, with Law

by her side, both issuing forth against the idea of caste;

--What historic denouements are these we so rapidly approach?

I see men marching and countermarching by swift millions!

I see the frontiers and boundaries of the old aristocracies broken;

I see the landmarks of European kings removed;

I see this day the People beginning their landmarks, all others give way;

Never were such sharp questions asked as this day;

Never was average man, his soul, more energetic, more like a God.

Lo! how he urges and urges, leaving the masses no rest;

His daring foot is on land and sea everywhere--he colonises the Pacific,

the archipelagoes;

With the steam-ship, the electric telegraph, the newspaper, the wholesale

engines of war,

With these, and the world-spreading factories, he interlinks all geography,

all lands;

--What whispers are these, O lands, running ahead of you, passing under the


Are all nations communing? is there going to be but one heart to the globe?

Is humanity forming en masse?--for lo! tyrants tremble, crowns grow dim;

The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a general divine war;

No one knows what will happen next--such portents fill the days and nights.

Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vainly try to pierce it,

is full of phantoms;

Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes around me;

This incredible rush and heat--this strange ecstatic fever of dreams, O


Your dreams, O years, how they penetrate through me! (I know not whether I

sleep or wake!)

The performed America and Europe grow dim, retiring in shadow behind me,

The unperformed, more gigantic than ever, advance, advance upon me.