Walt Whitman: Poems

Leaves of Grass: The Waters

The world below the brine.

Forests at the bottom of the sea--the branches and leaves,

Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds--the thick tangle, the

openings, and the pink turf,

Different colours, pale grey and green, purple, white, and gold--the play

of light through the water,

Dumb swimmers there among the rocks--coral, gluten, grass, rushes--and the

aliment of the swimmers,

Sluggish existences grazing there, suspended, or slowly crawling close to

the bottom:

The sperm-whale at the surface, blowing air and spray, or disporting with

his flukes,

The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the hairy

sea-leopard, and the sting-ray.

Passions there, wars, pursuits, tribes--sight in those ocean-depths--

breathing that thick breathing air, as so many do.

The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle air breathed by

beings like us, who walk this sphere:

The change onward from ours to that of beings who walk other spheres.