Walt Whitman: Poems

Walt Whitman: Assimilations


There was a child went forth every day;

And the first object he looked upon, that object he became;

And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the

day, or for many years, or tretching cycles of years.


The early lilacs became part of this child,

And grass, and white and red morning-glories,[1] and white and red clover,

and the song of the phoebe-bird,[2]

And the Third-month lambs, and the sow's pink-faint litter, and the mare's

foal, and the cow's calf,

And the noisy brood of the barn-yard, or by the mire of the pond-side,

And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there--and the

beautiful, curious liquid,

And the water-plants with their graceful fiat heads--all became part of


The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part or him;


Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent

roots of the garden,

And the apple-trees covered with blossoms, and the fruit afterward, and

wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road;

And the old drunkard staggering home from the outhouse of the tavern,

whence he had lately risen,

And the schoolmistress that passed on her way to the school,

And the friendly boys that passed, and the quarrelsome boys,

And the tidy and fresh-cheeked girls, and the barefoot negro boy and girl,

And all the changes of city and country, wherever he went.

His own parents;

He that had fathered him, and she that had conceived him in her womb, and

birthed him,

They gave this child more of themselves than that;

They gave him afterward every day--they became part of him.

The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table;

The mother with mild words--clean her cap and gown, a wholesome odour

falling off her person and clothes as she walks by;

The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, angered, unjust;

The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,

The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture--the yearning

and swelling heart,

Affection that will not be gainsaid--the sense of what is real--the thought

if after all it should prove unreal,

The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time--the curious whether

and how--

Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?

Men and women crowding fast in the streets--if they are not flashes and

specks, what are they?

The streets themselves, and the facades of houses, and goods in the


Vehicles, teams, the heavy-planked wharves--the huge crossing at the


The village on the highland, seen from afar at sunset--the river between;

Shadows, aureola and mist, light falling on roofs and gables of white or

brown, three miles off;

The schooner near by, sleepily dropping down the tide--the little boat

slack-towed astern,

The hurrying tumbling waves quick-broken crests slapping,

The strata of coloured clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint, away solitary

by itself-the spread of purity it lies motionless in,

The horizon's edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and

shore mud;--

These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes,

and will always go forth every day.

[Footnote 1: The name of "morning-glory" is given to the bindweed, or a

sort of bindweed, in America. I am not certain whether this expressive name

is used in England also.]

[Footnote 2: A dun-coloured little bird with a cheerful note, sounding like

the word Phoebe.]