Old Chants

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from Leaves of Grass: BOOKXXXV: GOOD-BYE MY FANCY - by Walt Whitman.

  An ancient song, reciting, ending,
  Once gazing toward thee, Mother of All,
  Musing, seeking themes fitted for thee,
  Accept me, thou saidst, the elder ballads,
  And name for me before thou goest each ancient poet.

  (Of many debts incalculable,
  Haply our New World’s chieftest debt is to old poems.)

  Ever so far back, preluding thee, America,
  Old chants, Egyptian priests, and those of Ethiopia,
  The Hindu epics, the Grecian, Chinese, Persian,
  The Biblic books and prophets, and deep idyls of the Nazarene,
  The Iliad, Odyssey, plots, doings, wanderings of Eneas,
  Hesiod, Eschylus, Sophocles, Merlin, Arthur,
  The Cid, Roland at Roncesvalles, the Nibelungen,
  The troubadours, minstrels, minnesingers, skalds,
  Chaucer, Dante, flocks of singing birds,
  The Border Minstrelsy, the bye-gone ballads, feudal tales, essays, plays,
  Shakespere, Schiller, Walter Scott, Tennyson,
  As some vast wondrous weird dream-presences,
  The great shadowy groups gathering around,
  Darting their mighty masterful eyes forward at thee,
  Thou! with as now thy bending neck and head, with courteous hand
      and word, ascending,
  Thou! pausing a moment, drooping thine eyes upon them, blent
      with their music,
  Well pleased, accepting all, curiously prepared for by them,
  Thou enterest at thy entrance porch.

 

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