Polling Center Closing

Polling Center Closing on Election Day (Photo credit: DemocracyIntl)

Walt Whitman Poems: Election Day November, 1884

On this timely topic, Whitman celebrates the non-violent transfer of power that is the strength and hallmark of democracy.

Nearly 20 years after the Civil War he’d lived through, he could appreciate this American ritual, elections.

 

Election Day, November, 1884

 

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene

and show,

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

your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,

Nor you, Yosemite – nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser loops

ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,

Nor Oregon’s white cones – nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes –

nor Mississippi’s stream:

– This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name – the still

            small voice vibrating – America’s choosing day,

(The heart of it not in the chosen – the act itself the main, the quadren-

nial choosing,)

The stretch of North and South arous’d – sea-board and inland – Texas

to Maine – the Prairie States – Vermont, Virginia, California,

The final ballot-shower from East to West – the paradox and conflict,

The countless snow-flakes falling – (a swordless conflict,

Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s:) the

peaceful choice of all,

Or good or ill humanity – welcoming the darker odds, the dross:

– Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify – while the heart

pants, life glows:

These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,

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

 

1884 1888-89

Walt Whitman

from Leaves of Grass – The Collected Poems of Walt Whitman

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