These, I, Singing in Spring
THESE, I, singing in spring, collect for lovers, (For who but I should understand lovers, and all their sorrow and joy? And who but I should be the poet of comrades?) Collecting, I traverse the garden, the world—but soon I pass the gates, Now along the pond-side—now wading in a little, fearing not the wet, Now by the post-and-rail fences, where the old stones thrown there, pick’d from the fields, have accumulated, (Wild-flowers and vines and weeds come up through the stones, and partly cover them—Beyond these I pass,) Far, far in the forest, before I think where I go, Solitary, smelling the earthy smell, stopping now and then in the silence, Alone I had thought—yet soon a troop gathers around me, Some walk by my side, and some behind, and some embrace my arms or neck, They, the spirits of dear friends, dead or alive—thicker they come, a great crowd, and I in the middle, Collecting, dispensing, singing in spring, there I wander with them, Plucking something for tokens—tossing toward whoever is near me; Here! lilac, with a branch of pine, Here, out of my pocket, some moss which I pull’d off a live-oak in Florida, as it hung trailing down, Here, some pinks and laurel leaves, and a handful of sage, And here what I now draw from the water, wading in the pondside, (O here I last saw him that tenderly loves me—and returns again, never to separate from me, And this, O this shall henceforth be the token of comrades—this Calamus-root shall, Interchange it, youths, with each other! Let none render it back!) And twigs of maple, and a bunch of wild orange, and chestnut, And stems of currants, and plum-blows, and the aromatic cedar: These, I, compass’d around by a thick cloud of spirits, Wandering, point to, or touch as I pass, or throw them loosely from me, Indicating to each one what he shall have—giving something to each; But what I drew from the water by the pond-side, that I reserve, I will give of it—but only to them that love, as I myself am capable of loving.