AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth I ask not good-fortune--I myself am good fortune;
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Strong and content, I travel the open road.
The earth--that is sufficient;
I do not want the constellations any nearer;
I know they are very well where they are;
I know they suffice for those who belong to them.
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens;
I carry them, men and women--I carry them with me wherever I go;
I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them;
I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.)
* * *
The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not
The cheerful voice of the public road--the gay fresh sentiment of the
O highway I travel! O public road! do you say to me, Do not leave me?
Do you say, Venture not? If you leave me, you are lost?
Do you say, I am already prepared--I am well-beaten and undenied--
adhere to me?
O public road! I say back, I am not afraid to leave you--yet I love
You express me better than I can express myself;
You shall be more to me than my poem.
I think heroic deeds were all conceiv'd in the open air, and all
great poems also;
I think I could stop here myself, and do miracles;
(My judgments, thoughts, I henceforth try by the open air, the
I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever
beholds me shall like me;
I think whoever I see must be happy.
From this hour, freedom!
From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master, total and absolute,
Listening to others, and considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that
would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space;
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are
I am larger, better than I thought;
I did not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me;
I can repeat over to men and women, You have done such good to me, I
would do the same to you.
I will recruit for myself and you as I go;
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go;
I will toss the new gladness and roughness among them;
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.
Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear, it would not amaze
Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear'd, it would not
Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.
* * *
Listen! I will be honest with you;
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes;
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is call'd riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
You but arrive at the city to which you were destin'd--you hardly
settle yourself to satisfaction, before you are call'd by an
irresistible call to depart,
You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who
remain behind you;
What beckonings of love you receive, you shall only answer with
passionate kisses of parting,
You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach'd hands
* * *
Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.
Allons! to that which is endless, as it was beginningless,
To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they
Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys;
To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it,
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you--
however long, but it stretches and waits for you;
To see no being, not God's or any, but you also go thither,
To see no possession but you may possess it--enjoying all without
labor or purchase--abstracting the feast, yet not abstracting
one particle of it;
To take the best of the farmer's farm and the rich man's elegant
villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and
the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens,
To take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass through,
To carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever you
To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter
them--to gather the love out of their hearts,
To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them
To know the universe itself as a road--as many roads--as roads for
The Soul travels;
The body does not travel as much as the soul;
The body has just as great a work as the soul, and parts away at last
for the journeys of the soul.
All parts away for the progress of souls;
All religion, all solid things, arts, governments,--all that was or
is apparent upon this globe or any globe, falls into niches and
corners before the procession of Souls along the grand roads of
Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads
of the universe, all other progress is the needed emblem and
Forever alive, forever forward,
Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble,
Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men,
They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they go;
But I know that they go toward the best--toward something great.
* * * * * * * *
The Complete Poem