Election Day (Poem by Walter Whitman)

Suggested Poem

Election Day
(November, 1884)
By Walter Whitman


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 quadriennial 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.

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