Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, O MAGNET-SOUTH, by WALT WHITMAN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

O MAGNET-SOUTH, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: O magnet-south! O glistening perfumed south! My south!
Last Line: Tennessee and never wander more.
Subject(s): Southern States; South (u.s.)

O magnet-South! O glistening perfumed South! my South!
O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse and love! good and
evil! O all dear to me!
O dear to me my birth-things -- all moving things and the
trees where I was born -- the grains, plants, rivers,
Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they flow,
distant, over flats of silvery sands or through swamps,
Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altamahaw, the
Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee, the Coosa, and the Sabine,
O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my soul to
haunt their banks again,
Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes, I float on
the Okeechobee, I cross the hummock-land or through
pleasant openings or dense forests,
I see the parrots in the woods, I see the papaw-tree and
the blossoming titi;
Again, sailing in my coaster on deck, I coast off Georgia,
I coast up the Carolinas,
I see where the live-oak is growing, I see where the
yellow-pine, the scented bay-tree, the lemon and
orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto,
I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico sound through
an inlet, and dart my vision inland;
O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar, hemp!
The cactus guarded with thorns, the laurel-tree with large
white flowers,
The range afar, the richness and barrenness, the old woods
charged with mistletoe and trailing moss,
The piney odor and the gloom, the awful natural stillness,
(here in these dense swamps the freebooter carries his
gun, and the fugitive has his conceal'd hut;)
O the strange fascination of these half-known
half-impassable swamps, infested by reptiles,
resounding with the bellow of the alligator, the sad
noises of the night-owl and the wild-cat, and the
whirr of the rattlesnake,
The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all forenoon,
singing through the moon-lit night,
The humming-bird, the wild turkey, the raccoon, the opossum;
A Kentucky corn-field, the tall, graceful, long-leav'd
corn, slender, flapping, bright green, with tassels,
with beautiful ears each well-sheath'd in its husk;
O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs, I can stand them
not, I will depart;
O to be a Virginian where I grew up! O to be a Carolinian!
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old
Tennessee and never wander more.

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