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HOME, SWEET HOME WITH VARIATIONS: 6. WALT WHITMAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: You over there, young man with the guide-book
Last Line: Yawp!
Subject(s): Payne, John Howard (1791-1852); Poetry & Poets; Whitman, Walt (1819-1891)

(As Walt Whitman might have written all around it.)


You over there, young man with the guide-book, red-bound, covered flexibly with
red linen,
Come here, I want to talk with you; I, Walt, the Manhattanese, citizen of these
States, call you.
Yes, and the courier, too, smirking, smug-mouthed, with oil'd hair; a garlicky
look about him generally; him, too, I take in, just as I would a coyote or a
king, or a toad-stool, or a ham-sandwich, or anything, or anybody else in the
Where are you going?
You want to see Paris, to eat truffles, to have a good time; in Vienna, London,
Florence, Monaco, to have a good time; you want to see Venice.
Come with me. I will give you a good time; I will give you all the Venice you
want, and most of the Paris.
I, Walt, I call to you. I am all on deck! Come and loafe with me! Let me tote
you around by your elbow and show you things.
You listen to my ophicleide!
Home, I celebrate. I elevate my fog-whistle, inspir'd by the thought of home.
Come in! -- take a front seat; the jostle of the crowd not minding; there is
room enough for all of you.
This is my exhibition -- it is the greatest show on earth -- there is no charge
for admission.
All you have to pay me is to take in my romanza.


1. The brown-stone house; the father coming home worried from a bad day's
business; the wife meets him in the marble pav'd vestibule; she throws her arms
about him; she presses him close to her; she looks him full in the face with
affectionate eyes; the frown from his brow disappearing.
Darling, she says, Johnny has fallen down and cut his head; the cook is
going away, and the boiler leaks.
2. The mechanic's dark little third-story room, seen in a flash from the
Elevated Railway train; the sewing-machine in a corner; the small cook-stove;
the whole family eating cabbage around a kerosene lamp; of the clatter and roar
and groaning wail of the Elevated train unconscious; of the smell of the cabbage
Me, passant, in the train, of the cabbage not quite so unconscious.
3. The French Flat; the small rooms, all right-angles, unindividual; the narrow
halls; the gaudy, cheap decorations everywhere.
The janitor and the cook exchanging compliments up and down the elevator-shaft;
the refusal to send up more coal, the solid splash of the water upon his head,
the language he sends up the shaft, the triumphant laughter of the cook, to her
kitchen retiring.
4. The widow's small house in the suburbs of the city; the widow's boy coming
home from his first day down town; he is flushed with happiness and pride; he is
no longer a school-boy, he is earning money; he takes on the airs of a man and
talks learnedly of business.
5. The room in the third-class boarding-house; the mean little hard-coal fire,
the slovenly Irish servant-girl making it, the ashes on the hearth, the faded
furniture, the private provender hid away in the closet, the dreary backyard out
the window; the young girl at the glass, with her mouth full of hairpins, doing
up her hair to go downstairs and flirt with the young fellows in the parlor.
6. The kitchen of the old farm-house; the young convict just returned from
prison -- it was his first offense, and the judges were lenient on him.
He is taking his first meal out of prison; he has been received back, kiss'd,
encourag'd to start again; his lungs, his nostrils expand with the big breaths
of free air; with shame, with wonderment, with a trembling joy, his heart too,
The old mother busies herself about the table; she has ready for him the dishes
he us'd to like; the father sits with his back to them, reading the newspaper,
the newspaper shaking and rustling much; the children hang wondering around the
prodigal -- they have been caution'd: Do not ask where our Jim has been; only
say you are glad to see him.
The elder daughter is there, palefac'd, quiet; her young man went back on her
four years ago; his folks would not let him marry a convict's sister. She sits
by the window, sewing on the children's clothes, the clothes not only patching
up; her hunger for children of her own invisibly patching up.
The brother looks up; he catches her eye, he fearful, apologetic; she smiles
back at him, not reproachfully smiling, with loving pretence of hope smiling --
it is too much for him; he buries his face in the folds of the mother's black
7. The best room of the house, on the Sabbath only open'd; the smell of horse-
hair furniture and mahogany varnish; the ornaments on the what-not in the
corner; the wax fruit, dusty, sunken, sagged in, consumptive-looking, under a
glass globe, the sealing-wax imitation of coral; the cigar boxes with shells
plastered over, the perforated card-board motto.
The kitchen; the housewife sprinkling the clothes for the fine ironing to-morrow
-- it is the Third-day night, and the plain things are ready iron'd, now in
cupboards, in drawers stowed away.
The wife waiting for the husband -- he is at the tavern, jovial, carousing; she,
alone in the kitchen sprinkling clothes -- the little red wood clock with peaked
top, with pendulum wagging behind a pane of gayly painted glass, strikes twelve.
The sound of the husband's voice on the still night air -- he is singing: "We
won't go home until morning!" -- the wife arising, toward the wood-shed hastily
going, stealthily entering, the voice all the time coming nearer, inebriate,
The husband passing the door of the wood-shed; the club over his head, now with
his head in contact; the sudden cessation of the song; the benediction of peace
over the domestic foyer temporarily resting.

I sing the soothing influences of home.
You, young man, thoughtlessly wandering, with courier, with guide-book
You hearken to the melody of my steam-calliope

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