Passage to India - 6

Walt Whitman

  Year at whose wide-flung door I sing!
  Year of the purpose accomplish'd!
  Year of the marriage of continents, climates and oceans!
  (No mere doge of Venice now wedding the Adriatic,)
  I see O year in you the vast terraqueous globe given and giving all,
  Europe to Asia, Africa join'd, and they to the New World,
  The lands, geographies, dancing before you, holding a festival garland,
  As brides and bridegrooms hand in hand.

  Passage to India!
  Cooling airs from Caucasus far, soothing cradle of man,
  The river Euphrates flowing, the past lit up again.

  Lo soul, the retrospect brought forward,
  The old, most populous, wealthiest of earth's lands,
  The streams of the Indus and the Ganges and their many affluents,
  (I my shores of America walking to-day behold, resuming all,)
  The tale of Alexander on his warlike marches suddenly dying,
  On one side China and on the other side Persia and Arabia,
  To the south the great seas and the bay of Bengal,
  The flowing literatures, tremendous epics, religions, castes,
  Old occult Brahma interminably far back, the tender and junior Buddha,
  Central and southern empires and all their belongings, possessors,
  The wars of Tamerlane,the reign of Aurungzebe,
  The traders, rulers, explorers, Moslems, Venetians, Byzantium, the
      Arabs, Portuguese,
  The first travelers famous yet, Marco Polo, Batouta the Moor,
  Doubts to be solv'd, the map incognita, blanks to be fill'd,
  The foot of man unstay'd, the hands never at rest,
  Thyself O soul that will not brook a challenge.

  The mediaeval navigators rise before me,
  The world of 1492, with its awaken'd enterprise,
  Something swelling in humanity now like the sap of the earth in spring,
  The sunset splendor of chivalry declining.

  And who art thou sad shade?
  Gigantic, visionary, thyself a visionary,
  With majestic limbs and pious beaming eyes,
  Spreading around with every look of thine a golden world,
  Enhuing it with gorgeous hues.

  As the chief histrion,
  Down to the footlights walks in some great scena,
  Dominating the rest I see the Admiral himself,
  (History's type of courage, action, faith,)
  Behold him sail from Palos leading his little fleet,
  His voyage behold, his return, his great fame,
  His misfortunes, calumniators, behold him a prisoner, chain'd,
  Behold his dejection, poverty, death.

  (Curious in time I stand, noting the efforts of heroes,
  Is the deferment long? bitter the slander, poverty, death?
  Lies the seed unreck'd for centuries in the ground? lo, to God's due
  Uprising in the night, it sprouts, blooms,
  And fills the earth with use and beauty.)

In this part of Passage to India, Walt Whitman sings of some of history's famous travellers such as Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta and of great conquerors, those who have "filled in the blanks" on the map.