O Magnet-South

Walt Whitman

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 slivery 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 the 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.

Walt Whitman may have been on the Northern, Union side in the American Civil War (he took part as a volunteer nurse) but here he affirms his love of the South.

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