From Leaves of Grass
, by Walt Whitman
To-day a rude brief recitative,
Of ships sailing the seas, each with its special flag or ship
Of unnamed heroes in the ships — of waves spreading and
spreading far as the eye can reach,
Of dashing spray, and the winds piping and blowing,
And out of these a chant for the sailors of all nations,
Fitful, like a surge.
Of sea-captains young or old, and the mates, and of all
Of the few, very choice, taciturn, whom fate can never
surprise nor death dismay,
Pick'd sparingly without noise by thee old ocean, chosen by
Thou sea that pickest and cullest the race in time, and unitest
Suckled by thee, old husky nurse, embodying thee,
Indomitable, untamed as thee.
(Ever the heroes on water or on land, by ones or twos
Ever the stock preserv'd and never lost, though rare, enough
for seed preserv'd.)
Flaunt out O sea your separate flags of nations!
Flaunt out visible as ever the various ship-signals!
But do you reserve especially for yourself and for the soul of man
one flag above all the rest,
A spiritual woven signal for all nations, emblem of man elate
Token of all brave captains and all intrepid sailors and mates,
And all that went down doing their duty,
Reminiscent of them, twined from all intrepid captains
young or old,
A pennant universal, subtly waving all time, o'er all brave
All seas, all ships.