Richard brunelle ink dating

Song of Myself

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their

I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,

Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten,

I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,

Nature without check with original energy.

I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,

The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it,

I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,

I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine,

My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing

The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and

dark-color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn,

A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms,

The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag,

The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields

The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising

Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?

Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?

You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions

You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through

the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,

You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,

You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

Nor any more youth or age than there is now,

And will never be any more perfection than there is now,

Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Always the procreant urge of the world.

Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life.

To elaborate is no avail, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is so.

Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,

Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.

Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they

discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.

Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be

As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the night,

and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread,

Leaving me baskets cover'd with white towels swelling the house with

Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my eyes,

That they turn from gazing after and down the road,

And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent,

Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and which is ahead?

People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and

The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,

My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,

The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,

The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss

or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,

Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news,

These come to me days and nights and go from me again,

Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,

Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,

Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,

Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait.

And you must not be abased to the other.

Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not

Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn'd over upon me,

And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue

And reach'd till you felt my beard, and reach'd till you held my feet.

And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,

And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,

And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women

And that a kelson of the creation is love,

And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,

And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,

And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap'd stones, elder, mullein and

How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.

A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,

Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see

And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,

Growing among black folks as among white,

Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I

It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,

It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,

It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon out

And here you are the mothers' laps.

Darker than the colorless beards of old men,

Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.

And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken

And what do you think has become of the women and children?

The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,

And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the

And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.

am not contain'd between my hat and boots,

And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good,

The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.

I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and

(They do not know how immortal, but I know.)

For me those that have been boys and that love women,

For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted,

For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the

For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,

For me children and the begetters of children.

I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no,

And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away.

I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies

I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol

The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the

clank of the shod horses on the granite floor,

The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-balls,

The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd mobs,

The flap of the curtain'd litter, a sick man inside borne to the hospital,

The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall,

The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his

The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes,

What groans of over-fed or half-starv'd who fall sunstruck or in fits,

What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and

What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls

Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances,

I mind them or the show or resonance of them--I come and I depart.

The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon,

The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged,

The armfuls are pack'd to the sagging mow.

I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other,

I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and timothy,

And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps.

Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee,

In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night,

Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill'd game,

Falling asleep on the gather'd leaves with my dog and gun by my side.

My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from the deck.

I tuck'd my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time;

You should have been with us that day round the chowder-kettle.

Her father and his friends sat near cross-legged and dumbly smoking,

they had moccasins to their feet and large thick blankets

On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drest mostly in skins, his luxuriant

beard and curls protected his neck, he held his bride by the hand,

She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight locks

descended upon her voluptuous limbs and reach'd to her feet.

I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile,

Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and weak,

And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him,

And brought water and fill'd a tub for his sweated body and bruis'd feet,

And gave him a room that enter'd from my own, and gave him some

And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,

And remember putting piasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;

He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pass'd north,

I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean'd in the corner.

Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;

Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.

She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.

Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.

The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.

Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.

It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.

sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,

They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch,

They do not think whom they souse with spray.

I loiter enjoying his repartee and his shuffle and break-down.

Each has his main-sledge, they are all out, there is a great heat in

The lithe sheer of their waists plays even with their massive arms,

Overhand the hammers swing, overhand so slow, overhand so sure,

They do not hasten, each man hits in his place.

The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and

tall he stands pois'd on one leg on the string-piece,

His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over

His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat

The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of

I go with the team also.

To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing,

Absorbing all to myself and for this song.

It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.

They rise together, they slowly circle around.

And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,

And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional,

And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else,

And the in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me,

And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.

Ya-honk he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation,

The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close,

Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky.

The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats,

The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings,

I see in them and myself the same old law.

They scorn the best I can do to relate them.

Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods,

Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and

I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.

Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,

Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me,

Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,

The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane

The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiving dinner,

The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong arm,

The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon are ready,

The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches,

The deacons are ordain'd with cross'd hands at the altar,

The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel,

The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loafe and

The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm'd case,

(He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother's

The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case,

He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blurr with the manuscript;

The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table,

What is removed drops horribly in a pail;

The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand, the drunkard nods by

The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his beat,

The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him, though I do

The half-breed straps on his light boots to compete in the race,

The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some lean on their

Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels his piece;

The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee,

As the woolly-pates hoe in the sugar-field, the overseer views them

The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their

partners, the dancers bow to each other,

The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof'd garret and harks to the

The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron,

The squaw wrapt in her yellow-hemm'd cloth is offering moccasins and

The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut

As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is thrown for

The young sister holds out the skein while the elder sister winds it

off in a ball, and stops now and then for the knots,

The one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago borne

The clean-hair'd Yankee girl works with her sewing-machine or in the

The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer, the reporter's lead

flies swiftly over the note-book, the sign-painter is lettering

The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts at his

The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers follow him,

The child is baptized, the convert is making his first professions,

The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, (how the white

The drover watching his drove sings out to them that would stray,

The pedler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser higgling

The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock

The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open'd lips,

The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and

The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to

(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;)

The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the great

On the piazza walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined arms,

The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the hold,

The Missourian crosses the plains toting his wares and his cattle,

As the fare-collector goes through the train he gives notice by the

The floor-men are laying the floor, the tinners are tinning the

roof, the masons are calling for mortar,

In single file each shouldering his hod pass onward the laborers;

Seasons pursuing each other the indescribable crowd is gather'd, it

is the fourth of Seventh-month, (what salutes of cannon and small arms!)

Seasons pursuing each other the plougher ploughs, the mower mows,

and the winter-grain falls in the ground;

Off on the lakes the pike-fisher watches and waits by the hole in

The stumps stand thick round the clearing, the squatter strikes deep

Flatboatmen make fast towards dusk near the cotton-wood or pecan-trees,

Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river or through

those drain'd by the Tennessee, or through those of the Arkansas,

Torches shine in the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or Altamahaw,

Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great-grandsons

In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after

The city sleeps and the country sleeps,

The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time,

The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by his wife;

And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them,

And such as it is to be of these more or less I am,

And of these one and all I weave the song of myself.

Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,

Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,

Stuff'd with the stuff that is coarse and stuff'd with the stuff

One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the

A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and

A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest

joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,

A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin

A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;

At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen

At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking,

At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the

Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving

Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands

A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,

A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,

Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,

A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,

Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.

Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,

And am not stuck up, and am in my place.

The bright suns I see and the dark suns I cannot see are in their place,

The palpable is in its place and the impalpable is in its place.)

If they are not yours as much as mine they are nothing, or next to nothing,

If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle they are nothing,

If they are not just as close as they are distant they are nothing.

This the common air that bathes the globe.

I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for

I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost in the same spirit

I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for them.

And to those whose war-vessels sank in the sea!

And to those themselves who sank in the sea!

And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes!

And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known!

It is for the wicked just same as the righteous, I make appointments

I will not have a single person slighted or left away,

The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited,

The heavy-lipp'd slave is invited, the venerealee is invited;

There shall be no difference between them and the rest.

This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning,

This the far-off depth and height reflecting my own face,

This the thoughtful merge of myself, and the outlet again.

Well I have, for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the

Does the daylight astonish? does the early redstart twittering

Do I astonish more than they?

I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you.

How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat?

Else it were time lost listening to me.

That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth.

I wear my hat as I please indoors or out.

I find no sweeter fat than sticks to my own bones.

And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.

To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow,

All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.

I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter's compass,

I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with a burnt

I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood,

I see that the elementary laws never apologize,

(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by,

If no other in the world be aware I sit content,

And if each and all be aware I sit content.

And whether I come to my own to-day or in ten thousand or ten

I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait.

And I know the amplitude of time.

The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,

The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate

And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man,

And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men.

We have had ducking and deprecating about enough,

It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and

I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night.

Night of south winds--night of the large few stars!

Still nodding night--mad naked summer night.

Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!

Earth of departed sunset--earth of the mountains misty-topt!

Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue!

Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river!

Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake!

Far-swooping elbow'd earth--rich apple-blossom'd earth!

O unspeakable passionate love.

I behold from the beach your crooked fingers,

I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me,

We must have a turn together, I undress, hurry me out of sight of the land,

Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse,

Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you.

Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths,

Sea of the brine of life and of unshovell'd yet always-ready graves,

Howler and scooper of storms, capricious and dainty sea,

I am integral with you, I too am of one phase and of all phases.

Extoller of amies and those that sleep in each others' arms.

(Shall I make my list of things in the house and skip the house that

Evil propels me and reform of evil propels me, I stand indifferent,

My gait is no fault-finder's or rejecter's gait,

I moisten the roots of all that has grown.

Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work'd over and rectified?

Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine,

Thoughts and deeds of the present our rouse and early start.

The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean man or an infidel.

And mine a word of the modern, the word En-Masse.

Here or henceforward it is all the same to me, I accept Time absolutely.

That mystic baffling wonder alone completes all.

Fetch stonecrop mixt with cedar and branches of lilac,

This is the lexicographer, this the chemist, this made a grammar of

These mariners put the ship through dangerous unknown seas.

This is the geologist, this works with the scalper, and this is a

Your facts are useful, and yet they are not my dwelling,

I but enter by them to an area of my dwelling.

And more the reminders they of life untold, and of freedom and extrication,

And make short account of neuters and geldings, and favor men and

And beat the gong of revolt, and stop with fugitives and them that

Turbulent, fleshy, sensual, eating, drinking and breeding,

No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them,

Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!

And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.

By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their

Voices of the interminable generations of prisoners and slaves,

Voices of the diseas'd and despairing and of thieves and dwarfs,

Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,

And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs and of the

And of the rights of them the others are down upon,

Of the deform'd, trivial, flat, foolish, despised,

Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.

Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove the veil,

Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur'd.

I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,

Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me

The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,

This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.

Translucent mould of me it shall be you!

Shaded ledges and rests it shall be you!

Whatever goes to the tilth of me it shall be you!

You my rich blood! your milky stream pale strippings of my life!

Breast that presses against other breasts it shall be you!

My brain it shall be your occult convolutions!

Root of wash'd sweet-flag! timorous pond-snipe! nest of guarded

Mix'd tussled hay of head, beard, brawn, it shall be you!

Trickling sap of maple, fibre of manly wheat, it shall be you!

Vapors lighting and shading my face it shall be you!

You sweaty brooks and dews it shall be you!

Winds whose soft-tickling genitals rub against me it shall be you!

Broad muscular fields, branches of live oak, loving lounger in my

Hands I have taken, face I have kiss'd, mortal I have ever touch'd,

Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy,

I cannot tell how my ankles bend, nor whence the cause of my faintest wish,

Nor the cause of the friendship I emit, nor the cause of the

A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics

The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows,

Scooting obliquely high and low.

The heav'd challenge from the east that moment over my head,

The mocking taunt, See then whether you shall be master!

If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of me.

We found our own O my soul in the calm and cool of the daybreak.

With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes of worlds.

It provokes me forever, it says sarcastically,

Walt you contain enough, why don't you let it out then?

Do you not know O speech how the buds beneath you are folded?

The dirt receding before my prophetical screams,

I underlying causes to balance them at last,

My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with the meaning of all things,

Happiness, (which whoever hears me let him or her set out in search

Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me,

I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking toward you.

I carry the plenum of proof and every thing else in my face,

With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic.

To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute toward it.

I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,

I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following,

Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night,

Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh of

The angry base of disjointed friendship, the faint tones of the sick,

The judge with hands tight to the desk, his pallid lips pronouncing

The heave'e'yo of stevedores unlading ships by the wharves, the

The ring of alarm-bells, the cry of fire, the whirr of swift-streaking

engines and hose-carts with premonitory tinkles and color'd lights,

The steam-whistle, the solid roll of the train of approaching cars,

The slow march play'd at the head of the association marching two and two,

(They go to guard some corpse, the flag-tops are draped with black muslin.)

I hear the key'd cornet, it glides quickly in through my ears,

It shakes mad-sweet pangs through my belly and breast.

The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full.

The orchestra whirls me wider than Uranus flies,

It wrenches such ardors from me I did not know I possess'd them,

It sails me, I dab with bare feet, they are lick'd by the indolent waves,

I am cut by bitter and angry hail, I lose my breath,

Steep'd amid honey'd morphine, my windpipe throttled in fakes of death,

At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles,

(Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither,)

If nothing lay more develop'd the quahaug in its callous shell were enough.

I have instant conductors all over me whether I pass or stop,

They seize every object and lead it harmlessly through me.

To touch my person to some one else's is about as much as I can stand.

Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,

Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them,

My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly

On all sides prurient provokers stiffening my limbs,

Straining the udder of my heart for its withheld drip,

Behaving licentious toward me, taking no denial,

Depriving me of my best as for a purpose,

Unbuttoning my clothes, holding me by the bare waist,

Deluding my confusion with the calm of the sunlight and pasture-fields,

Immodestly sliding the fellow-senses away,

They bribed to swap off with touch and go and graze at the edges of me,

No consideration, no regard for my draining strength or my anger,

Fetching the rest of the herd around to enjoy them a while,

Then all uniting to stand on a headland and worry me.

They have left me helpless to a red marauder,

They all come to the headland to witness and assist against me.

I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody else am the

I went myself first to the headland, my own hands carried me there.

Unclench your floodgates, you are too much for me.

Rich showering rain, and recompense richer afterward.

Landscapes projected masculine, full-sized and golden.

They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,

They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon,

The insignificant is as big to me as any,

The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.

I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps,

And a compend of compends is the meat of a man or woman,

And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other,

And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it

And until one and all shall delight us, and we them.

And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg

And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest,

And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,

And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,

And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue,

And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.

And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over,

And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons,

But call any thing back again when I desire it.

In vain the plutonic rocks send their old heat against my approach,

In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder'd bones,

In vain objects stand leagues off and assume manifold shapes,

In vain the ocean settling in hollows and the great monsters lying low,

In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky,

In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs,

In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods,

In vain the razor-bill'd auk sails far north to Labrador,

I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff.

I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their

Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them?

Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,

Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them,

Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers,

Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms.

Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears,

Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground,

Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly moving.

His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure as we race around and return.

Why do I need your paces when I myself out-gallop them?

Even as I stand or sit passing faster than you.

What I guess'd when I loaf'd on the grass,

What I guess'd while I lay alone in my bed,

And again as I walk'd the beach under the paling stars of the morning.

I skirt sierras, my palms cover continents,

Along the ruts of the turnpike, along the dry gulch and rivulet bed,

Weeding my onion-patch or hosing rows of carrots and parsnips,

Prospecting, gold-digging, girdling the trees of a new purchase,

Scorch'd ankle-deep by the hot sand, hauling my boat down the

Where the panther walks to and fro on a limb overhead, where the

Where the rattlesnake suns his flabby length on a rock, where the

Where the alligator in his tough pimples sleeps by the bayou,

Where the black bear is searching for roots or honey, where the

beaver pats the mud with his paddle-shaped tall;

Over the growing sugar, over the yellow-flower'd cotton plant, over

Over the sharp-peak'd farm house, with its scallop'd scum and

Over the western persimmon, over the long-leav'd corn, over the

Over the white and brown buckwheat, a hummer and buzzer there with

Over the dusky green of the rye as it ripples and shades in the breeze;

Scaling mountains, pulling myself cautiously up, holding on by low

Walking the path worn in the grass and beat through the leaves of the brush,

Where the quail is whistling betwixt the woods and the wheat-lot,

Where the bat flies in the Seventh-month eve, where the great

Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to

Where cattle stand and shake away flies with the tremulous

Where the cheese-cloth hangs in the kitchen, where andirons straddle

the hearth-slab, where cobwebs fall in festoons from the rafters;

Where trip-hammers crash, where the press is whirling its cylinders,

Wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes under its ribs,

Where the pear-shaped balloon is floating aloft, (floating in it

Where the life-car is drawn on the slip-noose, where the heat

hatches pale-green eggs in the dented sand,

Where the she-whale swims with her calf and never forsakes it,

Where the steam-ship trails hind-ways its long pennant of smoke,

Where the fin of the shark cuts like a black chip out of the water,

Where the half-burn'd brig is riding on unknown currents,

Where shells grow to her slimy deck, where the dead are corrupting below;

Where the dense-starr'd flag is borne at the head of the regiments,

Approaching Manhattan up by the long-stretching island,

Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance,

Upon a door-step, upon the horse-block of hard wood outside,

Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs or a good game of

At he-festivals, with blackguard gibes, ironical license,

At the cider-mill tasting the sweets of the brown mash, sucking the

At apple-peelings wanting kisses for all the red fruit I find,

At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, house-raisings;

Where the mocking-bird sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles,

Where the hay-rick stands in the barn-yard, where the dry-stalks are

scatter'd, where the brood-cow waits in the hovel,

Where the bull advances to do his masculine work, where the stud to

the mare, where the cock is treading the hen,

Where the heifers browse, where geese nip their food with short jerks,

Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless and lonesome prairie,

Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles

Where the humming-bird shimmers, where the neck of the long-lived

Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore, where she laughs her

Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden half hid by the

Where band-neck'd partridges roost in a ring on the ground with

Where burial coaches enter the arch'd gates of a cemetery,

Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees,

Where the yellow-crown'd heron comes to the edge of the marsh at

Where the splash of swimmers and divers cools the warm noon,

Where the katy-did works her chromatic reed on the walnut-tree over

Through patches of citrons and cucumbers with silver-wired leaves,

Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under conical firs,

Through the gymnasium, through the curtain'd saloon, through the

Pleas'd with the native and pleas'd with the foreign, pleas'd with

Pleas'd with the homely woman as well as the handsome,

Pleas'd with the quakeress as she puts off her bonnet and talks melodiously,

Pleas'd with the tune of the choir of the whitewash'd church,

Pleas'd with the earnest words of the sweating Methodist preacher,

Looking in at the shop-windows of Broadway the whole forenoon,

flatting the flesh of my nose on the thick plate glass,

Wandering the same afternoon with my face turn'd up to the clouds,

My right and left arms round the sides of two friends, and I in the middle;

Coming home with the silent and dark-cheek'd bush-boy, (behind me

Far from the settlements studying the print of animals' feet, or the

By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a feverish patient,

Nigh the coffin'd corpse when all is still, examining with a candle;

Voyaging to every port to dicker and adventure,

Hurrying with the modern crowd as eager and fickle as any,

Hot toward one I hate, ready in my madness to knife him,

Solitary at midnight in my back yard, my thoughts gone from me a long while,

Walking the old hills of Judaea with the beautiful gentle God by my side,

Speeding through space, speeding through heaven and the stars,

Speeding amid the seven satellites and the broad ring, and the

Speeding with tail'd meteors, throwing fire-balls like the rest,

Carrying the crescent child that carries its own full mother in its belly,

Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning,

Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing,

And look at quintillions ripen'd and look at quintillions green.

My course runs below the soundings of plummets.

No guard can shut me off, no law prevent me.

My messengers continually cruise away or bring their returns to me.

pike-pointed staff, clinging to topples of brittle and blue.

I take my place late at night in the crow's-nest,

We sail the arctic sea, it is plenty light enough,

Through the clear atmosphere I stretch around on the wonderful beauty,

The enormous masses of ice pass me and I pass them, the scenery is

The white-topt mountains show in the distance, I fling out my

We are approaching some great battle-field in which we are soon to

We pass the colossal outposts of the encampment, we pass with still

Or we are entering by the suburbs some vast and ruin'd city,

The blocks and fallen architecture more than all the living cities

I turn the bridgroom out of bed and stay with the bride myself,

I tighten her all night to my thighs and lips.

They fetch my man's body up dripping and drown'd.

The courage of present times and all times,

How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the

steamship, and Death chasing it up and down the storm,

How he knuckled tight and gave not back an inch, and was faithful of

And chalk'd in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer, we will

How he follow'd with them and tack'd with them three days and

How he saved the drifting company at last,

How the lank loose-gown'd women look'd when boated from the

How the silent old-faced infants and the lifted sick, and the

All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well, it becomes mine,

The mother of old, condemn'd for a witch, burnt with dry wood, her

The hounded slave that flags in the race, leans by the fence,

The twinges that sting like needles his legs and neck, the murderous

All these I feel or am.

Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen,

I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd with the

I fall on the weeds and stones,

The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close,

Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks.

I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the

My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe.

Tumbling walls buried me in their debris,

Heat and smoke I inspired, I heard the yelling shouts of my comrades,

I heard the distant click of their picks and shovels,

They have clear'd the beams away, they tenderly lift me forth.

Painless after all I lie exhausted but not so unhappy,

White and beautiful are the faces around me, the heads are bared

The kneeling crowd fades with the light of the torches.

They show as the dial or move as the hands of me, I am the clock myself.

Again the attacking cannon, mortars,

Again to my listening ears the cannon responsive.

The cries, curses, roar, the plaudits for well-aim'd shots,

The ambulanza slowly passing trailing its red drip,

Workmen searching after damages, making indispensable repairs,

The fall of grenades through the rent roof, the fan-shaped explosion,

The whizz of limbs, heads, stone, wood, iron, high in the air.

He gasps through the clot Mind not me--mind--the entrenchments.

Not one escaped to tell the fall of Alamo,

The hundred and fifty are dumb yet at Alamo,)

'Tis the tale of the murder in cold blood of four hundred and twelve

Nine hundred lives out of the surrounding enemies, nine times their

number, was the price they took in advance,

Their colonel was wounded and their ammunition gone,

They treated for an honorable capitulation, receiv'd writing and

seal, gave up their arms and march'd back prisoners of war.

Matchless with horse, rifle, song, supper, courtship,

Large, turbulent, generous, handsome, proud, and affectionate,

Bearded, sunburnt, drest in the free costume of hunters,

Not a single one over thirty years of age.

massacred, it was beautiful early summer,

The work commenced about five o'clock and was over by eight.

Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and straight,

A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and dead

The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers saw them there,

Some half-kill'd attempted to crawl away,

These were despatch'd with bayonets or batter'd with the blunts of muskets,

A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till two more

The three were all torn and cover'd with the boy's blood.

That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men.

Would you learn who won by the light of the moon and stars?

List to the yarn, as my grandmother's father the sailor told it to me.

His was the surly English pluck, and there is no tougher or truer,

Along the lower'd eve he came horribly raking us.

My captain lash'd fast with his own hands.

On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at the first fire,

killing all around and blowing up overhead.

Ten o'clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks on the gain,

The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in the after-hold

They see so many strange faces they do not know whom to trust.

If our colors are struck and the fighting done?

We have not struck, he composedly cries, we have just begun our part

One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy's main-mast,

Two well serv'd with grape and canister silence his musketry and

They hold out bravely during the whole of the action.

The leaks gain fast on the pumps, the fire eats toward the powder-magazine.

He is not hurried, his voice is neither high nor low,

His eyes give more light to us than our battle-lanterns.

Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness,

Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass to the

The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a

Near by the corpse of the child that serv'd in the cabin,

The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully

The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and below,

The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty,

Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of flesh

Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves,

Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent,

A few large stars overhead, silent and mournful shining,

Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by

the shore, death-messages given in charge to survivors,

The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw,

Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long,

These so, these irretrievable.

In at the conquer'd doors they crowd! I am possess'd!

Embody all presences outlaw'd or suffering,

See myself in prison shaped like another man,

It is I let out in the morning and barr'd at night.

(I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat

My face is ash-color'd, my sinews gnarl, away from me people retreat.

I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg.

Give me a little time beyond my cuff'd head, slumbers, dreams, gaping,

I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.

That I could forget the trickling tears and the blows of the

That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and

The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it, or to any graves,

Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me.

Inland and sea-coast we go, and pass all boundary lines,

Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole earth,

The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years.

Continue your annotations, continue your questionings.

Is he waiting for civilization, or past it and mastering it?

Is he from the Mississippi country? Iowa, Oregon, California?

The mountains? prairie-life, bush-life? or sailor from the sea?

They desire he should like them, touch them, speak to them, stay with them.

Slow-stepping feet, common features, common modes and emanations,

They descend in new forms from the tips of his fingers,

They are wafted with the odor of his body or breath, they fly out of

You light surfaces only, I force surfaces and depths also.

And might tell what it is in me and what it is in you, but cannot,

And might tell that pining I have, that pulse of my nights and days.

Open your scarf'd chops till I blow grit within you,

Spread your palms and lift the flaps of your pockets,

I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores plenty and to spare,

You can do nothing and be nothing but what I will infold you.

On his right cheek I put the family kiss,

And in my soul I swear I never will deny him.

(This day I am jetting the stuff of far more arrogant republics.)

Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed,

Let the physician and the priest go home.

By God, you shall not go down! hang your whole weight upon me.

Every room of the house do I fill with an arm'd force,

Not doubt, not decease shall dare to lay finger upon you,

I have embraced you, and henceforth possess you to myself,

And when you rise in the morning you will find what I tell you is so.

And for strong upright men I bring yet more needed help.

Heard it and heard it of several thousand years;

It is middling well as far as it goes--but is that all?

Outbidding at the start the old cautious hucksters,

Taking myself the exact dimensions of Jehovah,

Lithographing Kronos, Zeus his son, and Hercules his grandson,

Buying drafts of Osiris, Isis, Belus, Brahma, Buddha,

In my portfolio placing Manito loose, Allah on a leaf, the crucifix

With Odin and the hideous-faced Mexitli and every idol and image,

Taking them all for what they are worth and not a cent more,

Admitting they were alive and did the work of their days,

(They bore mites as for unfledg'd birds who have now to rise and fly

Accepting the rough deific sketches to fill out better in myself,

bestowing them freely on each man and woman I see,

Discovering as much or more in a framer framing a house,

Putting higher claims for him there with his roll'd-up sleeves

Not objecting to special revelations, considering a curl of smoke or

a hair on the back of my hand just as curious as any revelation,

Lads ahold of fire-engines and hook-and-ladder ropes no less to me

Minding their voices peal through the crash of destruction,

Their brawny limbs passing safe over charr'd laths, their white

foreheads whole and unhurt out of the flames;

By the mechanic's wife with her babe at her nipple interceding for

Three scythes at harvest whizzing in a row from three lusty angels

The snag-tooth'd hostler with red hair redeeming sins past and to come,

Selling all he possesses, traveling on foot to fee lawyers for his

brother and sit by him while he is tried for forgery;

What was strewn in the amplest strewing the square rod about me, and

The bull and the bug never worshipp'd half enough,

Dung and dirt more admirable than was dream'd,

The supernatural of no account, myself waiting my time to be one of

The day getting ready for me when I shall do as much good as the

By my life-lumps! becoming already a creator,

Putting myself here and now to the ambush'd womb of the shadows.

My own voice, orotund sweeping and final.

Come my boys and girls, my women, household and intimates,

Now the performer launches his nerve, he has pass'd his prelude on

climax and close.

Folks are around me, but they are no household of mine.

Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and downward sun, ever

Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, real,

Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorn'd thumb, that

Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly one hides

Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life,

Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the trestles of death.

To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally spooning,

Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never once going,

Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff for payment

A few idly owning, and they the wheat continually claiming.

Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars, markets,

The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships, factories,

stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate.

I am aware who they are, (they are positively not worms or fleas,)

I acknowledge the duplicates of myself, the weakest and shallowest

What I do and say the same waits for them,

Every thought that flounders in me the same flounders in them.

Know my omnivorous lines and must not write any less,

And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.

But abruptly to question, to leap beyond yet nearer bring;

This printed and bound book--but the printer and the

The well-taken photographs--but your wife or friend close and solid

The black ship mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in her turrets--but

the pluck of the captain and engineers?

In the houses the dishes and fare and furniture--but the host and

hostess, and the look out of their eyes?

The sky up there--yet here or next door, or across the way?

The saints and sages in history--but you yourself?

Sermons, creeds, theology--but the fathomless human brain,

And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?

My faith is the greatest of faiths and the least of faiths,

Enclosing worship ancient and modern and all between ancient and modern,

Believing I shall come again upon the earth after five thousand years,

Waiting responses from oracles, honoring the gods, saluting the sun,

Making a fetich of the first rock or stump, powowing with sticks in

Helping the llama or brahmin as he trims the lamps of the idols,

Dancing yet through the streets in a phallic procession, rapt and

Drinking mead from the skull-cap, to Shastas and Vedas admirant,

Walking the teokallis, spotted with gore from the stone and knife,

Accepting the Gospels, accepting him that was crucified, knowing

To the mass kneeling or the puritan's prayer rising, or sitting

Ranting and frothing in my insane crisis, or waiting dead-like till

Looking forth on pavement and land, or outside of pavement and land,

Belonging to the winders of the circuit of circuits.

Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten'd, atheistical,

I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair

How they contort rapid as lightning, with spasms and spouts of blood!

I take my place among you as much as among any,

The past is the push of you, me, all, precisely the same,

And what is yet untried and afterward is for you, me, all, precisely

But I know it will in its turn prove sufficient, and cannot fail.

Nor the young woman who died and was put by his side,

Nor the little child that peep'd in at the door, and then drew back

Nor the old man who has lived without purpose, and feels it with

Nor him in the poor house tubercled by rum and the bad disorder,

Nor the numberless slaughter'd and wreck'd, nor the brutish koboo

Nor the sacs merely floating with open mouths for food to slip in,

Nor any thing in the earth, or down in the oldest graves of the earth,

Nor any thing in the myriads of spheres, nor the myriads of myriads

Nor the present, nor the least wisp that is known.

I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.

There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.

And other births will bring us richness and variety.

That which fills its period and place is equal to any.

I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or jealous upon me,

All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with lamentation,

On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps,

All below duly travel'd, and still I mount and mount.

Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there,

I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist,

And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.

Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me.

For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings,

They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.

My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it.

The long slow strata piled to rest it on,

Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it

Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.

Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin,

Jostling me through streets and public halls, coming naked to me at night,

Crying by day, Ahoy! from the rocks of the river, swinging and

Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled underbrush,

Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses,

Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts and giving them to be mine.

And the dark hush promulges as much as any.

And all I see multiplied as high as I can cipher edge but the rim of

Outward and outward and forever outward.

He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit,

And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest inside them.

If I, you, and the worlds, and all beneath or upon their surfaces,

were this moment reduced back to a pallid float, it would

We should surely bring up again where we now stand,

And surely go as much farther, and then farther and farther.

not hazard the span or make it impatient,

They are but parts, any thing is but a part.

Count ever so much, there is limitless time around that.

The Lord will be there and wait till I come on perfect terms,

The great Camerado, the lover true for whom I pine will be there.

My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods,

No friend of mine takes his ease in my chair,

I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,

I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange,

But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,

My left hand hooking you round the waist,

My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.

Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,

Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

Wonderful cities and free nations we shall fetch as we go.

And in due time you shall repay the same service to me,

For after we start we never lie by again.

And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs,

and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we

And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond.

I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.

Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,

But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes, I kiss you

with a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.

You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every

Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,

To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout,

He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width of my own,

He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher.

Wicked rather than virtuous out of conformity or fear,

Fond of his sweetheart, relishing well his steak,

Unrequited love or a slight cutting him worse than sharp steel cuts,

First-rate to ride, to fight, to hit the bull's eye, to sail a

skiff, to sing a song or play on the banjo,

Preferring scars and the beard and faces pitted with small-pox over

And those well-tann'd to those that keep out of the sun.

I follow you whoever you are from the present hour,

My words itch at your ears till you understand them.

(It is you talking just as much as myself, I act as the tongue of you,

Tied in your mouth, in mine it begins to be loosen'd.)

And I swear I will never translate myself at all, only to him or her

who privately stays with me in the open air.

The nearest gnat is an explanation, and a drop or motion of waves key,

The maul, the oar, the hand-saw, second my words.

But roughs and little children better than they.

The woodman that takes his axe and jug with him shall take me with

The farm-boy ploughing in the field feels good at the sound of my voice,

In vessels that sail my words sail, I go with fishermen and seamen

On the night ere the pending battle many seek me, and I do not fail them,

On that solemn night (it may be their last) those that know me seek me.

My face rubs to the hunter's face when he lies down alone in his blanket,

The driver thinking of me does not mind the jolt of his wagon,

The young mother and old mother comprehend me,

The girl and the wife rest the needle a moment and forget where they are,

They and all would resume what I have told them.

And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,

And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is,

And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own

And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth,

And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the

And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it

And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel'd universe,

And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed

For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,

(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and

Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.

I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,

In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,

I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd

And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go,

Others will punctually come for ever and ever.

I see the elder-hand pressing receiving supporting,

I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors,

And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape.

I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing,

I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polish'd breasts of melons.

(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.)

O suns--O grass of graves--O perpetual transfers and promotions,

If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing?

Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing twilight,

Toss, sparkles of day and dusk--toss on the black stems that decay

Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs.

I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sunbeams reflected,

And debouch to the steady and central from the offspring great or small.

It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol.

To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me.

It is not chaos or death--it is form, union, plan--it is eternal

And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,

(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

and my loitering.

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd wilds,

It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,

Missing me one place search another,

DayPoems Poem No. 1900

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Ink Dating Expert Witness

Ink Dating is done in two primary forms. The first ink dating method is the static approach, which determines when the ink being examined was manufactured. The second ink dating method is the dynamic approach, this method is to determine when the writing occurred, or in simple terms, how long the ink has been on the paper.

The ink dating static approach is typically more useful as the difference between the date on the document and the present time increases. Several different tests exist in this form of ink dating. These ink dating methods include the comparison of the examined ink to a known library of standards, commonly called the library approach, the detection of chemical date tags placed in the ink purposefully by the manufacturer, commonly called the date tag method, and also the determination of the type of ink writing instrument used.

The determination of the type of writing instrument is probably the oldest method of ink dating. This ink dating method primarily involves microscopic examinations and can also incorporate some basic chemical solubility testing. Some examinations can be performed on fountain pens to determine type of nib, type of ink and the first date of introduction of each of these. However, since this is a very small portion of the actual type of cases seen, we will concentrate primarily on more recent developments.

Other pages discuss the use of infrared to discriminate the differences between inks that visually and microscopically look identical. The next step would be the most basic ink dating form of thin layer chromatography (TLC) testing to determine if two or more inks are the same or different formulations. In order to do this the following steps are taken:


  1. Extract the samples of ink to be tested from the document or surface upon which the ink was written. (If the ink is on paper, the typical method for removing these samples is by the use of a hypodermic needle with the end blunted and sharpened.) The use of an internal plunger will aid in expelling samples once they are “punched” from the paper. A backer should also be used; it should be made out of a material that will not allow any contamination into the removed ink sample. Common backer include self-healing cutting boards, filter paper, plain card stock or even glass.
  1. The samples that are taken from an area to be examined are then placed in a vial. For this type of comparison six plugs is sufficient if taken with the hypodermic needle. With experience, smaller sample sizes of one or two plugs can be used by modifying the amount of solvent used to extract the ink and the manner in which the ink is spotted. The plugs are taken one at a time and placed directly in the vial after being removed. The vial size used for testing of this nature is ? dram; this is slightly larger around than the barrel of a common pen. The vials should also have a screw cap.
  1. Once the plugs are in each vial, the vial is tapped so that all the plugs are on the bottom and to one side. The vial is then placed in a rack that is slanted to keep the plugs and solvent that is added on the same side.
  1. A strong solvent is added to each vial to extract the ink from the paper or other medium. The most solvent for ballpoint inks is pyridine for non-ballpoint inks is ethanol and water mixed in a 1: 1 ratio. Other solvents can be used for either type of ink if desired as long as some or most of the ink is extracted from the samples. When this type of testing is conducted, for similarities and differences in inks 4 to 10 plugs are used in the analysis and the volume of strong solvent added is between 5 and 12 microliters.
  1. One the strong solvent is added to the vial, care is taken to ensure that the solvent is covering all the plugs in the bottom of the vial. The vial is then rotated to agitate the plugs and the solution. The instrument used to inject the solvent into the vial can range from a pipetteman to a GC syringe. The most important characteristic is the ability to adjust the volume dispensed.
  1. When the solvent is covering all the plugs, it is placed into the vial rack, which is slanted, so that the solvent stays in contact with the plugs. The vial is then capped ant the solvent is allowed to extract the ink. The extraction time varies with the solvent used; however 5 minutes is almost always sufficient for maximum extraction. Allowing extra extraction time in a strong solvent will not have any effect on the results.
  1. While the solvent is extracting a TLC plate should be secured. The best type of plate to case for this type of comparison is a glass backed HPTLC (High Performance Thin-Layer Chromatography) plate. This type of plate should be activated prior to use in this examination by heating in a laboratory oven for 30 minutes at 100 degree C. This activation drives the water from the plate and allows for better separation of the dyes and more accurate measurement and calculation of the relative intensities of the individual dye ratios. An activated plate must be cooled prior to applying the extracted into the surface. This can be accomplished by placing the plate on a desktop for about one minute.
  1. The extracting solvent and ink mixture is now ready to be spotted to the surface of the TLC plate. Before sampling and spotting the vial should be rotated several times to allow for mixing of the solution and ink. For the spotting process it is best to use a mechanical spotter to apply the solvent to the TLC plate. Also a small volume pipette allows for more concise spotting and better development of the plate by keeping the spot size small. The volumetric pipette of choice would be a 1-microliter size. As a relative measure of volume comparison, a drop of water that would drip from a facet would be approximately 50 microliters.
  1. Remove the cap from the vial and place the one-microliter volumetric pipette into the solution. Allow the pipette to completely fill. Remove the pipette from the vial, place the vial back into the rack and place the pipette into the holder of the mechanical spotter. NOTE: In many mechanical spotters the vial holder is removable and is used to hold the pipette when extracting the sample from the vial. If this is the case, after the pipette is full, the holder is placed with the pipette into the mechanical spotter.
  1. The entire one-microliter volume is spotted on the plate in a single application. The next sample can then be spotted in the same manner by using a new pipette. After a one-microliter sample has been spotted for all the samples to be analyzed, a second sample is than taken from each vial and spotted exactly on top of the first sample taken for the same vial. This is easily accomplished with use of a mechanical spotter by putting the holder back to the same setting used for the first spot made from each vial. The spots should be between ? inches to 1 inch from the bottom edge of the plate and spotted along the longer edge of the plate. Obviously, if the plate is square, then either edge will work fine. Each sample’s spots should be separated by about ? inch to ? inch to avoid touching of the spots. (See illustration of the progression when spotting the plate)
  1. The process of spotting successive samples of solvent and ink on top of the previous one microliter is continued until all the solvent has been removed and spotted for each vial. At this point the vials and remaining plugs can be discarded. The plate now contains a mixture of ink and solvent on the surface. The plate is now dried in a laboratory oven for 50 minutes at 80 degrees C to remove all of the extracting solvent. Some solvents will be dried from the plate faster that others. The 50 minutes is enough time to dry the commonly used strong solvents from the plate. If it is known to be sufficient, a lesser time can be used to dry the solvent from the plate.
  1. While the plate is drying in the oven, the desired mobile phase solvent should be prepared. (See table of common solvent systems used for ink analysis). The most common mobile phase solvent system used is Solvent System I. The mixture is placed into a TLC chamber, which should be as small as reasonably possible to fit the TLC plate being used for the examination.

Ink dating – chemical tag: The detection of a chemical date tag can disclose the exact year that the ink being examined was manufactured. Other times the results will disclose a range of a few years as possibilities the ink could have been made. Based on the identification of formulation, which will be discussed next, it may be possible to exclude some of the possibilities and further narrow the range sometimes to only one year. Manufacturers used two types of chemical date tags in their ink formulations. Neither of these is currently being used. It should be noted that some ink manufacturers never placed any date tags in their inks. The idea of getting manufacturer’s voluntary cooperation to incorporate these tags with their existing formulations was developed in the late 1960’s at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. This was to further the identification of inks using the standard ink library approach. (To be covered further down this page). In 1969, Formulabs of Escondido, California inserted the first type of date tag in their ballpoint inks. This was a single tag was could be extracted with the ink, separated and analyzed with ultra-violet light. For this reason this type of tag is commonly referred to as a florescent date tag. This single tag was later expanded to four tags, A, B, C, & D. By the combination of the presence or absence of each tag either a specific year or a range of years could be established. The procedure most commonly used for the detection, isolation, and analysis of these date tags in ink dating is:


  1. Take a sample of ink from the ink line in question (7-10 plugs if using a needle plunger).
  1. Extract the ink from the plugs using a strong solvent (pyridine works best).
  1. Spot the entire amount of solvent and ink mixture on a HPTLC plate without fluorescent indicators. Care should be taken to keep the spot size as small and concentrated as possible to allow easier viewing of the tags, since the tags in the questioned ink can sometime be faint. Typically one microliter of solution spotted at a time will accomplish this, allowing about 2-5 minutes between one-microliter applications.
  1. Also spot a known sample containing all four date tags (A, B, C, and D) next to the questioned sample. The known sample can be in the form of a compilation of inks that contain date tags such that all tags will be present in the mixture (one ink containing tags A and C and another ink containing tags B and D). The other form can be an extract containing only tags obtained directly from the manufacturer, which can then be dissolved with pyridine and used to spot.
  1. Dry the spots in a laboratory oven at approximately 80* C until the solvent is evaporated. Thirty minutes is usually sufficient to dry completely.
  1. Allow the plate to cool to room temperature for a few minutes.
  1. Develop the plate in a tank using a special mobile phase solvent that will only move the date tags from the original spot up the TLC plate for approximately twelve minutes. The time can be slightly more or less, however it should be optimized to allow for the best separation of the date tags.
  1. After the plate has been run, remove from the solvent chamber and allow the plate to air dry in total darkness. Heat and light will cause the tags to dissipate and either be more difficult to view or in some cases not be seen.
  1. The plate is then viewed using ultra-violet light. Once the TLC plate is viewed, all four of the bands in the known standard should be visible under ultra-violet light and they should be separated so as to be easily distinguishable from one another. A comparison is then made between the sample or samples being analyzed to the known or control standard. The presence or absence of each tag in the questioned ink should be based on first whether any florescent compound is visible in the same area as the corresponding tag in the control standard.

The comparison between the known tag and the questioned ink being examined should focus on whether the florescent compounds are the same color in the known and questioned. No more than three of the four tags were ever used in a given year. These results should then be photographed using ultra-violet light and color film for presentation at a later time if required. Color slide film has been shown to work well, especially since a print can be made directly from a slide or used in a projector for presentation.

Ink dating 1970’s and 1980’s: In the 1970’s and 1980’s, several ink manufactures used rare earth metals as a method to tag inks as to their date of production. The detection of these tags is complicated and requires expensive and rare scientific equipment. The primary method of detection of these tags is called XREOF (X-ray excited optical fluorescence). Information on these tags is confidential and closely kept. This type of examination is very rarely to never used in actual casework currently.

Ink dating – Alternate Method: Another method for dating inks using thin layer chromatography exists. The ink library approach, as it is commonly referred to, comprises the other portion of the static approach to ink age determination. This involves the comparison of the questioned ink being examined to a known library of inks to determine the manufacturer and formula of the ink. Then by researching the library information or contacting the manufacturer an exact date of commercial availability can be established. This would be significant if the date the ink was first available is after the date the ink was purportedly written. The method by which questioned ink is compared to a standard reference ink library is as follows:


  1. Take the samples of the ink to be identified as previously discussed with a needle puncher.
  1. Extract the ink from the plugs using a strong solvent; pyridine works well with ballpoint inks and many non-ballpoint inks. Another solvent for non-ballpoint inks to use is ethanol and water mixed at a ratio of one to one. It is important to compare questioned samples to library samples that used the same solvents to extract the ink.
  1. Spot the questioned ink and solvent mixture on a low resolution TLC plate of the same type that the comparison library is kept on. The entire amount of solvent should be spotted on the plate. Again care should be taken to keep the spot size as small as possible to keep the bands concentrated for accurate comparisons. Ink comparisons should have two samples of each ink, one with a light spot and one with a concentrated spot. The reason is that in some cases the amount of ink available for examination may be limited.
  1. Once the sample is spotted, the plate should be dried in a laboratory oven at approximately 80* C for 30 minutes. When the plate is placed in the oven, care should be taken to not place the plastic backed plate on anything metal in the oven since this can cause warping or distortion of the plate that will affect the appearance of the resulting chromatogram.
  1. After the solvent is dried off, the plate should be allowed to cool for about one minute.
  1. The plate is then developed in the same mobile phase solvent system as the library standards. Our library is, as most are done, using Solvent System I. The plate is developed for approximately 12 minutes. The solvent front should travel approximately the same distance as in the library standards that the comparisons are being made to.
  1. The plate is then removed and the excess solvent is dried from the plate in the oven for approximately 20 minutes.
  1. The resulting chromatogram is then compared to the library standard chromatogram. The comparison is made between the dyes present, the color of each dye, the distance the dye travels from the origin, and the relative concentration of each dye component.
  1. A list of all possible matches is the created based on the above criteria. Too many samples should be run rather than too few many possible matches exist. In many instances it may be possible based on a library search and the training and experience of the examiner and most importantly the examiner’s familiarity with the reference library to quickly narrow the search to a few or even one possible ink. It has been suggested by Cantu and Brunelle that before an examiner is an expert in the identification of inks, one thousand inks should be compared and identified as part of the training. This may seem to be a large number at first glance, however with a large library of inks, significant knowledge and experience becomes extremely useful when applied to casework and also to expressing the significance of conclusions as to the uniqueness of individual dye components.
  1. Another TLC comparison is then made using the questioned sample of ink as well as all of the possible matches from the library search on the same plate. This comparison is made on a glass backed HPTLC which allows for the greatest discriminating power.
  1. The samples are then taken, extracted, spotted, dried, developed, and dried just as described previously. The comparison is again made between the dyes present, the color of each dye, the distance the dye travels from the origin, and the relative concentration of each dye component. Additionally, the shape of the dye, and an examination under UV light should also be conducted for additional information about possible matches or eliminations.

In the stage of final analysis, if all the possible matches are eliminated then no conclusion can be drawn other than that the ink does not match any of the standards in the library. This is another place where a large body of knowledge of running inks is significant, to evaluate differences that are attributable to differences in batches of inks and differences that lead to the conclusion of different formulations. The best way to establish the degree of differences that can be caused by different batches of the same formulation is to run many samples of the same ink that is known to be different batches. With inks available in common production this is much easier than with inks that are rare. Any differences that the examiner attributes to differences in batches when making an identification or elimination should be demonstrable in some manner.

If the questioned ink matches more than one of the possible library matches then any of the following may be used to further discriminate some or all of the possible matches from the questioned sample if necessary or desired:


  1. A second TLC examination using a different solvent system to develop the plate
  1. A densitometer to analyze the relative intensity of the individual dye components
  1. FTIR – Fourier Transform Infrared
  1. GC – Gas Chromatography
  1. HPLC – High Pressure Liquid Chromatography
  1. Or another suitable method for analyzing components of ink

If several matches exist at any point, an opinion can be expressed that the questioned ink is “to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty” one of the possible matches. The earliest date that the ink could have been available would then be the earliest date of introduction of all the possible matches.

If the universe of possible matches is at some point narrowed to one ink formulation, then an opinion can be expressed that the questioned ink matches the formulation from the library to the exclusion of all other formulations in the reference library. The size of the reference library of the laboratory conducting the examination is also highly important in the chances of success and also in determining the significance of a match. The only time that a library search will not result in one and only one match is if either the questioned ink is not found in the reference library (this is primarily due to the newness of the ink or the incompleteness of the reference library) or if several samples from different manufacturers are so similar that they cannot be discriminated from one another. The second option should not be confused with the same ink manufacturer producing the same ink formulation for several different ink companies, such as, Formulabs producing the same ink formulation for Parker and Cross blue ball point pens. Many other similar examples exist. It should also be noted that if extensive fading has occurred, the ink and paper have been burned or excessively heated, or the sample is somehow contaminated, i.e. tape, highlighter, magic marker, etc., a positive match may not be possible. Obviously, no library can ever be complete and no exact measure of completeness can be accurately stated, since the number of unknown and unseen inks cannot be stated. This is why when an identification is made the opinion is typically expressed “to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty” or “very probably” but an absolute positive statement cannot be made without some form of qualification. If more analysis is done or some unique component is present, then less of a qualification is necessary.

Keeping up with changes in formulations by manufacturers is also important. In recent years several manufacturers have made minor changes to popular formulations, which are evident in the above TLC examinations. One example is, in approximately 1995 Bic added an additional bold blue dye to their blue ballpoint formulation. If an ink being examined contains this newer formulation with the additional blue band it could not have been written until in or after 1995. Another example is the addition of a yellow dye to the black ballpoint formulation of Itoya. This addition was made sometime in 1996. There are also numerous other examples like the two mentioned.

Ink dating – cases: In the following real case examples, one can see the manner in which the three thin layer chromatography tests can be used to aid in examinations.

Ink dating – first case example: In the first example is a diary detailing racial harassment was produced as part of the evidence by the plaintiff. There were many entries throughout four books some involving these allegations and many that did not. There were 54 entries from the four-year’s diaries that were at issue. All of the entries that did concern the alleged harassment had been contaminated with a yellow highlighter so that a relative ink age determination (discussed in the next chapter) could not be performed. The unquestioned entries were examined first. These inks were all uncontaminated and showed to be written by a large variety of different writing instruments over the four-year period of the diaries. If the questioned entries were genuine and written on or about their purported dates they should exhibit approximately the same degree of randomness. However, in this case it was found that two ink formulations were used to write 53 of the 54 entries regarding the claim of racial harassment. One formulation was a blue ballpoint ink and the other was a reddish-brown ballpoint ink. This grouping encompassed 53 entries over the four-year period. Furthermore, the questioned inks matched in formulation to other inks contained in the diaries but was a different batch of ink than any unquestioned ink in any of the four years of writing that was submitted, but all the ink in the questioned entries are consistent with one another. Based on this evidence it was concluded that the entries were not written at many different times throughout the years, as purported by the author; but instead at all the same time or near the same time.

Ink dating – second case example – In example #2, two entries were questioned, one consisted of a single word “aneurysm” and the other consisted of several words “No False aneurysm found”. The doctor denied writing these entries. A handwriting examination was conducted on these words, which is detailed in an earlier chapter as well as a relative ink age comparison, which is in the next chapter. A thin layer chromatography examination was conducted on the two questioned entries and compared to the writings known to have been written by the doctor denying authorship, as well as several dozen comparison samples from other writers throughout the chart. It was found that the questioned portions were written with a pen that only matched writings known to have been done by the doctor that was denying authorship and was a different ink and different pen than any writing that was done elsewhere in the chart by any other writer in the dozens of entries that were used for comparison purposes. This evidence butriced the conclusion of authorship that was arrived at from the handwriting examination.

Ink dating – third case example – In the third example a day planner contained one questioned entry in a diary for the calendar year 1993. The entry was written with a blue ballpoint ink. There were many different types of ink used throughout the diary. There were approximately 25 other day’s entries in the diary that also contained a blue ballpoint ink formulation. A thin layer chromatography (TLC) test was conducted to compare the ink formulations used to write the questioned entry to the other unquestioned blue ballpoint inks used in the book. If similar ink was found elsewhere in the diary, a relative ink age comparison test could have been conducted to determine when the questioned entry was written. However, the results of the TLC test showed that the questioned ink was a different formulation than any other entry in the entire diary. This result alone is an indication that the questioned entry was not written contemporaneous with its purported date. A subsequent TLC test was done to identify the make and manufacturer of the ink used in the questioned entry in order to determine when this type of ink was first commercially available. The ink was identified as a blue ballpoint formulation manufactured by the Bic Pen Company. However, Bic did not produce pens with this type of ink in them until 1995 and later. The standard ink formulation used by Bic was changed in January 1995 and this entry was written with the new formulation. Therefore, the entry could not have been written in 1993 as purported by the author but had to have been written sometime in 1995 or later.

Ink dating – fourth case example – The fourth example was a portion of evidence in a case that contained a mountain of evidence showing that some engineering notebooks were added to and written after the fact. Some of the evidence in this case has been discussed, in previous chapters of this book. The ink involved in this portion of the case was found in a pocket day planner for the calendar year 1989. Several entries were being used to bolster the admissibility of evidence that was now “stolen” and only copies existed so that no forensic testing could be done on the originals. The entries in the day planner referenced the existence of the “stolen” notebooks in 1988 and 1989. The ink that was used to write the questioned entries was identified as manufactured by Formulabs, formula 926. A subsequent examination showed that the questioned ink did not contain a chemical date tag. Since most inks manufactured by Formulabs contained a chemical date tag until 1994, contact was made with the manufacturer to determine if this formulation could have ever been produced with out a date tag before 1994. The manufacturer stated that the first time this ink formulation was produced with out a date tag was 1994. Therefore, the questioned entries containing this type of ink could not have been written until 1994 or later. In this case, another expert disagreed with the identification of this ink. The opposing expert concluded the questioned ink was manufactured by Bic. The black ballpoint ink by Bic has been produced continuously since its introduction in 1979 and is still produced today.

The issue of the identification was one of many issues that were put in front of a California Federal Judge to decide upon. The judge reviewed both experts’ TLC plates showing each identification of the ink. The judge concluded in a written opinion that the Formulabs 926 ink “is identical to the subject samples, the Bic is not” and therefore the entries containing that ink could not have been written until at least 1994 or later. He further concluded that the other expert’s identification was incorrect. This is an example of how a presentation can be made to the court using TLC testing to demonstrate the basis for a conclusion of an ink identification.

The results of another TLC test were used by the prosecutor in a criminal trial in Michigan in 1999. This case was somewhat unique in the manner in which the evidence was collected and submitted. The issue was a hit-and-run in a parking lot. The suspects then allegedly took the victim’s purse that had a checkbook and a “silver Tiffany pen” among other items. A “silver Tiffany pen” was recovered at some point during the investigation by an investigating officer. A TLC examination was conducted comparing entries from the victim’s diary (provided by the victim’s family) and the ink that was in the seized pen. The TLC testing showed the formulation to be the same in the pen as in the examined entries from the diary. The diary entries also contained no chemical date tag, as did the ink of the pen. This was also significant since the ink was an ink manufactured by Formulabs, which put date tags in most of their inks during the time period the pen was purchased by the victim. No differences were found at any level of analysis between the ink contained in the diary and the ink in the seized pen. This evidence was used in the criminal trial linking one of the suspects to the victim.

Ink dating – case example: The last example was a receipt book containing a receipt that was purported to have been written in 1987. The ink on this receipt was examined using TLC testing and specifically for the detection of a chemical date tag. The ink showed the presence of a date tag and the tag was determined to have been inserted in inks only manufactured during the calendar year 1989. This means that the ink could not have been used to write a receipt in 1987. The receipt had to have been written in 1989 or later.

The second way to date inks is by how long the ink has been on the paper, this is a dynamic approach to ink dating that measures changes over time to the ink as it sits on paper. This is by the “dryness” level in the ink; the testing is commonly referred to as relative ink age testing or relative ink dating. The “dryness” level is not “dryness” in the strict sense of the word but a chemical dryness that is tested. The method, by which this “dryness” is tested, is as the word relative implies, to compare the questioned ink to one or more samples of ink of known date. The three methods of comparison that are used are one or more of the following: rate of extraction or R-ratios, extent of extraction or percent extraction, and third, dye ratios. Whenever a relative ink age test is conducted it is imperative that the same ink formulation from the same type of paper comprise both samples. If these two parameters were not met than any direct comparison of samples to determine age would be invalid.

The following is a procedure by which the three comparison methods are conducted.


  1. Small microplugs of ink were removed from each document using a hollow hypodermic needle with an internal plunger. After the sample was “punched out” it was put into a glass vial. This was done in the laboratory in Hong Kong. Upon examination in my office the plugs were separated into four vials containing 8 plugs each, 2 of the vials were accelerated aged and 2 were not.
  1. The samples, whose age was accelerated were then heated in a laboratory oven at 100 degrees Celsius for approximately 30 minutes uncapped and then allowed to cool.
  1. The cooled vials were placed in a rack next to the corresponding unheatedsamples for the relative ink age comparison tests. Since the artificially aged sample represents an ink that is approximately 3 years old, if a significant statistical difference is found between the aged and unaged samples, it is concluded that the ink is still in the drying process and most likely less than three years old.

Three different ink dating methods were used to measure the relative dryness levels of the heated and unheated samples: R-ratios, Percent Extraction, and Dye-Ratios. The first ink dating method is the rate of extraction, which measures the rate at which the dyes in the ink are extracted into a weak solvent by taking samples at different time intervals. The second ink dating method is the percent of extraction which measures the ratio of the amount of ink that can be extracted in a weak solvent, compared to the total amount of ink on the paper which is extracted using strong solvent. The third is the Dye-Ratio, which measures the relative concentration of each dye to one another. These procedures have been used for over ten years. If at least one of these tests shows a significant statistical difference between the heated and unheated samples, it is concluded that the ink is still in the drying process.

The following ink dating procedure was used on the samples taken from the documents:


  1. Eight plugs were in each vial from the accelerated aging method above.
  1. 16 microliters of a weak solvent were injected into the vial and allowed to cover the ink dating samples. The weak solvent used in this case was n-butanol.
  1. The solution was then mixed by rotating the vial between the thumb and forefinger. The vial was then placed in a holder that holds the vial at a slight incline so as to keep the ink plugs in constant contact with the extracting solution.
  1. At three different time intervals a four microliter aliquot was taken from the vial and spotted on an activated HPTLC Merck plate (heated at 100 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes).
  1. Immediately before the sample was taken from the vial it is stirred by rotating the vial between the fingers.
  1. A sample at each time interval was taken with a 4 microliter volumetric micro-pipette and the vial placed back in the rack until the next sampling interval.
  1. The solution contained in the micropipette was then spotted on the plate.
  1. Each spot was applied to the plate approximately 2 cm apart from left to right.
  1. All of the vials were then placed into the oven at 80 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes to evaporate off the weak solvent. They were then removed and allowed to cool.
  1. Then 10 microliters of a strong solvent were added to each vial and allowed to extract the remaining ink in each sample for 15 minutes (the strong solvent used in this case was pyridine).
  1. Each vial was then rotated to stir the sample and 4 microliters were then spotted next to the corresponding weak solvent spots for that vial.
  1. The plate was then dried in the oven until the extracting solvents are totally evaporated from the plate.
  1. The first series of five spots were scanned using white light and the amount of absorption was measured using a computer driven video densitometer with automatic integration.
  1. This was done for all four samples of five spots each (2 samples are heated and 2 samples are unheated).
  1. Calculations were then made to normalize the curves by dividing each time interval’s absorbence by the absorbence for the final time interval. The rate of extraction curves for each sample were then plotted as normalized value vs. sampling time.
  1. To calculate percent extraction, the absorbence for given time was divided by the sum of the absorbence of the strong solvent spot and the absorbence of 3 minute spot. Percent extraction curves were plotted as percent extraction vs. sampling time.
  1. The plate is developed in solvent I for approximately 10 minutes or enough time to separate the individual dye bands of the ink.
  1. The plate is then dried in a laboratory oven at approximately 100 degrees Celcius for 30 minutes or until the solvent is completely evaporated.
  1. The plate is then scanned on the video densitometer to get the absorbance values for each dye band in order to perform the calculations as set forth below.

The calculations for the rate of extraction for each sample were made by dividing each absorbence value by the final absorbence value. This makes the 3-minute extraction value 1.00 in all cases. This allows for a mass-independent evaluation of different samples.

The calculations for percent extraction for each sample were made by taking the absorbence for the desired time and dividing by the sum of the absorbence for the 3-minute weak solvent extraction and the strong solvent extraction.

The calculations for the dye ratios were done by dividing the results for each band by one another. For example in a case of three dyes, 1 would be divided by 2, 1 divided by three, and two divided by three. This would have three dye ratios.

The plate above is a high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC) silica gel plate demonstrates the variation in several samples of blue non-ball point inks. Two manufacturers’ with several different formulations are present (samples #1-11,16 and samples #12-15,17). Similarities are noted in samples #3, 6 and 16, as well as in samples #4 and 7 and samples # 15 and 17. These similarities are attributed to the similarities seen in a given manufacturer’s product formulations.

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