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Pioneers! O Pioneers! Rewritten for the Tech Crowd

Last year a major clothing retailer used a reading of Walt Whitman’s poem, Pioneers! O Pioneers! in a TV ad. This sparked some renewed interest in the poem, published in the book Leaves of Grass in 1891.

The original poem is an ode to the early settlers of America and the American West. If you read the poem now, with the perspective that Whitman is writing about the early adopters of the internet, almost every single stanza still holds true. Whitman was one of those timeless writers that deftly uses a specific example to capture the general feeling of a universal truth, in this case, trail-blazing.

I re-wrote Pioneers! O Pioneers to show this point, and to pay homage to my online friends who have taught me much along the way. Rewriting the poem is my way of introducing you to Whitman’s original poem and its truly timeless essence.

My rewritten homage to Whitman and my ode to my early adopter peers is below. Whitman’s original poem, Pioneers! O Pioneers! is printed below that. You’ll have to click to see more (or come to the site if you are seeing this via an RSS reader) to see the poems.

My Fellow Pioneers!

homage by christine cavalier

COME my avatar children, follow well online, mobiles in hand. Have you your flaming fingers? Have you your sharp-edged tongues? Pioneers! O pioneers!
For we cannot drop off here, We must post my friends, we must bear the brunt of lost privacy, we the youthful early adopters, all the rest on us depend. Pioneers! O pioneers!
O you youths, Western youths, so quick to test, full of data, full of public pride and networks, Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping for the camera, Pioneers! O pioneers!
Have the elders shushed you? Do they tire of teaching dignity, wearied over the divide? We take up task of building bridges, and carry their worry alone. Pioneers! O pioneers!
All the past we leave alive, We dawn a newer, mightier world, varied world, New and ubiquitous the stream we generate, stream of life and our footprints. Pioneers! O pioneers!
We attachments steadily embed, Down the glass fibers, through packets, upload heave, Felling networks, mobbing, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways, Pioneers! O pioneers!
We media barriers damaging, We the data sharing, vexing we and exposing deep our minds eye, We the landscape net surveying, we the unused space filling, Pioneers! O pioneers!
All earth’s men are we, From the cellular waves and T3 lines, from the great doomed dungeons and the high moon seas, From the schools and from the streets, from the lonely trails we come, Pioneers! O pioneers!
From plain sight, from kitchen corner, an unending sea are we, from our phones, with the satellite link in between, All the keys of comrades clicking, all the polar opposites, Pioneers! O pioneers!
O coffeeful surfing race! O beloved race in all! O my fingers ache with tender updates for you all! O I miss you when I’m offline, Invisible rapture in electronic ties, Pioneers! O pioneers!
Raise the mighty copyright, waving high the delicate balance, over all the starry favorites, (open your readers all,) Raise the fang’d and warlike C&D letter, stern, impassive, weapon’d corporate dagger, Pioneers, O pioneers!
See my children, friended children, It’s those established media we must never stop disrupting, the Boomers and the Silents and WWIIs frowning but progress urging, Pioneers, O pioneers!
On and on with compact back-ups, with inaccessible sites waiting, with data of the dead quickly suspended in cyberlimbo, through dial-up, through power outages, uploading and never stopping, Pioneers, O pioneers!
O to crash while beta testing! Are there some of us to grow weary and fail? Is there one hour we share around the world? Then upon the lines we belong, soon and sure the miles are crossed. Pioneers, O pioneers!
All the signals of the world, they ping for us, with the social tech beat, holding a network, steady connection with laptop fronts, all for us, Pioneers, O pioneers!
Life’s honesty and varied opinions, All the online forms and channels, all the networkers at the screen, All the air travelers and broadcast surfers, all the masters of enslaved desktops, Pioneers, O pioneers!
All the secret internet lovers, All the students in the class, all the preached to and their preachers, all the egos, all the apathetic, all the voiceless, all the 5K walkers, Pioneers, O pioneers!
I too with my distracted spirit and body, We, a virtual trio, hunt and pecking, wandering from site  to site, Through these stories amid backlit darkness, with ghosts left in our retinas, Pioneers, O pioneers!
Lo, the animated glowing screen! Lo, the handheld games, all the platforms and science, All the missed sunlit days, all the nights never slept, Pioneers, O pioneers!
These are our thing, they are with us, All for primal validation, while our followers in silence wait for us, We to-day’s news feed wanting, we the route for neutrality paving, Pioneers, O pioneers!
O you daughters of the dead, O you community searchers! O you mommy bloggers and you military wives! You are divided, yet you must move in unity with us, Pioneers, O pioneers!
Independent labels, bootstrapping musicians, (Show Biz OldTimers, back away or host sketch comedy,) I hear your tunes, your a capella singing, soon your video will have 1,000 views, Pioneers, O pioneers!
Shop for delectations sweet, shop the gadgets and covers, disturb the peaceful and scramble the studious, the riches of distractions appalling, mindless shock for our enjoyment, Pioneers, O pioneers!
Do the narcissists self-indulgence show? Do the traditional media sleep? Have they laid off their writers? Rough pill to swallow with strange bedfellows, Pioneers, O pioneers!
What time is it? How did it become so late? Did I nod off? The passing hours I yielded to tracking you has made me oblivious, Pioneers, O pioneers!
Set your calendar alarms, even on the desktop in the basement, turn up the volume, AWAKE! Log in to your networks, Pioneers, O pioneers!

__________

Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman

COME my tan-faced children, 
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready, 
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes? 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
COME my iconned children, follow well online, mobiles in hand. Have you your flaming fingers? Have you your sharp-edged tongues? Pioneers! O pioneers!
For we cannot tarry here, 
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger, 
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
For we cannot drop off here, We must post my friends, we must bear the brunt of lost privacy, we the youthful early adopters, all the rest on us depend. Pioneers! O pioneers!
O you youths, Western youths, 
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship, 
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
O you youths, Western youths, so quick to test, full of data, full of public pride and networks, Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping for the camera, Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted? 
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the 
seas? 
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Have the elders shushed you? Do they tire of teaching dignity, wearied over the divide? We take up task of building bridges, and carry their worry alone. Pioneers! O pioneers!
All the past we leave behind, 
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world, 
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
All the past we leave alive, We dawn a newer, mightier world, varied world, New and ubiquitous the stream we generate, stream of life and our footprints. Pioneers! O pioneers!
We detachments steady throwing, 
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep, 
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
We attachments steadily embed, Down the glass fibers, through packets, upload heave, Felling networks, mobbing, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways, Pioneers! O pioneers!

We primeval forests felling, 
We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines 
within, 
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
We media barriers damaging, We the data sharing, vexing we and exposing deep our minds eye, We the landscape net surveying, we the unused space filling, Pioneers! O pioneers!

Colorado men are we, 
From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high 
plateaus, 
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
All earth’s men are we, From the cellular waves and T3 lines, from the great doomed dungeons and the high moon seas, From the schools and from the streets, from the lonely trails we come, Pioneers! O pioneers!

From Nebraska, from Arkansas, 
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental 
blood intervein’d, 
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the 
Northern, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
From plain sight, from kitchen corner, an unending sea are we, from our phones, with the satellite link in between, All the keys of comrades clicking, all the polar opposites, Pioneers! O pioneers!
O resistless restless race! 
O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all! 
O I mourn and yet exult, I am rapt with love for all, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
O coffeeful surfing race! O beloved race in all! O my fingers ache with tender Tweets for you all! O I miss you when I’m offline, Invisible rapture in electronic ties, Pioneers! O pioneers!
Raise the mighty mother mistress, 
Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress, 
(bend your heads all,) 
Raise the fang’d and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon’d 
mistress, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
See my children, resolute children, 
By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or falter, 
Ages back in ghostly millions frowning there behind us urging, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
On and on the compact ranks, 
With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly 
fill’d, 
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
O to die advancing on! 
Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come? 
Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill’d. 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
All the pulses of the world, 
Falling in they beat for us, with the Western movement beat, 
Holding single or together, steady moving to the front, all for us, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Life’s involv’d and varied pageants, 
All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work, 
All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
All the hapless silent lovers, 
All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked, 
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
I too with my soul and body, 
We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way, 
Through these shores amid the shadows, with the apparitions 
pressing, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Lo, the darting bowling orb! 
Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets, 
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
These are of us, they are with us, 
All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait 
behind, 
We to-day’s procession heading, we the route for travel clearing, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
O you daughters of the West! 
O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives! 
Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Minstrels latent on the prairies! 
(Shrouded bards of other lands, you may rest, you have done your 
work,) 
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Not for delectations sweet, 
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious, 
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Do the feasters gluttonous feast? 
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock’d and bolted doors? 
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Has the night descended? 
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding 
on our way? 
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Till with sound of trumpet, 
Far, far off the daybreak call-hark! how loud and clear I hear it 
wind, 
Swift! to the head of the army!-swift! spring to your places, 
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Randellfever 10 June 2010, 8:07 pm

    absolutely fantastic!

    • PurpleCar 10 June 2010, 8:13 pm

      Thanks RF!

      You inspire me. 🙂

  • Sue Thomas 15 June 2010, 1:56 am

    Thanks for this! Very relevant to my research into Nature and Cyberspace http://www.thewildsurmise.com – I may get back to you to ask whether I can quote from it.
    best
    Sue

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