In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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Out from Behind this Mask.

small type (On an engraved head, a Portrait 'looking
at you.')
 
Out from behind this mask,
This general curtain of the face, con-
        tain'd in me for me, in you for
        you, in each for each,
(Tragedies, sorrows, songs—laughter and
        tears—O heaven!
The passionate, teeming play this cur-
        tain hid!)
This glaze of God's serenest, purest sky,
This film of Satan's seething pit,
This Soul's geography's map—this lim-
        itless, small continent—this sound-
        less sea;
Out of the folded convolutions of this
        globe,
This subtler astronomic orb than sun
        or moon—than Jupiter, Venus, Mars,
This condensation of the Universe—nay, here
        the real Universe—here the Idea—all
        in this mystic handful wrapt;
From these to emanate, to you, whoe'er
        you are,
These burin'd eyes—a Look.
                                                Walt Whitman.

Date
This manuscript was probably composed in 1876 shortly before the poem was published.
Editorial note
"Out from Behind This Mask" was published first on February 19, 1876 in the New York Tribune and, later that same year, in Two Rivulets. The poem was written in response to an engraving by William J. Linton based on a photograph of Whitman taken by George C. Potter in about 1871.
Notes written on manuscript
In top margin, in unknown hand: 1/8.
Location
Out from Behind this Mask  |  Boston Public Library.
Whitman Archive ID
bpl.00001

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