Published Works

Books by Whitman

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1A YOUNG man came to me with a message from his
How should the young man know the whether and
when of his brother?
Tell him to send me the signs.

2And I stood before the young man face to face, and
took his right hand in my left hand, and his left
hand in my right hand,

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And I answered for his brother, and for men, and I
answered for THE POET, and sent these signs.

3Him all wait for—him all yield up to—his word is
decisive and final,
Him they accept, in him lave, in him perceive them-
selves, as amid light,
Him they immerse, and he immerses them.

4Beautiful women, the haughtiest nations, laws, the
landscape, people, animals,
The profound earth and its attributes, and the unquiet
All enjoyments and properties, and money, and what-
ever money will buy,
The best farms—others toiling and planting, and he
unavoidably reaps,
The noblest and costliest cities—others grading and
building, and he domiciles there,
Nothing for any one, but what is for him—near and
far are for him,
The ships in the offing—the perpetual shows and
marches on land, are for him, if they are for any

5He puts things in their attitudes,
He puts to-day out of himself, with plasticity and
He places his own city, times, reminiscences, parents,
brothers and sisters, associations, employment,
politics, so that the rest never shame them after-
ward, nor assume to command them.

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6He is the answerer,
What can be answered he answers—and what cannot
be answered, he shows how it cannot be answered.

7A man is a summons and challenge;
(It is vain to skulk—Do you hear that mocking and
laughter? Do you hear the ironical echoes?)

8Books, friendships, philosophers, priests, action, pleas-
ure, pride, beat up and down, seeking to give
He indicates the satisfaction, and indicates them that
beat up and down also.

9Whichever the sex, whatever the season or place, he
may go freshly and gently and safely, by day or
by night,
He has the pass-key of hearts—to him the response
of the prying of hands on the knobs.

10His welcome is universal—the flow of beauty is not
more welcome or universal than he is,
The person he favors by day or sleeps with at night is

11Every existence has its idiom—everything has an
idiom and tongue,
He resolves all tongues into his own, and bestows it
upon men, and any man translates, and any man
translates himself also,
One part does not counteract another part—he is the
joiner—he sees how they join.

12He says indifferently and alike, How are you, friend?
to the President at his levee,

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And he says, Good-day, my brother! to Cudge that
hoes in the sugar-field,
And both understand him, and know that his speech
is right.

13He walks with perfect ease in the capitol,
He walks among the Congress, and one representative
says to another, Here is our equal, appearing and

14Then the mechanics take him for a mechanic,
And the soldiers suppose him to be a captain, and the
sailors that he has followed the sea,
And the authors take him for an author, and the
artists for an artist,
And the laborers perceive he could labor with them
and love them,
No matter what the work is, that he is the one to fol-
low it, or has followed it,
No matter what the nation, that he might find his
brothers and sisters there.

15The English believe he comes of their English stock,
A Jew to the Jew he seems—a Russ to the Russ—
usual and near, removed from none.

16Whoever he looks at in the traveller's coffee-house
claims him,
The Italian or Frenchman is sure, and the German is
sure, and the Spaniard is sure, and the island
Cuban is sure;
The engineer, the deck-hand on the great lakes, or on
the Mississippi, or St. Lawrence, or Sacramento,
or Hudson, or Paumanok Sound, claims him.

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17The gentleman of perfect blood acknowledges his per-
fect blood,
The insulter, the prostitute, the angry person, the
beggar, see themselves in the ways of him—he
strangely transmutes them,
They are not vile any more—they hardly know them-
selves, they are so grown.

18Do you think it would be good to be the writer of
melodious verses?
Well, it would be good to be the writer of melodious
But what are verses beyond the flowing character you
could have? or beyond beautiful manners and
Or beyond one manly or affectionate deed of an ap-
prentice-boy? or old woman? or man that has
been in prison, or is likely to be in prison?


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