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SCENTED HERBAGE OF MY BREAST.

SCENTED herbage of my breast,
Leaves from you I yield, I write, to be perused best
afterwards,
Tomb-leaves, body-leaves, growing up above me, above
death,
Perennial roots, tall leaves—O the winter shall not
freeze you, delicate leaves,
Every year shall you bloom again—Out from where you
retired, you shall emerge again;
O I do not know whether many, passing by, will dis-
cover you, or inhale your faint odor—but I be-
lieve a few will;
O slender leaves! O blossoms of my blood! I permit
you to tell, in your own way, of the heart that
is under you;
O burning and throbbing—surely all will one day be
accomplish'd;
O I do not know what you mean, there underneath
yourselves—you are not happiness,
You are often more bitter than I can bear—you burn
and sting me,
Yet you are very beautiful to me, you faint-tinged
roots—you make me think of Death,
Death is beautiful from you—(what indeed is finally
beautiful, except Death and Love?)
—O I think it is not for life I am chanting here my
chant of lovers—I think it must be for Death,
For how calm, how solemn it grows, to ascend to the
atmosphere of lovers,
Death or life, I am then indifferent—my Soul declines
to prefer,
I am not sure but the high Soul of lovers welcomes
death most;
Indeed, O Death, I think now these leaves mean pre-
cisely the same as you mean;
Grow up taller, sweet leaves, that I may see! grow up
out of my breast!



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Spring away from the conceal'd heart there!
Do not fold yourself so in your pink-tinged roots, timid
leaves!
Do not remain down there so ashamed, herbage of my
breast!
Come, I am determin'd to unbare this broad breast of
mine—I have long enough stifled and choked:
—Emblematic and capricious blades, I leave you—now
you serve me not;
Away! I will say what I have to say, by itself,
I will escape from the sham that was proposed to me,
I will sound myself and comrades only—I will never
again utter a call, only their call,
I will raise, with it, immortal reverberations through
The States,
I will give an example to lovers, to take permanent
shape and will through The States;
Through me shall the words be said to make death
exhilarating;
Give me your tone therefore, O Death, that I may ac-
cord with it,
Give me yourself—for I see that you belong to me now
above all, and are folded inseparably together—
you Love and Death are;
Nor will I allow you to balk me any more with what I
was calling life,
For now it is convey'd to me that you are the purports
essential,
That you hide in these shifting forms of life, for reasons
—and that they are mainly for you,
That you, beyond them, come forth, to remain, the real
reality,
That behind the mask of materials you patiently wait,
no matter how long,
That you will one day, perhaps, take control of all,
That you will perhaps dissipate this entire show of
appearance,
That may-be you are what it is all for—but it does not
last so very long;
But you will last very long.

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