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Whoever you are, Holding me now in Hand.

1WHOEVER you are, holding me now in hand,
Without one thing, all will be useless;
I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.

2Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?

3The way is suspicious—the result uncertain, perhaps
destructive;
You would have to give up all else—I alone would ex-
pect to be your God, sole and exclusive,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity
to the lives around you, would have to be aban-
don'd;
Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself any
further—Let go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down, and depart on your way.

4Or else, by stealth, in some wood, for trial,
Or back of a rock, in the open air,
(For in any roof'd room of a house I emerge not—nor
in company,
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn,
or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill—first watch-
ing lest any person, for miles around, approach
unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of
the sea, or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss, or the new hus-
band's kiss,
For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade.

5Or, if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,


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Where I may feel the throbs of your heart, or rest upon
your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus, merely touching you, is enough—is best,
And thus, touching you, would I silently sleep and be
carried eternally.

6But these leaves conning, you con at peril,
For these leaves, and me, you will not understand,
They will elude you at first, and still more afterward—l
will certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably
caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.

7For it is not for what I have put into it that I have
written this book,
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,
Nor do those know me best who admire me, and vaunt-
ingly praise me,
Nor will the candidates for my love, (unless at most a
very few,) prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only—they will do just as
much evil, perhaps more;
For all is useless without that which you may guess at
many times and not hit—that which I hinted at;
Therefore release me, and depart on your way.

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