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Title: Leaves

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: February 11, 1860

Publication information: New-York Saturday Press 11 February 1860: 2.

Source: Our transcription is based on a digital image of a microfilm copy of the original

Whitman Archive ID: per.00075

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, April Lambert, and Susan Belasco




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[For the Saturday Press]

Leaves.

By WALT WHITMAN.

1.

The music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning—
yet long untaught I did not hear,
But now the chorus I hear, and am elated,
A tenor, strong, ascending, with power and health,
with glad notes of day-break I hear,
A soprano, at intervals, sailing buoyantly over the tops
of immense waves,
A transparent base, shuddering lusciously under and
through the universe,
The triumphant tutti—the funeral wailings, with sweet
flutes and violins—All these I fill myself with;
I hear not the volumes of sound merely—I am moved
by the exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out,
striving, contending with fiery vehemence to excel
each other in emotion,
I do not think the performers know themselves—But
now I think I begin to know them.1

2.

A Leaf for hand in hand!
You natural persons old and young! You on the
Eastern Sea, and you on the Western!
You on the Mississippi, and on all the branches and
bayous of the Mississippi!
You friendly boatmen and mechanics! You roughs!
You twain! And all processions moving along the
streets!
I wish to infuse myself among you till I see it common
for you to walk hand in hand.2

3.

Early in the morning,
Walking forth from the bower, refreshed with sleep,
Behold me where I pass—hear my voice—approach,
Touch me—touch the palm of your hand to my body
as I pass,
Be not afraid of my body.3

Notes:

1. This poem appeared as "Calamus No. 21" in Leaves of Grass (1860). It was reprinted as "That Music Always Round Me," Leaves of Grass (1867) and in "Whispers of Heavenly Death," Leaves of Grass (1871-72). [back]

2. This poem appeared as "Calamus No. 37" in Leaves of Grass (1860). It was reprinted as as "A Leaf for Hand in Hand," Leaves of Grass (1867). [back]

3. This poem appeared as "Enfans d'Adam No. 15" in Leaves of Grass (1860). It was reprinted as "As Adam Early in the Morning," Leaves of Grass (1867). [back]


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