Leaves of Grass (1881-82)

contents   |  previous   |  next



YOU felons on trial in courts,
You convicts in prison-cells, you sentenced assassins chain'd and
         handcuff'd with iron,
Who am I too that I am not on trial or in prison?
Me ruthless and devilish as any, that my wrists are not chain'd
         with iron, or my ankles with iron?

You prostitutes flaunting over the trottoirs or obscene in your
Who am I that I should call you more obscene than myself?

View Page 299
View Page 299

O culpable! I acknowledge—I exposé!
(O admirers, praise not me—compliment not me—you make
         me wince,
I see what you do not—I know what you do not.)

Inside these breast-bones I lie smutch'd and choked,
Beneath this face that appears so impassive hell's tides continually
Lusts and wickedness are acceptable to me,
I walk with delinquents with passionate love,
I feel I am of them—I belong to those convicts and prostitutes
And henceforth I will not deny them—for how can I deny myself?
contents   |  previous   |  next