Skip to main content

Poem of You, Whoever You Are.

10 — Poem of You, Whoever You Are.

WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking  
 the walks of dreams,
I fear those realities are to melt from under your  
 feet and hands;
Even now, your features, joys, speech, house,  
 trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume,  
 crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me, They stand forth out of affairs—out of commerce,  
 shops, law, science, work, farms, clothes, the  
 house, medicine, print, buying, selling, eating,  
 drinking, suffering, begetting, dying,
They receive these in their places, they find these  
 or the like of these, eternal, for reasons,
They find themselves eternal, they do not find that  
 the water and soil tend to endure forever —  
 and they not endure.
Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you,  
 that you be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,   [ begin page 207 ]ppp.00237.215.jpg I have loved many women and men, but I love  
 none better than you.
O I have been dilatory and dumb, I should have made my way straight to you long  
I should have blabbed nothing but you, I should  
 have chanted nothing but you.
I will leave all, and come and make the hymns  
 of you;
None have understood you, but I understand you, None have done justice to you, you have not done  
 justice to yourself,
None but have found you imperfect, I only find no  
 imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you, I only am he  
 who will never consent to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master,  
 owner, better, god, beyond what waits intrin- 
 sically in yourself.
Painters have painted their swarming groups, and  
 the centre figure of all,
From the head of the centre figure spreading a  
 nimbus of gold-colored light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head  
 without its nimbus of gold-colored light,
From my hand, from the brain of every man and  
 woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.
  [ begin page 208 ]ppp.00237.216.jpg O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about  
You have not known what you are—you have  
 slumbered upon yourself all your life,
Your eye-lids have been as much as closed most  
 of the time,
What you have done returns already in mock- 
Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not  
 return in mockeries, what is their return?
The mockeries are not you, Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk, I pursue you where none else has pursued you, Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the  
 night, the accustomed routine, if these con- 
 ceal you from others, or from yourself, they  
 do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure  
 complexion, if these balk others, they do  
 not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deformed attitude, drunken- 
 ness, greed, premature death, all these I part  
I track through your windings and turnings—I  
 come upon you where you thought eye should  
 never come upon you.
There is no endowment in man or woman that is  
 not tallied in you,
  [ begin page 209 ]ppp.00237.217.jpg There is no virtue, no beauty, in man or woman  
 but as good is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is  
 in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal plea- 
 sure waits for you.
As for me, I give nothing to any one, except I  
 give the like carefully to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God,  
 sooner than I sing the songs of the glory of  
Whoever you are, you are to hold your own at  
 any hazard,
These shows of the east and west are tame com- 
 pared to you,
These immense meadows, these interminable riv- 
 ers—you are immense and interminable as  
These furies, elements, storms, motions of nature,  
 throes of apparent dissolution—you are he  
 or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over nature,  
 elements, pain, passion, dissolution.
The hopples fall from your ankles! you find an  
 unfailing sufficiency!
  [ begin page 210 ]ppp.00237.218.jpg Old, young, male, female, rude, low, rejected by  
 the rest, whatever you are promulges itself,
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are  
 provided, nothing is scanted,
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance,  
 ennui, what you are picks its way.
Back to top