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Scented Herbage of My Breast

Part of the cluster CALAMUS.


SCENTED herbage of my breast, Leaves from you I yield, I write, to be perused best  
Tomb-leaves, growing up above me, above  
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  
 believe 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  
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 beauti- 
 ful, 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;
  [ begin page 121 ]ppp.00473.121.jpg Grow up taller, sweet leaves, that I may see! grow  
 up out of my breast!
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  
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  
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  
Give me your tone therefore, O Death, that I may  
 accord with it,
Give me yourself—for I see that you belong to me  
 now above all, and are folded inseparably to- 
 gether—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 pur- 
 ports 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,   [ begin page 122 ]ppp.00473.122.jpg That you will perhaps dissipate this entire show of  
That may be you are what it is all for—but it does not  
 last so very long,
But you will last very long.

Part of the cluster CALAMUS.

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