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Leaves of Grass 4

Part of the cluster LEAVES OF GRASS.


1 WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking the walks of  
I fear those supposed 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, dying.
2Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, 
 that you be my poem;
I whisper with my lips close to your ear, I have loved many women and men, but I love none  
 better than you.
3O I have been dilatory and dumb; I should have made my way straight to you long ago; I should have blabb'd nothing but you, I should have  
 chanted nothing but you.
4I will leave all, and come and make the hymns of  
None have understood you, but I understand you; None have done justice to you—you have not done  
 justice to yourself;
  [ begin page 166 ]ppp.00473.166.jpg 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 intrinsically in  
5Painters have painted their swarming groups, and  
 the centre figure of all;
From the head of the centre figure spreading a nim- 
 bus of gold-color'd light;
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head with- 
 out its nimbus of gold-color'd light;
From my hand, from the brain of every man and  
 woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.
6O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about  
You have not known what you are—you have slum- 
 ber upon yourself all your life;
Your eye-lids have been the same as closed most of  
 the time;
What you have done returns already in mockeries; (Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return  
 in mockeries, what is their return?)
7The 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 accustom'd routine, if these conceal you from  
 others, or from yourself, they do not conceal you  
 from me;
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure com- 
 plexion, if these balk others, they do not balk  
The pert apparel, the deform'd attitude, drunkenness, 
 greed, premature death, all these I part aside.
  [ begin page 167 ]ppp.00473.167.jpg 8There is no endowment in man or woman that is  
 not tallied in you;
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  
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure  
 waits for you.
9As 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 you.
10Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard! These shows of the east and west are tame compared  
 to you;
These immense meadows—these interminable rivers—  
 you are immense and interminable as they;
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.
11The hopples fall from your ankles—you find an un- 
 failing sufficiency;
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by  
 the rest, whatever you are promulges itself;
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are pro- 
 vided, nothing is scanted;
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, 
 what you are picks it way.

Part of the cluster LEAVES OF GRASS.

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