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Leaves of Grass 13

Part of the cluster LEAVES OF GRASS.


1O BITTER sprig! Confession sprig! In the bouquet I give you place also—I bind you in, Proceeding no further till, humbled publicly, I give fair warning, once for all. 2I own that I have been sly, thievish, mean, a prevari- 
 cator, greedy, derelict,
And I own that I remain so yet.
3What foul thought but I think it—or have in me the  
 stuff out of which it is thought?
What in darkness in bed at night, alone or with a  
4You felons on trials in courts, You convicts in prison cells—you sentenced assas- 
 sins, chained and handcuffed with iron,
  [ begin page 232 ]ppp.01500.240.jpg Who am I, that I am not on trial, or in prison? Me, ruthless and devilish as any, that my wrists are  
 not chained with iron, or my ankles with iron?
5You prostitutes flaunting over the trottoirs, or obscene  
 in your rooms,
Who am I, that I should call you more obscene than  
6O culpable! O traitor! O 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 run,
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 myself,
And henceforth I will not deny them—for how can I  
 deny myself?
  [ begin page 233 ]ppp.01500.241.jpg

Part of the cluster LEAVES OF GRASS.

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