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Calamus 4

Part of the cluster CALAMUS.


THESE I, singing in spring, collect for lovers, (For who but I should understand lovers, and all their  
 sorrow and joy?
And who but I should be the poet of comrades?) Collecting, I traverse the garden, the world—but  
 soon I pass the gates,
Now along the pond-side—now wading in a little, 
 fearing not the wet,
Now by the post-and-rail fences, where the old stones  
 thrown there, picked from the fields, have accu- 
Wild-flowers and vines and weeds come up through  
 the stones, and partly cover them—Beyond these  
 I pass,
Far, far in the forest, before I think where I get, Solitary, smelling the earthy smell, stopping now and  
 then in the silence,
Alone I had thought—yet soon a silent troop gathers  
 around me,
Some walk by my side, and some behind, and some  
 embrace my arms or neck,
They, the spirits of friends, dead or alive—thicker  
 they come, a great crowd, and I in the middle,
Collecting, dispensing, singing in spring, there I wan- 
 der with them,
Plucking something for tokens—something for these, 
 till I hit upon a name—tossing toward whoever  
 is near me,
  [ begin page 348 ]ppp.01500.356.jpg Here! lilac, with a branch of pine, Here, out of my pocket, some moss which I pulled off  
 a live-oak in Florida, as it hung trailing down,
Here, some pinks and laurel leaves, and a handful of  
And here what I now draw from the water, wading in  
 the pond-side,
(O here I last saw him that tenderly loves me—and  
 returns again, never to separate from me,
And this, O this shall henceforth be the token of  
 comrades—this calamus-root shall,
Interchange it, youths, with each other! Let none  
 render it back!)
And twigs of maple, and a bunch of wild orange, and  
And stems of currants, and plum-blows, and the  
 aromatic cedar;
These I, compassed around by a thick cloud of  
Wandering, point to, or touch as I pass, or throw them  
 loosely from me,
Indicating to each one what he shall have—giving  
 something to each,
But what I drew from the water by the pond-side, that  
 I reserve,
I will give of it—but only to them that love, as I  
 myself am capable of loving.

Part of the cluster CALAMUS.

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