Published Works

Books by Whitman

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IN paths untrodden,
In the growth by margins of pond-waters,
Escaped from the life that exhibits itself,
From all the standards hitherto published—from
the pleasures, profits, conformities,
Which too long I was offering to feed to my Soul
Clear to me now, standards not yet published—
clear to me that my Soul,
That the Soul of the man I speak for, feeds, rejoices
only in comrades;
Here, by myself, away from the clank of the world,
Tallying and talked to here by tongues aromatic,
No longer abashed—for in this secluded spot I can
respond as I would not dare elsewhere,
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself,
yet contains all the rest,
Resolved to sing no songs to-day but those of manly
Projecting them along that substantial life,
Bequeathing, hence, types of athletic love,

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Afternoon, this delicious Ninth Month, in my forty-
first year,
I proceed, for all who are, or have been, young
To tell the secret of my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades.



SCENTED herbage of my breast,
Leaves from you I yield, I write, to be perused best
Tomb-leaves, body-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,

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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 beau-
tiful, 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 de-
clines 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;
Grow up taller, sweet leaves, that I may see! Grow
up out of my breast!
Spring away from the concealed heart there!
Do not fold yourselves so in your pink-tinged roots,
timid leaves!
Do not remain down there so ashamed, herbage of my
Come, I am determined 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 me,
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;

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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 together above all
—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 conveyed 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,
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.



1WHOEVER you are holding me now in hand,
Without one thing all will be useless,
I give you fair warning, before you attempt me
I am not what you supposed, but far different.

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2Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affec-
tions? Are you he?

3The way is suspicious—the result slow, uncertain,
may-be destructive;
You would have to give up all else—I alone would
expect to be your God, sole and exclusive,
Your novitiate would even then be long and ex-
The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity
to the lives around you, would have to be aban-
Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself
any further—Let go your hand from my
Put me down, and depart on your way.

4Or else, only by stealth, in some wood, for trial,
Or back of a rock, in the open air,
(For in any roofed room of a house I emerge not—
nor in company,
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn,
or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill—first
watching lest any person, for miles around,
approach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of
the sea, or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss, or the new
husband's kiss,
For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade.

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5Or, if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart, or rest
upon your hip,
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;
For thus, merely touching you, is enough—is best,
And thus, touching you, would I silently sleep and be
carried eternally.

6But these leaves conning, you con at peril,
For these leaves, and me, you will not understand,
They will elude you at first, and still more after-
ward—I will certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably
caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.

7For it is not for what I have put into it that I have
written this book,
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,
Nor do those know me best who admire me, and
vauntingly praise me,
Nor will the candidates for my love, (unless at most a
very few,) prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only—they will do just
as much evil, perhaps more,
For all is useless without that which you may guess
at many times and not hit—that which I
hinted at,
Therefore release me, and depart on your way.


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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,

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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.


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Were you looking to be held together by the lawyers?
By an agreement on a paper? Or by arms?

I arrive, bringing these, beyond all the forces of
courts and arms,
These! to hold you together as firmly as the earth
itself is held together.

3The old breath of life, ever new,
Here! I pass it by contact to you, America.

4O mother! have you done much for me?
Behold, there shall from me be much done for you.

5There shall from me be a new friendship—It shall
be called after my name,
It shall circulate through The States, indifferent of
It shall twist and intertwist them through and around
each other—Compact shall they be, showing
new signs,
Affection shall solve every one of the problems of
Those who love each other shall be invincible,
They shall finally make America completely victo-
rious, in my name.

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6One from Massachusetts shall be comrade to a Mis-
One from Maine or Vermont, and a Carolinian and
an Oregonese, shall be friends triune, more pre-
cious to each other than all the riches of the

7To Michigan shall be wafted perfume from Florida,
To the Mannahatta from Cuba or Mexico,
Not the perfume of flowers, but sweeter, and wafted
beyond death.

8No danger shall balk Columbia's lovers,
If need be, a thousand shall sternly immolate them-
selves for one,
The Kanuck shall be willing to lay down his life for
the Kansian, and the Kansian for the Kanuck,
on due need.

9It shall be customary in all directions, in the houses
and streets, to see manly affection,
The departing brother or friend shall salute the re-
maining brother or friend with a kiss.

10There shall be innovations,
There shall be countless linked hands—namely, the
Northeasterner's, and the Northwesterner's, and
the Southwesterner's, and those of the interior,
and all their brood,
These shall be masters of the world under a new
They shall laugh to scorn the attacks of all the re-
mainder of the world.

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11The most dauntless and rude shall touch face to face
The dependence of Liberty shall be lovers,
The continuance of Equality shall be comrades.

12These shall tie and band stronger than hoops of iron,
I, extatic, O partners! O lands! henceforth with the
love of lovers tie you.

13I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever yet
shone upon,
I will make divine magnetic lands.

14I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the
rivers of America, and along the shores of the
great lakes, and all over the prairies,
I will make inseparable cities, with their arms about
each other's necks.

15For you these, from me, O Democracy, to serve you,
ma femme!
For you! for you, I am trilling these songs.



NOT heaving from my ribbed breast only,
Not in sighs at night, in rage, dissatisfied with myself,
Not in those long-drawn, ill-suppressed sighs,
Not in many an oath and promise broken,
Not in my wilful and savage soul's volition,

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Not in the subtle nourishment of the air,
Not in this beating and pounding at my temples and
Not in the curious systole and diastole within, which
will one day cease,
Not in many a hungry wish, told to the skies only,
Not in cries, laughter, defiances, thrown from me
when alone, far in the wilds,
Not in husky pantings through clenched teeth,
Not in sounded and resounded words—chattering
words, echoes, dead words,
Not in the murmurs of my dreams while I sleep,
Nor the other murmurs of these incredible dreams of
every day,
Nor in the limbs and senses of my body, that take you
and dismiss you continually—Not there,
Not in any or all of them, O adhesiveness! O pulse
of my life!
Need I that you exist and show yourself, any more
than in these songs.



OF the terrible question of appearances,
Of the doubts, the uncertainties after all,
That may-be reliance and hope are but speculations
after all,
That may-be identity beyond the grave is a beautiful
fable only,
May-be the things I perceive—the animals, plants,
men, hills, shining and flowing waters,

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The skies of day and night—colors, densities, forms
—May-be these are, (as doubtless they are,) only
apparitions, and the real something has yet to be
(How often they dart out of themselves, as if to con-
found me and mock me!
How often I think neither I know, nor any man
knows, aught of them;)
May-be they only seem to me what they are, (as
doubtless they indeed but seem,) as from my
present point of view—And might prove, (as of
course they would,) naught of what they appear,
or naught any how, from entirely changed points
of view;
To me, these, and the like of these, are curiously
answered by my lovers, my dear friends;
When he whom I love travels with me, or sits a long
while holding me by the hand,
When the subtle air, the impalpable, the sense that
words and reason hold not, surround us and
pervade us,
Then I am charged with untold and untellable wis-
dom—I am silent—I require nothing further,
I cannot answer the question of appearances, or that
of identity beyond the grave,
But I walk or sit indifferent—I am satisfied,
He ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.


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LONG I thought that knowledge alone would suffice
me—O if I could but obtain knowledge!
Then my lands engrossed me—Lands of the prairies,
Ohio's land, the southern savannas, engrossed
me—For them I would live—I would be their
Then I met the examples of old and new heroes—I
heard of warriors, sailors, and all dauntless per-
sons—And it seemed to me that I too had it
in me to be as dauntless as any—and would
be so;
And then, to enclose all, it came to me to strike up
the songs of the New World—And then I be-
lieved my life must be spent in singing;
But now take notice, land of the prairies, land of
the south savannas, Ohio's land,
Take notice, you Kanuck woods—and you Lake
Huron—and all that with you roll toward
Niagara—and you Niagara also,
And you, Californian mountains—That you each
and all find somebody else to be your singer of
For I can be your singer of songs no longer—One
who loves me is jealous of me, and withdraws me
from all but love,
With the rest I dispense—I sever from what I
thought would suffice me, for it does not—it is
now empty and tasteless to me,
I heed knowledge, and the grandeur of The States,
and the example of heroes, no more,

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I am indifferent to my own songs—I will go with
him I love,
It is to be enough for us that we are together—We
never separate again.



HOURS continuing long, sore and heavy-hearted,
Hours of the dusk, when I withdraw to a lonesome
and unfrequented spot, seating myself, leaning
my face in my hands;
Hours sleepless, deep in the night, when I go forth,
speeding swiftly the country roads, or through
the city streets, or pacing miles and miles, sti-
fling plaintive cries;
Hours discouraged, distracted—for the one I cannot
content myself without, soon I saw him content
himself without me;
Hours when I am forgotten, (O weeks and months are
passing, but I believe I am never to forget!)
Sullen and suffering hours! (I am ashamed—but it
is useless—I am what I am;)
Hours of my torment—I wonder if other men ever
have the like, out of the like feelings?
Is there even one other like me—distracted—his
friend, his lover, lost to him?
Is he too as I am now? Does he still rise in the morn-
ing, dejected, thinking who is lost to him? and
at night, awaking, think who is lost?

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Does he too harbor his friendship silent and endless?
harbor his anguish and passion?
Does some stray reminder, or the casual mention of a
name, bring the fit back upon him, taciturn and
Does he see himself reflected in me? In these hours,
does he see the face of his hours reflected?



YOU bards of ages hence! when you refer to me, mind
not so much my poems,
Nor speak of me that I prophesied of The States, and
led them the way of their glories;
But come, I will take you down underneath this
impassive exterior—I will tell you what to say
of me:
Publish my name and hang up my picture as that of
the tenderest lover,
The friend, the lover's portrait, of whom his friend, his
lover, was fondest,
Who was not proud of his songs, but of the measure-
less ocean of love within him—and freely poured
it forth,
Who often walked lonesome walks, thinking of his
dear friends, his lovers,
Who pensive, away from one he loved, often lay sleep-
less and dissatisfied at night,
Who knew too well the sick, sick dread lest the one
he loved might secretly be indifferent to him,

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Whose happiest days were far away, through fields, in
woods, on hills, he and another, wandering hand
in hand, they twain, apart from other men,
Who oft as he sauntered the streets, curved with his
arm the shoulder of his friend—while the arm of
his friend rested upon him also.



WHEN I heard at the close of the day how my name
had been received with plaudits in the capitol,
still it was not a happy night for me that fol-
And else, when I caroused, or when my plans were
accomplished, still I was not happy;
But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of
perfect health, refreshed, singing, inhaling the
ripe breath of autumn,
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and
disappear in the morning light,
When I wandered alone over the beach, and, undress-
ing, bathed, laughing with the cool waters, and
saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my dear friend, my lover,
was on his way coming, O then I was happy;
O then each breath tasted sweeter—and all that day
my food nourished me more—And the beautiful
day passed well,
And the next came with equal joy—And with the
next, at evening, came my friend;

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And that night, while all was still, I heard the waters
roll slowly continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands,
as directed to me, whispering, to congratulate
For the one I love most lay sleeping by me under the
same cover in the cool night,
In the stillness, in the autumn moonbeams, his face
was inclined toward me,
And his arm lay lightly around my breast—And that
night I was happy.



ARE you the new person drawn toward me, and asking
something significant from me?
To begin with, take warning—I am probably far
different from what you suppose;
Do you suppose you will find in me your ideal?
Do you think it so easy to have me become your
Do you think the friendship of me would be unalloyed
Do you suppose I am trusty and faithful?
Do you see no further than this façade—this smooth
and tolerant manner of me?
Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground
toward a real heroic man?
Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all
maya, illusion? O the next step may precipitate

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O let some past deceived one hiss in your ears, how
many have prest on the same as you are pressing
How many have fondly supposed what you are sup-
posing now—only to be disappointed.



CALAMUS taste,
(For I must change the strain—these are not to be
pensive leaves, but leaves of joy,)
Roots and leaves unlike any but themselves,
Scents brought to men and women from the wild
woods, and from the pond-side,
Breast-sorrel and pinks of love—fingers that wind
around tighter than vines,
Gushes from the throats of birds, hid in the foliage
of trees, as the sun is risen,
Breezes of land and love—Breezes set from living
shores out to you on the living sea—to you,
O sailors!
Frost-mellowed berries, and Third Month twigs, of-
fered fresh to young persons wandering out in
the fields when the winter breaks up,
Love-buds, put before you and within you, whoever
you are,
Buds to be unfolded on the old terms,
If you bring the warmth of the sun to them, they will
open, and bring form, color, perfume, to you,
If you become the aliment and the wet, they will
become flowers, fruits, tall branches and trees,

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They are comprised in you just as much as in them-
selves—perhaps more than in themselves,
They are not comprised in one season or succession,
but many successions,
They have come slowly up out of the earth and me,
and are to come slowly up out of you.



NOT heat flames up and consumes,
Not sea-waves hurry in and out,
Not the air, delicious and dry, the air of the ripe
summer, bears lightly along white down-balls of
myriads of seeds, wafted, sailing gracefully, to
drop where they may,
Not these—O none of these, more than the flames
of me, consuming, burning for his love whom I
O none, more than I, hurrying in and out;
Does the tide hurry, seeking something, and never
give up? O I the same;
O nor down-balls, nor perfumes, nor the high
rain-emitting clouds, are borne through the open
Any more than my Soul is borne through the open
Wafted in all directions, O love, for friendship, for


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O DROPS of me! trickle, slow drops,
Candid, from me falling—drip, bleeding drops,
From wounds made to free you whence you were
From my face—from my forehead and lips,
From my breast—from within where I was con-
cealed—Press forth, red drops—confession
Stain every page—stain every song I sing, every
word I say, bloody drops,
Let them know your scarlet heat—let them glisten,
Saturate them with yourself, all ashamed and wet,
Glow upon all I have written or shall write, bleed-
ing drops,
Let it all be seen in your light, blushing drops.



1WHO is now reading this?

2May-be one is now reading this who knows some
wrong-doing of my past life,
Or may-be a stranger is reading this who has secretly
loved me,
Or may-be one who meets all my grand assumptions
and egotisms with derision,
Or may-be one who is puzzled at me.

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3As if I were not puzzled at myself!
Or as if I never deride myself! (O conscience-struck!
O self-convicted!)
Or as if I do not secretly love strangers! (O tenderly,
a long time, and never avow it;)
Or as if I did not see, perfectly well, interior in
myself, the stuff of wrong-doing,
Or as if it could cease transpiring from me until it
must cease.



OF him I love day and night, I dreamed I heard he
was dead,
And I dreamed I went where they had buried him I
love—but he was not in that place,
And I dreamed I wandered, searching among burial-
places, to find him,
And I found that every place was a burial-place,
The houses full of life were equally full of death,
(This house is now,)
The streets, the shipping, the places of amusement,
the Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, the Manna-
hatta, were as full of the dead as of the living,
And fuller, O vastly fuller, of the dead than of the
—And what I dreamed I will henceforth tell to every
person and age,
And I stand henceforth bound to what I dreamed;
And now I am willing to disregard burial-places, and
dispense with them,

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And if the memorials of the dead were put up indif-
ferently everywhere, even in the room where I
eat or sleep, I should be satisfied,
And if the corpse of any one I love, or if my own
corpse, be duly rendered to powder, and poured
in the sea, I shall be satisfied,
Or if it be distributed to the winds, I shall be sat-



CITY of my walks and joys!
City whom that I have lived and sung there will one
day make you illustrious,
Not the pageants of you—not your shifting tab-
leaux, your spectacles, repay me,
Not the interminable rows of your houses—nor the
ships at the wharves,
Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright win-
dows, with goods in them,
Nor to converse with learned persons, or bear my
share in the soiree or feast;
Not those—but, as I pass, O Manhattan! your fre-
quent and swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering me the response of my own—these repay
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.


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1MIND you the timid models of the rest, the
Long I minded them, but hence I will not—for I
have adopted models for myself, and now offer
them to The Lands.

2Behold this swarthy and unrefined face—these gray
This beard—the white wool, unclipt upon my neck,
My brown hands, and the silent manner of me, with-
out charm;
Yet comes one, a Manhattanese, and ever at parting,
kisses me lightly on the lips with robust love,
And I, in the public room, or on the crossing of the
street, or on the ship's deck, kiss him in return;
We observe that salute of American comrades, land
and sea,
We are those two natural and nonchalant persons.



I SAW in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it, and the moss hung down from the
Without any companion it grew there, uttering joyous
leaves of dark green,
And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think
of myself,

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But I wondered how it could utter joyous leaves,
standing alone there, without its friend, its
lover near—for I knew I could not,
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of
leaves upon it, and twined around it a little
And brought it away—and I have placed it in sight
in my room,
It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of
Yet it remains to me a curious token—it makes me
think of manly love;
For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in
Louisiana, solitary, in a wide flat space,
Uttering joyous leaves all its life, without a friend, a
lover, near,
I know very well I could not.



MUSIC always round me, unceasing, unbeginning—
yet long untaught I did not hear,
But now the chorus I hear, and am elated,
A tenor, strong, ascending, with power and health,
with glad notes of day-break I hear,
A soprano, at intervals, sailing buoyantly over the
tops of immense waves,
A transparent base, shuddering lusciously under and
through the universe,

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The triumphant tutti—the funeral wailings, with
sweet flutes and violins—All these I fill myself
I hear not the volumes of sound merely—I am
moved by the exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out,
striving, contending with fiery vehemence to
excel each other in emotion,
I do not think the performers know themselves—But
now I think I begin to know them.



PASSING stranger! you do not know how longingly I
look upon you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking,
(It comes to me, as of a dream,)
I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with
All is recalled as we flit by each other, fluid, affec-
tionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl
with me,
I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has
become not yours only, nor left my body mine
You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as
we pass—you take of my beard, breast, hands,
in return,
I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you
when I sit alone, or wake at night alone,

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I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.



THIS moment as I sit alone, yearning and thoughtful,
it seems to me there are other men in other
lands, yearning and thoughtful;
It seems to me I can look over and behold them,
in Germany, Italy, France, Spain—Or far, far
away, in China, or in Russia or India—talking
other dialects;
And it seems to me if I could know those men better,
I should become attached to them, as I do to men
in my own lands,
It seems to me they are as wise, beautiful, benevolent,
as any in my own lands;
O I know we should be brethren and lovers,
I know I should be happy with them.



I HEAR it is charged against me that I seek to destroy
But really I am neither for nor against institutions,
(What indeed have I in common with them?—Or
what with the destruction of them?)

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Only I will establish in the Mannahatta, and in every
city of These States, inland and seaboard,
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel
little or large, that dents the water,
Without edifices, or rules, or trustees, or any ar-
The institution of the dear love of comrades.



THE prairie-grass dividing—its own odor breathing,
I demand of it the spiritual corresponding,
Demand the most copious and close companionship
of men,
Demand the blades to rise of words, acts, beings,
Those of the open atmosphere, coarse, sunlit, fresh,
Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with
freedom and command—leading, not following,
Those with a never-quell'd audacity—those with
sweet and lusty flesh, clear of taint, choice and
chary of its love-power,
Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents
and Governors, as to say, Who are you?
Those of earth-born passion, simple, never constrained,
never obedient,
Those of inland America.

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WE two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going—North and South
excursions making,
Power enjoying—elbows stretching—fingers clutch-
Armed and fearless—eating, drinking, sleeping, lov-
No law less than ourselves owning—sailing, soldier-
ing, thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials, priests alarming—air breathing,
water drinking, on the turf or the sea-beach
With birds singing—With fishes swimming—With
trees branching and leafing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking,
feebleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.



O dying—always dying!
O the burials of me, past and present!
O me, while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperi-
ous as ever!

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O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not
—I am content;),
O to disengage myself from those corpses of me,
which I turn and look at, where I cast them!
To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the
corpses behind!



WHEN I peruse the conquered fame of heroes, and the
victories of mighty generals, I do not envy the
Nor the President in his Presidency, nor the rich in
his great house;
But when I read of the brotherhood of lovers, how it
was with them,
How through life, through dangers, odium, un-
changing, long and long,
Through youth, and through middle and old age, how
unfaltering, how affectionate and faithful they
Then I am pensive—I hastily put down the book,
and walk away, filled with the bitterest envy.


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ONE flitting glimpse, caught through an interstice,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room,
around the stove, late of a winter night—And
I unremarked, seated in a corner;
Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, silently
approaching, and seating himself near, that he
may hold me by the hand;
A long while, amid the noises of coming and going
—of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together,
speaking little, perhaps not a word.



A PROMISE and gift to California,
Also to the great Pastoral Plains, and for Oregon:
Sojourning east a while longer, soon I travel to you,
to remain, to teach robust American love;
For I know very well that I and robust love belong
among you, inland, and along the Western
For These States tend inland, and toward the Western
Sea—and I will also.

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1WHAT ship, puzzled at sea, cons for the true reck-
Or, coming in, to avoid the bars, and follow the chan-
nel, a perfect pilot needs?
Here, sailor! Here, ship! take aboard the most per-
fect pilot,
Whom, in a little boat, putting off, and rowing, I,
hailing you, offer.

2What place is besieged, and vainly tries to raise the
Lo! I send to that place a commander, swift, brave,
And with him horse and foot—and parks of artillery,
And artillerymen, the deadliest that ever fired gun.



WHAT think you I take my pen in hand to record?
The battle-ship, perfect-model'd, majestic, that I saw
pass the offing to-day under full sail?
The splendors of the past day? Or the splendor of the
night that envelops me?
Or the vaunted glory and growth of the great city
spread around me?—No;
But I record of two simple men I saw to-day, on the
pier, in the midst of the crowd, parting the part-
ing of dear friends,

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The one to remain hung on the other's neck, and pas-
sionately kissed him,
While the one to depart, tightly prest the one to
remain in his arms.



NO labor-saving machine,
Nor discovery have I made,
Nor will I be able to leave behind me any wealthy
bequest to found a hospital or library,
Nor reminiscence of any deed of courage, for America,
Nor literary success, nor intellect—nor book for the
Only these carols, vibrating through the air, I leave,
For comrades and lovers.



I DREAMED in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the
attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth,
I dreamed that was the new City of Friends,
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust
love—it led the rest,
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of
that city,
And in all their looks and words.

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TO you of New England,
To the man of the Seaside State, and of Pennsylvania,
To the Kanadian of the north—to the Southerner I
These, with perfect trust, to depict you as myself—
the germs are in all men;
I believe the main purport of These States is to found
a superb friendship, exalté, previously unknown,
Because I perceive it waits, and has been always wait-
ing, latent in all men.



EARTH! my likeness!
Though you look so impassive, ample and spheric
I now suspect that is not all;
I now suspect there is something fierce in you, eligible
to burst forth;
For an athlete is enamoured of me—and I of him,
But toward him there is something fierce and terrible
in me, eligible to burst forth,
I dare not tell it in words—not even in these songs.


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A LEAF for hand in hand!
You natural persons old and young! You on the
Eastern Sea, and you on the Western!
You on the Mississippi, and on all the branches and
bayous of the Mississippi!
You friendly boatmen and mechanics! You roughs!
You twain! And all processions moving along the
I wish to infuse myself among you till I see it com-
mon for you to walk hand in hand.



PRIMEVAL my love for the woman I love,
O bride ! O wife ! more resistless, more enduring
than I can tell, the thought of you !
Then separate, as disembodied, the purest born,
The ethereal, the last athletic reality, my consolation,
I ascend—I float in the regions of your love, O man,
O sharer of my roving life.



SOMETIMES with one I love, I fill myself with rage, for
fear I effuse unreturned love;
But now I think there is no unreturned love—the
pay is certain, one way or another,

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Doubtless I could not have perceived the universe,
or written one of my poems, if I had not freely
given myself to comrades, to love.



THAT shadow, my likeness, that goes to and fro, seek-
ing a livelihood, chattering, chaffering,
How often I find myself standing and looking at it
where it flits,
How often I question and doubt whether that is really
But in these, and among my lovers, and carolling my
O I never doubt whether that is really me.



1AMONG the men and women, the multitude, I per-
ceive one picking me out by secret and divine
Acknowledging none else—not parent, wife, hus-
band, brother, child, any nearer than I am;
Some are baffled—But that one is not—that one
knows me.

2Lover and perfect equal!
I meant that you should discover me so, by my faint
And I, when I meet you, mean to discover you by the
like in you.

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TO the young man, many things to absorb, to engraft,
to develop, I teach, to help him become élève of
But if blood like mine circle not in his veins,
If he be not silently selected by lovers, and do not
silently select lovers,
Of what use is it that he seek to become élève of



O YOU whom I often and silently come where you
are, that I may be with you,
As I walk by your side, or sit near, or remain in the
same room with you,
Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your
sake is playing within me.



HERE my last words, and the most baffling,
Here the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-
Here I shade down and hide my thoughts—I do not
expose them,
And yet they expose me more than all my other

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1FULL of life, sweet-blooded, compact, visible,
I, forty years old the Eighty-third Year of The States,
To one a century hence, or any number of centuries
To you, yet unborn, these, seeking you.

2When you read these, I, that was visible, am become
Now it is you, compact, visible, realizing my poems,
seeking me,
Fancying how happy you were, if I could be with
you, and become your lover;
Be it as if I were with you. Be not too certain but I
am now with you.


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