Published Works

Books by Whitman

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To You, Whoever You Are.

WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking the walks of
I fear those realities are to melt from under your feet
and hands;
Even now, your features, joys, speech, house, trade,
manners, troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dis-
sipate 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 blabbed nothing but you, I should have
chanted nothing but you.

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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,
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-colored light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head with-
out its nimbus of gold-colored 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!
You have not known what you are—you have slum-
bered upon yourself all your life,
Your eyelids 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,

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Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night,
the accustomed 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 deformed attitude, drunken-
ness, greed, premature death, all these I part
I track through your windings and turnings—I come
upon you where you thought eye should never
come upon you.

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 you,
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,

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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 its way.


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