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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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