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 publish'd—from the
pleasures, profits, eruditions, conformities,
Which too long I was offering to feed my soul;
Clear to me, now, standards not yet publish'd—clear to
me that my Soul,
That the Soul of the man I speak for, feeds, rejoices
most in comrades;
Here, by myself, away from the clank of the world,
Tallying and talk'd to here by tongues aromatic,
No longer abash'd—for in this secluded spot I can re-
spond as I would not dare elsewhere,
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet
contains all the rest,
Resolv'd to sing no songs to-day but those of manly
Projecting them along that substantial life,
Bequeathing, hence, types of athletic love,
Afternoon, this delicious Ninth-month, in my forty-first
I proceed, for all who are, or have been, young men,
To tell the secret of my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades.

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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 be-
lieve 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,
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 finally
beautiful, 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 declines
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!

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Spring away from the conceal'd heart there!
Do not fold yourself so in your pink-tinged roots, timid
Do not remain down there so ashamed, herbage of my
Come, I am determin'd 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;
Through me shall the words be said to make death
Give me your tone therefore, O Death, that I may ac-
cord with it,
Give me yourself—for I see that you belong to me now
above all, and are folded inseparably together—
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 convey'd to me that you are the purports
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
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.

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Whoever you are, Holding me now in Hand.

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

2Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?

3The way is suspicious—the result uncertain, perhaps
You would have to give up all else—I alone would ex-
pect to be your God, sole and exclusive,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
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 shoulders,
Put me down, and depart on your way.

4Or else, by stealth, in some wood, for trial,
Or back of a rock, in the open air,
(For in any roof'd 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 watch-
ing lest any person, for miles around, approach
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 hus-
band's kiss,
For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade.

5Or, if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,

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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 afterward—l
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 vaunt-
ingly 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.



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,

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Now along the pond-side—now wading in a little, fear-
ing not the wet,
Now by the post-and-rail fences, where the old stones
thrown there, pick'd 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 go,
Solitary, smelling the earthy smell, stopping now and
then in the silence,
Alone I had thought—yet soon a troop gathers around
Some walk by my side, and some behind, and some em-
brace my arms or neck,
They, the spirits of dear friends, dead or alive—thicker
they come, a great crowd, and I in the middle,
Collecting, dispensing, singing in spring, there I wander
with them,
Plucking something for tokens—tossing toward whoever
is near me;
Here! lilac, with a branch of pine,
Here, out of my pocket, some moss which I pull'd 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 re-
turns again, never to separate from me,
And this, O this shall henceforth be the token of com-
rades—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 aro-
matic cedar:
These, I, compass'd around by a thick cloud of spirits,
Wandering, point to, or touch as I pass, or throw them
loosely from me,

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Indicating to each one what he shall have—giving some-
thing 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 my-
self am capable of loving.




COME, I will make the continent indissoluble;
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever yet
shone upon;
I will make divine magnetic lands,
With the love of comrades,
With the life-long love of comrades.


I 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;
By the love of comrades,
By the manly love of comrades.


For you these, from me, O Democracy, to serve you,
ma femme!
For you! for you, I am trilling these songs,
In the love of comrades,
In the high-towering love of comrades.

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NOT heaving from my ribb'd breast only;
Not in sighs at night, in rage, dissatisfied with myself;
Not in those long-drawn, ill-supprest sighs;
Not in many an oath and promise broken;
Not in my wilful and savage soul's volition;
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 clench'd 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 doubt of appearances,
Of the uncertainty after all—that we may be deluded,
That may-be reliance and hope are but speculations
after all,
That may-be identity beyond the grave is a beautiful
fable only,

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May-be the things I perceive—the animals, plants, men,
hills, shining and flowing waters,
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 seeming 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 an-
swer'd 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 wisdom
—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.


The Base of all Metaphysics.

1AND now, gentlemen,
A word I give to remain in your memories and minds,
As base, and finale too, for all metaphysics.

2(So, to the students, the old professor,
At the close of his crowded course.)

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3Having studied the new and antique, the Greek and
Germanic systems,
Kant having studied and stated—Fichte and Schelling
and Hegel,
Stated the lore of Plato—and Socrates, greater than
And greater than Socrates sought and stated—Christ
divine having studied long,
I see reminiscent to-day those Greek and Germanic
See the philosophies all—Christian churches and tenets
Yet underneath Socrates clearly see—and underneath
Christ the divine I see,
The dear love of man for his comrade—the attraction
of friend to friend,
Of the well-married husband and wife—of children and
Of city for city, and land for land.



RECORDERS ages hence!
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 pour'd
it forth,
Who often walk'd lonesome walks, thinking of his dear
friends, his lovers,
Who pensive, away from one he lov'd, often lay sleep-
less and dissatisfied at night,

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Who knew too well the sick, sick dread lest the one he
lov'd might secretly be indifferent to him,
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 saunter'd the streets, curv'd 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 receiv'd with plaudits in the capitol,
still it was not a happy night for me that fol-
And else, when I carous'd, or when my plans were
accomplish'd, still I was not happy;
But the day when I rose at dawn from the bed of per-
fect health, refresh'd, 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 wander'd 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 nourish'd me more—and the beautiful day
pass'd well,
And the next came with equal joy—and with the next,
at evening, came my friend;
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 me,

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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?

ARE you the new person drawn toward me?
To begin with, take warning—I am surely 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 lover?
Do you think the friendship of me would be unalloy'd
Do you think I am trusty and faithful?
Do you see no further than this facade—this smooth
and tolerant manner of me?
Do you suppose yourself advancing on real ground to-
ward a real heroic man?
Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all
maya, illusion?


Roots and Leaves Themselves Alone.

ROOTS and leaves themselves alone are these;
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 sum is risen;

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Breezes of land and love—breezes set from living
shores out to you on the living sea—to you, O
Frost-mellow'd berries, and Third-month twigs, offer'd
fresh to young persons wandering out in the
fields when the winter breaks up,
Love-buds, put before you and within you, whoever you
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.


Not Heat Flames up and Consumes.

NOT heat flames up and consumes,
Not sea-waves hurry in and out,
Not the air, delicious and dry, the air of the ripe sum-
mer, 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 love!
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 air,
Any more than my Soul is borne through the open
Wafted in all directions, O love, for friendship, for

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Trickle, Drops.

TRICKLE, drops! my blue veins leaving!
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 conceal'd—
press forth, red drops—confession drops;
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, bleeding
Let it all be seen in your light, blushing drops.


City of Orgies.

CITY of orgies, walks and joys!
City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst
will one day make you illustrious,
Not the pageants of you—not your shifting tableaux,
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 learn'd persons, or bear my share
in the soiree or feast;
Not those—but, as I pass, O Manhattan! your frequent
and swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering response to my own—these repay me;
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.

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Behold this Swarthy Face.

BEHOLD this swarthy face—these gray eyes,
This beard—the white wool, unclipt upon my neck,
My brown hands, and the silent manner of me, without
Yet comes one, a Manhattanese, and ever at parting,
kisses me lightly on the lips with robust love,
And I, on the crossing of the street, or on the ship's
deck, give a kiss in return;
We observe that salute of American comrades, land and
We are those two natural and nonchalant persons.


I saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing.

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
But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves, stand-
ing 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 moss,
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 friends,
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them;)
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.

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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 you,
All is recall'd as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate,
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 be-
come not yours only, nor left my body mine only,
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,
I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.


This Moment, Yearning and Thoughtful.

THIS moment yearning and thoughtful, sitting alone,
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
And it seems to me if I could know those men, I should
become attached to them, as I do to men in my
own lands;
O I know we should be brethren and lovers,
I know I should be happy with them.

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I Hear it was Charged Against Me.

I HEAR it was charged against me that I sought to de-
stroy institutions;
But really I am neither for nor against institutions;
(What indeed have I in common with them?—Or what
with the destruction of them?)
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 argu-
The institution of the dear love of comrades.


The Prairie-Grass Dividing.

THE prairie-grass dividing—its special odor breathing,
I demand of it the spiritual corresponding,
Demand the most copious and close companionship of
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 free-
dom and command—leading, not following,
Those with a never-quell'd audacity—those with sweet
and lusty flesh, clear of taint,
Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents
and Governors, as to say, Who are you?
Those of earth-born passion, simple, never-constrain'd,
never obedient,
Those of inland America.

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We Two Boys Together Clinging.

WE two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going—North and South excur-
sions making,
Power enjoying—elbows stretching—fingers clutching,
Arm'd and fearless—eating, drinking, sleeping, loving,
No law less than ourselves owning—sailing, soldiering,
thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials, priests alarming—air breathing, water
drinking, on the turf or the sea-beach dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking, fee-
bleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.



A PROMISE to California,
Also to the great Pastoral Plains, and for Oregon:
Sojourning east a while longer, soon I travel toward
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 Sea;
For These States tend inland, and toward the Western
Sea—and I will also.



HERE the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-
Here I shade and hide my thoughts—I myself do not
expose them,
And yet they expose me more than all my other poems.

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When I Peruse the Conquer'd Fame.

WHEN I peruse the conquer'd 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 hear of the brotherhood of lovers, how it
was with them,
How through life, through dangers, odium, unchanging,
long and long,
Through youth, and through middle and old age, how
unfaltering, how affectionate and faithful they
Then I am pensive—I hastily walk away, fill'd with the
bitterest envy.



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

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A GLIMPSE, through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room,
around the stove, late of a winter night—And I
unremark'd, seated in a corner;
Of a youth who loves me, and whom I love, silently ap-
proaching, 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, speak-
ing little, perhaps not a word.



NO labor-saving machine,
Nor discovery have I made;
Nor will I be able to leave behind me any wealthy be-
quest 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 a few carols, vibrating through the air, I leave,
For comrades and lovers.



A LEAF for hand in hand!
You natural persons old and young!
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!

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TO the East and to the West;
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, exalt, 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 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 enamour'd 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.



I DREAM'D in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the
attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;
I dream'd 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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FAST-ANCHOR'D, eternal, O love! O woman I love!
O bride! O wife! more resistless than I can tell, the
thought of you!
—Then separate, as disembodied, or another born,
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.

SOMETIMES with one I love, I fill myself with rage, for
fear I effuse unreturn'd love;
But now I think there is no unreturn'd love—the pay
is certain, one way or another;
(I loved a certain person ardently, and my love was
not return'd;
Yet out of that, I have written these songs.)


That Shadow, my Likeness.

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 caroling my
O I never doubt whether that is really me.

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

2Ah, lover 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.



O BOY of the West!
To you many things to absorb, I teach, to help you
become eleve of mine:
Yet if blood like mine circle not in your veins;
If you be not silently selected by lovers, and do not
silently select lovers,
Of what use is it that you seek to become eleve of mine?



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.

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Full of Life, Now.

1FULL of life, now, 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 comrade;
Be it as if I were with you. (Be not too certain but I
am now with you.)


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