from “Leaves of Grass”

WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking
the walks of dreams,
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, dissipate 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, begetting, dying,
They receive these in their places, they find these
or the like of these, eternal, for reasons,
They find themselves eternal, they do not find that
the water and soil tend to endure forever —
and they not endure.

Whoever 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.

O 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.

I will leave all, and come and make the hymns
of you;
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 intrin-
sically in yourself.

– Walt Whitman, 1856

 

whoa, whitman. 

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