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Posts Tagged ‘Leaves of Grass’

To A Stranger

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 become 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.

–Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

This is one of my (many) favorite Whitman poems. It was included in Leaves of Grass, the first edition of which Whitman published in 1855 at his own expense and which only included twelve poems. By the 1860 edition, the book had tripled in size. It is a work that Whitman continued to revise and expand throughout his entire life. Before the age of thirty-six, there was no indication that Whitman would even be a minor literary figure. Yet, he has become one of America’s major poetic voices with highly celebratory poetry that ranges from somber to jubilant; from mystic to earthy.

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