Leaves of Grass

Page 14 of 72

Not Heaving from My Ribb'd Breast Only

  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 wrists,
  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, defiancies, thrown from me when alone far in
      the wilds,
  Not in husky pantings through clinch'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 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,
  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 known,
  (How often they dart out of themselves as if to confound 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) nought of what they appear, or nought anyhow, from entirely
      changed points of view;
  To me these and the like of these are curiously answer'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

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

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

  Having 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 Plato,
  And greater than Socrates sought and stated, Christ divine having
      studied long,
  I see reminiscent to-day those Greek and Germanic systems,
  See the philosophies all, Christian churches and tenets see,
  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 parents,
  Of city for city and land for land.

Recorders Ages Hence

  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 measureless 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 sleepless and
      dissatisfied at night,
  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

  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 follow'd,
  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 perfect 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 undressing 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,
  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 satisfaction?
  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 toward 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 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
      sun is risen,
  Breezes of land and love set from living shores to you on the living
      sea, to you O sailors!
  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 are,
  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.

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