The way is suspicious, the result uncertain, perhaps
You would have to give up all else, I alone would expect to
     be your sole and exclusive standard,
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 abandon'd,
Therefore release me now before troubling yourself any
     further, let go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down and depart on your way.

Or 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
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or
But just possibly with you on a high hill, first watching lest
     any person for miles around approach unawares,
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 husband's
For I am the new husband and I am the comrade.

Or if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart or rest upon your
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

But 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, I will
     certainly elude you,
Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught
     me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.

For 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 vauntingly
     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.

1860 1881


COME, I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever 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
For you, for you I am trilling these songs.

1860 1881


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, pick'd from the fields, have accumulated,
(Wild- flowers and vines and weeds come up through the
     stones and partly cover them, beyond these I pass,)
Far, far in the forest, or sauntering later in summer, 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 me,
Some walk by my side and some behind, and some embrace
     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, there

  By PanEris using Melati.

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