To You | Walt Whitman, 1900

Lewis Morley, Glasgow, 1964

“Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, 
why should you not speak to me? 
And why should I not speak to you?”

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1900.

* Though the first edition was published in 1855, Whitman spent his entire life writing and re-writing Leaves of Grass, revising it in several editions until his death. This resulted in vastly different editions over four decades—the first a small book of twelve poems and the last a compilation of over 400 poems.

2 thoughts on “To You | Walt Whitman, 1900

  1. Strangers to kindness, wept: their eyes let fall
    Inhuman tears: strange tears! that trickled down
    From marble hearts! obdurate tenderness!
    A tenderness that call'd them more severe;
    In spite of nature's soft persuasion, steel'd;
    While nature melted, superstition rav'd;
    That mourn'd the dead; and this denied a grave.
    Their sighs incens'd; sighs foreign to the will!
    Their will the tiger suck'd, outrag'd the storm.
    For oh! the curst ungodliness of zeal!
    While sinful flesh relented, spirit nurst
    In blind infallibility's embrace,
    The sainted spirit petrified the breast;
    Denied the charity of dust, to spread
    O'er dust! a charity their dogs enjoy.
    What could I do? What succour? What resource?
    With pious sacrilege, a grave I stole;
    With impious piety, that grave I wrong'd;
    Short in my duty; coward in my grief!
    More like her murderer, than friend, I crept,
    With soft-suspended step, and muffled deep
    In midnight darkness, whisper'd my last sigh.
    I whisper'd what should echo thro' their realms;
    Nor writ her name, whose tomb should pierce the
    skies. ^

    In every varied posture, place, and hour,
    How widow'd every thought of every joy!
    Thought, busy thought! too busy for my peace!
    Through the dark postern of time long elapsed,
    Led softly by the stillness of the night,
    Led like a murderer, (and such it proves!)
    Strays (wretched rover!) o'er the pleasing past;
    In quest of wretchedness perversely strays;
    And finds all desert now; and meets the ghosts
    Of my departed joys; a numerous train!
    I rue the riches of my former fate;
    Sweet comfort's blasted clusters I lament;
    I tremble at the blessings once so dear;
    And every pleasure pains me to the heart.
    Yet why complain? or why complain for one?
    Hangs out the sun his lustre but for me,
    The single man? Are angels all beside?
    I mourn for millions: 'tis the common lot;
    In this shape, or in that, has Fate entail'd
    The mother's throes on all of woman born,
    Not more the children, than sure heirs, of Pain.

    Edward Young / Night I: The Complaint Or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality / ll. 221-241 / pp. 42-3 / ^Night III. Narcissa. 41 / 1742 – 1745

  2. I wander all night in my vision [ ]
    I go from bedside to bedside, I sleep close with the other sleepers each in turn, I dream in my dream all the dreams of the other dreamers, And I become the other dreamers. I am a dance–play up there! the fit is whirling me fast! I am the ever-laughing–it is new moon and twilight, I see the hiding of douceurs, I see nimble ghosts whichever way look, Cache and cache again deep in the ground and sea, and where it is neither ground nor sea. Well do they do their jobs those journeymen divine, Only from me can they hide nothing, and would not if they could, I reckon I am their boss and they make me a pet besides, And surround me and lead me and run ahead when I walk, To lift their cunning covers to signify me with stretch'd arms, and resume the way; Onward we move, a gay gang of blackguards! with mirth-shouting music and wild-flapping pennants of joy! I am the actor, the actress, the voter, the politician, The emigrant and the exile, the criminal that stood in the box, He who has been famous and he who shall be famous after to-day, The stammerer, the well-form'd person, the wasted or feeble person. I am she who adorn'd herself and folded her hair expectantly, My truant lover has come, and it is dark. Double yourself and receive me darkness, Receive me and my lover too, he will not let me go without him. I roll myself upon you as upon a bed, I resign myself to the dusk. He whom I call answers me and takes the place of my lover, He rises with me silently from the bed. Darkness, you are gentler than my lover, his flesh was sweaty and panting, I feel the hot moisture yet that he left me. My hands are spread forth, I pass them in all directions, I would sound up the shadowy shore to which you are journeying. Be careful darkness! already what was it touch'd me? I thought my lover had gone, else darkness and he are one, I hear the heart-beat, I follow, I fade away.

    The Sleepers / 1 / Walt Whitman / Leaves of Grass / 1855 / first edition
    Walt Whitman και Ανδρέας Εμπειρίκος / δυο προφήτες-ποιητές ἐν τῇ καμίνῳ / Κατερίνα Μπλαβάκη


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