Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand

Walt Whitman

 
Whoever you are, holding me now in hand,   
Without one thing, all will be useless,   
I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further,   
I am not what you supposed, but far different.   
   
Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?   
   
The way is suspicious—the result uncertain, perhaps
     destructive;   
You would have to give up all else—I alone would expect
     to be your God, sole and exclusive,   
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 company,
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or
     dead,)   
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 kiss,
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 hip,   
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
     eternally.   
   
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.
 

Poems by This Author

A child said, What is the grass? by Walt Whitman
A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
A Clear Midnight by Walt Whitman
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman
A noiseless patient spider
A Woman Waits for Me by Walt Whitman
A woman waits for me, she contains all, nothing is lacking,
America by Walt Whitman
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
Among the Multitude by Walt Whitman
Among the men and women, the multitude
As I Walk These Broad Majestic Days by Walt Whitman
As I walk these broad majestic days of peace
Calamus [In Paths Untrodden] by Walt Whitman
In paths untrodden
Come Up From the Fields Father by Walt Whitman
Come up from the fields father, here's a letter from our Pete,
Come, said my Soul by Walt Whitman
Come, said my Soul
Continuities by Walt Whitman
Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman
Flood-tide below me! I watch you face to face
Delicate Cluster by Walt Whitman
Delicate cluster! flag of teeming life
Election Day, November, 1884 by Walt Whitman
If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show
Excelsior by Walt Whitman
Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther,
I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
I Sing the Body Electric by Walt Whitman
I sing the body electric,
Mannahatta by Walt Whitman
I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city
Miracles by Walt Whitman
Why, who makes much of a miracle
O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The
O Me! O Life! by Walt Whitman
On the Beach at Night Alone by Walt Whitman
On the beach at night alone
Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking by Walt Whitman
Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out of the Rolling Ocean, the Crowd by Walt Whitman
Out of the rolling ocean, the crowd, came a drop gently to me
Passage to India by Walt Whitman
Singing my days
So Long by Walt Whitman
To conclude—I announce what comes after me
Sometimes with One I Love by Walt Whitman
Sometimes with one I love I fill myself with rage for fear I
Song of Myself, I, II, VI & LII by Walt Whitman
I celebrate myself,
Song of Myself, III by Walt Whitman
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end
Song of Myself, X by Walt Whitman
Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt,
Song of Myself, XI by Walt Whitman
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore
Spirit that Form'd this Scene by Walt Whitman
Spirit that form'd this scene,
Spontaneous Me by Walt Whitman
Spontaneous me, Nature
The Indications [excerpt] by Walt Whitman
The words of the true poems give you more than poems
The Sleepers by Walt Whitman
I wander all night in my vision
The Untold Want by Walt Whitman
The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted
The Wound-Dresser by Walt Whitman
An old man bending I come among new faces
This Compost by Walt Whitman
Something startles me where I thought I was safest
Thoughts by Walt Whitman
OF the visages of things—And of piercing through
To a Locomotive in Winter by Walt Whitman
Thee for my recitative!
To Think of Time by Walt Whitman
To think of time—of all that retrospection
To You by Walt Whitman
Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
Unfolded Out of the Folds by Walt Whitman
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman, man comes unfolded, and is always to come unfolded
Washington's Monument, February, 1885 by Walt Whitman
Ah, not this marble, dead and cold
When I Heard at the Close of Day by Walt Whitman
When I heard at the close of the day how my name had been receiv'd
When I Heard the Learned Astronomer by Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd by Walt Whitman
When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd
World Below the Brine by Walt Whitman
The world below the brine


Further Reading

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Poems About Difficult Love
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by Petrarch
Sonnet 12 [Alas, so all things now do hold their peace]
by Petrarch
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by Joe Hall
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by Edna St. Vincent Millay
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Poems about Anonymity and Loneliness
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79
by Joachim du Bellay
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The Suicide
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
the suicide kid
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WHERE?
by Kenneth Patchen
White Days
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Why Is the Color of Snow?
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