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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Born on May 31, 1819, Walt Whitman is the author of Leaves of Grass...
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FURTHER READING
Poems about Ambition
Essay on Man, Epistle II
by Alexander Pope
All those Attempts in the Changing Room!
by Anne Stevenson
Civilization
by Carl Phillips
Failing and Flying
by Jack Gilbert
Famous
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Fisherman
by Kurt Brown
George Gray
by Edgar Lee Masters
See It Through
by Edgar Guest
That Everything's Inevitable
by Katy Lederer
The Ecstasy
by Phillip Lopate
Untranslatable Song
by Claudia Reder
Poems about Hands
A Bird in Hand
by Amber Flora Thomas
A Hand
by Jane Hirshfield
After the Grand Perhaps
by Lucie Brock-Broido
Amaze
by Adelaide Crapsey
Consider the Hands that Write This Letter
by Aracelis Girmay
Hands
by Siv Cedering
Out-of-the-Body Travel
by Stanley Plumly
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
by E. E. Cummings
Spring is like a perhaps hand
by E. E. Cummings
The Artist's Hand
by D. A. Powell
The Balloon of the Mind
by W. B. Yeats
The Book of the Dead Man (Your Hands)
by Marvin Bell
The Hand
by Mary Ruefle
This Living Hand
by John Keats
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To You

 
by Walt Whitman

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of
   dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your 
   feet and hands,
Even now your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners, 
   troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs, out of commerce, shops, 
   work, farms, clothes, the house, buying, selling, eating, 
   drinking, suffering, dying.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you 
   be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better
   than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb,
I should have made my way straight to you long ago, 
I should have blabb'd nothing but you, I should have chanted
   nothing but you.
   
I will leave all and come and make the hymns of you, 
None has understood you, but I understand you, 
None has done justice to you, you have not done justice to
   yourself,
None but has found you imperfect, I only find no
   imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you, I only am he who will
   never consent to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better,
   God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.
   
Painters have painted their swarming groups and the centre-
   figure of all,
From the head of the centre-figure spreading a nimbus of 
   gold-color'd light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its 
   nimbus of gold-color'd light,
From my hand from the brain of every man and woman it
   streams, effulgently flowing forever.

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are, you have slumber'd upon
   yourself all your life,
Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time,
What you have done returns already in mockeries, 
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in
   mockeries, what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk,
I pursue you where none else has pursued you,
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the 
   accustom'd routine, if these conceal you from others or
   from yourself, they do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if
   these balk others they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform'd attitude, drunkenness, greed, 
   premature death, all these I part aside.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied 
   in you,
There is no virtue, no beauty in man or woman, but as good 
   is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits 
   for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one except I give the like 
   carefully to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than
   I sing the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at an hazard! 
These shows of the East and West are tame compared to you, 
These immense meadows, these interminable rivers, you are
   immense and interminable as they,
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of 
   apparent dissolution, you are he or she who is master or 
   mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements, 
   pain, passion, dissolution.

The hopples fall from your ankles, you find an unfailing 
   sufficiency,
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest, 
   whatever you are promulges itself,
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, 
   nothing is scanted,
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what 
   you are picks its way.



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