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About this Poem 

Walt Whitman's "Sometimes with One I Love" comes from the "Calamus" poems, which are found in his groundbreaking and epic volume, Leaves of Grass. In his 1876 preface to Two Rivulets, Whitman writes that the poems were partially important in his purpose to achieve "emotional expressions for humanity." In his essay "Calamus" the critic James E. Miller, Jr. writes: "Though the poet celebrates adhesiveness and associates the love of comrades with some of the tenderest, most memorable moments of his life, he also sometimes reveals the pain he has felt."

Sometimes with One I Love

Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892

Sometimes with one I love I fill myself with rage for fear I effuse
   unreturn'd love,
But now I think there is no unreturn'd love, the pay is certain
   one way or another,
(I loved a certain person ardently and my love was not return'd,
Yet out of that I have written these songs.)

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 14, 2013. Browse the Poem-a-Day archive.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 14, 2013. Browse the Poem-a-Day archive.

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Born on May 31, 1819, Walt Whitman is the author of Leaves of Grass and, along with Emily Dickinson, is considered one of the architects of a uniquely American poetic voice. 

by this poet

The words of the true poems give you more than poems,   
They give you to form for yourself, poems, religions, politics,
   war, peace, behavior, histories, essays, romances, and everything else,   
They balance ranks, colors, races, creeds, and the sexes,
They do not seek beauty—they are sought,   
When I heard the learn'd astronomer, 
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, 
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, 
   and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
   much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became

Flood-tide below me! I watch you face to face;   
Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see you also face to face.   
Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you
          are to me!   
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home