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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


OF the visages of things—And of piercing through
         to the accepted hells beneath;
Of ugliness—To me there is just as much in it as
         there is in beauty—And now the ugliness of
         human beings is acceptable to me;
Of detected persons—To me, detected persons are

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in
Ah, not this marble, dead and cold:  
Far from its base and shaft expanding—the round zones circling, 
Thou, Washington, art all the world's, the continents' entire— 
         not yours alone, America, 
Europe's as well, in every part, castle of lord or laborer's cot,  
Or frozen