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Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

Of The Terrible Doubt Of Apperarances



OF the terrible doubt of appearances,
Of the uncertainty after all--that we may be deluded,
That may-be reliance and hope are but speculations after all,
That may-be identity beyond the grave is a beautiful fable only,
May-be the things I perceive--the animals, plants, men, hills,
shining and flowing waters,
The skies of day and night--colors, densities, forms--May-be these
are, (as doubtless they are,) only apparitions, and the real
something has yet to be known;
(How often they dart out of themselves, as if to confound me and mock
me!
How often I think neither I know, nor any man knows, aught of them;)
May-be seeming to me what they are, (as doubtless they indeed but
seem,) as from my present point of view--And might prove, (as
of course they would,) naught of what they appear, or naught
any how, from entirely changed points of view;
--To me, these, and the like of these, are curiously answer'd by my
lovers, my dear friends; 10
When he whom I love travels with me, or sits a long while holding me
by the hand,
When the subtle air, the impalpable, the sense that words and reason
hold not, surround us and pervade us,
Then I am charged with untold and untellable wisdom--I am silent--I
require nothing further,
I cannot answer the question of appearances, or that of identity
beyond the grave;
But I walk or sit indifferent--I am satisfied,
He ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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