Walt Whitman

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

Out From Behind His Mask



OUT from behind this bending, rough-cut Mask,
(All straighter, liker Masks rejected--this preferr'd,)
This common curtain of the face, contain'd in me for me, in you for
you, in each for each,
(Tragedies, sorrows, laughter, tears--O heaven!
The passionate, teeming plays this curtain hid!)
This glaze of God's serenest, purest sky,
This film of Satan's seething pit,
This heart's geography's map--this limitless small continent--this
soundless sea;
Out from the convolutions of this globe,
This subtler astronomic orb than sun or moon--than Jupiter, Venus,
Mars; 10
This condensation of the Universe--(nay, here the only Universe,
Here the IDEA--all in this mystic handful wrapt;)
These burin'd eyes, flashing to you, to pass to future time,
To launch and spin through space revolving, sideling--from these to
emanate,
To You, whoe'er you are--a Look.


A Traveler of thoughts and years--of peace and war,
Of youth long sped, and middle age declining,
(As the first volume of a tale perused and laid away, and this the
second,
Songs, ventures, speculations, presently to close,)
Lingering a moment, here and now, to You I opposite turn, 20
As on the road, or at some crevice door, by chance, or open'd window,
Pausing, inclining, baring my head, You specially I greet,
To draw and clench your Soul, for once, inseparably with mine,
Then travel, travel on.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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