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

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Souvenirs Of Democracy


THE business man, the acquirer vast,
After assiduous years, surveying results, preparing for departure,
Devises houses and lands to his children--bequeaths stocks, goods--
funds for a school or hospital,
Leaves money to certain companions to buy tokens, souvenirs of gems
and gold;
Parceling out with care--And then, to prevent all cavil,
His name to his testament formally signs.

But I, my life surveying,
With nothing to show, to devise, from its idle years,
Nor houses, nor lands--nor tokens of gems or gold for my friends,
Only these Souvenirs of Democracy--In them--in all my songs--behind
me leaving, 10
To You, who ever you are, (bathing, leavening this leaf especially
with my breath--pressing on it a moment with my own hands;
--Here! feel how the pulse beats in my wrists!--how my heart's-blood
is swelling, contracting!)
I will You, in all, Myself, with promise to never desert you,
To which I sign my name.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002


Read poems about / on: school, money, children, heart, life, song, house, friend, child

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Comments about this poem (A Promise To California by Walt Whitman )

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  • Jane Moon (7/2/2009 9:34:00 AM)

    Ah, yes, Walt Whitman: What you have left us is your legacy of poems written and celebrated, whose worth is far greater than that of the wealthy businessman who left his money as his legacy. What you have left is your love of our country and its people, your hopes for our future, your writings which are your very essence! All this we treasure, and we (who are people you never knew) thank you.

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