Walt Whitman

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

To One Shortly To Die



FROM all the rest I single out you, having a message for you:
You are to die--Let others tell you what they please, I cannot
prevaricate,
I am exact and merciless, but I love you--There is no escape for you.

Softly I lay my right hand upon you--you just feel it,
I do not argue--I bend my head close, and half envelope it,
I sit quietly by--I remain faithful,
I am more than nurse, more than parent or neighbor,
I absolve you from all except yourself, spiritual, bodily--that is
eternal--you yourself will surely escape,
The corpse you will leave will be but excrementitious.


The sun bursts through in unlooked-for directions! 10
Strong thoughts fill you, and confidence--you smile!
You forget you are sick, as I forget you are sick,
You do not see the medicines--you do not mind the weeping friends--I
am with you,
I exclude others from you--there is nothing to be commiserated,
I do not commiserate--I congratulate you.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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