Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand

Walt Whitman - 1819-1892
Whoever you are holding me now in hand,   
Without one thing all will be useless,   
I give you fair warning before you attempt me further,   
I am not what you supposed, but far different.   
   
Who is he that would become my follower? 
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?   
   
The way is suspicious, the result uncertain, perhaps destructive,   
You would have to give up all else, I alone would expect to be your sole and exclusive standard,   
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,   
The whole past theory of your life and all conformity to the lives around you would have to be abandon'd, 
Therefore release me now before troubling yourself any further, let go your hand from my shoulders,   
Put me down, and depart on your way.   
   
Or else by stealth in some wood for trial,   
Or back of a rock in the open air,   
(For in any roof'd room of a house I emerge not, nor in company, 
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)   
But just possibly with you on a high hill, first watching lest any person for miles around approach unawares,   
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea or some quiet island,   
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,   
With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss or the new husband's kiss, 
For I am the new husband and I am the comrade.   
   
Or if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,   
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart or rest upon your hip,   
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;   
For thus merely touching you is enough, is best,
And thus touching you, would I silently sleep and be carried eternally.   
   
But these leaves conning you con at peril,   
For these leaves and me you will not understand,   
They will elude you at first and still more afterward, I will certainly elude you,   
Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.   
   
For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written this book,   
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,   
Nor do those know me best who admire me and vauntingly praise me,   
Nor will the candidates for my love (unless at most a very few,) prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only, they will do just as much evil, perhaps more,    
For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times and not hit, that which I hinted at;   
Therefore release me and depart on your way.

More by Walt Whitman

Sometimes with One I Love

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.)

A Noiseless Patient Spider

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 measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

America

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons, 
All, all alike endear'd, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich, 
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair'd in the adamant of Time.

Related Poems

Who Shall Doubt

consciousness

        in itself

of itself carrying

    'the principle
        of the actual' being

actual

itself ((but maybe this is a love 
poem

Mary) ) nevertheless

        neither

the power
of the self nor the racing 
car nor the lilly

        is sweet but this