Excerpt from the 1855 edition
Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet….the effect upon me of my early life….the ward and city I live in…of the nation,
The latest news…. Discoveries, inventions, societies…. Authors old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, business, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
The sickness of one of my folks - or of myself…. Or ill-doing…. Or loss or lack of money….or depressions or exaltations,
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.
Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
Looks with its sidecurved head, curious what will come next,
Both in and out of the game, and watching and wondering at it.
I believe in you my soul…. The other I am must not abase itself to you,
And you must not be abased to the other.
Loafe with me in the grass….loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want…. Not custom or lecture, not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.
I mind how we lay in June, such a transparent summer morning;
You settled your head athwart my hips and gently turned over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my barestript heart,
And reached till you felt my head, and reached till you held my feet.
Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of earth;
And I know that the hand of God is the elderhand of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the eldest brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers…. And the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love.