Out from Behind This Mask (To Confront a Portrait)

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from Leaves of Grass: Book XXIV - by Walt Whitman.


  Out from behind this bending rough-cut mask,
  These lights and shades, this drama of the whole,
  This common curtain of the face contain’d in me for me, in you for
      you, in each for each,
  (Tragedies, sorrows, laughter, tears—0 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,
  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,
  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 clinch your soul for once inseparably with mine,
  Then travel travel on.


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