The City Dead-House

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

  By the city dead-house by the gate,
  As idly sauntering wending my way from the clangor,
  I curious pause, for lo, an outcast form, a poor dead prostitute brought,
  Her corpse they deposit unclaim’d, it lies on the damp brick pavement,
  The divine woman, her body, I see the body, I look on it alone,
  That house once full of passion and beauty, all else I notice not,
  Nor stillness so cold, nor running water from faucet, nor odors
      morbific impress me,
  But the house alone—that wondrous house—that delicate fair house
      —that ruin!
  That immortal house more than all the rows of dwellings ever built!
  Or white-domed capitol with majestic figure surmounted, or all the
      old high-spired cathedrals,
  That little house alone more than them all—poor, desperate house!
  Fair, fearful wreck—tenement of a soul—itself a soul,
  Unclaim’d, avoided house—take one breath from my tremulous lips,
  Take one tear dropt aside as I go for thought of you,
  Dead house of love—house of madness and sin, crumbled, crush’d,
  House of life, erewhile talking and laughing—but ah, poor house,
      dead even then,
  Months, years, an echoing, garnish’d house—but dead, dead, dead.


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