Verse > Walt Whitman > Leaves of Grass
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Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

244. To One Shortly to Die


1

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,         5
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. 
  
2

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.  15


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