Verse > Walt Whitman > Leaves of Grass

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

40. Not Heaving from My Ribb’d Breast Only

NOT heaving from my ribb’d breast only; 
Not in sighs at night, in rage, dissatisfied with myself; 
Not in those long-drawn, ill-supprest sighs; 
Not in many an oath and promise broken; 
Not in my wilful and savage soul’s volition;         5
Not in the subtle nourishment of the air; 
Not in this beating and pounding at my temples and wrists; 
Not in the curious systole and diastole within, which will one day cease; 
Not in many a hungry wish, told to the skies only; 
Not in cries, laughter, defiances, thrown from me when alone, far in the wilds;  10
Not in husky pantings through clench’d teeth; 
Not in sounded and resounded words—chattering words, echoes, dead words; 
Not in the murmurs of my dreams while I sleep, 
Nor the other murmurs of these incredible dreams of every day; 
Nor in the limbs and senses of my body, that take you and dismiss you continually—Not there;  15
Not in any or all of them, O adhesiveness! O pulse of my life! 
Need I that you exist and show yourself, any more than in these songs. 



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