To One Shortly To Die
in
Walt Whitman:
Complete Poetry and Collected Prose

by Walt Whitman
Library of America

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 envelop it,
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 excrementitous.

The sun burst through in unlooked for directions,
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.


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