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

22. One Hour to Madness and Joy


ONE hour to madness and joy! 
O furious! O confine me not! 
(What is this that frees me so in storms? 
What do my shouts amid lightnings and raging winds mean?) 
  
O to drink the mystic deliria deeper than any other man!         5
O savage and tender achings! 
(I bequeath them to you, my children, 
I tell them to you, for reasons, O bridegroom and bride.) 
  
O to be yielded to you, whoever you are, and you to be yielded to me, in defiance of the world! 
O to return to Paradise! O bashful and feminine!  10
O to draw you to me—to plant on you for the first time the lips of a determin’d man! 
  
O the puzzle—the thrice-tied knot—the deep and dark pool! O all untied and illumin’d! 
O to speed where there is space enough and air enough at last! 
O to be absolv’d from previous ties and conventions—I from mine, and you from yours! 
O to find a new unthought-of nonchalance with the best of nature!  15
O to have the gag remov’d from one’s mouth! 
O to have the feeling, to-day or any day, I am sufficient as I am! 
  
O something unprov’d! something in a trance! 
O madness amorous! O trembling! 
O to escape utterly from others’ anchors and holds!  20
To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dangerous! 
To court destruction with taunts—with invitations! 
To ascend—to leap to the heavens of the love indicated to me! 
To rise thither with my inebriate Soul! 
To be lost, if it must be so!  25
To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness and freedom! 
With one brief hour of madness and joy. 


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