Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
 
Descriptive Poems: I. Personal: Great Writers
“Out from behind this mask”
Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
 
To Confront His Own Portrait for “The Wound Dresser” in “Leaves of Grass

OUT from behind this bending, rough-cut mask,
These lights and shades, this drama of the whole,
This common curtain of the face, contained in me for me, in you for you, in each for each.
(Tragedies, sorrows, laughter, tears—O heaven!
The passionate teeming plays this curtain hid!)        5
This glaze of God’s serenest, purest sky,
This film of Satan’s seething pit,
This heart’s geography’s map, this limitless small continent, this soundless sea;
Out from the convolutions of this globe,
This subtler astronomic orb than sun or moon, than Jupiter, Venus, Mars,        10
This condensation of the universe (nay, here the only universe,
Here the idea, all in this mystic handful wrapt);
These burned eyes, flashing to you, to pass to future time,
To launch and spin through space, revolving, sideling, from these to emanate
To you—whoe’er you are—a look.        15
 
A traveller of thoughts and years, of peace and war,
Of youth long sped and middling age declining
(As the first volume of a tale perused and laid away, and this the second,
Songs, ventures, speculations, presently to close),
Lingering a moment here and now, to you I opposite turn,        20
As on the road, or at some crevice door by chance, or opened window,
Pausing, inclining, baring my head, you specially I greet,
To draw and clinch your soul for once inseparably with mine,
Then travel, travel on.
 
 
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