Walt Whitman

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, 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! 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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