Walt Whitman

Souvenirs of Democracy

THE business man, the acquirer vast, After assiduous years, surveying results, preparing for departure, Devises houses and lands to his children—bequeaths stocks, goods—funds for a school or hospital, Leaves money to certain companions to buy tokens, souvenirs of gems and gold; Parceling out with care—And then, to prevent all cavil, His name to his testament formally signs. But I, my life surveying, With nothing to show, to devise, from its idle years, Nor houses, nor lands—nor tokens of gems or gold for my friends, Only these Souvenirs of Democracy—In them—in all my songs—behind me leaving, To You, who ever you are, (bathing, leavening this leaf especially with my breath—pressing on it a moment with my own hands; —Here! feel how the pulse beats in my wrists!—how my heart’s-blood is swelling, contracting!) I will You, in all, Myself, with promise to never desert you, To which I sign my name.

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