14 Jan Out from Behind this Mask… (WALT WHITMAN)
OUT from behind this bending, rough-cut Mask,
(All straighter, liker Masks rejected—this preferr’d,)
This common curtain of the face, contain’d 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!)
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;
This condensation of the Universe—(nay, here the only Universe,
Here the IDEA—all in this mystic handful wrapt;)
These burin’d 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.
A Traveler of thoughts and years—of peace and war,
Of youth long sped, and middle 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, As on the road, or at some crevice door, by chance, or open’d window,
Pausing, inclining, baring my head, You specially I greet,
To draw and clench your Soul, for once, inseparably with mine,
Then travel, travel on.
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.