Page:Leaves of Grass (1855).djvu/64

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


Leaves of Grass.

If you have become degraded or ill, then I will become so for your sake;
If you remember your foolish and outlawed deeds, do you think I cannot remember my foolish and outlawed deeds?
If you carouse at the table I say I will carouse at the opposite side of the table;
If you meet some stranger in the street and love him or her, do I not often meet strangers in the street and love them?
If you see a good deal remarkable in me I see just as much remarkable in you.

Why what have you thought of yourself?
Is it you then that thought yourself less?
Is it you that thought the President greater than you? or the rich better off than you? or the educated wiser than you?

Because you are greasy or pimpled – or that you was once drunk, or a thief, of diseased, or rheumatic, of a prostitute – or are so now – or from frivolity or impotence – or that you are no scholar, and never saw your name in print .... do you give in that you are any less immortal?

Souls of men and women! it is not you I call unseen, unheard, untouchable and untouching;
It is not you I go argue pro and con about, and to settle whether you are alive or no;
I own publicly who you are, if nobody else owns .... and see and hear you, and what you give and take;
What is there you cannot give and take?

I see not merely that you are polite or whitefaced .... married or single .... citizens of old states or citizens of new states .... eminent in some profession .... a lady or gentleman in a parlor .... or dressed in the jail uniform .... or pulpit uniform,
Not only the free Utahan, Kansian, or Arkansian .... not only the free Cuban ... not merely the slave .... not Mexican native, or Flatfoot, or negro from Africa,
Iroquois eating the warflesh – fishtearer in his lair of rocks and sand .... Esquimaux in the dark cold snowhouse .... Chinese with his transverse eyes .... Bedowee – or wandering nomad – or tabounschik at the head of his droves,
Grown, half-grown, and babe – of this country and every country, indoors and outdoors I see .... and all else is behind or through them.

The wife – and she is not one jot less than the husband,
The daughter – and she is just as good as the son,
The mother – and she is every bit as much as the father.

Offspring of those not rich – boys apprenticed to trades,