Walt Whitman – Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances


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Of the terrible doubt of appearances,
Of the uncertainty after all, that we may be deluded,
That may-be reliance and hope are but speculations after all,
That may-be identity beyond the grave is a beautiful fable only,
May-be the things I perceive, the animals, plants, men, hills,
        shining and flowing waters,
The skies of day and night, colors, densities, forms, may-be these
        are (as doubtless they are) only apparitions, and the real
        something has yet to be known,
(How often they dart out of themselves as if to confound me and mock me!
How often I think neither I know, nor any man knows, aught of them,)
May-be seeming to me what they are (as doubtless they indeed but seem)
        as from my present point of view, and might prove (as of course they
        would) nought of what they appear, or nought anyhow, from entirely
        changed points of view;
To me these and the like of these are curiously answer'd by my
        lovers, my dear friends,
When he whom I love travels with me or sits a long while holding me
        by the hand,
When the subtle air, the impalpable, the sense that words and reason
        hold not, surround us and pervade us,
Then I am charged with untold and untellable wisdom, I am silent, I
        require nothing further,
I cannot answer the question of appearances or that of identity
        beyond the grave,
But I walk or sit indifferent, I am satisfied,
He ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.

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