Sunday, February 3, 2013

Whoever You Are, Holding Me Now In Hand

Whoever you are, holding me now in hand,   
Without one thing, all will be useless,   
I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further,   
I am not what you supposed, but far different.   
Пелагея Клубникина
Who is he that would become my follower? 
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?   
The way is suspicious—the result uncertain, perhaps
You would have to give up all else—I alone would expect
     to be your God, sole and exclusive,   
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,   
The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity to the
     lives around you, would have to be abandon'd;
Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself any further—
     Let go your hand from my shoulders,   
Put me down, and depart on your way.   
Пелагея Клубникина
Or else, by stealth, in some wood, for trial,   
Or back of a rock, in the open air,   
(For in any roof'd room of a house I emerge not—nor
     in company, 
And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or
But just possibly with you on a high hill—first watching
     lest any person, for miles around, approach unawares,   
Пелагея Клубникина

Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea,
     or some quiet island,   
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,   
With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss, or the new husband's kiss, 
For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade.   
Or, if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing,   
Where I may feel the throbs of your heart, or rest upon your hip,   
Carry me when you go forth over land or sea;   
For thus, merely touching you, is enough—is best,
And thus, touching you, would I silently sleep and be carried
But these leaves conning, you con at peril,   
For these leaves, and me, you will not understand,   
They will elude you at first, and still more afterward—I will
     certainly elude you,   
Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me, behold!
Already you see I have escaped from you.   
Пелагея Клубникина

For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written
     this book,   
Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it,   
Nor do those know me best who admire me, and vauntingly praise me,   
Nor will the candidates for my love, (unless at most a very few,)
     prove victorious,
Nor will my poems do good only—they will do just as much evil,
     perhaps more;   
For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times
     and not hit—that which I hinted at;   
Therefore release me, and depart on your way.

~ Walt Whitman

The poet warns that what is thought of him is but a facade and not reality - "I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further,   / I am not what you supposed, but far different".    Pretense and notions about who the writer is must be abandoned and trust in what the author is righting is a must - "The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity to the /  lives around you, would have to be abandon'd".  The author is conveying the complexity of his thoughts about life and love in a contrived manner and stating that it is difficult to 'know' him, to truly 'know him'. His description of love and relationships is both about physical and spiritual and that is keeping with his usual views on love. 

Whitman is probably also talking about his poetry and his writing as much as he is talking of love. His analogies and almost riddle like lines could easily be about his work, especially given his lines "Nor will my poems do good only--they will do just as much evil, / perhaps more".

I decided to use surreal artist, Пелагея Клубникина, as the artist for this poem. I used this art because I feel that the message Whitman is conveying about love and poetry is timeless and these pieces of art convey in a more contemporary way the same messages.... I hope you enjoy.

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