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Leaves of Grass
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Leaves of Grass
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  • Down-hearted doubters dull and excluded, Frivolous, sullen, moping, angry, affected, dishearten’d, atheistical, I know every one of you, I know the sea of torment, doubt, despair and unbelief.
  • Behold through you as bad as the rest, Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of people, Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those wash’d and trimm’d faces, Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.
  • O reckless despairing carols.
  • Liberty, let others despair of you—I never despair of you.
  • Liberty, let others despair of you—I never despair of you.
  • Through me many long dumb voices, Voices of the interminable generations of prisoners and slaves, Voices of the diseas’d and despairing and of thieves and dwarfs, Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion, And of the threads that connect the stars, and of wombs and of the father-stuff, And of the rights of them the others are down upon, Of the deform’d, trivial, flat, foolish, despised, Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.
  • Despairing cries float ceaselessly toward me, The call of my nearest lover, putting forth, alarm’d, uncertain, The sea I am quickly to sail, come tell me, Come tell me where I am speeding, tell me my destination.
  • From Spanish chestnut trees’ dense shade, By old and heavy convent walls a wailing song, Song of lost love, the torch of youth and life quench’d in despair, Song of the dying swan, Fernando’s heart is breaking.
  • Poets unnamed—artists greatest of any, with cherish’d lost designs, Love’s unresponse—a chorus of age’s complaints—hope’s last words, Some suicide’s despairing cry, Away to the boundless waste, and never again return.
  • …faith, after clarifyings, elevations, and removing obstructions, After these and more, it is just possible there comes to a man, woman, the divine power to speak words; Then toward that man or that woman swiftly hasten all—none refuse, all attend, Armies, ships, antiquities, libraries, paintings, machines, cities, hate, despair, amity, pain, theft, murder, aspiration, form in close ranks, They debouch as they are wanted to march obediently through the mouth of that man or that woman.
  • …parturitions, How America illustrates birth, muscular youth, the promise, the sure fulfilment, the absolute success, despite of people—illustrates evil as well as good, The vehement struggle so fierce for unity in one’s-self, How many hold despairingly yet to the models departed, caste, myths, obedience, compulsion, and to infidelity, How few see the arrived models, the athletes, the Western States, or see freedom or spirituality, or hold any faith in results, (But I see the athletes,…
  • I am the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs, Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen, I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn’d with the ooze of my skin, I fall on the weeds and stones, The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close, Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks.
  • …castle gates, the truce and parley, The sack of an old city in its time, The bursting in of mercenaries and bigots tumultuously and disorderly, Roar, flames, blood, drunkenness, madness, Goods freely rifled from houses and temples, screams of women in the gripe of brigands, Craft and thievery of camp-followers, men running, old persons despairing, The hell of war, the cruelties of creeds, The list of all executive deeds and words just or unjust, The power of personality just or unjust.

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  • Don’t despair—help is on the way!
  • Don’t give in to despair.

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