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Walt Whitman

When I heard at the Close of the Day
(No. 11, from ‘Calamus’)

When I heard at the close of the day how I had
been praised in the Capitol, still it was not
a happy night for me that followed,
And else when I caroused
nor when my favorite plans were
was I really happy,
But the day when I arose at dawn from the perfect
health, electric, inhaling sweet breath
When I saw the full moon in the west grow pale and
disappear in the morning light,
When I wandered alone over the beach, and undressing, bathed,
laughing with the waters, and saw the sun rise,
And when I thought how my friend, my lover, was on
his way coming, then O I was happy,
Each breath tasted sweeter
and all that day my food
nourished me more
and the beautiful day passed well,
And the next came with equal joy
and with the next,
at evening, came my friend,
And that night while all was still I heard the waters roll
slowly continually up the shores,
I heard the hissing rustle of the liquid and sands, as directed
to me, whispering to congratulate me,
For the friend I love lay sleeping by my side,
In the stillness his face was inclined toward me, while the
moon's clear beams shone
And his arm lay lightly over my breast
and that night I was happy.


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