Whitman–Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances (Poem)

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,) naught of what they appear, or naught any how, 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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