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On death

6
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is
any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green
stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may
see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the
vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I
receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon
out of their mothers' laps,
And here you are the mothers' laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for
nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and
women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken
soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas'd the moment life appear'd.

From Leaves of Grass, "Song of Myself," Walt Whitman.

I am reading through quotations on death in Encarta, believing it to be (at the moment) the cornerstone of Cambriel, that is, to reanimate the dead.

It is an interesting thing that in my twenty-seventh year I have truly begun to feel this thing called death, that many writers have described, and it is not only dreadful but intoxicating. Life, like everything, is thrown into focus at the suggestion of its absence. Without its opposite, something cannot be of importance.

I feel it every day when I am alone at home, slinging off my bags. It rushes over me, cutting of my breath. A trembling compulsion to do. And fast. I did not used to feel this way, and I believe it to be an awareness of death.

I must be in love with death. In its suggestions, its manifestations, its rituals, this thing that the human race considers so untouchable, unspeakable, a betrayal of what they are. I consider it a vindication of what they are.

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