Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Song of Myself, XI



Song of Myself, XI
Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892

Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.

She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.

Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.

Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather,
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.

The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from their long hair,
Little streams pass’d over their bodies.

An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies,
It descended trembling from their temples and ribs.

The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,
They do not know who puffs and declines with the pendant and bending arch,
They do not think whom they souse with spray.

1 comment:

Mr. Carpenter said...

Hi, The photo is one that Thomas Eakins took of his students in preparation for painting "The Swimming Hole". Bathing / swimming naked back then was thought of as natural and shame-free. Not now, alas.