Walt Whitman: Poems

Walt Whitman: Appearances

Of the terrible doubt of appearances,

Of the uncertainty after all--that we may be deluded,

That maybe reliance and hope are but speculations after all,

That maybe identity beyond the grave is a beautiful fable only,

Maybe the things I perceive--the animals, plants, men, hills, shining and

flowing waters,

The skies of day and night--colours, densities, forms--Maybe 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!)

Maybe 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 anyhow, from entirely

changed points of view;

--To me, these, and the like of these, are curiously answered by my lovers,

my dear friends.

When he whom I love travels with me, or sits a long while holding me by the


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


But I walk or sit indifferent--I am satisfied,

He ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.