Of The Terrible Doubt Of Apperarances

Walt Whitman 1819 (West Hills) – 1892 (Camden)

   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
   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;                                     10
   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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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 19, 2023

1:15 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 1,577
Words 251
Stanzas 1
Stanza Lengths 28

Walt Whitman

Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. more…

All Walt Whitman poems | Walt Whitman Books

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