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Respondez!

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

RESPONDEZ! Respondez!
  (The war is completed--the price is paid--the title is settled beyond
  recall;)
  Let every one answer! let those who sleep be waked! let none evade!
  Must we still go on with our affectations and sneaking?
  Let me bring this to a close--I pronounce openly for a new
  distribution of roles;
  Let that which stood in front go behind! and let that which was
  behind advance to the front and speak;
  Let murderers, bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new
  propositions!
  Let the old propositions be postponed!
  Let faces and theories be turn'd inside out! let meanings be freely
  criminal, as well as results!
  Let there be no suggestion above the suggestion of drudgery! 10
  Let none be pointed toward his destination! (Say! do you know your
  destination?)
  Let men and women be mock'd with bodies and mock'd with Souls!
  Let the love that waits in them, wait! let it die, or pass stillborn
  to other spheres!
  Let the sympathy that waits in every man, wait! or let it also pass,
  a dwarf, to other spheres!
  Let contradictions prevail! let one thing contradict another! and let
  one line of my poems contradict another!
  Let the people sprawl with yearning, aimless hands! let their tongues
  be broken! let their eyes be discouraged! let none descend into
  their hearts with the fresh lusciousness of love!
  (Stifled, O days! O lands! in every public and private corruption!
  Smother'd in thievery, impotence, shamelessness, mountain-high;
  Brazen effrontery, scheming, rolling like ocean's waves around and
  upon you, O my days! my lands!
  For not even those thunderstorms, nor fiercest lightnings of the war,
  have purified the atmosphere;) 20
  --Let the theory of America still be management, caste, comparison!
  (Say! what other theory would you?)
  Let them that distrust birth and death still lead the rest! (Say! why
  shall they not lead you?)
  Let the crust of hell be neared and trod on! let the days be darker
  than the nights! let slumber bring less slumber than waking
  time brings!
  Let the world never appear to him or her for whom it was all made!
  Let the heart of the young man still exile itself from the heart of
  the old man! and let the heart of the old man be exiled from
  that of the young man!
  Let the sun and moon go! let scenery take the applause of the
  audience! let there be apathy under the stars!
  Let freedom prove no man's inalienable right! every one who can
  tyrannize, let him tyrannize to his satisfaction!
  Let none but infidels be countenanced!
  Let the eminence of meanness, treachery, sarcasm, hate, greed,
  indecency, impotence, lust, be taken for granted above all! let
  writers, judges, governments, households, religions,
  philosophies, take such for granted above all!
  Let the worst men beget children out of the worst women! 30
  Let the priest still play at immortality!
  Let death be inaugurated!
  Let nothing remain but the ashes of teachers, artists, moralists,
  lawyers, and learn'd and polite persons!
  Let him who is without my poems be assassinated!
  Let the cow, the horse, the camel, the garden-bee--let the mudfish,
  the lobster, the mussel, eel, the sting-ray, and the grunting
  pig-fish--let these, and the like of these, be put on a perfect
  equality with man and woman!
  Let churches accommodate serpents, vermin, and the corpses of those
  who have died of the most filthy of diseases!
  Let marriage slip down among fools, and be for none but fools!
  Let men among themselves talk and think forever obscenely of women!
  and let women among themselves talk and think obscenely of men!
  Let us all, without missing one, be exposed in public, naked,
  monthly, at the peril of our lives! let our bodies be freely
  handled and examined by whoever chooses!
  Let nothing but copies at second hand be permitted to exist upon the
  earth! 40
  Let the earth desert God, nor let there ever henceforth be mention'd
  the name of God!
  Let there be no God!
  Let there be money, business, imports, exports, custom, authority,
  precedents, pallor, dyspepsia, smut, ignorance, unbelief!
  Let judges and criminals be transposed! let the prison-keepers be put
  in prison!
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:30 min read
106 Views

Walt Whitman

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

All Walt Whitman poems | Walt Whitman Books

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    "Respondez!" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 8 Mar. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/38125/respondez!>.

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