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The City Dead-House

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

  BY the City Dead-House, by the gate,
  As idly sauntering, wending my way from the clangor,
  I curious pause--for lo! an outcast form, a poor dead prostitute
  Her corpse they deposit unclaim'd--it lies on the damp brick
  The divine woman, her body--I see the Body--I look on it alone,
  That house once full of passion and beauty--all else I notice not;
  Nor stillness so cold, nor running water from faucet, nor odors
  morbific impress me;
  But the house alone--that wondrous house--that delicate fair house--
  that ruin!
  That immortal house, more than all the rows of dwellings ever built!
  Or white-domed Capitol itself, with majestic figure surmounted--or
  all the old high-spired cathedrals; 10
  That little house alone, more than them all--poor, desperate house!
  Fair, fearful wreck! tenement of a Soul! itself a Soul!
  Unclaim'd, avoided house! take one breath from my tremulous lips;
  Take one tear, dropt aside as I go, for thought of you,
  Dead house of love! house of madness and sin, crumbled! crush'd!
  House of life--erewhile talking and laughing--but ah, poor house!
  dead, even then;
  Months, years, an echoing, garnish'd house--but dead, dead, dead.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Walt Whitman

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

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