To One Shortly To Die

A poem by Walt Whitman

From all the rest I single out you, having a message for you:
You are to die Let others tell you what they please, I cannot prevaricate,
I am exact and merciless, but I love you There is no escape for you.

Softly I lay my right hand upon you you just feel it,
I do not argue I bend my head close, and half envelope it,
I sit quietly by I remain faithful,
I am more than nurse, more than parent or neighbor,
I absolve you from all except yourself, spiritual, bodily that is eternal you yourself will surely escape,
The corpse you will leave will be but excrementitious.

The sun bursts through in unlooked-for directions!
Strong thoughts fill you, and confidence you smile!
You forget you are sick, as I forget you are sick,
You do not see the medicines you do not mind the weeping friends I am with you,
I exclude others from you there is nothing to be commiserated,
I do not commiserate I congratulate you.

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