Roots and Leaves Themselves Alone
by Walt Whitman
from “Calamus” in Leaves of Grass, 1867
Scents brought to men and women from the wild woods and pond-side,
Breast-sorrel and pinks of love, fingers that wind around tighter than vines,
Gushes from the throats of birds hid in the foliage of trees as the sun is risen,
Breezes of land and love set from living shores to you on the living sea, to you O sailors!
Frost-mellow’d berries and Third-month twigs offer’d fresh to young persons wandering
out in the fields when the winter breaks up,
Love-buds put before you and within you whoever you are,
Buds to be unfolded on the old terms,
If you bring the warmth of the sun to them they will open and bring form, color, perfume, to you,
If you become the aliment and the wet they will become flowers, fruits, tall branches and trees.
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Roots and leaves themselves alone are these,