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(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

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A Hand-Mirror


HOLD it up sternly! See this it sends back! (Who is it? Is it you?)
Outside fair costume--within ashes and filth,
No more a flashing eye--no more a sonorous voice or springy step;
Now some slave's eye, voice, hands, step,
A drunkard's breath, unwholesome eater's face, venerealee's flesh,
Lungs rotting away piecemeal, stomach sour and cankerous,
Joints rheumatic, bowels clogged with abomination,
Blood circulating dark and poisonous streams,
Words babble, hearing and touch callous,
No brain, no heart left--no magnetism of sex; 10
Such, from one look in this looking-glass ere you go hence,
Such a result so soon--and from such a beginning!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002


Read poems about / on: dark, mirror, heart

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Comments about this poem (A Promise To California by Walt Whitman )

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  • Cambridge Keenan (7/10/2013 7:45:00 PM)

    This is about aging, not so gracefully perhaps

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Kristen Hall (2/6/2013 11:44:00 AM)

    This reminds me of The Lumineers' line from Slow it Down: Smile less and dress up some more.

  • Joy Vanderhelm (1/21/2006 8:43:00 PM)

    Oh, the horros that come with age! I, for one, plan on inventing a time-machine that doesn't go back in time, rather just creates a bubble. One that allows me to remain super sexy and relatively healthy until my death bed.

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