You Laggards There on Guard!

(2014)
"You Laggards There on Guard!" is the first song of Jeremy Gill's Whitman Portrait. The song is for tenor and piano.
You laggards there on guard! look to your arms!
For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch,
It is I let out in the morning and barr’d at night.

Not a mutineer walks handcuff’d to jail but I am handcuff’d to him and walk by his side.
Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried and sentenced.
Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also lie at the last gasp,
My face is ash-color’d, my sinews gnarl, away from me people retreat.

Enough! enough! enough!
Somehow I have been stunn’d. Stand back!
Give me a little time beyond my cuff’d head, slumbers, dreams, gaping...

That I could forget the mockers and insults!
That I could forget the trickling tears and the blows of the bludgeons and hammers!
That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion!

I remember now,
I resume the overstaid fraction,
The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it,
Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me.

Eleves, I salute you!
Continue your annotations, continue your questionings.

—“Song of Myself,” Nos. 37 and 38, adapted by Jeremy Gill

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