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