Lovers Around the World

This moment yearning and thoughtful sitting alone—terrible, irrepressible yearning—
It seems to me there are other men in distant lands, young men in all cities,
Yearning and thoughtful, talking other dialects,
It seems to me they are as wise, beautiful, benevolent, as any in my own lands.

And it seems to me if I could know those men I should become attached to them, as I do to men in my own lands,
And it may be if I had known them I would have loved them.
O I know we should be brethren and lovers, with gentle words, caresses, gifts from foreign lands,
I know I should be happy with them.

When I hear of the brotherhood of lovers—
Five men, a group of sworn friends, stalwart, bearded, determined, working their way together through all the troubles and impediments of the world—
How it was with them,
How together through life, through dangers, odium, unchanging, long and long,
How unfaltering, how affectionate and faithful they were,
Then I am pensive, fill’d with the bitterest envy.

Yet I know not why I should be sad,
The principal object of my life seems to have been accomplish’d—
I have the most devoted and ardent of friends, and affectionate relatives,
A small band of the dearest friends and upholders ever vouchsafed to man or cause,
Doubtless all the more faithful and uncompromising—this little phalanx!—for being so few,
Lately I think of little else than of

Of enemies I really make no account,
I have learn’ d to feel very thankful to those who attack and abuse and pervert me.
I do not seek those that love me, I would rather seek after some that hate me—
That’s perhaps the only way to bring out the splendid ardor and friendship of those, my unknown friends, my best reward.

Greater than stars or suns, bounding O soul thou journeyest forth,
What love than thine and ours could wider amplify?
I am in love with all my fellows upon the earth.
My spirit has pass’d in compassion around the whole earth,
I have look’d for equals and lovers and found them ready for me in all lands,
I think some divine rapport has equalized me with them,
I am not uneasy but I am to be beloved by young and old men, and to love them the same.

I hear the persuasions of lovers,
Swinging and chirping over my head,
Crying Ahoy from the rocks of the river,
Calling my name from flower-beds, vines, tangled underbrush.
I am not content now with a mere majority,
I must have the love of all men and women,
If there be one left in any country who has not faith in me, I will travel to that country, and go to that one.

The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
My lovers suffocate me, jostling me through streets and public halls,
Lighting on every moment of my life,
The light touches, on my lips, of the lips of my comrades,
Bussing my body with soft balsamic busses,
Crowding my lips, thick in the pores of my skin,
Noiselessly passing handfuls out of their hearts, and giving them to be mine,
They will not let me off till I go with them and respond to the contact of them.

I can repeat over to men and women,
You have done such good to me—the continual good will I have met—I would do the same to you,
The thousand responses of my heart, chaste and electric torrents, never to cease.

Lovers, continual lovers, only these repay me,
The life, love, sight, hearing of others that are to follow me—others who look back on me because I look’d forward to them—the ties between me and them;
I will return after death to be with them,
When I am looked back upon, I will hold levee,
I lean on my left elbow—I take ten thousand lovers, one after another, by my right 
Who is there that is not touched on the lips with a kiss?

NEXT: Loving Strangers in the City