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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

302. Who is now Reading This?

WHO is now reading this?

May-be one is now reading this who knows some wrong-doing of my past life,

Or may-be a stranger is reading this who has secretly loved me,

Or may-be one who meets all my grand assumptions and egotisms with derision,

Or may-be one who is puzzled at me.

As if I were not puzzled at myself!

Or as if I never deride myself! (O conscience-struck! O self-convicted!)

Or as if I do not secretly love strangers! (O tenderly, a long time, and never avow it;)

Or as if I did not see, perfectly well, interior in myself, the stuff of wrong-doing,

Or as if it could cease transpiring from me until it must cease.