Listen, I will be honest with you

by Walt Whitman

Listen! I will be honest with you, 

I do not offer the old smooth prizes, 

    but offer new rough prizes, 

These are the days that must happen to you:

You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,

You but arrive at the city to which you were destined, 

    you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction 

    before you are called by an irresistible call to depart, 

You shall be treated to ironical smiles and mockings

    of those who remain behind you, 

What beckonings of love you receive 

    you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting,

You shall not allow the hold of those 

    who spread their reached hands toward you.

from Song of the Open Road


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