the manly love of comrades

Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you.

You must be he I was seeking, I was seeking, (it comes to me, as of a dream,)

I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you, All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
You grew up with me, were a boy with me.

I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has become not yours only, nor left my body mine only, You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass—you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return.

I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone, I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again.

I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

From ; The “Calamus” poems are a cluster of poems in Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman . These poems celebrate and promote “the manly love of comrades“. Most critics believe that these poems are Whitman’s clearest expressions in print of his ideas about homosexual love.

3 thoughts on “the manly love of comrades

  1. In 1963, my parents bought a farm. We moved from our custom built home in town, to a country address. The house was not as modern as the one we left behind, but my parents did a lot of work to this old farm house and it became home. I started 3rd grade at a country school. Up the hill from our farm, lived a family with four kids, two of them my age. We rode the school bus together each day. From where the bus dropped us off, we had a half mile of private road to walk to get home. And the next morning, back the opposite way to meet the bus I became very good friends with the sister, she was also in my class. But her one year older brother, for whatever reason, hated me.”He” made it very clear how he felt. I absolutely loved race cars, Lotus, Ferrari’s, any grand prix cars and the famous drivers, Jimmy Clark, Sterling Moss, Phil Hill, etc. “He” thought racing was stupid. Sports was his subject of intense interest. The main problem was…that I loved this young man. I didn’t really understand my feelings. But I knew that I loved him, deeply, in spite of his attitude toward me. I remember one day, having walked with both of them, up their lane to their house. Their mother was a very sweet and kind person. That afternoon, she had a big pot of cream of chicken soup ready for us. After a long school day and a long ride home, the soup was so welcoming. And I felt comfortable in their home. At some point, that late afternoon, “He” had a football game on the TV. I likely said something about “Sports” that set him off. I don’t recall it, word for word, but at a certain point I got up and started to walk out the front door. “He” again stated his feelings about auto racing. As I recall, before I stepped thru the door I turned to him and said “It’s not about sports or auto racing”…..”I just want to be your friend”. As I stepped across their front lawn, headed down the hill to my home, I started to cry. Stinging hot tears. Bitter, incomplete tears. Some time later, I told one of my sisters about “Him” and for the first time in my life I said these words….”I love him. Not just as someone I wish was my friend…I really LOVE HIM”. My sister was very supportive and tried to help me walk through the maze of feelings that was tearing me apart. I don’t know what I would of done without her. Thankfully, I didn’t have to find out. Fast forward to high school: “He” and I actually did become friends! I would like to believe that a double shot of maturity helped both of us. Plus the fact that we had many of the same friends was a big leap over the problems of the past. Years later, I was invited to and attended his wedding. In closing, I never told him how I felt. It actually was enough that we became friends. There will always be a very special place for him in my heart. I still love him. However, now it is a calmer, more mature love. Schultz, you will always be in my heart.

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