Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CITY DEAD-HOUSE, by WALT WHITMAN



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THE CITY DEAD-HOUSE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: By the city dead-house by the gate
Last Line: Months, years, an echoing, garnish'd house -- but dead, dead, dead.
Subject(s): Death; Prostitution; Dead, The; Harlots; Whores; Brothels


By the city dead-house by the gate,
As idly sauntering wending my way from the clangor,
I curious pause, for lo, an outcast form, a poor dead
prostitute brought,
Her corpse they deposit unclaim'd, it lies on the damp brick pavement,
The divine woman, her body, I see the body, I look on it alone,
That house once full of passion and beauty, all else I notice not,
Nor stillness so cold, nor running water from faucet, nor
odors morbific impress me,
But the house alone -- that wondrous house -- that delicate
fair house -- that ruin!
That immortal house more than all the rows of dwellings ever built!
Or white-domed capitol with majestic figure surmounted, or
all the old high-spired cathedrals,
That little house alone more than them all -- poor, desperate house!
Fair, fearful wreck -- tenement of a soul -- itself a soul,
Unclaim'd, avoided house -- take one breath from my tremulous lips,
Take one tear dropt aside as I go for thought of you,
Dead house of love -- house of madness and sin, crumbled, crush'd.
House of life, erewhile talking and laughing -- but ah,
poor house, dead even then,
Months, years, an echoing, garnish'd house -- but dead, dead, dead.





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