To a stranger…

Walt Whitman’s poem “To a stranger” from Leaves of Grass (begun in 1855 and updated continuously until 1892):

Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon
you,
You must be he I was seeking, or she 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 or a girl with
me,
I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not
yours only not 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.

Who hasn’t seen a face in a crowd, passed by someone, or looked into a stranger’s eyes and had one’s imagination tumble into a reverie of oneness. Whitman was a singular figure in American literature and he would be horrified to learn that there is a service area named after him on the New Jersey Turnpike.
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