A Hand-Mirror

By Walt Whitman

HOLD it up sternly! See this it sends back! (Who is
it? Is it you?)
Outside fair costume—within, ashes and filth,
No more a flashing eye—no more a sonorous voice
or springy step,
Now some slave’s eye, voice, hands, step,
A drunkard’s breath, unwholesome eater’s face, ve-
nerealee’s flesh,
Lungs rotting away piecemeal, stomach sour and
Joints rheumatic, bowels clogged with abomination,
Blood circulating dark and poisonous streams,
Words babble, hearing and touch callous,
No brain, no heart left—no magnetism of sex;
Such, from one look in this looking-glass ere you go
Such a result so soon—and from such a beginning!

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