Summary and Analysis: Calamus Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand


The poet gives a "fair warning" to his would-be followers, the readers who now hold his words in their hands: "I am not what you supposed, but far different." He desires to know who would become "a candidate for my affections." Those who would follow him will have to abandon conformity. The poet cannot reveal himself in libraries. But if he is alone with his companion, "here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,/With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss or the new husband's kiss,/For I am the new husband and I am the comrade," a touch will reveal his meaning, but if one tries to understand him through the mind alone, he "will certainly elude you."

"Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand" is significant for its direct communication with the reader. It deals with a love which is physical and spiritual at the same time. Whitman's animalism is part of his sense of concrete reality. He believes that the love of comrades is physical and procreative and therefore is an essential part of cosmic consciousness, or the awareness of the universe, which is spiritual.