"The Bather" is the most erotic of Whitman's poems; it is also of note that he does not have any poem that describes the same actions with nude women; for this reason and others, some critics feel that Whitman is in the place of the woman of this verse and the poem is homoerotic. At any rate, the "twenty-ninth bather" is a seemingly a voyeur, hiding behind her blinds, watching the twenty-eight men, pretending that she is there with them, watching the water rivulets pass down their chests.
The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from their long hair,Little streams pass’d all over their bodies.An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies,It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.
Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather,The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.
I do not press my fingers across my mouth,I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,And that a kelson of the creation is love,