"Camerado, This Is No Book"

Context: Although Whitman lived many years after writing this poem, it is a farewell written as if the poet had not long to live. The poem attempts to summarize his intellectual career and the messages he had sought to convey; it is also something of a prophecy of the America to come. As in all of his work, Whitman here strongly asserts the grandness and intensity of life and the possibility of every man's experiencing it fully. He believes that human beings are endowed with almost limitless energy, physical and mental, which allows them to feel a harmony with the very forces of nature. He wants his poetry to be taken, not as writing, but as a living record of life which all men would acknowledge. He has put as much of himself as was transcribable into his volume, and believes that whoever reads it will know him intimately.

Camerado, this is no book,
Who touches this touches a man,
(Is it night? are we here together alone?)
It is I you hold and who holds you,
I spring from the pages into your arms–decease calls me forth.