Chance Meeting

Chance Meeting (1970), Duane Michals

 
 

52. To a Stranger

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, nor 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.

 

Walt Whitman

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Salute, Walt Whitman


 
 

Salute, Walt Whitman is both an extension and a summation of Duane Michals’s decades-long exploration of desire and an acknowledgment of the lifelong comfort, inspiration, and extraordinary vision he’s found in the writings of his spiritual mentor and companion, Walt Whitman. Suffering retrospectives and the accumulated critical accolades and dismissals that a long, illustrious career brings, Michals finds an open meadow in the ageless words of Whitman. In this book a litany of images unfolds, evoking the sensuality and rapturous longing that was part of this singular American poet’s great contribution.”
 

Review by Barnes & Noble

 
 

 
 

“I wanted to get the writing, his writing, into the photographs, and I had this wonderful big book which I found at an auction in the country for two bucks,” he recalls. “I would do these series where there’d be a closeup of the book and you would read the text, and the camera kept retreating and then eventually it would become a landscape…it keeps changing and then you end up with the person being diminished and he becomes part of a landscape. It was a wonderful freedom for me to get his writing inside my photographs and I’m very thrilled with that.”

 
 

Picture cover by Duane Michals

 
 

“Whitman was so wonderful for me. He’s one of the few people – like Magritte – who have really influenced me,” he says. “When I was 17, my mother worked in a department store and I went to the bookstore and I found this copy of Leaves of Grass, which was so extraordinary. It wasn’t the kind of poetry you read in high school…he addressed issues, he talked to you directly – that’s where I get that talking to you directly from.”