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How many readers did Walt Whitman have?

How many readers did Walt Whitman have 
At any stage in his career 
From none to hundreds to thousands 
But never enough to satisfy the nudge within 
For fame for bursting places for the energy within 
For vision struggling for a foothold 
on the consciousness ladder of a crucified nation

He hit the road 
He walked the walk 
He plumbed his own self 
Like a sweet water well 
And spewed like crystal fountains 
All his dreams 
At first a tiny handful read him

How long does it take for a person to be part of another's mind 
Why would one wish to be

Better to be observer 
Not inclined to control or own or be the center of anything 
Finally words written impact only for their power to represent 
What's real and 
What is real is what we already know 
Each one of us 
And for this reason 
Words themselves expire as they are written

I think Walt knew all this and finally was able 
to be content with a few friends in Camden 
Thinking yes 
I have been read 
But if none had ever turned a single leaf 
The answer to it all would simply be 
That I was right most terribly 
And wrong most terribly 
And that it made no difference 

And that's because my 
Yes was true 
And finally that means not me 
But you 

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Stephen C. Rose (1936-) was born in New York City and raised there. He currently lives there. He was educated at Trinity, Exeter, Williams and Union Theological Seminary. He served in the Student Interracial Ministry in Nashville. He founded and edited the prize-winning Renewal Magazine in Chicago and studied with C. A. Doxiadis in Athens. His first books "The Grass Roots Church" and "Who's Killing The Church" established him as a prominent critic of American Protestantism and American religion. He was and remains a civil rights activist. He has interviewed and done in depth pieces on Saul Alinsky and Martin Luther King, Jr. He won awards for editorial courage and for two documentary films. He has written and published many songs and musical works including "We Are All Americans". During the late 90s and early 2000s he worked for UN agencies, most recently editing CHOICES Magazine at UNDP. Since 2000 he has written several books for distribution via K…