a certain number of leaves

I SAW IN LOUISIANA A LIVE-OAK GROWING

      SAW in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
      All alone stood it, and the moss hung down from the branches;
      Without any companion it grew there, uttering joyous leaves of dark green,
      And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself;
      But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves, standing alone there, without its friend, its lover near--for I knew I could not;
      And broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it, and twined around it a little moss,
      And brought it away--and I have placed it in sight in my room;
      It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends,
      (For I believe lately I think of little else than them:)
      Yet it remains to me a curious token--it makes me think of manly love;
      For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana, solitary, in a wide flat space,
      Uttering joyous leaves all its life, without a friend, a lover, near,
      I know very well I could not.

~ Walt Whitman

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