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1  WHEN lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in
         the night,
I mourn'd—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning

2  O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the
And thought of him I love.


3  O powerful western, fallen star!
O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear'd! O the black murk that hides
         the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul
         of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!

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4  In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house near the
         white-wash'd palings,
Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped
         leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the
         perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle. . . . . .and from this bush in
         the door-yard,
With delicate-color'd blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves
         of rich green,
A sprig, with its flower, I break.


5  In the swamp, in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

6  Solitary, the thrush,
The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settle-
Sings by himself a song.

7  Song of the bleeding throat!
Death's outlet song of life—(for well dear brother, I
If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would'st surely


8  Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes and through old woods, (where lately the
         violets peep'd from the ground, spotting the gray
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes—
         passing the endless grass;
Passing the yellow-spear'd wheat, every grain from its
         shroud in the dark-brown fields uprising;
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the

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Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.


9  Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night with the great cloud darkening
         the land,
With the pomp of the inloop'd flags, with the cities
         draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves, as of crape-
         veil'd women, standing,
With processions long and winding, and the flambeaus
         of the night,
With the countless torches lit—with the silent sea of
         faces, and the unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the
         sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices
         rising strong and solemn;
With all the mournful voices of the dirges, pour'd around
         the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—Where
         amid these you journey,
With the tolling, tolling bells' perpetual clang;
Here! coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac.


10  (Nor for you, for one, alone;
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring:
For fresh as the morning—thus would I carol a song
          for you, O sane and sacred death.

11  All over bouquets of roses,
O death! I cover you over with roses and early lilies;
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes;
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you, and the coffins all of you, O death.)

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12  O western orb, sailing the heaven!
Now I know what you must have meant, as a month
         since we walk'd,
As we walk'd up and down in the dark blue so mystic,
As we walk'd in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell, as you bent to me
         night after night,
As you droop'd from the sky low down as if to my side,
         (while the other stars all look'd on;)
As we wander'd together the solemn night, (for some-
         thing I know not what, kept me from sleep;)
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the
         west, ere you went, how full of woe;
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze, in the
         cool transparent night,
As I watch'd where you pass'd and was lost in the
         netherward black of the night,
As my soul in its trouble, dissatisfied, sank, as where
         you, sad orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.


13  Sing on there in the swamp!
O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes—I hear
         your call;
I hear—I come presently—I understand you;
But a moment I linger—for the lustrous star has de-
         tain'd me;
The star my departing comrade holds and detains me.

14  O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul
         that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be, for the grave of him I

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15  Sea-winds, blown from east and west,
Blown from the Eastern sea, and blown from the west-
         ern sea, till there on the prairies meeting:
These, and with these, and the breath of my chant,
I perfume the grave of him I love.


16  O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the
To adorn the burial-house of him I love?

17  Pictures of growing spring, and farms, and homes,
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray
         smoke lucid and bright,
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indo-
         lent, sinking sun, burning, expanding the air;
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale
         green leaves of the trees prolific;
In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river,
         with a wind-dapple here and there;
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line
         against the sky, and shadows;
And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and
         stacks of chimneys,
And all the scenes of life, and the workshops, and the
         workmen homeward returning.


18  Lo! body and soul! this land!
Mighty Manhattan, with spires, and the sparkling and
         hurrying tides, and the ships;
The varied and ample land—the South and the North
         in the light—Ohio's shores, and flashing Mis-
And ever the far-spreading prairies, cover'd with grass
         and corn.

19  Lo! the most excellent sun, so calm and haughty;
The violet and purple morn, with just-felt breezes;

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The gentle, soft-born, measureless light;
The miracle, spreading, bathing all—the fulfill'd
The coming eve, delicious—the welcome night, and the
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.


20  Sing on! sing on, you gray-brown bird!
Sing from the swamps, the recesses—pour your chant
         from the bushes;
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and

21  Sing on, dearest brother—warble your reedy song;
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.

22  O liquid, and free, and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul! O wondrous singer!
You only I hear . . . . . . yet the star holds me, (but will
         soon depart;)
Yet the lilac, with mastering odor, holds me.


23  Now while I sat in the day, and look'd forth,
In the close of the day, with its light and the fields of
         spring, and the farmer preparing his crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land, with its
         lakes and forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb'd
         winds, and the storms;)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift pass-
         ing, and the voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides,—and I saw the ships how
         they sail'd,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the
         fields all busy with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on,
         each with its meals and minutia of daily usages;

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And the streets, how their throbbings throbb'd, and the
         cities pent—lo! then and there,
Falling upon them all, and among them all, enveloping
         me with the rest,
Appear'd the cloud, appear'd the long black trail;
And I knew Death, its thought, and the sacred knowl-
         edge of death.


24  Then with the knowledge of death as walking one
         side of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side
         of me,
And I in the middle, as with companions, and as hold-
         ing the hands of companions,
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night, that talks
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp
         in the dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars, and ghostly pines so

25  And the singer so shy to the rest receiv'd me;
The gray-brown bird I know, receiv'd us comrades
And he sang what seem'd the carol of death, and a
         verse for him I love.

26  From deep secluded recesses,
From the fragrant cedars, and the ghostly pines so
Came the carol of the bird.

27  And the charm of the carol rapt me,
As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the

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28  Come, lovely and soothing Death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later delicate Death.

29  Prais'd be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious;
And for love, sweet love—But praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death.

30  Dark Mother always gliding near, with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee—I glorify thee above all;
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come

31  Approach strong Deliveress!
When it is so—when thou hast taken them I joyously sing
         the dead,
Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death.

32  From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose saluting thee—adornments and
         feastings for thee,
And the sights of the open landscape, and the high-spread
         sky are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

33  The night, in silence, under many a star;
The ocean shore, and the husky whispering wave, whose
         voice I know;
And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veil'd Death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

34  Over the tree-tops I float thee a song!
Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields,
         and the prairies wide;

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Over the dense-pack'd cities all and the teeming wharves
         and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!


35  To the tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure deliberate notes, spreading, filling the night.

36  Loud in the pines and cedars dim,
Clear in the freshness, moist and the swamp-perfume;
And I with my comrades there in the night.

37  While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,
As to long panoramas of visions.


38  I saw askant the armies;
And I saw, as in noiseless dreams, hundreds of battle-
Borne through the smoke of the battles, and pierc'd
         with missiles, I saw them,
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and
         torn and bloody;
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all
         in silence,)
And the staffs all splinter'd and broken.

39  I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men—I saw them;
I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of
         the war;
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselveswere fully at rest—they suffer'd not;
The living remain'd and suffer'd—the mother suffer'd,
And the wife and the child, and the musing comrade
And the armies that remain'd suffer'd.


40  Passing the visions, passing the night;
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades' hands;

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Passing the song of the hermit bird, and the tallying
         song of my soul,
(Victorious song, death's outlet song, yet varying ever-
         altering song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and fall-
         ing, flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning,
         and yet again bursting with joy,
Covering the earth, and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from
Passing, I leave thee, lilac with heart-shaped leaves;
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning
         with spring.

41  I cease from my song for thee,
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west,
         communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous, with silver face in the night.


42  Yet each to keep, and all, retrievements out of the
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous'd in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star, with the counte-
         nance full of woe,
With the lilac tall; and its blossoms of mastering odor;
With the holders holding my hand, nearing the call of
         the bird,
Comrades mine, and I in the midst, and their memory
         ever I keep—for the dead I loved so well;
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands . . .
         and this for his dear sake;
Lilac and star and bird, twined with the chant of my
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.

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O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought
         is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.


My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed
         and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

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( May 4, 1865. )


HUSH'D be the camps to-day;
And soldiers, let us drape our war-worn weapons;
And each with musing soul retire, to celebrate,
Our dear commander's death.

2  No more for him life's stormy conflicts;
Nor victory, nor defeat—no more time's dark events,
Charging like ceaseless clouds across the sky.


3  But sing, poet, in our name;
Sing of the love we bore him—because you, dweller in
         camps, know it truly.

4  As they invault the coffin there;
Sing—as they close the doors of earth upon him—
         one verse,
For the heavy hearts of soldiers.


THIS dust was once the Man,
Gentle, plain, just and resolute—under whose cautious
Against the foulest crime in history known in any land
         or age,
Was saved the Union of These States.
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