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Page 280
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VIGIL STRANGE I KEPT ON THE FIELD ONE NIGHT.

VIGIL strange I kept on the field one night:
When you, my son and my comrade, dropt at my side
         that day,
One look I but gave, which your dear eyes return'd,
         with a look I shall never forget;
One touch of your hand to mine, O boy, reach'd up as
         you lay on the ground;
Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested
         battle;
Till late in the night reliev'd, to the place at last again I
         made my way;
Found you in death so cold, dear comrade—found your
         body, son of responding kisses, (never again on
         earth responding;)
Bared your face in the starlight—curious the scene—
         cool blew the moderate night-wind;
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me
         the battle-field spreading;
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet, there in the fragrant
         silent night;
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh—Long,
         long I gazed;
Then on the earth partially reclining, sat by your side,
         leaning my chin in my hands;
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with
         you, dearest comrade—Not a tear, not a word;
Vigil of silence, love and death—vigil for you, my son
         and my soldier,
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones up-
         ward stole;
Vigil final for you, brave boy, (I could not save you,
         swift was your death,
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living—I think
         we shall surely meet again;)
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the
         dawn appear'd,
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop'd well his
         form,

Page 281
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Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head,
         and carefully under feet;
And there and then, and bathed by the rising sun, my
         son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I de-
         posited;
Ending my vigil strange with that—vigil of night and
         battle-field dim;
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth
         responding;)
Vigil for comrade swiftly slain—vigil I never forget,
         how as day brighten'd,
I rose from the chill ground, and folded my soldier well
         in his blanket,
And buried him where he fell.
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