ENTERED according to act of Congress, in the year 1865, by WALT WHITMAN, in the Clerk's Office of the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York.
|Shut not your doors to me proud Libraries............||8|
|Cavalry crossing a ford..............................||8|
|Song of the Banner at Day-Break......................||9|
|By the bivouac's fitful flame........................||16|
|From Paumanok starting I fly like a bird.............||18|
|Beginning my studies.................................||18|
|The Centenarian's Story..............................||19|
|Pioneers! O Pioneers!................................||25|
|Quicksand years that whirl me I know not whither.....||30|
|When I heard the learn'd Astronomer..................||34|
|Rise O Days from your fathomless deeps...............||35|
|A child's amaze......................................||37|
|Beat! beat! drums!.................................||38|
|Come up from the fields, father......................||39|
|City of ships........................................||41|
|Mother and babe......................................||41|
|Vigil strange I kept on the field one night...........||42|
|Bathed in war's perfume..............................||43|
|A march in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown||44|
|Long, too long, O land...............................||45|
|A sight in camp in the day-break grey and dim........||46|
|A farm picture.......................................||46|
|Give me the splendid silent sun......................||47|
|Over the carnage rose prophetic a voice..............||49|
|Did you ask dulcet rhymes from me?...................||50|
|Year of meteors......................................||51|
|Years of the unperform'd.............................||53|
|Year that trembled and reel'd beneath me.............||54|
|The Veteran's vision.................................||55|
|O tan-faced Prairie-boy..............................||56|
|Camps of green..........................................||57|
|As toilsome I wander'd Virginia's woods.................||58|
|Hymn of dead soldiers...................................||59|
|A Broadway pageant......................................||61|
|Flag of stars, thick-sprinkled bunting..................||65|
|Look down fair moon.....................................||66|
|Out of the rolling ocean, the crowd.....................||67|
|World, take good notice.................................||67|
|I saw old General at bay................................||68|
|Others may praise what they like........................||68|
|Solid, ironical, rolling orb............................||68|
|Hush'd be the camps to-day..............................||69|
|Weave in, weave in, my hardy soul........................||69|
|Turn, O Libertad........................................||70|
|Bivouac on a mountain side..............................||70|
|Pensive on her dead gazing, I heard the mother of all...||71|
|Not youth pertains to me................................||72|
FIRST, O songs, for a prelude,
Lightly strike on the stretch'd tympanum, pride and joy
in my city,
How she led the rest to arms—how she gave the cue,
How at once with lithe limbs, unwaiting a moment, she
(O superb! O Manhattan, my own, my peerless!
O strongest you in the hour of danger, in crisis! O
truer than steel!)
How you sprang! how you threw off the costumes of
peace with indifferent hand;
How your soft opera-music changed, and the drum and
fife were heard in their stead;
How you led to the war, (that shall serve for our pre-
lude songs of soldiers,)
How Manhattan drum-taps led.
Forty years had I in my city seen soldiers parading;
Forty years as a pageant—till unawares, the Lady of
this teeming and turbulent city,
Sleepless, amid her ships, her houses, her incalculable
With her million children around her—suddenly,
At dead of night, at news from the south,
Incens'd, struck with clench'd hand the pavement.
A shock electric—the night sustain'd it;
Till with ominous hum, our hive at day-break, pour'd
out its myriads.
From the houses then, and the workshops, and
through all the doorways,
Leapt they tumultuous—and lo! Manhattan arming.
To the drum-taps prompt,
The young men falling in and arming;
The mechanics arming, (the trowel, the jack-plane, the
blacksmith's hammer, tost aside with precipi-
The lawyer leaving his office, and arming—the judge
leaving the court;
The driver deserting his wagon in the street, jumping
down, throwing the reins abruptly down on the
The salesman leaving the store—the boss, book-keeper,
porter, all leaving;
Squads gathering everywhere by common consent, and
The new recruits, even boys—the old men show them
how to wear their accoutrements—they buckle
the straps carefully;
Outdoors arming—indoors arming—the flash of the
The white tents cluster in camps—the arm'd sentries
around—the sunrise cannon, and again at sunset;
Arm'd regiments arrive every day, pass through the
city, and embark from the wharves;
(How good they look, as they tramp down to the river,
sweaty, with their guns on their shoulders!
How I love them! how I could hug them, with their
brown faces, and their clothes and knapsacks cov-
er'd with dust!)
The blood of the city up—arm'd! arm'd! the cry
The flags flung out from the steeples of churches, and
from all the public buildings and stores;
The tearful parting—the mother kisses her son—the
son kisses his mother;
(Loth is the mother to part—yet not a word does she
speak to detain him;)
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The tumultuous escort—the ranks of policemen preceed-
ing, clearing the way;
The unpent enthusiasm—the wild cheers of the crowd
for their favorites;
The artillery—the silent cannons, bright as gold, drawn
along, rumble lightly over the stones;
(Silent cannons—soon to cease your silence!
Soon, unlimber'd, to begin the red business;)
All the mutter of preparation—all the determin'd
The hospital service—the lint, bandages, and medi-
The women volunteering for nurses—the work begun
for, in earnest—no mere parade now;
War! an arm'd race is advancing!—the welcome for
battle—no turning away;
War! be it weeks, months, or years—an arm'd race is
advancing to welcome it.
Mannahatta a-march!—and it's O to sing it well!
It's O for a manly life in the camp!
And the sturdy artillery!
The guns, bright as gold—the work for giants—to
serve well the guns:
Unlimber them! no more, as the past forty years, for
salutes for courtesies merely;
Put in something else now besides powder and wadding.
And you, Lady of Ships! you Mannahatta!
Old matron of the city! this proud, friendly, turbulent
Often in peace and wealth you were pensive, or covertly
frown'd amid all your children;
But now you smile with joy, exulting old Mannahatta!
SHUT not your doors to me, proud libraries,
For that which was lacking among you all, yet needed
most, I bring;
A book I have made for your dear sake, O soldiers,
And for you, O soul of man, and you, love of comrades;
The words of my book nothing, the life of it every-
A book separate, not link'd with the rest, nor felt by
But you will feel every word, O Libertad! arm'd
It shall pass by the intellect to swim the sea, the air,
With joy with you, O soul of man.
A LINE in long array, where they wind betwixt green
They take a serpentine course—their arms flash in the
sun—Hark to the musical clank;
Behold the silvery river—in it the splashing horses,
loitering, stop to drink;
Behold the brown-faced men—each group, each person,
a picture—the negligent rest on the saddles;
Some emerge on the opposite bank—others are just
entering the ford;
The guidon flags flutter gaily in the wind.
O A new song, a free song,
Flapping, flapping, flapping, flapping, by sounds, by
By the wind's voice and that of the drum,
By the banner's voice, and child's voice, and sea's voice,
and father's voice,
Low on the ground and high in the air,
On the ground where father and child stand,
In the upward air where their eyes turn,
Where the banner at day-break is flapping.
Words! book-words! what are you?
Words no more, for hearken and see,
My song is there in the open air—and I must sing,
With the banner and pennant a-flapping.
I'll weave the chord and twine in,
Man's desire and babe's desire—I'll twine them in, I'll
put in life;
I'll put the bayonet's flashing point—I'll let bullets and
I ll pour the verse with streams of blood, full of volition,
full of joy;
Then loosen, launch forth, to go and compete,
With the banner and pennant a-flapping.
Come up here, bard, bard;
Come up here, soul, soul;
Come up here, dear little child,
To fly in the clouds and winds with us, and play with
the measureless light.
Father, what is that in the sky beckoning to me with
And what does it say to me all the while?
Nothing, my babe, you see in the sky;
And nothing at all to you it says. But look you, my
Look at these dazzling things in the houses, and see you
the money-shops opening;
And see you the vehicles preparing to crawl along the
streets with goods:
These! ah, these! how valued and toil'd for, these!
How envied by all the earth!
Fresh and rosy red, the sun is mounting high;
On floats the sea in distant blue, careering through its
On floats the wind over the breast of the sea, setting in
The great steady wind from west and west-by-south,
Floating so buoyant, with milk-white foam on the waters.
But I am not the sea, nor the red sun;
I am not the wind, with girlish laughter;
Not the immense wind which strengthens—not the
wind which lashes;
Not the spirit that ever lashes its own body to terror and
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But I am of that which unseen comes and sings, sings,
Which babbles in brooks and scoots in showers on the
Which the birds know in the woods, mornings and
And the shore-sands know, and the hissing wave, and
that banner and pennant,
Aloft there flapping and flapping.
O father, it is alive—it is full of people—it has
O now it seems to me it is talking to its children!
I hear it—it talks to me—O it is wonderful!
O it stretches—it spreads and runs so fast! O my
It is so broad, it covers the whole sky!
Cease, cease, my foolish babe,
What you are saying is sorrowful to me—much it dis-
Behold with the rest, again I say—behold not banners
and pennants aloft;
But the well-prepared pavements behold—and mark
the solid-wall'd houses.
Speak to the child, O bard, out of Manhattan;
Speak to our children all, or north or south of Manhat-
Where our factory-engines hum, where our miners
delve the ground,
Where our hoarse Niagara rumbles, where our prairie-
plows are plowing;
Speak, O bard! point this day, leaving all the rest, to
us over all—and yet we know not why;
For what are we, mere strips of cloth, profiting nothing,
Only flapping in the wind?
I hear and see not strips of cloth alone;
I hear the tramp of armies, I hear the challenging
I hear the jubilant shouts of millions of men—I hear
I hear the drums beat, and the trumpets blowing;
I myself move abroad, swift-rising, flying then;
I use the wings of the land-bird, and use the wings of
the sea-bird, and look down as from a height;
I do not deny the precious results of peace—I see pop-
ulous cities, with wealth incalculable;
I see numberless farms—I see the farmers working in
their fields or barns;
I see mechanics working—I see buildings everywhere
founded, going up, or finish'd;
I see trains of cars swiftly speeding along railroad
tracks, drawn by the locomotives;
I see the stores, depots, of Boston, Baltimore, Charles-
ton, New Orleans;
I see far in the west the immense area of grain—I
dwell awhile, hovering;
I pass to the lumber forests of the north, and again
to the southern plantation, and again to Cali-
Sweeping the whole, I see the countless profit, the
busy gatherings, earned wages;
See the identity formed out of thirty-six spacious and
haughty States, (and many more to come;)
See forts on the shores of harbors—see ships sailing in
Then over all, (aye! aye!) my little and lengthen'd pen-
nant shaped like a sword,
Runs swiftly up, indicating war and defiance—And now
the halyards have rais'd it,
Side of my banner broad and blue—side of my starry
Discarding peace over all the sea and land.
Yet louder, higher, stronger, bard! yet farther,
No longer let our children deem us riches and peace
We can be terror and carnage also, and are so now;
Not now are we one of these spacious and haughty
States, (nor any five, nor ten;)
Nor market nor depot are we, nor money-bank in the
But these, and all, and the brown and spreading land,
and the mines below, are ours;
And the shores of the sea are ours, and the rivers great
And the fields they moisten are ours, and the crops and
the fruits are ours;
Bays and channels, and ships sailing in and out, are ours
—and we over all,
Over the area spread below, the three millions of square
The thirty-five millions of people—O bard! in life and
We, even we, from this day flaunt out masterful, high
Not for the present alone, for a thousand years, chant-
ing through you,
This song to the soul of one poor little child.
O my father, I like not the houses;
They will never to me be anything—nor do I like
But to mount up there I would like, O father dear—
that banner I like;
That pennant I would be, and must be.
Child of mine, you fill me with anguish;
To be that pennant would be too fearful;
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Little you know what it is this day, and henceforth
It is to gain nothing, but risk and defy everything;
Forward to stand in front of wars—and O, such wars!
—what have you to do with them?
With passions of demons, slaughter, premature death?
Demons and death then I sing;
Put in all, aye all, will I—sword-shaped pennant for
war, and banner so broad and blue,
And a pleasure new and extatic, and the prattled yearn-
ing of children,
Blent with the sounds of the peaceful land, and the
liquid wash of the sea;
And the icy cool of the far, far north, with rustling
cedars and pines;
And the whirr of drums, and the sound of soldiers
marching, and the hot sun shining south;
And the beach-waves combing over the beach on my
eastern shore, and my western shore the same;
And all between those shores, and my ever running
Mississippi, with bends and chutes;
And my Illinois fields, and my Kansas fields, and my
fields of Missouri;
The CONTINENT—devoting the whole identity, without
reserving an atom,
Pour in! whelm that which asks, which sings, with all,
and the yield of all.
Aye all! for ever, for all!
From sea to sea, north and south, east and west,
Fusing and holding, claiming, devouring the whole;
No more with tender lip, nor musical labial sound,
But, out of the night emerging for good, our voice per-
suasive no more,
Croaking like crows here in the wind.
My limbs, my veins dilate;
The blood of the world has fill'd me full—my theme is
clear at last:
—Banner so broad, advancing out of the night, I sing
you haughty and resolute;
I burst through where I waited long, too long, deafen'd
My sight, my hearing and tongue, are come to me, (a
little child taught me;)
I hear from above, O pennant of war, your ironical call
Insensate! insensate! (yet I at any rate chant you,) O
Not houses of peace are you, nor any nor all their pros-
perity, (if need be, you shall have every one of
those houses to destroy them;
You thought not to destroy those valuable houses, stand-
ing fast, full of comfort, built with money;
May they stand fast, then? Not an hour, unless you,
above them and all, stand fast;)
—O banner! not money so precious are you, nor farm
produce you, nor the material good nutriment,
Nor excellent stores, nor landed on wharves from the
Not the superb ships, with sail-power or steam-power,
fetching and carrying cargoes,
Nor machinery, vehicles, trade, nor revenues,—But
you, as henceforth I see you,
Running up out of the night, bringing your cluster of
stars, (ever-enlarging stars;)
Divider of day-break you, cutting the air, touch'd by
the sun, measuring the sky,
(Passionately seen and yearn'd for by one poor little
While others remain busy, or smartly talking, forever
teaching thrift, thrift;)
O you up there! O pennant! where you undulate like
a snake, hissing so curious,
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Out of reach—an idea only—yet furiously fought for,
risking bloody death—loved by me!
So loved! O you banner leading the day, with stars
brought from the night!
Valueless, object of eyes, over all and demanding all—
O banner and pennant!
I too leave the rest—great as it is, it is nothing—
houses, machines are nothing—I see them not;
I see but you, O warlike pennant! O banner so broad,
with stripes, I sing you only,
Flapping up there in the wind.
By the bivouac's fitful flame,
A procession winding around me, solemn and sweet and
slow;—but first I note,
The tents of the sleeping army, the fields' and woods'
The darkness, lit spots of kindled fire—the silence;
Like a phantom far or near an occasional figure moving;
The shrubs and trees, (as I left my eyes they seem to be
stealthily watching me;)
While wind in procession thoughts, O tender and
Of life and death—of home and the past and loved,
and of those that are far away;
A solemn and slow procession there as I sit on the
By the bivouac's fitful flame.
ARM'D year! year of the struggle!
No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you,
Not you as some pale poetling, seated at a desk, lisp-
ing cadenzas piano;
But as a strong man, erect, clothed in blue clothes,
advancing, carrying a rifle on your shoulder,
With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands—
with a knife in the belt at your side,
As I heard you shouting loud—your sonorous voice
ringing across the continent;
Your masculine voice, O year, as rising amid the great
Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you, as one of the
workmen, the dwellers in Manhattan;
Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois
Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and de-
scending the Alleghanies;
Or down from the great lakes, or in Pennsylvania, or on
deck along the Ohio river;
Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers,
or at Chattanooga on the mountain top,
Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs, clothed
in blue, bearing weapons, robust year;
Heard your determin'd voice, launch'd forth again and
Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round
I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.
FROM Paumanok starting, I fly like a bird,
Around and around to soar, to sing the idea of all;
To the north betaking myself, to sing there arctic songs,
To Kanada, 'till I absorb Kanada in myself—to Michi-
To Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, to sing their songs,
(they are inimitable;)
Then to Ohio and Indiana to sing theirs—to Missouri
and Kansas and Arkansas to sing theirs,
To Tennessee and Kentucky—to the Carolinas and
Georgia, to sing theirs,
To Texas, and so along up toward California, to roam
To sing first, (to the tap of the war-drum, if need be,)
The idea of all—of the western world, one and insep-
And then the song of each member of These States.
BEGINNING my studies, the first step pleas'd me so
The mere fact, consciousness—these forms—the pow-
er of motion,
The least insect or animal—the senses—eyesight;
The first step, I say, aw'd me and pleas'd me so much,
I have never gone, and never wish'd to go, any farther,
But stop and loiter all my life, to sing it in extatic songs.
Give me your hand, old Revolutionary;
The hill-top is nigh—but a few steps, (make room,
Up the path you have follow'd me well, spite of your
hundred and extra years;
You can walk, old man, though your eyes are almost
Your faculties serve you, and presently I must have
them serve me.
Rest, while I tell what the crowd around us means;
On the plain below, recruits are drilling and exercising;
There is the camp—one regiment departs to morrow;
Do you hear the officers giving the orders?
Do you hear the clank of the muskets?
Why, what comes over you now, old man?
Why do you tremble, and clutch my hand so convul-
The troops are but drilling—they are yet surrounded
Around them at hand, the well drest friends and the
While splendid and warm the afternoon sun shines
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Green the midsummer verdure, and fresh blows the dal-
O'er proud and peaceful cities, and arm of the sea be-
But drill and parade are over—they march back to
Only hear that approval of hands! hear what a clap-
As wending, the crowds now part and disperse—but
we, old man,
Not for nothing have I brought you hither—we must
You to speak in your turn, and I to listen and tell.
When I clutch'd your hand, it was not with terror;
But suddenly, pouring about me here, on every side,
And below there where the boys were drilling, and up
the slopes they ran,
And where tents are pitch'd, and wherever you see,
south and south-east and south-west,
Over hills, across lowlands, and in the skirts of woods,
And along the shores, in mire (now fill'd over,) came
again, and suddenly raged,
As eighty-five years a-gone, no mere parade receiv'd
with applause of friends,
But a battle, which I took part in myself—aye, long ago
as it is, I took part in it,
Walking then this hill-top, this same ground.
Aye, this is the ground;
My blind eyes, even as I speak, behold it re-peopled
The years recede, pavements and stately houses disap-
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Rude forts appear again, the old hoop'd guns are
I see the lines of rais'd earth stretching from river to
I mark the vista of waters, I mark the uplands and
Here we lay encamp'd—it was this time in summer also.
As I talk, I remember all—I remember the Declara-
It was read here—the whole army paraded—it was
read to us here;
By his staff surrounded, the general stood in the mid-
dle—he held up his unsheath'd sword,
It glitter'd in the sun in full sight of the army.
'Twas a bold act then;
The English war ships had just arrived—the king had
sent them from over the sea;
We could watch down the lower bay where they lay at
And the transports, swarming with soldiers.
A few days more, and they landed—and then the
Twenty thousand were brought against us,
A veteran force, furnish'd with good artillery.
I tell not now the whole of the battle;
But one brigade, early in the forenoon, order'd forward
to engage the red-coats;
Of that brigade I tell, and how steadily it march'd,
And how long and how well it stood, confronting death.
Who do you think that was, marching steadily, stern-
ly confronting death?
It was the brigade of the youngest men, two thousand
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Rais'd in Virginia and Maryland, and many of them
known personally to the General.
Jauntily forward they went with quick step toward
Till of a sudden, unlook'd for, by defiles through the
woods, gain'd at night,
The British advancing, wedging in from the east,
fiercely playing their guns,
That brigade of the youngest was cut off, and at the
The General watch'd them from this hill;
They made repeated desperate attempts to burst their
Then drew close together, very compact, their flag
flying in the middle;
But O from the hills how the cannon were thinning and
It sickens me yet, that slaughter!
I saw the moisture gather in drops on the face of the
I saw how he wrung his hands in anguish.
Meanwhile the British maneuver'd to draw us out
for a pitch'd battle;
But we dared not trust the chances of a pitch'd battle.
We fought the fight in detachments;
Sallying forth, we fought at several points—but in each
the luck was against us;
Our foe advancing, steadily getting the best of it, push'd
us back to the works on this hill;
Till we turn'd menacing, here, and then he left us.
That was the going out of the brigade of the young-
est men, two thousand strong;
Few return'd—nearly all remain in Brooklyn.
That, and here, my General's first battle;
No women looking on, nor sunshine to bask in—it
did not conclude with applause;
Nobody clapp'd hands here then.
But in darkness, in mist, on the ground, under a
Wearied that night we lay, foil'd and sullen;
While scornfully laugh'd many an arrogant lord, off
against us encamp'd,
Quite within hearing, feasting, klinking wine-glasses
together over their victory.
So, dull and damp and another day;
But the night of that, mist lifting, rain ceasing,
Silent as a ghost, while they thought they were sure of
him, my General retreated.
I saw him at the river-side,
Down by the ferry, lit by torches, hastening the embar-
My General waited till the soldiers and wounded were
all pass'd over;
And then, (it was just ere sunrise,) these eyes rested on
him for the last time.
Every one else seem'd fill'd with gloom;
Many no doubt thought of capitulation.
But when my General pass'd me,
As he stood in his boat, and look'd toward the coming
I saw something different from capitulation.
Enough—the Centenarian's story ends;
The two, the past and present, have interchanged;
I myself, as connecter, as chansonnier of a great future,
am now speaking.
And is this the ground Washington trod?
And these waters I listlessly daily cross, are these the
waters he cross'd,
As resolute in defeat, as other generals in their proudest
It is well—a lesson like that, always comes good;
I must copy the story, and send it eastward and west-
I must preserve that look, as it beam'd on you, rivers of
See! as the annual round returns, the phantoms
It is the 27th of August, and the British have landed;
The battle begins, and goes against us—behold! through
the smoke Washington's face;
The brigade of Virginia and Maryland have march'd
forth to intercept the enemy;
They are cut off—murderous artillery from the hills
plays upon them;
Rank after rank falls, while over them silently droops
Baptized that day in many a young man's bloody
In death, defeat, and sisters', mothers' tears.
Ah, hills and slopes of Brooklyn! I perceive you
are more valuable than your owners supposed;
Ah, river! henceforth you will be illumin'd to me at
sunrise with something besides the sun.
Encampments new! in the midst of you stands an
encampment very old;
Stands forever the camp of the dead brigade.
COME, my tan-faced children, Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp edged
Pioneers! O pioneers!
For we cannot tarry here, We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of
We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
O you youths, western youths, So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and
Plain I see you, western youths, see you tramping with
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Have the elder races halted? Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied, over there
beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden, and the
Pioneers! O pioneers!
All the past we leave behind; We debouch upon a newer, mightier world, varied
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and
Pioneers! O pioneers!
We detachments steady throwing, Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing, as we go, the
Pioneers! O pioneers!
We primeval forests felling, We the rivers stemming, vexing we, and piercing deep
the mines within;
We the surface broad surveying, and the virgin soil up-
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Colorado men are we, From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting
trail we come,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
From Nebraska, from Arkansas, Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the con-
tinental blood intervein'd;
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all
Pioneers! O pioneers!
O resistless, restless race! O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender
love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult—I am rapt with love for all,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Raise the mighty mother mistress, Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry
mistress, (bend your heads all,)
Raise the fang'd and warlike mistress, stern, impassive,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
See, my children, resolute children, By those swarms upon our rear, we must never yield or
Ages back in ghostly millions, frowning there behind us
Pioneers! O pioneers!
On and on, the compact ranks, With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the
dead quickly fill'd,
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and
Pioneers! O pioneers!
O to die advancing on! Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour
Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the
gap is fill'd,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
All the pulses of the world, Falling in, they beat for us, with the western movement
Holding single or together, steady moving, to the front,
all for us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Life's involv'd and varied pageants, All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their
All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with
Pioneers! O pioneers!
All the hapless silent lovers, All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the
Pioneers! O pioneers!
I too with my soul and body, We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
Through these shores, amid the shadows, with the
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Lo! the darting bowling orb! Lo! the brother orbs around! all the clustering suns and
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
These are of us, they are with us, All for primal needed work, while the followers there in
embryo wait behind,
We to-day's procession heading, we the route for travel
Pioneers! O pioneers!
O you daughters of the west! O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and
Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Minstrels latent on the prairies! (Shrouded bards of other lands! you may sleep—you
have done your work;)
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and
tramp amid us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Not for delectations sweet; Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame en-
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Do the feasters gluttonous feast? Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock'd and
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Has the night descended? Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discour-
aged, nodding on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you, in your tracks to pause
Pioneers! O pioneers!
Till with sound of trumpet, Far, far off the day-break call—hark! how loud and
clear I hear it wind;
Swift! to the head of the army!—swift! spring to
Pioneers! O pioneers!
QUICKSAND years that whirl me I know not whither,
Your schemes, politics, fail—lines give way—substan-
ces mock and elude me;
Only the theme I sing, the great and strong-possess'd
soul, eludes not;
One's-self, must never give way—that is the final sub-
tance —that out of all is sure;
Out of politics, triumphs, battles, death—what at last
When shows break up, what but One's-Self is sure?
An old man bending, I come, among new faces,
Years looking backward, resuming, in answer to chil-
Come tell us old man, as from young men and maidens
that love me;
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions,
Of unsurpass'd heroes, (was one side so brave? the
other was equally brave;)
Now be witness again—paint the mightiest armies of
Of those armies so rapid, so wondrous, what saw you to
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious
Of hard-fought engagements, or sieges tremendous,
what deepest remains?
O maidens and young men I love, and that love me,
What you ask of my days, those the strangest and sud-
den your talking recals;
Soldier alert I arrive, after a long march, cover'd with
sweat and dust;
In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly
shout in the rush of successful charge;
Enter the captur'd works . . . . yet lo! like a swift-
running river, they fade;
Pass and are gone, they fade—I dwell not on soldiers'
perils or soldiers' joys;
(Both I remember well—many the hardships, few the
joys, yet I was content.)
But in silence, in dream's projections,
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes
So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the
imprints off the sand,
In nature's reverie sad, with hinged knees returning, I
enter the doors—(while for you up there,
Whoever you are, follow me without noise, and be of
Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground, after the battle brought
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof'd
To the long rows of cots, up and down, each side, I
To each and all, one after another, I draw near—not
one do I miss;
An attendant follows, holding a tray—he carries a
Soon to be fill'd with clotted rags and blood, emptied,
and fill'd again.
I onward go, I stop,
With hinged knees and steady hand, to dress wounds;
I am firm with each—the pangs are sharp, yet unavoid-
One turns to me his appealing eyes—(poor boy! I
never knew you,
Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for
you, if that would save you.)
On, on I go—(open, doors of time! open, hospital
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The crush'd head I dress, (poor crazed hand, tear not the
The neck of the cavalry-man, with the bullet through
and through, I examine;
Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye,
yet life struggles hard;
(Come, sweet death! be persuaded, O beautiful death!
In mercy come quickly.)
From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the
matter and blood;
Back on his pillow the soldier bends, with curv'd neck,
and side-falling head;
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look on
the bloody stump,
And has not yet looked on it.
I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep;
But a day or two more—for see, the frame all wasted
And the yellow-blue countenance see.
I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bul-
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so
sickening, so offensive,
While the attendant stands behind aside me, holding
the tray and pail.
I am faithful, I do not give out;
The fractur'd thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdo-
These and more I dress with impassive hand—(yet
deep in my breast a fire, a burning flame.)
Thus in silence, in dream's projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hos-
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The hurt and the wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night—some are so
Some suffer so much—I recall the experience sweet
(Many a soldier's loving arms about this neck have
cross'd and rested,
Many a soldier's kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)
WHEN I heard the learn'd astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add,
divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he
lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
RISE, O days, from your fathomless deeps, till you loftier
and fiercer sweep!
Long for my soul, hungering gymnastic, I devour'd
what the earth gave me;
Long I roam'd the woods of the north—long I watch'd
I travel'd the prairies over, and slept on their breast—I
cross'd the Nevadas, I cross'd the plateaus;
I ascended the towering rocks along the Pacific, I sail'd
out to sea;
I sail'd through the storm, I was refresh'd by the storm;
I watch'd with joy the threatening maws of the waves;
I mark'd the white combs where they career'd so high,
I heard the wind piping, I saw the black clouds;
Saw from below what arose and mounted, (O superb! O
wild as my heart, and powerful!)
Heard the continuous thunder, as it bellow'd after the
Noted the slender and jagged threads of lightning, as
sudden and fast amid the din they chased each
other across the sky;
—These, and such as these, I, elate, saw—saw with
wonder, yet pensive and masterful;
All the menacing might of the globe uprisen around me;
Yet there with my soul I fed—I fed content, super-
'Twas well, O soul! 'twas a good preparation you gave
Now we advance our latent and ampler hunger to fill;
Now we go forth to receive what the earth and the sea
never gave us;
Not through the mighty woods we go, but through the
Something for us is pouring now, more than Niagara
Torrents of men, (sources and rills of the Northwest, are
you indeed inexhaustible?)
What, to pavements and homesteads here—what were
those storms of the mountains and sea?
What, to passions I witness around me to-day? Was
the sea risen?
Was the wind piping the pipe of death under the black
Lo! from deeps more unfathomable, something more
deadly and savage;
Manhattan, rising, advancing with menacing front—
Cincinnati, Chicago, unchain'd;
—What was that swell I saw on the ocean? behold
what comes here!
How it climbs with daring feet and hands! how it
How the true thunder bellows after the lightning! how
bright the flashes of lightning!
How DEMOCRACY, with desperate vengeful port strides
on, shown through the dark by those flashes of
(Yet a mournful wail and low sob I fancied I heard
through the dark,
In a lull of the deafening confusion.)
Thunder on! stride on Democracy! strike with vengeful
And do you rise higher than ever yet, O days, O cities!
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Crash heavier, heavier yet, O storms! you have done
My soul, prepared in the mountains, absorbs your im-
mortal strong nutriment;
Long had I walk'd my cities, my country roads, through
farms, only half satisfied;
One doubt, nauseous, undulating like a snake, crawl'd
on the ground before me,
Continually preceding my steps, turning upon me oft,
ironically hissing low;
—The cities I loved so well, I abandon'd and left—I
sped to the certainties suitable to me;
Hungering, hungering, hungering, for primal energies,
and Nature's dauntlessness,
I refresh'd myself with it only, I could relish it only;
I waited the bursting forth of the pent fire—on the
water and air I waited long;
—But now I no longer wait—I am fully satisfied—I
I have witness'd the true lighting—I have witness'd
my cities electric;
I have lived to behold man burst forth, and warlike
Hence I will seek no more the food of the northern soli-
No more on the mountains roam, or sail the stormy sea.
SILENT and amazed, even when a little boy,
I remember I heard the preacher every Sunday put God
in his statements,
As contending against some being or influence.
BEAT! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a
force of ruthless men,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation;
Into the school where the scholar is studying:
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must
he have now with his bride;
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, plowing his field or
gathering his grain;
So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums—so shrill
you bugles blow.
Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses?
No sleepers must sleep in those beds;
No bargainers' bargains by day—no brokers or specu-
lators—Would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case
before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder
Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation;
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer;
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man;
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's en-
Make even the trestles to shake the dead, where they lie
awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump, O terrible drums—so loud
you bugles blow.
Come up from the fields, father, here's a letter from
And come to the front door, mother—here's a letter
from thy dear son.
Lo, 'tis autumn;
Lo, where the trees, deeper green, yellower and redder,
Cool and sweeten Ohio's villages, with leaves fluttering
in the moderate wind;
Where apples ripe in the orchards hang, and grapes on
the trellis'd vines;
(Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines?
Smell you the buckwheat, where the bees were lately
Above all, lo, the sky, so calm, so transparent after
the rain, and with wondrous clouds;
Below, too, all calm, all vital and beautiful—and the
farm prospers well.
Down in the fields all prospers well;
But now from the fields come, father—come at the
And come to the entry, mother—to the front door come,
Fast as she can she hurries—something ominous—
her steps trembling;
She does not tarry to smooth her white hair, nor adjust
Open the envelope quickly;
O this is not our son's writing, yet his name is sign'd;
O a strange hand writes for our dear son—O stricken
All swims before her eyes—flashes with black—she
catches the main words only;
Sentences broken—gun-shot wound in the breast, cavalry
skirmish, taken to hospital,
At present low, but will soon be better.
Ah, now the single figure to me,
Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio, with all its cities
Sickly white in the face and dull in the head, very faint,
By the jamb of a door leans.
Grieve not so, dear mother, (the just-grown daughter
speaks through her sobs;
The little sisters huddle around, speechless and dis-
See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will soon be better.
Alas, poor boy, he will never be better, (nor may-be
needs to be better, that brave and simple soul;)
While they stand at home at the door, he is dead already;
The only son is dead.
But the mother needs to be better;
She, with thin form, presently drest in black;
By day her meals untouch'd—then at night fitfully
sleeping, often waking,
In the midnight waking, weeping, longing with one deep
O that she might withdraw unnoticed—silent from life,
escape and withdraw,
To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead son.
CITY of ships!
(O the black ships! O the fierce ships!
O the beautiful, sharp bow'd steam-ships and sail-ships!)
City of the world! (for all races are here;
All the lands of the earth make contributions here;)
City of the sea! city of hurried and glittering tides!
City whose gleeful tides continually rush or recede,
whirling in and out, with eddies and foam!
City of wharves and stores! city of tall façades of mar-
ble and iron!
Proud and passionate city! mettlesome, mad, extrava-
Spring up, O city! not for peace alone, but be indeed
Fear not! submit to no models but your own, O city!
Behold me! incarnate me, as I have incarnated you!
I have rejected nothing you offer'd me—whom you
adopted, I have adopted;
Good or bad, I never question you—I love all—I do
not condemn anything;
I chant and celebrate all that is yours—yet peace no
In peace I chanted peace, but now the drum of war is
War, red war, is my song through your streets, O city!
I SEE the sleeping babe, nestling the breast of its
The sleeping mother and babe—hush'd, I study them
long and long.
VIGIL strange I kept on the field one night,
When you, my son and my comrade, dropt at my side
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
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
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
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-
Vigil final for you, brave boy, (I could not save you,
swift was your death,
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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
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop'd well his
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-
Ending my vigil strange with that—vigil of night and
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth
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.
BATHED in war's perfume—delicate flag!
O to hear you call the sailors and the soldiers! flag like
a beautiful woman!
O to hear the tramp, tramp, of a million answering men!
O the ships they arm with joy!
O to see you leap and beckon from the tall masts of
O to see you peering down on the sailors on the decks!
Flag like the eyes of women.
A MARCH in the ranks hard-prest, and the road
A route through a heavy wood, with muffled steps in the
Our army foil'd with loss severe, and the sullen remnant
Till after midnight glimmer upon us, the lights of a
We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by the
'Tis a large old church, at the crossing roads—'tis now
an impromptu hospital;
—Entering but for a minute, I see a sight beyond all
the pictures and poems ever made:
Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving
candles and lamps,
And by one great pitchy torch, stationary, with wild red
flame, and clouds of smoke;
By these, crowds, groups of forms, vaguely I see, on the
floor, some in the pews laid down;
At my feet more distinctly, a soldier, a mere lad, in
danger of bleeding to death, (he is shot in the ab-
I staunch the blood temporarily, (the youngster's face is
white as a lily;)
Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o'er the scene,
fain to absorb it all;
Faces, varieties, postures beyond description, most in
obscurity, some of them dead;
Surgeons operating, attendants holding lights, the smell
of ether, the odor of blood;
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The crowd, O the crowd of the bloody forms of soldiers
—the yard outside also fill'd;
Some on the bare ground, some on planks or stretchers,
some in the death-spasm sweating;
An occasional scream or cry, the doctor's shouted orders
The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the
glint of the torches;
These I resume as I chant—I see again the forms, I
smell the odor;
Then hear outside the orders given, Fall in, my men,
But first I bend to the dying lad—his eyes open—a
half-smile gives he me;
Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to
Resuming, marching, as ever in darkness marching, on
in the ranks,
The unknown road still marching.
LONG, too long, O land,
Traveling roads all even and peaceful, you learn'd from
joys and prosperity only;
But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish—ad-
vancing, grappling with direst fate, and recoiling
And now to conceive, and show to the world, what your
children en-masse really are;
(For who except myself has yet conceived what your
children en-masse really are?)
A SIGHT in camp in the day-break grey and dim,
As from my tent I emerge so early, sleepless,
As slow I walk in the cool fresh air, the path near by
Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there,
Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woolen
Grey and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.
Curious, I halt, and silent stand;
Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest,
the first, just lift the blanket:
Who are you, elderly man so gaunt and grim, with
well-grey'd hair, and flesh all sunken about the
Who are you, my dear comrade?
Then to the second I step—And who are you, my
child and darling?
Who are you, sweet boy, with cheeks yet blooming?
Then to the third—a face nor child, nor old, very
calm, as of beautiful yellow-white ivory:
Young man, I think I know you—I think this face of
yours is the face of the Christ himself;
Dead and divine, and brother of all, and here again he
THROUGH the ample open door of the peaceful country
A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding.
GIVE me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-
Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the
Give me a field where the unmow'd grass grows;
Give me an arbor, give me the trellis'd grape;
Give me fresh corn and wheat—give me serene-moving
animals, teaching content;
Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus west
of the Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars;
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers,
where I can walk undisturb'd;
Give me for marriage a sweet-breath'd woman, of whom
I should never tire;
Give me a perfect child—give me, away, aside from the
noise of the world, a rural domestic life;
Give me to warble spontaneous songs, reliev'd, recluse
by myself, for my own ears only;
Give me solitude—give me Nature—give me again,
O Nature, your primal sanities!
—These, demanding to have them, (tired with ceaseless
excitement, and rack'd by the war-strife;)
These to procure, incessantly asking, rising in cries from
While yet incessantly asking, still I adhere to my city;
Day upon day, and year upon year, O city, walking
Where you hold me enchain'd a certain time, refusing
to give me up;
Yet giving to make me glutted, enrich'd of soul—you
give me forever faces;
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(O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing
I see my own soul trampling down what it ask'd for.)
Keep your splendid silent sun;
Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-
fields and orchards;
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the Ninth-
month bees hum;
Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms in-
cessant and endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me
comrades and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones
by the hand every day!
Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhattan!
Give me Broadway, with the soldiers marching—give
me the sound of the trumpets and drums!
(The soldiers in companies or regiments—some, starting
away, flush'd and reckless;
Some, their time up, returning, with thinn'd ranks—
young, yet very old, worn, marching, noticing
—Give me the shores and the wharves heavy-fringed
with the black ships!
O such for me! O an intense life! O full to repletion,
The life of the theatre, bar-room, huge hotel, for me!
The saloon of the steamer! the crowded excursion for
me! the torch-light procession!
The dense brigade, bound for the war, with high piled
military wagons following;
People, endless, streaming, with strong voices, passions,
Manhattan streets, with their powerful throbs, with the
beating drums, as now;
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The endless and noisy chorus, the rustle and clank of
muskets, (even the sight of the wounded;)
Manhattan crowds with their turbulent musical chorus
—with varied chorus and light of the sparkling
Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me.
OVER the carnage rose prophetic a voice,
Be not dishearten'd—Affection shall solve the problems
of Freedom yet;
Those who love each other shall become invincible—
they shall yet make Columbia victorious.
Sons of the Mother of All! you shall yet be victo-
You shall yet laugh to scorn the attacks of all the re-
mainder of the earth.
No danger shall balk Columbia's lovers;
If need be, a thousand shall sternly immolate themselves
One from Massachusetts shall be a Missourian's com-
From Maine and from hot Carolina, and another an Ore-
gonese, shall be friends triune,
More precious to each other than all the riches of the
To Michigan, Florida perfumes shall tenderly come;
Not the perfumes of flowers, but sweeter, and wafted
It shall be customary in the houses and streets to see
The most dauntless and rude shall touch face to face
The dependence of Liberty shall be lovers,
The continuance of Equality shall be comrades.
These shall tie you and band you stronger than hoops
I, extatic, O partners! O lands! with the love of lovers
Were you looking to be held together by the lawyers?
Or by an agreement on a paper? or by arms?
—Nay—nor the world, nor any living thing, will so
DID YOU ask dulcet rhymes from me?
Did you find what I sang erewhile so hard to follow,
Why I was not singing erewhile for you to follow, to
understand—nor am I now;
—What to such as you, anyhow, such a poet as I?
—therefore leave my works,
And go lull yourself with what you can understand;
For I lull nobody—and you will never understand me.
YEAR of meteors! brooding year!
I would bind in words retrospective, some of your deeds
I would sing your contest for the 19th Presidentiad;
I would sing how an old man, tall, with white hair,
mounted the scaffold in Virginia;
(I was at hand—silent I stood, with teeth shut close—I
I stood very near you, old man, when cool and indiffer-
ent, but trembling with age and your unheal'd
wounds, you mounted the scaffold;)
I would sing in my copious song your census returns of
The tables of population and products—I would sing of
your ships and their cargoes,
The proud black ships of Manhattan, arriving, some
fill'd with immigrants, some from the isthmus
with cargoes of gold;
Songs thereof would I sing—to all that hitherward
comes would I welcome give;
And you would I sing, fair stripling! welcome to you
from me, sweet boy of England!
Remember you surging Manhattan's crowds, as you
passed with your cortege of nobles?
There in the crowds stood I, and singled you out with
I know not why, but I loved you…(and so go forth
Far over sea speed like an arrow, carrying my love all
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -[begin page 52]- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
And find in his palace the youth I love, and drop these
lines at his feet;)
—Nor forget I to sing of the wonder, the ship as she
swam up my bay,
Well-shaped and stately the Great Eastern swam up my
bay, she was 600 feet long,
Her moving swiftly, surrounded by myriads of small
craft, I forget not to sing;
Nor the comet that came unannounced, out of the north,
flaring in heaven,
Nor the strange huge meteor procession, dazzling and
clear, shooting over our heads,
(A moment, a moment long, it sail'd its balls of unearth-
ly light over our heads,
Then departed, dropt in the night, and was gone;)
—Of such, and fitful as they, I sing—with gleams from
them would I gleam and patch these chants;
Your chants, O year all mottled with evil and good!
year of forebodings! year of the youth I love!
Year of comets and meteors transient and strange!—lo!
even here, one equally transient and strange!
As I flit through you hastily, soon to fall and be gone,
what is this book,
What am I myself but one of your meteors?
On my northwest coast in the midst of the night, a
fishermen's group stands watching;
Out on the lake, expanding before them, others are
The canoe, a dim and shadowy thing, moves across the
Bearing a Torch a-blaze at the prow.
YEARS of the unperform'd! your horizon rises—I
parting away for more august dramas;
I see not America only—I see not only Liberty's nation,
but other nations preparing;
I see tremendous entrances and exits—I see new com-
binations —I see the solidarity of races;
I see that force advancing with irresistible power on the
(Have the old forces played their parts? are the acts
suitable to them closed?)
I see Freedom, completely arm'd, and victorious, and
very haughty, with Law by her side, both issuing
forth against the idea of caste;
—What historic denouements are these we so rapidly
I see men marching and countermarching by swift mil-
I see the frontiers and boundaries of the old aristocracies
I see the landmarks of European kings removed;
I see this day the People beginning their landmarks, (all
others give way;)
Never were such sharp questions ask'd as this day;
Never was average man, his soul, more energetic, more
like a God;
Lo, how he urges and urges, leaving the masses no
His daring foot is on land and sea everywhere—he col-
onizes the Pacific, the archipelagoes;
With the steam-ship, the electric telegraph, the news-
paper, the wholesale engines of war,
With these, and the world-spreading factories, he inter-
links all geography, all lands;
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -[begin page 54]- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
—What whispers are these, O lands, running ahead of
you, passing under the seas?
Are all nations communing? is there going to be but
one heart to the globe?
Is humanity forming, en-masse?—for lo! tyrants trem-
ble, crowns grow dim;
The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a gen-
eral divine war;
No one knows what will happen next—such portents
fill the days and nights;
Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vain-
ly try to pierce it, is full of phantoms;
Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes
This incredible rush and heat—this strange extactic
fever of dreams, O years!
Your dreams, O years, how they penetrate through me!
(I know not whether I sleep or wake!)
The perform'd America and Europe grow dim, retiring
in shadow behind me,
The unperform'd, more gigantic than ever, advance, ad-
vance upon me.
YEAR that trembled and reel'd beneath me!
Your summer wind was warm enough—yet the air I
breathed froze me;
A thick gloom fell through the sunshine and darken'd
Must I change my triumphant songs? said I to myself;
Must I indeed learn to chant the cold dirges of the baf-
And sullen hymns of defeat?
WHILE my wife at my side lies slumbering, and the wars
are over long,
And my head on the pillow rests at home, and the mys-
tic midnight passes,
And through the stillness, through the dark, I hear, just
hear, the breath of my infant,
There in the room, as I wake from sleep, this vision
presses upon me:
The engagement opens there and then, in my busy brain
The skirmishers begin—they crawl cautiously ahead—
I hear the irregular snap! snap!
I hear the sounds of the different missiles—the short
t-h-t! t-h-t! of the rifle balls;
I see the shells exploding, leaving small white clouds—
I hear the great shells shrieking as they pass;
The grape, like the hum and whirr of wind through the
trees, (quick, tumultuous, now the contest rages!)
All the scenes at the batteries themselves rise in detail
before me again;
The crashing and smoking—the pride of the men in
The chief gunner ranges and sights his piece, and selects
a fuse of the right time;
After firing, I see him lean aside, and look eagerly off
to note the effect;
—Elsewhere I hear the cry of a regiment charging—
(the young colonel leads himself this time, with
I see the gaps cut by the enemy's volleys, (quickly
fill'd up—no delay;)
I breathe the suffocating smoke—then the flat clouds
hover low, concealing all;
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Now a strange lull comes for a few seconds, not a shot
fired on either side;
Then resumed, the chaos louder than ever, with eager
calls, and orders of officers;
While from some distant part of the field the wind wafts
to my ears a shout of applause, (some special
And ever the sound of the cannon, far or near, (rousing,
even in dreams, a devilish exultation, and all the
old mad joy, in the depths of my soul;)
And ever the hastening of infantry shifting positions—
batteries, cavalry, moving hither and thither;
(The falling, dying, I heed not—the wounded, dripping
and red, I heed not—some to the rear are hob-
Grime, heat, rush—aid-de-camps galloping by, or on a
With the patter of small arms, the warning s-s-t of the
rifles, (these in my vision I hear or see,)
And bombs bursting in air, and at night the vari-color'd
O TAN-FACED prairie-boy!
Before you came to camp, came many a welcome gift;
Praises and presents came, and nourishing food—till at
last among the recruits,
You came, taciturn, with nothing to give—we but
look'd on each other,
When lo! more than all the gifts of the world, you
NOT alone our camps of white, O soldiers,
When, as order'd forward, after a long march,
Footsore and weary, soon as the light lessens, we halt
for the night;
Some of us so fatigued, carrying the gun and knapsack,
dropping asleep in our tracks;
Others pitching the little tents, and the fires lit up begin
Outposts of pickets posted, surrounding, alert through
And a word provided for countersign, careful for safety;
Till to the call of the drummers at daybreak loudly
beating the drums,
We rise up refresh'd, the night and sleep pass'd over,
and resume our journey,
Or proceed to battle.
Lo! the camps of the tents of green,
Which the days of peace keep filling, and the days of
war keep filling,
With a mystic army, (is it too order'd forward? is it too
only halting awhile,
Till night and sleep pass over?)
Now in those camps of green—in their tents dotting
In the parents, children, husbands, wives, in them—
in the old and young,
Sleeping under the sunlight, sleeping under the moon-
light, content and silent there at last,
Behold the mighty bivouac-field, and waiting-camp of
us and ours and all,
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Of our corps and generals all, and the President over the
corps and generals all
And each of us, O soldiers, and of each and all in the
ranks we fight,
(There without hatred we shall all meet.)
For presently, O soldiers, we too camp in our place
in the bivouac-camps of green;
But we need not provide for outposts, nor word for
Nor drummer to beat the morning drum.
AS TOILSOME I wander'd Virginia's woods,
To the music of rustling leaves, kick'd by my feet, (for
I mark'd at the foot of a tree the grave of a soldier;
Mortally wounded he, and buried on the retreat, (easily
all could I understand;)
The halt of a mid-day hour, when up! no time to lose
—yet this sign left,
On a tablet scrawl'd and nail'd on the tree by the grave,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.
Long, long I muse, then on my way go wandering;
Many a changeful season to follow, and many a scene of
Yet at times through changeful season and scene, abrupt,
alone, or in the crowded street,
Comes before me the unknown soldier's grave—comes
the inscription rude in Virginia's woods,
Bold, cautious, true, and my loving comrade.
ONE breath, O my silent soul,
A perfum'd thought—no more I ask, for the sake of all
Buglers off in my armies!
At present I ask not you to sound;
Not at the head of my cavalry, all on their spirited
With their sabres drawn and glist'ning, and carbines
clanking by their thighs—(ah, my brave horse-
My handsome, tan-faced horsemen! what life, what joy
With all the perils, were yours!)
Nor you drummers—neither at reveille, at dawn,
Nor the long roll alarming the camp—nor even the
muffled beat for a burial;
Nothing from you, this time, O drummers, bearing my
But aside from these, and the crowd's hurrahs, and
the land's congratulations,
Admitting around me comrades close, unseen by the
the rest, and voiceless,
I chant this chant of my silent soul, in the name of all
Faces so pale, with wondrous eyes, very dear, gather
Draw close, but speak not.
Phantoms, welcome, divine and tender!
Invisible to the rest, henceforth become my compan-
Follow me ever! desert me not, while I live.
Sweet are the blooming cheeks of the living! sweet
are the musical voices sounding!
But sweet, ah sweet, are the dead, with their silent eyes.
Dearest comrades! all now is over;
But love is not over—and what love, O comrades!
Perfume from battle-fields rising—up from fœtor
Perfume therefore my chant, O love! immortal Love!
Give me to bathe the memories of all dead soldiers.
Perfume all! make all wholesome!
O love! O chant! solve all with the last chemistry.
Give me exhaustless—make me a fountain,
That I exhale love from me wherever I go,
For the sake of all dead soldiers.
Lo! THE unbounded sea!
On its breast a Ship, spreading all her sails—an ample
Ship, carrying even her moonsails;
The pennant is flying aloft, as she speeds, she
speeds so stately—below, emulous waves press
They surround the Ship, with shining curving motions,
OVER sea, hither from Niphon,
Courteous, the Princes of Asia, swart-cheek'd princes,
First-comers, guests, two-sworded princes,
Lesson-giving princes, leaning back in their open ba-
rouches, bare-headed, impassive,
This day they ride through Manhattan.
I do not know whether others behold what I behold,
In the procession, along with the Princes of Asia, the
Bringing up the rear, hovering above, around, or in the
But I will sing you a song of what I behold, Libertad.
When million-footed Manhattan, unpent, descends to
When the thunder-cracking guns arouse me with the
proud roar I love;
When the round-mouth'd guns, out of the smoke and
smell I love, spit their salutes;
When the fire-flashing guns have fully alerted me—
when heaven-clouds canopy my city with a
delicate thin haze;
When, gorgeous, the countless straight stems, the for-
ests at the wharves, thicken with colors;
When every ship, richly drest, carries her flag at the
When pennants trail, and street-festoons hang from the
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When Broadway is entirely given up to foot-passengers
and foot-standers—when the mass is densest;
When the facades of the houses are alive with people—
when eyes gaze, riveted, tens of thousands at a
When the guests from the islands advance—when the
pageant moves forward, visible;
When the summons is made—when the answer that
waited thousands of years, answers;
I too, arising, answering, descend to the pavements,
merge with the crowd, and gaze with them.
Comrade Americanos!—to us, then, at last, the Orient
To us, my city,
Where our tall-topt marble and iron beauties range on
opposite sides—to walk in the space between,
To-day our Antipodes comes.
The Originatress comes,
The land of Paradise—land of the Caucasus—the nest
The nest of languages, the bequeather of poems, the
race of eld,
Florid with blood, pensive, rapt with musings, hot with
Sultry with perfume, with ample and flowing garments,
With sunburnt visage, with intense soul and glittering
The race of Brahma comes!
See, my cantabile! these, and more, are flashing to us
from the procession;
As it moves, changing, a kaleidoscope divine it moves,
changing, before us.
Not the errand-bearing princes, nor the tann'd Japa-
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Lithe and silent, the Hindoo appears—the whole Asiatic
continent itself appears—the Past, the dead,
The murky night-morning of wonder and fable, inscruta-
The envelop'd mysteries, the old and unknown hive-
The North—the sweltering South—Assyria—the
Hebrews—the Ancient of ancients,
Vast desolated cities—the gliding Present—all of
these, and more, are in the pageant-procession.
Geography, the world, is in it;
The Great Sea, the brood of islands, Polynesia, the coast
The coast you, henceforth, are facing—you Libertad!
from your Western golden shores;
The countries there, with their populations—the mil-
lions en-masse, are curiously here;
The swarming market places—the temples, with idols
ranged along the sides, or at the end—bonze,
brahmin, and lama;
The mandarin, farmer, merchant, mechanic, and fisher-
The singing-girl and the dancing-girl—the ecstatic
person—the divine Buddha;
The secluded Emperors—Confucius himself—the
great poets and heroes—the warriors, the castes,
Trooping up, crowding from all directions—from the
From Thibet—from the four winding and far-flowing
rivers of China,
From the Southern peninsulas, and the demi-continental
These, and whatever belongs to them, palpable, show
forth to me, and are seiz'd by me,
And I am seiz'd by them, and friendlily held by them,
Till, as here, them all I chant, Libertad! for themselves
and for you.
For I too, raising my voice, join the ranks of this
I am the chanter—I chant aloud over the pageant;
I chant the world on my Western Sea;
I chant, copious, the islands beyond, thick as stars in
I chant the new empire, grander than any before—As
in a vision it comes to me;
I chant America, the Mistress—I chant a greater su-
I chant, projected, a thousand blooming cities yet, in
time, on those groups of sea-islands;
I chant my sail-ships and steam-ships threading the ar-
I chant my stars and stripes fluttering in the wind;
I chant commerce opening, the sleep of ages having
done its work—races, reborn, refresh'd;
Lives, works, resumed—The object I know not—but
the old, the Asiatic, resumed, as it must be,
Commencing from this day, surrounded by the world.
And you, Libertad of the world!
You shall sit in the middle, well-pois'd, thousands of
As to-day, from one side, the Princes of Asia come to
As to-morrow, from the other side, the Queen of Eng-
land sends her eldest son to you.
The sign is reversing, the orb is enclosed,
The ring is circled, the journey is done;
The box-lid is but perceptibly open'd—nevertheless the
perfume pours copiously out of the whole box.
With the venerable Asia, the all-mother,
Be considerate with her, now and ever, hot Libertad—
for you are all;
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Bend your proud neck to the long-off mother, now
sending messages over the archipelagoes to you;
Bend your proud neck low for once, young Libertad.
Were the children straying westward so long? so
wide the tramping?
Were the precedent dim ages debouching westward
from Paradise so long?
Were the centuries steadily footing it that way, all the
while unknown, for you, for reasons?
They are justified—they are accomplish'd—they shall
now be turn'd the other way also, to travel to-
ward you thence;
They shall now also march obediently eastward, for
your sake, Libertad.
FLAG of stars! thick-sprinkled bunting!
Long yet your road, fateful flag!—long yet your road,
and lined with bloody death!
For the prize I see at issue, at last is the world!
All its ships and shores I see, interwoven with your
threads, greedy banner!
—Dream'd again the flags of kings, highest borne, to
O hasten, flag of man! O with sure and steady step,
passing highest flags of kings,
Walk supreme to the heavens, mighty symbol—run up
above them all,
Flag of stars! thick sprinkled bunting!
FAR hence, amid an isle of wondrous beauty,
Crouching over a grave, an ancient sorrowful mother,
Once a queen—now lean and tatter'd, seated on the
Her old white hair drooping dishevel'd round her shoul-
At her feet fallen an unused royal harp,
Long silent—she too long silent—mourning her shroud-
ed hope and heir;
Of all the earth her heart most full of sorrow, because
most full of love.
Yet a word, ancient mother;
You need crouch there no longer on the cold ground,
with forehead between your knees;
O you need not sit there, veil'd in your old white
hair, so dishevel'd;
For know you, the one you mourn is not in that grave;
It was an illusion—the heir, the son you love, was not
The Lord is not dead—he is risen again, young and
strong, in another country;
Even while you wept there by your fallen harp, by the
What you wept for, was translated, pass'd from the
The winds favor'd, and the sea sail'd it,
And now with rosy and new blood,
Moves to-day in a new country.
LOOK down, fair moon, and bathe this scene;
Pour softly down night's nimbus floods, on faces ghast-
ly, swollen, purple;
On the dead, on their backs, with their arms toss'd wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon.
OUT of the rolling ocean, the crowd, came a drop gently
Whispering, I love you, before long I die,
I have travel'd a long way, merely to look on you, to touch you,
For I could not die till I once look'd on you,
For I fear'd I might afterward lose you.
(Now we have met, we have look'd, we are safe;
Return in peace to the ocean my love;
I too am part of that ocean, my love—we are not so
Behold the great rondure—the cohesion of all, how per-
But as for me, for you, the irresistible sea is to separ-
As for an hour carrying us diverse—yet cannot carry
us diverse for ever;
Be not impatient—a little space—know you, I salute
the air, the ocean and the land,
Every day, at sundown, for your dear sake, my love.)
WORLD, take good notice, silver stars fading,
Milky hue ript, weft of white detaching,
Coals thirty-six, baleful and burning,
Scarlet, significant, hands off warning,
Now and henceforth flaunt from these shores.
I saw old General at bay;
(Old as he was, his grey eyes yet shone out in battle
His small force was now completely hemmed in, in his
He call'd for volunteers to run the enemy's lines—a
I saw a hundred and more step forth from the ranks—
but two or three were selected;
I saw them receive their orders aside—they listen'd
with care—the adjutant was very grave;
I saw them depart with cheerfulness, freely risking their
OTHERS may praise what they like;
But I, from the banks of the running Missouri, praise
nothing, in art, or aught else,
Till it has breathed well the atmosphere of this river—
also the western prairie-scent,
And fully exudes it again.
SOLID, ironical, rolling orb!
Master of all, and matter of fact!—at last I accept your
Bringing to practical, vulgar tests, of all my ideal
And of me, as lover and hero.
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.
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.
But sing, poet, in our name;
Sing of the love we bore him—because you, dweller in
camps, know it truly.
Sing, to the lower'd coffin there;
Sing, with the shovel'd clods that fill the grave—a
For the heavy hearts of soldiers.
WEAVE in! weave in, my hardy life!
Weave, weave a soldier strong and full, for great cam-
paigns to come;
Weave in red blood! weave sinews in, like ropes! the
senses, sight weave in!
Weave lasting sure! weave day and night the weft, the
warp! incessant weave! tire not!
(We know not what the use, O life! nor know the aim,
the end—nor really aught we know;
But know the work, the need goes on, and shall go
on—the death-envelop'd march of peace as well
as war, goes on;)
For great campaigns of peace the same, the wiry
threads to weave;
We know not why or what, yet weave, forever weave.
TURN, O Libertad, no more doubting;
Turn from lands retrospective, recording proofs of the
From the singers that sing the trailing glories of the
From the chants of the feudal world—the triumphs of
kings, slavery, caste;
Turn to the world, the triumphs reserv'd and to come—
give up that backward world;
Leave to the singers of hitherto—give them the trailing
But what remains, remains for singers for you—wars
to come are for you;
(Lo! how the wars of the past have duly inured to you
—and the wars of the present shall also inure:)
—Then turn, and be not alarm'd, O Libertad—turn
your undying face,
To where the future, greater than all the past,
Is swiftly, surely preparing for you.
I SEE before me now, a traveling army halting;
Below, a fertile valley spread, with barns, and the orch-
ards of summer;
Behind, the terraced sides of a mountain, abrupt in
places, rising high;
Broken, with rocks, with clinging cedars, with tall
shapes, dingily seen;
The numerous camp-fires scatter'd near and far, some
away up on the mountain;
The shadowy forms of men and horses, looming, large-
And over all, the sky—the sky! far, far out of reach,
studded with the eternal stars.
PENSIVE, on her dead gazing, I heard the Mother of
Desperate, on the torn bodies, on the forms covering the
As she call'd to her earth with mournful voice while she
Absorb them well, O my earth, she cried—I charge you,
lose not my sons! lose not an atom;
And you streams, absorb them well, taking their dear
And you local spots, and you airs that swim above
And all you essences of soil and growth—and you, O
my rivers' depths;
And you mountain sides—and the woods where my
dear children's blood, trickling, redden'd;
And you trees, down in your roots, to bequeath to all
My dead absorb—my young men's beautiful bodies ab-
sorb —and their precious, precious, precious
Which holding in trust for me, faithfully back again give
me, many a year hence,
In unseen essence and odor of surface and grass, centu-
In blowing airs from the fields, back again give me my
darlings—give my immortal heroes;
Exhale me them centuries hence—breathe me their
breath—let not an atom be lost;
O years and graves! O air and soil! O my dead, an
Exhale them perennial, sweet death, years, centuries
NOT youth pertains to me,
Nor delicatesse—I cannot beguile the time with talk;
Awkward in the parlor, neither a dancer nor elegant;
In the learn'd coterie sitting constrain'd and still—for
learning inures not to me;
Beauty, knowledge, fortune, inure not to me—yet
there are two things inure to me;
I have nourish'd the wounded, and sooth'd many a
And at intervals I have strung together a few songs,
Fit for war, and the life of the camp.
(SINCE THE PRECEDING CAME FROM THE PRESS.)
WHEN LILACS LAST IN THE DOOR-YARD BLOOM'D.
AND OTHER POEMS.
|When Lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd.........||3|
|Race of Veterans..................................||12|
|O Captain! my Captain!............................||13|
|Spirit whose work is done.........................||14|
|Chanting the Square Deific........................||15|
|I heard you, solemn sweet pipes of the Organ......||17|
|Not my Enemies ever invade me.....................||17|
|O me! O life!.....................................||18|
|Ah poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats........||18|
|As I lay with my head in your lap, Camerado.......||19|
|This day, O Soul..................................||19|
|In clouds descending, in midnight sleep...........||20|
|An Army on the march..............................||20|
|Dirge for Two Veterans............................||21|
|How solemn, as one by one.........................||22|
|Lo! Victress on the Peaks!........................||23|
|To the leaven'd Soil they trod....................||24|
WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the
I mourn'd…and yet shall mourn with ever-returning
O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.
O powerful, western, fallen star!
O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear'd! O the blank murk that hides the
O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul!
In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the
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,
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With every leaf a miracle……and from this bush in the
With its delicate-color'd blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves
of rich green,
A sprig, with its flower, I break.
In the swamp, in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.
Solitary, the thrush,
The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.
Song of the bleeding throat!
Death's outlet song of life—(for well, dear brother, I know,
If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would'st surely die.)
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
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.
Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night, with the great cloud darkening the
With the pomp of the inloop'd flags, with the cities draped
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With the show of the States themselves, as of crape-veil'd
With processions long and winding, and the flambeaus of
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
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 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.
(Nor for you, for one, alone;
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring:
For fresh as the morning—thus would I chant a song for
you, O sane and sacred death.
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.)
O western orb, sailing the heaven!
Now I know what you must have meant, as a month since
As we walk'd up and down in the dark blue so mystic,
As we walk'd in silence the transparent shadowy night,
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As I saw you had something to tell, as you bent to me 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 something
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 you were of woe;
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze, in the cool
As I watch'd where you pass'd and was lost in the nether-
ward black of the night,
As my soul, in its trouble, dissatisfied, sank, as where you,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.
Sing on, there in the swamp!
O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes—I hear
I hear—I come presently—I understand you;
But a moment I linger—for the lustrous star has detain'd
The star, my comrade, departing, holds and detains me.
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
And what shall my perfume be, for the grave of him I love?
Sea-winds, blown from east and west,
Blown from the eastern sea, and blown from the western 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.
O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,
To adorn the burial-house of him I love?
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, indolent,
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
And all the scenes of life, and the workshops, and the
workmen homeward returning.
Lo! body and soul! this land!
Mighty Manhattan, with spires, and the sparkling and hur-
rying tides, and the ships;
The varied and ample land—the South and the North in
the light—Ohio's shores, and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies, cover'd with grass and
Lo! the most excellent sun, so calm and haughty;
The violet and purple morn, with just-felt breezes:
The gentle, soft-born, measureless light;
The miracle, spreading, bathing all—the fulfill'd noon;
The coming eve, delicious—the welcome night, and the
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.
Sing on! sing on, you gray-brown bird!
Sing from the swamps, the recesses—pour your chant from
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.
Sing on, dearest brother—warble your reedy song;
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.
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
Yet the lilac, with mastering odor, holds me.
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
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb'd winds,
and the storms;)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing,
and the voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides,—and I saw the ships how they
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;
And the streets, how their throbbings throbb'd, and the cities
pent,—lo! then and there,
Falling among them all, and upon 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 knowledge
Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
And I in the middle, as with companions, and as holding the
hands of companions,
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night, that talks not,
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in
To the solemn shadowy cedars, and ghostly pines so still.
And the singer so shy to the rest receiv'd me;
The gray-brown bird I know, receiv'd us comrades three;
And he sang what seem'd the song of death, and a verse for
him I love.
From deep secluded recesses,
From the fragrant cedars, and the ghostly pines so still,
Came the singing of the bird.
And the charm of the singing rapt me,
As I held, as if by their hands, my comrades in the night;
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.
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.
Prais'd be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious;
And for love, sweet love—But praise! O praise and praise,
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death.
Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
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Then I chant it for thee—I glorify thee above all;
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come
Approach, encompassing Death—strong Deliveress!
When it is so—when thou hast taken them, I joyously sing
Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death.
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.
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.
Over the tree-tops I float thee a song!
Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields,
and the prairies wide;
Over the dense-pack'd cities all, and the teeming wharves
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!
To the tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure, deliberate notes, spreading, filling the night.
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.
While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,
As to long panoramas of visions.
I saw the vision of armies;
And I saw, as in noiseless dreams, hundreds of battle-flags;
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 at last but a few shreds of the flags left on the staffs,
(and all in silence,)
And the staffs all splinter'd and broken.
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 dead soldiers;
But I saw they were not as was thought;
They themselves were 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 suf-
And the armies that remain'd suffer'd.
Passing the visions, passing the night;
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades' hands;
Passing the song of the hermit bird, and the tallying song
of my soul,
Victorious song, death's outlet song, (yet varying, ever-
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling,
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 recesses.
Must I leave thee, lilac with heart-shaped leaves?
Must I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, return-
ing with spring?
Must I pass from my song for thee;
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, com-
muning with thee,
O comrade lustrous, with silver face in the night?
Yet each I keep, and all;
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird, I keep,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous'd in my soul, I keep,
With the lustrous and drooping star, with the countenance
full of woe;
With the lilac tall, and its blossoms of mastering odor;
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 soul,
With the holders holding my hand, nearing the call of the
There in the fragrant pines, and the cedars dusk and dim.
RACE of veterans!
Race of the soil, ready for conflict! race of the conquering
(No more credulity's race, abiding-temper'd race;)
Race owning no law but the law of itself;
Race of passion and the storm.
O CAPTAIN! my captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
Leave you not the little spot,
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 trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces
O captain! dear father!
This arm I push beneath you;
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:
But the ship, the ship is anchor'd safe, its voyage closed and
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won:
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with silent tread,
Walk the spot my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
SPIRIT whose work is done! spirit of dreadful
Ere, departing, fade from my eyes your forests of bayonets;
Spirit of gloomiest fears and doubts, (yet onward ever unfal-
Spirit of many a solemn day, and many a savage scene!
That with muttering voice, through the years now closed,
like a tireless phantom flitted,
Rousing the land with breath of flame, while you beat and
beat the drum;
—Now, as the sound of the drum, hollow and harsh to the
last, reverberates round me;
As your ranks, your immortal ranks, return, return from
While the muskets of the young men yet lean over their
While I look on the bayonets bristling over their shoulders;
While those slanted bayonets, whole forests of them, ap-
pearing in the distance, approach and pass on, re-
Moving with steady motion, swaying to and fro, to the right
Evenly, lightly rising and falling, as the steps keep time:
—Spirit of hours I knew, all hectic red one day, but pale as
death next day;
Touch my mouth, ere you depart—press my lips close!
Leave me your pulses of rage! bequeath them to me! fill
me with currents convulsive!
Let them scorch and blister out of my chants, when you are
Let them identify you to the future in these songs.
CHANTING the square deific, out of the One advancing, out
of the sides;
Out of the old and new—out of the square entirely divine,
Solid, four-sided, (all the sides needed)…from this side
JEHOVAH am I,
Old Brahm I, and I Saturnius am;
Not Time affects me—I am Time, modern as any;
Unpersuadable, relentless, executing righteous judgments;
As the Earth, the Father, the brown old Kronos, with laws,
Aged beyond computation—yet ever new—ever with those
mighty laws rolling,
Relentless, I forgive no man—whoever sins, dies—I will
have that man's life;
Therefore let none expect mercy—Have the seasons, gravi-
tation, the appointed days, mercy?—No more have I;
But as the seasons, and gravitation—and as all the appointed
days, that forgive not,
I dispense from this side judgments inexorable, without the
Consolator most mild, the promis'd one advancing,
With gentle hand extended, the mightier God am I,
Foretold by prophets and poets, in their most rapt proph-
ecies and poems;
From this side, lo! the Lord CHRIST gazes—lo! Hermes I—
lo! mine is Hercules' face;
All sorrow, labor, suffering, I, tallying it, absorb in myself;
Many times have I been rejected, taunted, put in prison,
and crucified—and many times shall be again;
All the world have I given up for my dear brothers' and
sisters' sake—for the soul's sake;
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Wending my way through the homes of men, rich or
poor, with the kiss of affection;
For I am affection—I am the cheer-bringing God, with hope,
and all-enclosing Charity;
(Conqueror yet—for before me all the armies and soldiers
of the earth shall yet bow—and all the weapons of
war become impotent:)
With indulgent words, as to children—with fresh and sane
words, mine only;
Young and strong I pass, knowing well I am destin'd my-
self to an early death:
But my Charity has no death—my Wisdom dies not, neither
early nor late,
And my sweet Love, bequeath'd here and elsewhere, never
Aloof, dissatisfied, plotting revolt,
Comrade of criminals, brother of slaves,
Crafty, despised, a drudge, ignorant,
With sudra face and worn brow—black, but in the depths
of my heart, proud as any;
Lifted, now and always, against whoever, scorning, assumes
to rule me;
Morose, full of guile, full of reminiscences, brooding, with
(Though it was thought I was baffled and dispell'd, and
my wiles done—but that will never be;)
Defiant, I, SATAN, still live—still utter words—in new lands
duly appearing, (and old ones also;)
Permanent here, from my side, warlike, equal with any,
real as any,
Nor time, nor change, shall ever change me or my words.
Santa SPIRITA, breather, life,
Beyond the light, lighter than light,
Beyond the flames of hell—joyous, leaping easily above hell;
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Beyond Paradise—perfumed solely with mine own perfume;
Including all life on earth—touching, including God—
including Saviour and Satan;
Ethereal, pervading all, (for without me, what were all?
what were God?)
Essence of forms—life of the real identities, permanent,
positive, (namely the unseen,)
Life of the great round world, the sun and stars, and of
man—I, the general Soul,
Here the square finishing, the solid, I the most solid,
Breathe my breath also through these little songs.
I HEARD you, solemn-sweet pipes of the organ, as last
Sunday morn I pass'd the church;
Winds of autumn!—as I walk'd the woods at dusk, I
heard your long-stretch'd sighs, up above, so
I heard the perfect Italian tenor, singing at the opera—I
heard the soprano in the midst of the quartet singing;
…Heart of my love!—you too I heard, murmuring low,
through one of the wrists around my head;
Heard the pulse of you, when all was still, ringing little
bells last night under my ear.
NOT my enemies ever invade me—no harm to my
them I fear;
But the lovers I recklessly love—lo! how they master me!
Lo! me, ever open and helpless, bereft of my strength!
Utterly abject, grovelling on the ground before them.
O ME! O life!…of the questions of these
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill'd with
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more fool-
ish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of
the struggle ever renew'd;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds
I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid
these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a
AH poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats!
Ah you foes that in conflict have overcome me!
(For what is my life, or any man's life, but a conflict with
foes—the old, the incessant war?)
You degradations—you tussle with passions and appetites;
You smarts from dissatisfied friendships, (ah wounds, the
sharpest of all;)
You toil of painful and choked articulations—you mean-
You shallow tongue-talks at tables, (my tongue the shal-
lowest of any;)
You broken resolutions, you racking angers, you smother'd
Ah, think not you finally triumph—My real self has yet to
It shall yet march forth o'ermastering, till all lies beneath me;
It shall yet stand up the soldier of unquestion'd victory.
As I lay with my head in your lap, camerado,
The confession I made I resume—what I said to you and
the open air I resume:
I know I am restless, and make others so;
I know my words are weapons, full of danger, full of death;
(Indeed I am myself the real soldier;
It is not he, there, with his bayonet, and not the red-striped
For I confront peace, security, and all the settled laws, to
I am more resolute because all have denied me, than I could
ever have been had all accepted me;
I heed not, and have never heeded, either experience, cau-
tions, majorities, nor ridicule;
And the threat of what is call'd hell is little or nothing to
And the lure of what is call'd heaven is little or nothing
…Dear camerado! I confess I have urged you onward
with me, and still urge you, without the least idea
what is our destination,
Or whether we shall be victorious, or utterly quell'd and
THIS day, O soul, I give you a wondrous mirror;
Long in the dark, in tarnish and cloud it lay—But the cloud
has pass'd, and the tarnish gone;
…Behold, O soul! it is now a clean and bright mirror,
Faithfully showing you all the things of the world.
IN clouds descending, in midnight sleep, of many a face of
Of the look at first of the mortally wounded—of that inde-
Of the dead on their backs, with arms extended wide,
I dream, I dream, I dream.
Of scenes of nature, the fields and the mountains;
Of the skies, so beauteous after the storm—and at night the
moon so unearthly bright,
Shining sweetly, shining down, where we dig the trenches
and gather the heaps,
I dream, I dream, I dream.
Long have they pass'd, long lapsed—faces and trenches and
Long through the carnage I moved with a callous compos-
ure—or away from the fallen,
Onward I sped at the time—But now of their forms at night,
I dream, I dream, I dream.
WITH its cloud of skirmishers in advance,
With now the sound of a single shot, snapping like a whip,
and now an irregular volley,
The swarming ranks press on and on, the dense brigades
Glittering dimly, toiling under the sun, the dust-cover'd men,
In columns rise and fall to the undulations of the ground,
With artillery interspers'd—the wheels rumble, the horses
As the army resistless advances.
THE last sunbeam Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here—and there beyond, it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.
Lo! the moon ascending! Up from the east, the silvery round moon;
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon;
Immense and silent moon.
I see a sad procession, And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles;
All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,
As with voices and with tears.
I hear the great drums pounding, And the small drums steady whirring;
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.
For the son is brought with the father; (In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell;
Two veterans, son and father, dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.)
Now nearer blow the bugles, And the drums strike more convulsive;
And the day-light o'er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.
In the eastern sky up-buoying, The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd;
('T is some mother's large, transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)
O strong dead-march, you please me! O moon immense, with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans, passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.
The moon gives you light, And the bugles and the drums give you music;
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.
How solemn, as one by one,
As the ranks returning, all worn and sweaty—as the men
file by where I stand;
As the faces, the masks appear—as I glance at the faces,
studying the masks;
(As I glance upward out of this page, studying you, dear
friend, whoever you are;)
How solemn the thought of my whispering soul, to each in
the ranks, and to you;
I see behind each mask, that wonder, a kindred soul:
O the bullet could never kill what you really are, dear
Nor the bayonet stab what you really are:
…The soul! yourself I see, great as any, good as the best,
Waiting secure and content, which the bullet could never
Nor the bayonet stab, O friend!
Lo! Victress on the peaks!
Where thou standest, with mighty brow, regarding the
(The world, O Libertad, that vainly conspired against thee;)
Out of its countless, beleaguering toils, after thwarting
Where thou, dominant, with the dazzling sun around thee,
Towerest now unharm'd, in immortal soundness and bloom—
lo! in this hour supreme,
No poem proud I, chanting, bring to thee—nor mastery's
But a little book, containing night's darkness, and blood-
And psalms of the dead.
WORD over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in
time be utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly
softly wash again, and ever again, this soil'd world:
…For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin—I
I bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face
in the coffin.
To the leaven'd soil they trod, calling, I sing, for the last;
(Not cities, nor man alone, nor war, nor the dead,
But forth from my tent emerging for good—loosing, unty-
ing the tent-ropes;)
In the freshness, the forenoon air, in the far-stretching cir-
cuits and vistas, again to peace restored,
To the fiery fields emanative, and the endless vistas beyond—
to the south and the north;
To the leaven'd soil of the general western world, to attest
(To the average earth, the wordless earth, witness of war
To the Alleghanian hills, and the tireless Mississippi,
To the rocks I, calling, sing, and all the trees in the woods,
To the plain of the poems of heroes, to the prairie spreading
To the far-off sea, and the unseen winds, and the sane im-
…And responding, they answer all, (but not in words.)
The average earth, the witness of war and peace, acknowl-
The prairie draws me close, as the father, to bosom broad,
The Northern ice and rain, that began me, nourish me
to the end;
But the hot sun of the South is to ripen my songs.