Best Poems From
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
In Paths Untrodden
IN paths untrodden,
In the growth by margins of pond-waters,
Escaped from the life that exhibits itself,
From all the standards hitherto publish'd--from the pleasures,
profits, eruditions, conformities,
Which too long I was offering to feed my soul;
Clear to me, now, standards not yet publish'd--clear to me that my
That the Soul of the man I speak for, feeds, rejoices most in
Here, by myself, away from the clank of the world,
Tallying and talk'd to here by tongues aromatic,
No longer abash'd--for in this secluded spot I can respond as I would
not dare elsewhere, 10
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet contains
all the rest,
Resolv'd to sing no songs to-day but those of manly attachment,
Projecting them along that substantial life,
Bequeathing, hence, types of athletic love,
Afternoon, this delicious Ninth-month, in my forty-first year,
I proceed, for all who are, or have been, young men,
To tell the secret of my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades.
Read more: life poems, world poems, song poems, water poems
O Hymen! O Hymenee!
O HYMEN! O hymenee!
Why do you tantalize me thus?
O why sting me for a swift moment only?
Why can you not continue? O why do you now cease?
Is it because, if you continued beyond the swift moment, you would
soon certainly kill me?
The Untold Want
THE untold want, by life and land ne'er granted,
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.
Read more: life poems
Aroused and angry,
I thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war;
But soon my fingers fail'd me, my face droop'd, and I resign'd
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead.
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 sprang;
(O superb! O Manhattan, my own, my peerless!
O strongest you in the hour of danger, in crisis! O truer than
How you sprang! how you threw off the costumes of peace with
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 prelude, songs of
How Manhattan drum-taps led. 10
Forty years had I in my city seen soldiers parading;
Forty years as a pageant--till unawares, the Lady of this teeming and
Sleepless amid her ships, her houses, her incalculable wealth,
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
Leapt they tumultuous--and lo! Manhattan arming. 20
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 precipitation;)
The lawyer leaving his office, and arming--the judge leaving the
The driver deserting his wagon in the street, jumping down, throwing
the reins abruptly down on the horses' backs;
The salesman leaving the store--the boss, book-keeper, porter, all
Squads gather everywhere by common consent, and arm;
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 musket-barrels;
The white tents cluster in camps--the arm'd sentries around--the
sunrise cannon, and again at sunset; 30
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 cover'd with dust!)
The blood of the city up--arm'd! arm'd! the cry everywhere;
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
(Loth is the mother to part--yet not a word does she speak to detain
The tumultuous escort--the ranks of policemen preceding, clearing the
The unpent enthusiasm--the wild cheers of the crowd for their
The artillery--the silent cannons, bright as gold, drawn along,
rumble lightly over the stones; 40
(Silent cannons--soon to cease your silence!
Soon, unlimber'd, to begin the red business;)
All the mutter of preparation--all the determin'd arming;
The hospital service--the lint, bandages, and medicines;
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
War! be it weeks, months, or years--an arm'd race is advancing to
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! 50
The guns, bright as gold--the work for giants--to serve well the
Unlimber them! no more, as the past forty years, for salutes for
Put in something else now besides powder and wadding.
And you, Lady of Ships! you Mannahatta!
Old matron of this proud, friendly, turbulent city!
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!
Read more: city poems, war poems, mother poems, son poems, work poems, children poems, peace poems, joy poems, sunset poems, women poems, pride poems, river poems, music poems, silence poems, smile poems, red poems, soldier poems, spring poems, kiss poems, horse poems