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Poems By Poet Walt Whitman  2/26/2015 6:27:31 PM
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Walt Whitman   Best Poems From
  WALT WHITMAN (31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
 
 
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  237.     

President Lincoln's Burial Hymn


When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd


WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
I mourn'd--and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

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 black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me! 10
O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!


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


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

Solitary, the thrush, 20
The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,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 debris;)
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 orchards; 30
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 land,
With the pomp of the inloop'd flags, with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves, as of crape-veil'd women,
standing,
With processions long and winding, and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit--with the silent sea of faces, and the
unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong
and solemn; 40
With all the mournful voices of the dirges, pour'd around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs--Where amid these you
journey,
With the tolling, tolling bells' perpetual clang;
Here! coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac.


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

All over bouquets of roses,
O death! I cover you over with roses and early lilies; 50
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 we walk'd,
As we walk'd up and down in the dark blue so mystic,
As we walk'd in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell, as you bent to me night after
night,
As you droop'd from the sky low down, as if to my side, (while the
other stars all look'd on;) 60
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 cold
transparent night,
As I watch'd where you pass'd and was lost in the netherward black of
the night,
As my soul, in its trouble, dissatisfied, sank, as where you, sad
orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.


Sing on, there in the swamp!
O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes--I hear your call;
I hear--I come presently--I understand you;
But a moment I linger--for the lustrous star has detain'd me; 70
The star, my departing comrade, holds and detains me.


O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be, for the grave of him I 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, 80
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 of
chimneys,
And all the scenes of life, and the workshops, and the workmen
homeward returning.


Lo! body and soul! this land! 90
Mighty Manhattan, with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides,
and the ships;
The varied and ample land--the South and the North in the light--
Ohio's shores, and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies, cover'd with grass and corn.

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 stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.


Sing on! sing on, you gray-brown bird! 100
Sing from the swamps, the recesses--pour your chant from the bushes;
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 depart;)
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, 110
In the large unconscious scenery of my land, with its lakes and
forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb'd winds, and the
storms;)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the
voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides,--and I saw the ships how they sail'd,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy
with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its
meals and minutia of daily usages;
And the streets, how their throbbings throbb'd, and the cities pent--
lo! then and there,
Falling upon them all, and among them all, enveloping me with the
rest,
Appear'd the cloud, appear'd the long black trail;
And I knew Death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death. 120


Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
And I in the middle, as with companions, and as 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 the
dimness,
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 carol of death, and a verse for him I
love.

From deep secluded recesses, 130
From the fragrant cedars, and the ghostly pines so still,
Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol 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.

DEATH CAROL.


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, 140
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious;
And for love, sweet love--But praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death.

Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?

Then I chant it for thee--I glorify thee above all;
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come
unfalteringly.

Approach, strong Deliveress!
When it is so--when thou hast taken them, I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee, 150
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! 160
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 and ways,
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, 170
As to long panoramas of visions.


I saw askant the 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 bloody;
And at last but a few shreds 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 the dead soldiers of the war; 180
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 suffer'd,
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-altering
song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding
the night, 190
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,)
Passing, I leave thee, lilac with heart-shaped leaves;
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring,
I cease from my song for thee;
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with
thee,
O comrade lustrous, with silver face in the night.


Yet each I keep, and all, retrievements out of the night;
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird, 200
And the tallying chant, the echo arous'd in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star, with the countenance full of
woe,
With the lilac tall, and its blossoms of mastering odor;
With the holders holding my hand, nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine, and I in the midst, and their memory ever I keep--for
the dead I loved so well;
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands...and this for
his dear sake;
Lilac and star and bird, twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines, and the cedars dusk and dim.
 
Walt Whitman

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  238.     

Respondez!

RESPONDEZ! Respondez!
(The war is completed--the price is paid--the title is settled beyond
recall;)
Let every one answer! let those who sleep be waked! let none evade!
Must we still go on with our affectations and sneaking?
Let me bring this to a close--I pronounce openly for a new
distribution of roles;
Let that which stood in front go behind! and let that which was
behind advance to the front and speak;
Let murderers, bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new
propositions!
Let the old propositions be postponed!
Let faces and theories be turn'd inside out! let meanings be freely
criminal, as well as results!
Let there be no suggestion above the suggestion of drudgery! 10
Let none be pointed toward his destination! (Say! do you know your
destination?)
Let men and women be mock'd with bodies and mock'd with Souls!
Let the love that waits in them, wait! let it die, or pass stillborn
to other spheres!
Let the sympathy that waits in every man, wait! or let it also pass,
a dwarf, to other spheres!
Let contradictions prevail! let one thing contradict another! and let
one line of my poems contradict another!
Let the people sprawl with yearning, aimless hands! let their tongues
be broken! let their eyes be discouraged! let none descend into
their hearts with the fresh lusciousness of love!
(Stifled, O days! O lands! in every public and private corruption!
Smother'd in thievery, impotence, shamelessness, mountain-high;
Brazen effrontery, scheming, rolling like ocean's waves around and
upon you, O my days! my lands!
For not even those thunderstorms, nor fiercest lightnings of the war,
have purified the atmosphere;) 20
--Let the theory of America still be management, caste, comparison!
(Say! what other theory would you?)
Let them that distrust birth and death still lead the rest! (Say! why
shall they not lead you?)
Let the crust of hell be neared and trod on! let the days be darker
than the nights! let slumber bring less slumber than waking
time brings!
Let the world never appear to him or her for whom it was all made!
Let the heart of the young man still exile itself from the heart of
the old man! and let the heart of the old man be exiled from
that of the young man!
Let the sun and moon go! let scenery take the applause of the
audience! let there be apathy under the stars!
Let freedom prove no man's inalienable right! every one who can
tyrannize, let him tyrannize to his satisfaction!
Let none but infidels be countenanced!
Let the eminence of meanness, treachery, sarcasm, hate, greed,
indecency, impotence, lust, be taken for granted above all! let
writers, judges, governments, households, religions,
philosophies, take such for granted above all!
Let the worst men beget children out of the worst women! 30
Let the priest still play at immortality!
Let death be inaugurated!
Let nothing remain but the ashes of teachers, artists, moralists,
lawyers, and learn'd and polite persons!
Let him who is without my poems be assassinated!
Let the cow, the horse, the camel, the garden-bee--let the mudfish,
the lobster, the mussel, eel, the sting-ray, and the grunting
pig-fish--let these, and the like of these, be put on a perfect
equality with man and woman!
Let churches accommodate serpents, vermin, and the corpses of those
who have died of the most filthy of diseases!
Let marriage slip down among fools, and be for none but fools!
Let men among themselves talk and think forever obscenely of women!
and let women among themselves talk and think obscenely of men!
Let us all, without missing one, be exposed in public, naked,
monthly, at the peril of our lives! let our bodies be freely
handled and examined by whoever chooses!
Let nothing but copies at second hand be permitted to exist upon the
earth! 40
Let the earth desert God, nor let there ever henceforth be mention'd
the name of God!
Let there be no God!
Let there be money, business, imports, exports, custom, authority,
precedents, pallor, dyspepsia, smut, ignorance, unbelief!
Let judges and criminals be transposed! let the prison-keepers be put
in prison! let those that were prisoners take the keys! Say!
why might they not just as well be transposed?)
Let the slaves be masters! let the masters become slaves!
Let the reformers descend from the stands where they are forever
bawling! let an idiot or insane person appear on each of the
stands!
Let the Asiatic, the African, the European, the American, and the
Australian, go armed against the murderous stealthiness of each
other! let them sleep armed! let none believe in good will!
Let there be no unfashionable wisdom! let such be scorn'd and derided
off from the earth!
Let a floating cloud in the sky--let a wave of the sea--let growing
mint, spinach, onions, tomatoes--let these be exhibited as
shows, at a great price for admission!
Let all the men of These States stand aside for a few smouchers! let
the few seize on what they choose! let the rest gawk, giggle,
starve, obey! 50
Let shadows be furnish'd with genitals! let substances be deprived of
their genitals!
Let there be wealthy and immense cities--but still through any of
them, not a single poet, savior, knower, lover!
Let the infidels of These States laugh all faith away!
If one man be found who has faith, let the rest set upon him!
Let them affright faith! let them destroy the power of breeding
faith!
Let the she-harlots and the he-harlots be prudent! let them dance on,
while seeming lasts! (O seeming! seeming! seeming!)
Let the preachers recite creeds! let them still teach only what they
have been taught!
Let insanity still have charge of sanity!
Let books take the place of trees, animals, rivers, clouds!
Let the daub'd portraits of heroes supersede heroes! 60
Let the manhood of man never take steps after itself!
Let it take steps after eunuchs, and after consumptive and genteel
persons!
Let the white person again tread the black person under his heel!
(Say! which is trodden under heel, after all?)
Let the reflections of the things of the world be studied in mirrors!
let the things themselves still continue unstudied!
Let a man seek pleasure everywhere except in himself!
Let a woman seek happiness everywhere except in herself!
(What real happiness have you had one single hour through your whole
life?)
Let the limited years of life do nothing for the limitless years of
death! (What do you suppose death will do, then?)
 
Walt Whitman

Read more: women poems, faith poems, death poems, happiness poems, war poems, woman poems, sympathy poems, marriage poems, sleep poems, lust poems, horse poems, fish poems, freedom poems, birth poems, dance poems, hate poems, ocean poems, believe poems, power poems, children poems
   
 

   
   
 

  239.     

Ethiopia Saluting The Colors


WHO are you, dusky woman, so ancient, hardly human,
With your woolly-white and turban'd head, and bare bony feet?
Why, rising by the roadside here, do you the colors greet?


('Tis while our army lines Carolina's sand and pines,
Forth from thy hovel door, thou, Ethiopia, com'st to me,
As, under doughty Sherman, I march toward the sea.)


Me, master, years a hundred, since from my parents sunder'd,
A little child, they caught me as the savage beast is caught;
Then hither me, across the sea, the cruel slaver brought.


No further does she say, but lingering all the day, 10
Her high-borne turban'd head she wags, and rolls her darkling eye,
And curtseys to the regiments, the guidons moving by.


What is it, fateful woman--so blear, hardly human?
Why wag your head, with turban bound--yellow, red and green?
Are the things so strange and marvelous, you see or have seen?
 
Walt Whitman

Read more: woman poems, sea poems, child poems, green poems, red poems, women poems, children poems, rose poems
   
 

   
   
 

  240.     

I Hear It Was Charged Against Me


I HEAR it was charged against me that I sought to destroy
institutions;
But really I am neither for nor against institutions;
(What indeed have I in common with them?--Or what with the
destruction of them?)
Only I will establish in the Mannahatta, and in every city of These
States, inland and seaboard,
And in the fields and woods, and above every keel, little or large,
that dents the water,
Without edifices, or rules, or trustees, or any argument,
The institution of the dear love of comrades.
 
Walt Whitman

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