Page images
PDF
EPUB

1052. TO NIGHT
MYSTERIOUS Night! when our first parent knew
Thee from report divine, and heard thy name,
Did he not tremble for this lovely frame,
This glorious canopy of light and blue ?
Yet 'neath a curtain of translucent dew,
Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame,
Hesperus with the host of heaven came,
And lo! Creation widened in man's view.
Who could have thought such darkness lay concealed
Within thy beams, O sun ! or who could find,
Whilst fly and leaf and insect stood revealed,
That to such countless orbs thou mad'st us blind !
Why do we then shun death with anxious strife ?
If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life ?

J. BLANCO WHITE.

common ;

1053. JE NE SAIS QUOI Yes, I'm in love, I feel it now, 'Tis not her air, for, sure, in that

And Celia has undone me ! There's nothing more than And yet I'll swear I can't tell how

And all her sense is only chat, The pleasing plague stole on Like any other woman.

Her voice, her touch, might give 'Tis not her face that love creates, the alarm,

For there no graces revel ; 'Twas both, perhaps, or neither! 'Tis not her shape, for there the In short, 'twas that provoking Fates

charm Have rather been uncivil.

Of Celia all together.

W. WHITEHEAD.

me.

1054. A SIGIT IN CAMP A SIGHT in camp in the daybreak 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 the hospital tent, Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there, untended

lying, Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woollen blanket, 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-greyed hair,

and fesh all sunken about the eyes ? 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 us all, and here again he lies.

WALT WHITMAN (Drum-Taps).

1055. BEAT! BEAT! DRUMS !

I

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, ploughing his field or gathering

his grain ; So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

II

Beat! beat! drums !-Blow ! bugles ! blow !
Over the traffic of cities-over the rumble of wheels in the streets :
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 speculators—Would

they continue ? Would the talkers be talking ? would the singer attempt to sing ? Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge ? Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.

III

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 entreaties ;
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.

WALT WHITMAN (Drum-Taps).

1056. DID YOU ASK DULCET RHYMES FROM ME

Did you ask dulcet rhymes from me ?
Did you find what I sang erewhile so hard to follow, to understand ?
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.

Walt WHITMAN (Drum-Taps).

1057. ANIMALS

[ocr errors]

I THINK I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and

self-contained ; I stand and look at them long and long. They do not sweat and whine about their condition ; They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins ; They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God; Not one is dissatisfied—not one is demented with the mania of owning

things; Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of

years ago ; Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth.

WALT WHITMAN (Song of Myself).

1058. O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN !

O CAPTAIN ! my Captain ! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart !
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain ! my Captain ! rise up and hear the bells ;
Rise up-for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning ;

Here Captain ! dear father!
This arm beneath your head !
It is some dream that on the deck

You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won ;

Exult, shores, and ring, O bells !
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.
WALT WHITMAN (Memories of President Lincoln).

1059. SPIRIT WHOSE WORK IS DONE SPIRIT whose work is done! spirit of dreadful hours ! Ere, departing, fade from my eyes your forests of bayonets ; Spirit of gloomiest fears and doubts, (yet onward ever unfaltering

pressing ;) Spirit of many a solemn day, and many a savage scene ! Electric

spirit ! That with muttering voice, through the war 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, rever

berates round me ; As your ranks, your immortal ranks, return, return from the battles ; While the muskets of the young men yet lean over their shoulders ; While I look on the bayonets bristling over their shoulders ; While those slanted bayonets, whole forests of them, appearing in the

distance, approach and pass on, returning homeward, Moving with steady motion, swaying to and fro, to the right and left, 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 gone; Let them identify you to the future, in these songs.

WALT WHITMAN (Drum-Taps).

1060. WHEN LILACS LAST IN THE DOORYARD BLOOMED
WHEN lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed,
And the great star early drooped in the western sky in the night,
I mourned, 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—0 moody, tearful night!
O great star disappeared-0 the black murk that hides the star!
( cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-washed

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 dooryard, With its delicate-coloured blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green, A sprig with its flower I break.

Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peeped

from the ground, spotting the grey debris, Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the endless

grass, Passing the yellow-speared wheat, every grain from its shroud in the

dark-brown fields uprising,
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards,
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 inlooped flags, with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves as of crape-veiled 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 depôt, the arriving coffin and the sombre faces, With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong

and solemn, With all the mournful voices of the dirges poured 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.

« PreviousContinue »