Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Walt

WhitmanBorn today in 1819, in West Hills, Long Island, Walt Whitman:

Fitting for Memorial Day, here is his Dirge for Two Veterans

                1

    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.

                2

    Lo! the moon ascending!
Up from the east, the silvery round moon;
Beautiful over the house tops, ghastly phantom moon;
    Immense and silent moon.

                3

    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.

                4

    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.

                5

    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.

                6

    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.

                7

    In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin’d;
(’Tis some mother’s large, transparent face,
    In heaven brighter growing.)

                8

    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.

                9

    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.

(a few more poems are here)

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