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(The falling, dying, I heed not, the wounded dripping and red I heed not, some to the rear are hobbling,)

Grime, heat, rush, aide-de-camps galloping by or on a full run, 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 rockets.


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 sands 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,

Her high-borne turban'd head she wags, and rolls her darkling


And courtesies 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?


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

yet there are two or three

things inure to me,

I have nourish'd the wounded and sooth'd many a dying soldier,
And at intervals waiting or in the midst of camp,
Composed these songs.

inures not to me,

Beauty, knowledge, inure not to me

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RACE of veterans -race of victors!

Race of the soil, ready for conflict - race of the conquering march!
(No more credulity's race, abiding-temper'd race,)
Race henceforth owning no law but the law of itself,
Race of passion and the storm.


WORLD take good notice, silver stars fading,
Milky hue ript, weft of white detaching,
Coals thirty-eight, baleful and burning,
Scarlet, significant, hands off warning,
Now and henceforth flaunt from these shores.


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


When lo! more than all the gifts of the world you gave me.


Look down fair moon and bathe this scene,

Pour softly down night's nimbus floods on faces ghastly, swollen, purple,

On the dead on their backs with arms toss'd wide,

Pour down your unstinted nimbus sacred moon.


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;

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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 draw


Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.


(Washington City, 1865.)

How solemn as one by one,

As the ranks returning 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 friend,
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 kill,
Nor the bayonet stab O friend.


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, For I confront peace, security, and all the settled laws, to unsettle them,

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, cautions, majorities, nor ridicule,

And the threat of what is call'd hell is little or nothing to me,
And the lure of what is call'd heaven is little or nothing to me;
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 defeated.

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DELICATE cluster! flag of teeming life!

Covering all my lands- all my seashores lining!

Flag of death! (how I watch'd you through the smoke of battle pressing!

How I heard you flap and rustle, cloth defiant !)

Flag cerulean-sunny flag, with the orbs of night dappled!
Ah my silvery beauty-ah my woolly white and crimson!
Ah to sing the song of you, my matron mighty!
My sacred one, my mother.


DID you ask dulcet rhymes from me?

Did you seek the civilian's peaceful and languishing rhymes?
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;

(I have been born of the same as the war was born,

The drum-corps' rattle is ever to me sweet music, I love well the

martial dirge,

With slow wail and convulsive throb leading the officer's funeral ;) What to such as you anyhow such a poet as I? therefore leave my works,

And go lull yourself with what you can understand, and with piano


For I lull nobody, and you will never understand me.


Lo, Victress on the peaks,

Where thou with mighty brow regarding the world,

(The world O Libertad, that vainly conspired against thee,) Out of its countless beleaguering toils, after thwarting them all, Dominant, with the dazzling sun around thee,

Flauntest now unharm'd in immortal soundness and bloom-lo, in these hours supreme,

No poem proud, I chanting bring to thee, nor mastery's rapturous verse,

But a cluster containing night's darkness and blood-dripping wounds, And psalms of the dead..

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(Washington City, 1865.)

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


Spirit of many a solemn day and many a savage scene


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, reverberates round me,

As your ranks, your immortal ranks, return, return from the battles,
As the muskets of the young men yet lean over their shoulders,
As I look on the bayonets bristling over their shoulders,

As 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



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Evenly lightly rising and falling while 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 with currents convulsive,

Adieu dear comrade,

Your mission is fulfill'd—but I, more warlike,

Let them scorch and blister out of my chants when you are gone, Let them identify you to the future in these songs.

- fill me

ADIEU O soldier,

You of the rude campaigning, (which we shared,)

The rapid march, the life of the camp,

The hot contention of opposing fronts, the long manœuvre,

Red battles with their slaughter, the stimulus, the strong terrific


Spell of all brave and manly hearts, the trains of time through you and like of you all fill'd,

With war and war's expression.

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