Songs of Parting

Songs of Parting


AS the time draws nigh glooming a cloud,
A dread beyond of I know not what darkens me.

I shall go forth,
I shall traverse the States awhile, but I cannot tell whither or
     how long,
Perhaps soon some day or night while I am singing my voice
     will suddenly cease.

O book, O chants! must all then amount to but this?
Must we barely arrive at this beginning of us? — and yet it
     is enough, O soul;
O soul, we have positively appear'd — that is enough.

1860 1871


YEARS of the modern! years of the unperform'd!
Your horizon rises, I see it parting away for more august
I see not America only, not only Liberty's nation but other
     nations preparing,
I see tremendous entrances and exits, new combinations, the
     solidarity of races,
I see that force advancing with irresistible power on the
     world's stage,
(Have the old forces, the old wars, played their parts? are the
     acts suitable to them closed?)
I see Freedom, completely arm'd and victorious and very
     haughty, with Law on one side and Peace on the other,
A stupendous trio all issuing forth against the idea of caste;

What historic denouements are these we so rapidly approach?
I see men marching and countermarching by swift millions,
I see the frontiers and boundaries of the old aristocracies
I see the landmarks of European kings removed,
I see this day the People beginning their landmarks, (all others
     give way;)
Never were such sharp questions ask'd as this day,
Never was average man, his soul, more energetic, more like a
Lo, how he urges and urges, leaving the masses no rest!
His daring foot is on land and sea everywhere, he colonizes
     the Pacific, the archipelagoes,
With the steamship, the electric telegraph, the newspaper,
     the wholesale engines of war,
With these and the world-spreading factories he interlinks all
     geography, all lands;
What whispers are these O lands, running ahead of you,
     passing under the seas?
Are all nations communing? is there going to be but one
     heart to the globe?
Is humanity forming en-masse? for lo, tyrants tremble,
     crowns grow dim,
The earth, restive, confronts a new era, perhaps a general
     divine war,
No one knows what will happen next, such portents fill the
     days and nights;
Years prophetical! the space ahead as I walk, as I vainly try
     to pierce it, is full of phantoms,
Unborn deeds, things soon to be, project their shapes around
This incredible rush and heat, this strange ecstatic fever of
     dreams O years!
Your dreams O years, how they penetrate through me! (I
     know not whether I sleep or wake;)
The perform'd America and Europe grow dim, retiring in
     shadow behind me,
The unperform'd, more gigantic than ever, advance, advance
     upon me.

1865 1881


ASHES of soldiers South or North,
As I muse retrospective murmuring a chant in thought,
The war resumes, again to my sense your shapes,
And again the advance of the armies.

Noiseless as mists and vapors,
From their graves in the trenches ascending,
From cemeteries all through Virginia and Tennessee,
From every point of the compass out of the countless graves,
In wafted clouds, in myriads large, or squads of twos or
     threes or single ones they come,
And silently gather round me.

Now sound no note O trumpeters,
Not at the head of my cavalry parading on spirited horses,
With sabres drawn and glistening, and carbines by their
     thighs, (ah my brave horsemen!
My handsome tan-faced horsemen! what life, what joy and
With all the perils were yours.)

Nor you drummers, neither at reveillé at dawn,
Nor the long roll alarming the camp, nor even the muffled
     beat for a burial,
Nothing from you this time O drummers bearing my warlil

  By PanEris using Melati.

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