Walt Whitman: Poems

Chants Democratic: To A Foiled Revolter of Revoltress


Courage! my brother or my sister!

Keep on! Liberty is to be subserved, whatever occurs;

That is nothing that is quelled by one or two failures, or any number of


Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the people, or by any


Or the show of the tushes of power, soldiers, cannon, penal statutes.


What we believe in waits latent for ever through all the continents, and

all the islands and archipelagoes of the sea.

What we believe in invites no one, promises nothing, sits in calmness and

light, is positive and composed, knows no discouragement,

Waiting patiently, waiting its time.


The battle rages with many a loud alarm, and frequent advance and retreat,

The infidel triumphs--or supposes he triumphs,

The prison, scaffold, garrote, handcuffs, iron necklace and anklet, lead-

balls, do their work,

The named and unnamed heroes pass to other spheres,

The great speakers and writers are exiled--they lie sick in distant lands,

The cause is asleep--the strongest throats are still, choked

with their own blood,

The young men drop their eyelashes toward the ground when they meet;

But, for all this, Liberty has not gone out of the place, nor the infidel

entered into possession.

When Liberty goes out of a place, it is not the first to go, nor the second

or third to go,

It waits for all the rest to go--it is the last.

When there are no more memories of heroes and martyrs,

And when all life and all the souls of men and women are discharged from

any part of the earth,

Then only shall Liberty be discharged from that part of the earth,

And the infidel and the tyrant come into possession.


Then courage! revolter! revoltress!

For till all ceases neither must you cease.


I do not know what you are for, (I do not know what I am for myself, nor

what anything is for,)

But I will search carefully for it even in being foiled,

In defeat, poverty, imprisonment--for they too are great.

Did we think victory great?

So it is--But now it seems to me, when it cannot be helped, that defeat is


And that death and dismay are great.