Walt Whitman: Poems

Drum Taps: Dirge For Two Veterans


The last sunbeam

Lightly falls from the finished Sabbath

On the pavement here--and, there beyond, it is looking

Down a new-made double grave.


Lo! the moon ascending!

Up from the east, the silvery round moon;

Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon;

Immense and silent moon.


I see a sad procession,

And I hear the sound of coming full-keyed bugles;

All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,

As with voices and with tears.


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.


For the son is brought with the father;

In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell;

Two veterans, son and father, dropped together,

And the double grave awaits them.


Now nearer blow the bugles,

And the drums strike more convulsive;

And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,

And the strong dead-march enwraps me.


In the eastern sky up-buoying,

The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumined,

'Tis some mother's large, transparent face,

In heaven brighter growing.


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.


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.