Walt Whitman: Poems

Drum Taps: Hymn of Dead Soldiers


One breath, O my silent soul!

A perfumed thought--no more I ask, for the sake of all dead soldiers.


Buglers off in my armies!

At present I ask not you to sound;

Not at the head of my cavalry, all on their spirited horses,

With their sabres drawn and glistening, and carbines clanking by their

thighs--(ah, my brave horsemen! My handsome, tan-faced horsemen!

what life, what joy and pride, With all the perils, were yours!)

Nor you drummers--neither at _reveille_, at dawn,

Nor the long roll alarming the camp--nor even the muffled beat for a


Nothing from you, this time, O drummers, bearing my warlike drums.


But aside from these, and the crowd's hurrahs, and the land's


Admitting around me comrades close, unseen by the rest, and voiceless,

I chant this chant of my silent soul, in the name of all dead soldiers.


Faces so pale, with wondrous eyes, very dear, gather closer yet;

Draw close, but speak not.

Phantoms, welcome, divine and tender!

Invisible to the rest, henceforth become my companions;

Follow me ever! desert me not, while I live!

Sweet are the blooming cheeks of the living, sweet are the musical voices


But sweet, ah sweet, are the dead, with their silent eyes.

Dearest comrades! all now is over;

But love is not over--and what love, O comrades!

Perfume from battlefields rising--up from foetor arising.

Perfume therefore my chant, O love! immortal love!

Give me to bathe the memories of all dead soldiers.

Perfume all! make all wholesome!

O love! O chant! solve all with the last chemistry.

Give me exhaustless--make me a fountain,

That I exhale love from me wherever I go,

For the sake of all dead soldiers.