Walt Whitman: Poems

Drum Taps: Manhattan Faces


Give me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling;

Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard;

Give me a field where the unmowed grass grows;

Give me an arbour, give me the trellised grape;

Give me fresh corn and wheat--give me serene-moving animals, teaching


Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus west of the

Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars;

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers, where I can walk


Give me for marriage a sweet-breathed woman, of whom I should never tire;

Give me a perfect child--give me, away, aside from the noise of the world,

a rural domestic life;

Give me to warble spontaneous songs, relieved, recluse by myself, for my

own ears only;

Give me solitude--give me Nature--give me again, O Nature, your primal


--These, demanding to have them, tired with ceaseless excitement, and

racked by the war-strife,

These to procure incessantly asking, rising in cries from my heart,

While yet incessantly asking, still I adhere to my city;

Day upon day, and year upon year, O city, walking your streets,

Where you hold me enchained a certain time, refusing to give me up,

Yet giving to make me glutted, enriched of soul--you give me for ever


O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing my cries;

I see my own soul trampling down what it asked for.


Keep your splendid silent sun;

Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by the woods;

Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your cornfields and orchards;

Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the ninth-month bees hum.

Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms incessant and endless

along the _trottoirs_!

Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me comrades and lovers by

the thousand!

Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones by the hand every day!

Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhattan!

Give me Broadway, with the soldiers marching--give me the sound of the

trumpets and drums!

The soldiers in companies or regiments--some starting away, flushed and


Some, their time up, returning, with thinned ranks--young, yet very old,

worn, marching, noticing nothing;

--Give me the shores and the wharves heavy-fringed with the black ships!

O such for me! O an intense life! O full to repletion, and varied!

The life of the theatre, bar-room, huge hotel, for me!

The saloon of the steamer, the crowded excursion, for me! the torchlight


The dense brigade, bound for the war, with high-piled military waggons


People, endless, streaming, with strong voices, passions, pageants;

Manhattan streets, with their powerful throbs, with the beating drums, as


The endless and noisy chorus, the rustle and clank of muskets, even the

sight of the wounded;

Manhattan crowds, with their turbulent musical chorus--with varied chorus

and light of the sparkling eyes;

Manhattan faces and eyes for ever for me!