Walt Whitman: Poems

Drum Taps: The Uprising


Rise, O days, from your fathomless deeps, till you loftier and fiercer


Long for my soul, hungering gymnastic, I devoured what the earth gave me;

Long I roamed the woods of the North--long I watched Niagara pouring;

I travelled the prairies over, and slept on their breast--I crossed the


I crossed the plateaus;

I ascended the towering rocks along the Pacific, I sailed out to sea;

I sailed through the storm, I was refreshed by the storm;

I watched with joy the threatening maws of the waves;

I marked the white combs where they careered so high, curling over;

I heard the wind piping, I saw the black clouds;

Saw from below what arose and mounted, (O superb! O wild as my heart, and


Heard the continuous thunder, as it bellowed after the lightning;

Noted the slender and jagged threads of lightning, as sudden and fast amid

the din they chased each other across the sky;

--These, and such as these, I, elate, saw--saw with wonder, yet pensive and


All the menacing might of the globe uprisen around me;

Yet there with my soul I fed--I fed content, supercilious.


'Twas well, O soul! 'twas a good preparation you gave me!

Now we advance our latent and ampler hunger to fill;

Now we go forth to receive what the earth and the sea never gave us;

Not through the mighty woods we go, but through the mightier cities;

Something for us is pouring now, more than Niagara pouring;

Torrents of men, (sources and rills of the North-west, are you indeed


What, to pavements and homesteads here--what were those storms of the

mountains and sea?

What, to passions I witness around me to-day, was the sea risen?

Was the wind piping the pipe of death under the black clouds?

Lo! from deeps more unfathomable, something more deadly and savage;

Manhattan, rising, advancing with menacing front--Cincinnati, Chicago,


--What was that swell I saw on the ocean? behold what comes here!

How it climbs with daring feet and hands! how it dashes!

How the true thunder bellows after the lightning! how bright the flashes of


How DEMOCRACY with desperate vengeful port strides on, shown through the

dark by those flashes of lightning!

Yet a mournful wail and low sob I fancied I heard through the dark,

In a lull of the deafening confusion.


Thunder on! stride on, Democracy! strike with vengeful stroke!

And do you rise higher than ever yet, O days, O cities!

Crash heavier, heavier yet, O storms! you have done me good;

My soul, prepared in the mountains, absorbs your immortal strong nutriment.

Long had I walked my cities, my country roads, through farms, only half


One doubt, nauseous, undulating like a snake, crawled on the ground before


Continually preceding my steps, turning upon me oft, ironically hissing


--The cities I loved so well I abandoned and left--I sped to the

certainties suitable to me

Hungering, hungering, hungering, for primal energies, and Nature's


I refreshed myself with it only, I could relish it only;

I waited the bursting forth of the pent fire--on the water and air I waited


--But now I no longer wait--I am fully satisfied--I am glutted;

I have witnessed the true lightning--I have witnessed my cities electric;

I have lived to behold man burst forth, and warlike America rise;

Hence I will seek no more the food of the northern solitary wilds,

No more on the mountains roam, or sail the stormy sea.