Walt Whitman: Poems

Drum Taps: 1861

Armed year! year of the struggle!

No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you, terrible year!

Not you as some pale poetling, seated at a desk, lisping cadenzas piano;

But as a strong man, erect, clothed in blue clothes, advancing, carrying a

rifle on your shoulder,

With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands--with a knife in the

belt at your side,

As I heard you shouting loud--your sonorous voice ringing across the


Your masculine voice, O year, as rising amid the great cities,

Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you, as one of the workmen, the dwellers in


Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois and Indiana,

Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and descending the


Or down from the great lakes, or in Pennsylvania, or on deck along the Ohio


Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers, or at Chattanooga on

the mountain-top,

Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs, clothed in blue, bearing

weapons, robust year;

Heard your determined voice, launched forth again and again;

Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-lipped cannon,

I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.