Walt Whitman: Poems

Drum Taps: Spirit Whose Work Is Done

Spirit whose work is done! spirit of dreadful hours!

Ere, departing, fade from my eyes your forests of bayonets--

Spirit of gloomiest fears and doubts, yet onward ever unfaltering pressing!

Spirit of many a solemn day, and many a savage scene! Electric spirit!

That with muttering voice, through the years now closed, like a tireless

phantom flitted,

Rousing the land with breath of flame, while you beat and beat the drum;

--Now, as the sound of the drum, hollow and harsh to the last, reverberates

round me;

As your ranks, your immortal ranks, return, return from the battles;

While the muskets of the young men yet lean over their shoulders;

While I look on the bayonets bristling over their shoulders;

While those slanted bayonets, whole forests of them, appearing in the

distance, approach and pass on, returning homeward,

Moving with steady motion, swaying to and fro, to the right and left,

Evenly, lightly, rising and falling, as the steps keep time:

--Spirit of hours I knew, all hectic red one day, but pale as death next


Touch my mouth, ere you depart--press my lips close!

Leave me your pulses of rage! bequeath them to me! fill me with currents


Let them scorch and blister out of my chants, when you are gone;

Let them identify you to the future in these songs!