Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

As I Ponder'd In Silence



AS I ponder'd in silence,
Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,
A Phantom arose before me, with distrustful aspect,
Terrible in beauty, age, and power,
The genius of poets of old lands,
As to me directing like flame its eyes,
With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said;
Know'st thou not, there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?
And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles, 10
The making of perfect soldiers?


Be it so, then I answer'd,
I too, haughty Shade, also sing war--and a longer and greater one
than any,
Waged in my book with varying fortune--with flight, advance, and
retreat--Victory deferr'd and wavering,
(Yet, methinks, certain, or as good as certain, at the last,)--The
field the world;
For life and death--for the Body, and for the eternal Soul,
Lo! too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
I, above all, promote brave soldiers.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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