Walt Whitman

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

How Solemn As One By One



HOW solemn, as one by one,
As the ranks returning, all worn and sweaty--as the men file by where
I stand;
As the faces, the masks appear--as I glance at the faces, studying
the masks;
(As I glance upward out of this page, studying you, dear friend,
whoever you are;)
How solemn the thought of my whispering soul, to each in the ranks,
and to you;
I see behind each mask, that wonder, a kindred soul;
O the bullet could never kill what you really are, dear friend,
Nor the bayonet stab what you really are:
... The soul! yourself I see, great as any, good as the best,
Waiting, secure and content, which the bullet could never kill,
Nor the bayonet stab, O friend! 10

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Cameron Richardson (12/2/2005 10:45:00 AM)

    In this poem, Whitman tells the reader how much he thinks that the soldiers coming back from war are couragous. He talks about how there is nothing including the bullet or the bayonet that could ever take away the way that they are in life. How secure and content they are. (Report) Reply

  • Lauren York (12/2/2005 10:35:00 AM)

    I thought this was a very deep poem. I believe that this poem is about soliders returning home, and maybe he got to know some of them, maybe on of the guys that he was close to he knew very deeply for he says ' the bullet could never kill what you really are' ahhh great wisdom! (Report) Reply

  • Alex Allan (12/2/2005 10:35:00 AM)

    i thought 'how solemn as one by one' by walt whitman was a good poem and i liked reading it. in this poem whitman is talking about troops coming home from overseas and him looking at all of their faces and thinking that they were invincible ('...which the bullet could never kill, nor the bayonet stab.') and having great admiration for them and not even knowing them but still having great respect for what they did. (Report) Reply

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