Walt Whitman

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

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 war 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; 10
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 day;
Touch my mouth, ere you depart--press my lips close!
Leave me your pulses of rage! bequeath them to me! fill me with
currents convulsive!
Let them scorch and blister out of my chants, when you are gone;
Let them identify you to the future, in these songs.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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