1861 Poem by Walt Whitman


Rating: 2.9

ARM’D 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
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 Manhattan;
Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois and
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 river;
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 determin’d voice, launch’d forth again and again;
Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-lipp’d cannon,
I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.

Kevin Straw 01 October 2012

What a gay poem! Little Walt dreaming about all those tough sinewy men. Was this the decade when these warriors massacred hundreds of Indian men, women and children - when these heroes wrenched huge tracts of America off the rightful owners. nobly battling them using repeater rifles against their bows and arrows?

23 85 Reply
Carlos Echeverria 01 October 2012

Whitman's protesting war without being didactic. Nicely done.

30 14 Reply
Michael Harmon 02 October 2009

I've always had mixed feelings about Whitman. I appreciate the fact that he's been canonized in American Poetry, but, aside from a few of his poems, I've never really liked his work (if ever given a choice between his poetry or, say, Dickinson's, I would invariably choose Dickinson) . He was a blatant self-advertiser in his lifetime, although he espoused much that I find admirable in his philosophy. Whether any war, however, is 'justified' or not is debatable. It has taken me decades to approach the belief that none really are, and that the 'call' to war is one of the horrible persistent traits the so-called 'masculine' among us seem so highly susceptible to. If this is an anti-war poem, please provide me with the evidence, and I'll gladly concede. Paraphrasing Siegfried Sassoon, that great WW1 English poet: war does not ennoble, it degrades. And this poem of Whitman's, despite any of its innovations and its politically-correct (for its time and place) philosophy, appears (to me, at least) to be glorifying war, yet again. Our 'masculine voice' indeed; give me any day the 'pale poetling' who desires not to kill...

17 15 Reply
Ramesh T A 01 October 2010

Historically significant situation Walt Whitman is best at expressing matters with his unique poetic skill!

15 12 Reply
Joseph Poewhit 01 October 2009

1861 the beginning of the Civil War. Whitman captures the rugged character of the men of the time. Long forced marches,50 miles a day, give and take, to arrive at a battle zone, then to fight. Hard men, with the rawness of the country at the time and the CAUSES of the Civil War. Truly spirit and uplifting the words, a call.

13 12 Reply
Indira Renganathan 29 January 2017

I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.....an evidence of the historical year 1861...very remarkable and significant poem

0 0 Reply
* Sunprincess * 07 February 2016

............a fabulous poem with an excellent title with strong writing skills displayed nicely ★

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Joshua Terpening 01 October 2014

I would've liked to have met ole Walt. Bet he was a cool dude. Much love.

4 0 Reply
Gangadharan Nair Pulingat 01 October 2014

Great poet's great poetry and it is about the soldier in uniforms and determination of warfare. How wonderfully his pen wrote in such spirits and I likes it with such respects.

4 0 Reply
Shania K. Younce 10 May 2014

This style of poetry slightly escapes me. Not my typical style. I think I might try the form. Although I wonder if some poems are just simply a rerecord of history and he happened to write about because he was alive at that time. Bien!

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Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

New York / United States
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