Monday, May 30, 2011

How Solemn As One By One!

How Solemn As One by One
(Washington City, 1865.)

by Walt Whitman

HOW solemn as one by one,
As the ranks returning worn and sweaty, as the men file by where
As the faces the masks appear, as I glance at the faces studying the
(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.

Cover art by Pat Boyette.

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