Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
I. Serenity
Memories of Lincoln
By Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
 

OVER the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes, and through old woods (where lately the violets peep’d from the ground, spotting the grey débris),
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes—passing the endless grass;
Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprising;
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards;        5
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin….
 
Nor for you, for one, alone;
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring:
For fresh as the morning—thus would I carol a song for you, O sane and sacred Death.        10
 
All over bouquets of roses,
O Death! I cover you over with roses and early lilies;
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
Copious, I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes;
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,        15
For you, and the coffins all of you, O Death….
 
Come, lovely and soothing Death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later, delicate Death.        20
 
Prais’d be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious;
And for love, sweet love—But praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death.
 
Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet,        25
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee—I glorify thee above all;
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.
 
Approach, strong Deliveress!
When it is so—when thou hast taken them, I joyously sing the dead,        30
Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death.
 
From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose, saluting thee—adornments and feastings for thee;
And the sights of the open landscape, and the high-spread sky, are fitting,        35
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.
 
The night, in silence, under many a star;
The ocean shore, and the husky whispering wave, whose voice I know;
And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veil’d Death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.        40
 
Over the tree-tops I float thee a song!
Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields, and the prairies wide;
Over the dense-pack’d cities all, and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!
 
 
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