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Walt Whitman's "Ashes of Soldiers"

The following is the complete text of Walt Whitman's "Ashes of Soldiers." The various eBooks, short stories and poems we offer are presented free of charge with absolutely no advertising as a public service from Internet Accuracy Project. To see all available titles by other authors, drop by our index of free books alphabetized by author or arranged alphabetically by title.


Visit these other Walt Whitman poems
"A Boston Ballad"
Short Poems by Walt Whitman
"Come Up from the Fields, Father"
"Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"
"Mannahatta"
"On the Beach at Night"
"Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"
"Prayer of Columbus"

"There Was a Child Went Forth"
"To a Locomotive in Winter"
"Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night"
"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed"
"Who Learns My Lesson Complete"
"Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand"
"The Wound-Dresser"


Potential uses for the free books, stories and prose we offer
* Rediscovering an old favorite book, poem or story.
* Bibliophiles expanding their collection of public domain eBooks at no cost.
* Teachers trying to locate a free online copy of a classic poem or short story for use in the classroom.


NOTE: We try to present these classic literary works as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain adult themes, offensive language, typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.


"Ashes of Soldiers" by Walt Whitman

Ashes of Soldiers

by Walt Whitman


Ashes of soldiers South or North,
As I muse retrospective murmuring a chant in thought,
The war resumes, again to my sense your shapes,
And again the advance of the armies.

Noiseless as mists and vapors,
From their graves in the trenches ascending,
From cemeteries all through Virginia and Tennessee,
From every point of the compass out of the countless graves,
In wafted clouds, in myriads large, or squads of twos or threes or single ones they come,
And silently gather round me.

Now sound no note O trumpeters,
Not at the head of my cavalry parading on spirited horses,
With sabres drawn and glistening, and carbines by their thighs, (ah my brave horsemen!
My handsome tan-faced horsemen! what life, what joy and pride,
With all the perils were yours).

Nor you drummers, neither at reveille at dawn,
Nor the long roll alarming the camp, nor even the muffled beat for a burial,
Nothing from you this time O drummers bearing my warlike drums.

But aside from these and the marts of wealth and the crowded promenade,
Admitting around me comrades close unseen by the rest and voiceless,
The slain elate and alive again, the dust and debris alive,
I chant this chant of my silent soul in the name of all dead soldiers.

Faces so pale with wondrous eyes, very dear, gather closer yet,
Draw close, but speak not.

Phantoms of countless lost,
Invisible to the rest henceforth become my companions,
Follow me ever--desert me not while I live.

Sweet are the blooming cheeks of the living--sweet are the musical voices sounding,
But sweet, ah sweet, are the dead with their silent eyes.

Dearest comrades, all is over and long gone,
But love is not over--and what love, O comrades!
Perfume from battle-fields rising, up from the foetor arising.

Perfume therefore my chant, O love, immortal love,
Give me to bathe the memories of all dead soldiers,
Shroud them, embalm them, cover them all over with tender pride.

Perfume all--make all wholesome,
Make these ashes to nourish and blossom,
O love, solve all, fructify all with the last chemistry.

Give me exhaustless, make me a fountain,
That I exhale love from me wherever I go like a moist perennial dew,
For the ashes of all dead soldiers South or North.



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