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Walt Whitman's "Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night"

The following is the complete text of Walt Whitman's "Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night," a.k.a. "Vigil on the Field." 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
"Ashes of Soldiers"
"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"
"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed"
"Who Learns My Lesson Complete"
"Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand"
"The Wound-Dresser"


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* 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.


"Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night" by Walt Whitman

Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night

by Walt Whitman


Vigil strange I kept on the field one night;
When you my son and my comrade dropt at my side that day,
One look I but gave which your dear eyes return'd with a look I shall never forget,
One touch of your hand to mine O boy, reach'd up as you lay on the ground,
Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested battle,
Till late in the night reliev'd to the place at last again I made my way,
Found you in death so cold dear comrade, found your body son of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding),
Bared your face in the starlight, curious the scene, cool blew the moderate night-wind,
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battlefield spreading,
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent night,
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh, long, long I gazed,
Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side leaning my chin in my hands,
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you dearest comrade--not a tear, not a word,
Vigil of silence, love and death, vigil for you my son and my soldier,
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones upward stole,
Vigil final for you brave boy, (I could not save you, swift was your death,
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living, I think we shall surely meet again),
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the dawn appear'd,
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop'd well his form,
Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head and carefully under feet,
And there and then and bathed by the rising sun, my son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I deposited,
Ending my vigil strange with that, vigil of night and battle-field dim,
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding),
Vigil for comrade swiftly slain, vigil I never forget, how as day brighten'd,
I rose from the chill ground and folded my soldier well in his blanket,
And buried him where he fell.



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