Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Sight in Camp

Source: Library of Congress

Tomorrow is Memorial Day. There are many things I'd like to write. Not sure I can. For now, I'll let Walt Whitman do the talking. "A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim" is a poem from Whitman's Drum-Taps, a collection of Civil War poetry originally published in May of 1865 and also enshrined within his voluminous Leaves of Grass.


A SIGHT in camp in the daybreak gray and dim,
As from my tent I emerge so early sleepless,
As slow I walk in the cool fresh air the path near by the hospital
Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there untended
Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woolen blanket,
Gray and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.

Curious I halt and silent stand,
Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest the first just
lift the blanket;
Who are you elderly man so gaunt and grim, with well-gray'd
hair, and flesh all sunken about the eyes?
Who are you my dear comrade?

Then to the second I step—and who are you my child and
Who are you sweet boy with cheeks yet blooming?

Then to the third—a face nor child nor old, very calm, as of
beautiful yellow-white ivory;
Young man I think I know you—I think this face is the face
of the Christ himself,
Dead and divine and brother of all, and here again he lies.

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