Pensive On Her Dead Gazing, I Heard The Mother Of All


PENSIVE, on her dead gazing, I heard the Mother of All,
Desperate, on the torn bodies, on the forms covering the battle-
fields gazing;
(As the last gun ceased--but the scent of the powder-smoke linger'd;)
As she call'd to her earth with mournful voice while she stalk'd:
Absorb them well, O my earth, she cried--I charge you, lose not my
sons! lose not an atom;
And you streams, absorb them well, taking their dear blood;
And you local spots, and you airs that swim above lightly,
And all you essences of soil and growth--and you, my rivers' depths;
And you, mountain sides--and the woods where my dear children's
blood, trickling, redden'd;
And you trees, down in your roots, to bequeath to all future
trees, 10
My dead absorb--my young men's beautiful bodies absorb--and their
precious, precious, precious blood;
Which holding in trust for me, faithfully back again give me, many a
year hence,
In unseen essence and odor of surface and grass, centuries hence;
In blowing airs from the fields, back again give me my darlings--give
my immortal heroes;
Exhale me them centuries hence--breathe me their breath--let not an
atom be lost;
O years and graves! O air and soil! O my dead, an aroma sweet!
Exhale them perennial, sweet death, years, centuries hence.

by Walt Whitman

Comments (1)

This is an ode to the many young men lost in the Civil War, mourning their early deaths. Walt Whitman mourns these soldiers, who would have been the future of the country, so many millions killed in years of battles, devastating families and covering so much of the countryside. Such a loss of an entire generation: may they be remembered forever. (Let this be a message for us all: as we walk on a battlefield, honor the men who fought and died there. The spot where each died is indeed a holy place.)