Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Apology tour

I close this season
of political comment
as any of us would.

We, I believe, know
the unveiled bigotry
in the stab-in-the-
back mode of polit-
ical address; and we
know the endless vul-
garity of its thrill.

Humanity recoils in
prayer for our angels.

               We have seen this race proved
               by wholesale, by drearier, yet
               more fearful tests - the wound,
               the amputation, the shatter'd
               face or limb, the slow hot fever,
               long impatient anchorage in bed,
               and all the forms of maiming,
               operation and disease. Alas!
               America have we seen, though 
               only in her early youth, already
               to hospital brought. There have
               we watched these soldiers, many
               of them only boys in years -
               mark'd their decorum, their re-
               ligious nature and fortitude,
               and their sweet affection.

               Wholesale, truly. For at the 
               front, and through the camps,
               in countless tents, stood the
               regimental, brigade and division
               hospitals; while everywhere amid
               the land, in or near cities, rose
               clusters of huge, white-wash'd, 
               crowded, one-story wooden barracks;
               and there ruled agony with bitter
               scourge, yet seldom brought a cry;
               and there stalked death by day and
               night along the narrow aisles be-
               tween the rows of cots, or by the 
               blankets on the ground, and touch'd
               lightly many a poor sufferer, often
               with blessèd, welcome touch.


Walt Whitman
  Democratic Vistas
Complete Poetry and
  Collected Prose
Justin Kaplan, editor
Library of America, 1982©


  1. Oh, so spot-on. There are days you rivet me, sir. You rivet me.

    1. It is wonderful that we have this poet.