1861

A poem by Walt Whitman

Arm'd year! year of the struggle!
No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you, terrible year!
Not you as some pale poetling, seated at a desk, lisping cadenzas piano;
But as a strong man, erect, clothed in blue clothes, advancing,
carrying a rifle on your shoulder,
With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands--with a knife in the belt at your side,
As I heard you shouting loud--your sonorous voice ringing across the continent;
Your masculine voice, O year, as rising amid the great cities,
Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you, as one of the workmen, the dwellers in Manhattan;
Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois and Indiana,
Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and descending the Alleghanies;
Or down from the great lakes, or in Pennsylvania, or on deck along the Ohio river;
Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers, or at Chattanooga on the mountain top,
Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs, clothed in blue, bearing weapons, robust year;
Heard your determin'd voice, launch'd forth again and again;
Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-lipp'd cannon,
I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.

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