Poem – 1861 – 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 


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 


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 


Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and descending the 


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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