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 

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.