Verse > Anthologies > Andrew Macphail, ed. > The Book of Sorrow
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Andrew Macphail, comp.  The Book of Sorrow.  1916.
 
XX. The Burial
From ‘Drum Taps’
By Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
 
VIGIL strange I kept on the field one night:
When you, my son and my comrade, dropt at my side that day,
One look I but gave, which your dear eyes return’d, with a look I shall never forget;
One touch of your hand to mine, O boy, reach’d up as you lay on the ground….
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battle-field spreading;        5
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet, there in the fragrant silent night;
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh—Long, long I gazed;
Then on the earth partially reclining, sat by your side, leaning my chin in my hands;
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you, dearest comrade—Not a tear, not a word;
Vigil of silence, love and death—vigil for you, my son and my soldier,        10
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones upward stole;
Vigil final for you, brave boy (I could not save you, swift was your death,
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living—I think we shall surely meet again),
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the dawn appear’d,
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop’d well his form,        15
Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head, and carefully under feet;
And there and then, and bathed by the rising sun, my son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I deposited;
Ending my vigil strange with that—vigil of night and battle-field dim;
Vigil for boy of responding kisses (never again on earth responding);
Vigil for comrade swiftly slain—vigil I never forget, how as day brighten’d,        20
I rose from the chill ground, and folded my soldier well in his blanket,
And buried him where he fell.
 
 
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