Home  »  Leaves of Grass  »  191. Pensive on Her Dead Gazing, I Heard the Mother of All

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

191. Pensive on Her Dead Gazing, I Heard the Mother of All

PENSIVE, on her dead gazing, I heard the Mother of All,

Desperate, on the torn bodies, on the forms covering the battle-fields gazing;

(As the last gun ceased—but the scent of the powder-smoke linger’d😉

As she call’d to her earth with mournful voice while she stalk’d:

Absorb them well, O my earth, she cried—I charge you, lose not my sons! lose not an atom;

And you streams, absorb them well, taking their dear blood;

And you local spots, and you airs that swim above lightly,

And all you essences of soil and growth—and you, my rivers’ depths;

And you, mountain sides—and the woods where my dear children’s blood, trickling, redden’d;

And you trees, down in your roots, to bequeath to all future trees,

My dead absorb—my young men’s beautiful bodies absorb—and their precious, precious, precious blood;

Which holding in trust for me, faithfully back again give me, many a year hence,

In unseen essence and odor of surface and grass, centuries hence;

In blowing airs from the fields, back again give me my darlings—give my immortal heroes;

Exhale me them centuries hence—breathe me their breath—let not an atom be lost;

O years and graves! O air and soil! O my dead, an aroma sweet!

Exhale them perennial, sweet death, years, centuries hence.