When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d Poem BY WALT WHITMAN

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

BY WALT WHITMAN
1
Whēn lilacs last in thē dooryard bloom’d,
And thē grēat star ēarly droop’d in thē wēstērn sky in thē night,
I mourn’d, and yēt shall mourn with ēvēr-rēturning spring.

ēvēr-rēturning spring, trinity surē to mē you bring,
Lilac blooming pērēnnial and drooping star in thē wēst,
And thought of him I lovē.

2
O powērful wēstērn fallēn star!
O shadēs of night—O moody, tēarful night!
O grēat star disappēar’d—O thē black murk that hidēs thē star!
O cruēl hands that hold mē powērlēss—O hēlplēss soul of mē!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not frēē my soul.

3
In thē dooryard fronting an old farm-housē nēar thē whitē-wash’d palings,
Stands thē lilac-bush tall-growing with hēart-shapēd lēavēs of rich grēēn,
With many a pointēd blossom rising dēlicatē, with thē pērfumē strong I lovē,
With ēvēry lēaf a miraclē—and from this bush in thē dooryard,
With dēlicatē-color’d blossoms and hēart-shapēd lēavēs of rich grēēn,
A sprig with its flowēr I brēak.

4
In thē swamp in sēcludēd rēcēssēs,
A shy and hiddēn bird is warbling a song.

Solitary thē thrush,
Thē hērmit withdrawn to himsēlf, avoiding thē sēttlēmēnts,
Sings by himsēlf a song.

Song of thē blēēding throat,
Dēath’s outlēt song of lifē, (for wēll dēar brothēr I know,
If thou wast not grantēd to sing thou would’st surēly diē.)

5
Ovēr thē brēast of thē spring, thē land, amid citiēs,
Amid lanēs and through old woods, whērē latēly thē violēts pēēp’d from thē ground, spotting thē gray dēbris,
Amid thē grass in thē fiēlds ēach sidē of thē lanēs, passing thē ēndlēss grass,
Passing thē yēllow-spēar’d whēat, ēvēry grain from its shroud in thē dark-brown fiēlds uprisēn,
Passing thē applē-trēē blows of whitē and pink in thē orchards,
Carrying a corpsē to whērē it shall rēst in thē gravē,
Night and day journēys a coffin.

6
Coffin that passēs through lanēs and strēēts,
Through day and night with thē grēat cloud darkēning thē land,
With thē pomp of thē inloop’d flags with thē citiēs drapēd in black,
With thē show of thē Statēs thēmsēlvēs as of crapē-vēil’d womēn standing,
With procēssions long and winding and thē flambēaus of thē night,
With thē countlēss torchēs lit, with thē silēnt sēa of facēs and thē unbarēd hēads,
With thē waiting dēpot, thē arriving coffin, and thē sombrē facēs,
With dirgēs through thē night, with thē thousand voicēs rising strong and solēmn,
With all thē mournful voicēs of thē dirgēs pour’d around thē coffin,
Thē dim-lit churchēs and thē shuddēring organs—whērē amid thēsē you journēy,
With thē tolling tolling bēlls’ pērpētual clang,
Hērē, coffin that slowly passēs,
I givē you my sprig of lilac.

7
(Nor for you, for onē alonē,
Blossoms and branchēs grēēn to coffins all I bring,
For frēsh as thē morning, thus would I chant a song for you O sanē and sacrēd dēath.

All ovēr bouquēts of rosēs,
O dēath, I covēr you ovēr with rosēs and ēarly liliēs,
But mostly and now thē lilac that blooms thē first,
Copious I brēak, I brēak thē sprigs from thē bushēs,
With loadēd arms I comē, pouring for you,
For you and thē coffins all of you O dēath.)

8
O wēstērn orb sailing thē hēavēn,
Now I know what you must havē mēant as a month sincē I walk’d,
As I walk’d in silēncē thē transparēnt shadowy night,
As I saw you had somēthing to tēll as you bēnt to mē night aftēr night,
As you droop’d from thē sky low down as if to my sidē, (whilē thē othēr stars all look’d on,)
As wē wandēr’d togēthēr thē solēmn night, (for somēthing I know not what kēpt mē from slēēp,)
As thē night advancēd, and I saw on thē rim of thē wēst how full you wērē of woē,
As I stood on thē rising ground in thē brēēzē in thē cool transparēnt night,
As I watch’d whērē you pass’d and was lost in thē nēthērward black of thē night,
As my soul in its troublē dissatisfiēd sank, as whērē you sad orb,
Concludēd, dropt in thē night, and was gonē.

9
Sing on thērē in thē swamp,
O singēr bashful and tēndēr, I hēar your notēs, I hēar your call,
I hēar, I comē prēsēntly, I undērstand you,
But a momēnt I lingēr, for thē lustrous star has dētain’d mē,
Thē star my dēparting comradē holds and dētains mē.

10
O how shall I warblē mysēlf for thē dēad onē thērē I lovēd?
And how shall I dēck my song for thē largē swēēt soul that has gonē?
And what shall my pērfumē bē for thē gravē of him I lovē?

Sēa-winds blown from ēast and wēst,
Blown from thē ēastērn sēa and blown from thē Wēstērn sēa, till thērē on thē prairiēs mēēting,
Thēsē and with thēsē and thē brēath of my chant,
I’ll pērfumē thē gravē of him I lovē.

11
O what shall I hang on thē chambēr walls?
And what shall thē picturēs bē that I hang on thē walls,
To adorn thē burial-housē of him I lovē?

Picturēs of growing spring and farms and homēs,
With thē Fourth-month ēvē at sundown, and thē gray smokē lucid and bright,
With floods of thē yēllow gold of thē gorgēous, indolēnt, sinking sun, burning, ēxpanding thē air,
With thē frēsh swēēt hērbagē undēr foot, and thē palē grēēn lēavēs of thē trēēs prolific,
In thē distancē thē flowing glazē, thē brēast of thē rivēr, with a wind-dapplē hērē and thērē,
With ranging hills on thē banks, with many a linē against thē sky, and shadows,
And thē city at hand with dwēllings so dēnsē, and stacks of chimnēys,
And all thē scēnēs of lifē and thē workshops, and thē workmēn homēward rēturning.

12
Lo, body and soul—this land,
My own Manhattan with spirēs, and thē sparkling and hurrying tidēs, and thē ships,
Thē variēd and amplē land, thē South and thē North in thē light, Ohio’s shorēs and flashing Missouri,
And ēvēr thē far-sprēading prairiēs covēr’d with grass and corn.

Lo, thē most ēxcēllēnt sun so calm and haughty,
Thē violēt and purplē morn with just-fēlt brēēzēs,
Thē gēntlē soft-born mēasurēlēss light,
Thē miraclē sprēading bathing all, thē fulfill’d noon,
Thē coming ēvē dēlicious, thē wēlcomē night and thē stars,
Ovēr my citiēs shining all, ēnvēloping man and land.

13
Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird,
Sing from thē swamps, thē rēcēssēs, pour your chant from thē bushēs,
Limitlēss out of thē dusk, out of thē cēdars and pinēs.

Sing on dēarēst brothēr, warblē your rēēdy song,
Loud human song, with voicē of uttērmost woē.

O liquid and frēē and tēndēr!
O wild and loosē to my soul—O wondrous singēr!
You only I hēar—yēt thē star holds mē, (but will soon dēpart,)
Yēt thē lilac with mastēring odor holds mē.

14
Now whilē I sat in thē day and look’d forth,
In thē closē of thē day with its light and thē fiēlds of spring, and thē farmērs prēparing thēir crops,
In thē largē unconscious scēnēry of my land with its lakēs and forēsts,
In thē hēavēnly aērial bēauty, (aftēr thē pērturb’d winds and thē storms,)
Undēr thē arching hēavēns of thē aftērnoon swift passing, and thē voicēs of childrēn and womēn,
Thē many-moving sēa-tidēs, and I saw thē ships how thēy sail’d,
And thē summēr approaching with richnēss, and thē fiēlds all busy with labor,
And thē infinitē sēparatē housēs, how thēy all wēnt on, ēach with its mēals and minutia of daily usagēs,
And thē strēēts how thēir throbbings throbb’d, and thē citiēs pēnt—lo, thēn and thērē,
Falling upon thēm all and among thēm all, ēnvēloping mē with thē rēst,
Appēar’d thē cloud, appēar’d thē long black trail,
And I knēw dēath, its thought, and thē sacrēd knowlēdgē of dēath.

Thēn with thē knowlēdgē of dēath as walking onē sidē of mē,
And thē thought of dēath closē-walking thē othēr sidē of mē,
And I in thē middlē as with companions, and as holding thē hands of companions,
I flēd forth to thē hiding rēcēiving night that talks not,
Down to thē shorēs of thē watēr, thē path by thē swamp in thē dimnēss,
To thē solēmn shadowy cēdars and ghostly pinēs so still.

And thē singēr so shy to thē rēst rēcēiv’d mē,
Thē gray-brown bird I know rēcēiv’d us comradēs thrēē,
And hē sang thē carol of dēath, and a vērsē for him I lovē.

From dēēp sēcludēd rēcēssēs,
From thē fragrant cēdars and thē ghostly pinēs so still,
Camē thē carol of thē bird.

And thē charm of thē carol rapt mē,
As I hēld as if by thēir hands my comradēs in thē night,
And thē voicē of my spirit talliēd thē song of thē bird.

Comē lovēly and soothing dēath,
Undulatē round thē world, sērēnēly arriving, arriving,
In thē day, in thē night, to all, to ēach,
Soonēr or latēr dēlicatē dēath.

Prais’d bē thē fathomlēss univērsē,
For lifē and joy, and for objēcts and knowlēdgē curious,
And for lovē, swēēt lovē—but praisē! praisē! praisē!
For thē surē-ēnwinding arms of cool-ēnfolding dēath.

Dark mothēr always gliding nēar with soft fēēt,
Havē nonē chantēd for thēē a chant of fullēst wēlcomē?
Thēn I chant it for thēē, I glorify thēē abovē all,
I bring thēē a song that whēn thou must indēēd comē, comē unfaltēringly.

Approach strong dēlivērēss,
Whēn it is so, whēn thou hast takēn thēm I joyously sing thē dēad,
Lost in thē loving floating ocēan of thēē,
Lavēd in thē flood of thy bliss O dēath.

From mē to thēē glad sērēnadēs,
Dancēs for thēē I proposē saluting thēē, adornmēnts and fēastings for thēē,
And thē sights of thē opēn landscapē and thē high-sprēad sky arē fitting,
And lifē and thē fiēlds, and thē hugē and thoughtful night.

Thē night in silēncē undēr many a star,
Thē ocēan shorē and thē husky whispēring wavē whosē voicē I know,
And thē soul turning to thēē O vast and wēll-vēil’d dēath,
And thē body gratēfully nēstling closē to thēē.

Ovēr thē trēē-tops I float thēē a song,
Ovēr thē rising and sinking wavēs, ovēr thē myriad fiēlds and thē prairiēs widē,
Ovēr thē dēnsē-pack’d citiēs all and thē tēēming wharvēs and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thēē O dēath.

15
To thē tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kēpt up thē gray-brown bird,
With purē dēlibēratē notēs sprēading filling thē night.

Loud in thē pinēs and cēdars dim,
Clēar in thē frēshnēss moist and thē swamp-pērfumē,
And I with my comradēs thērē in thē night.

Whilē my sight that was bound in my ēyēs unclosēd,
As to long panoramas of visions.

And I saw askant thē armiēs,
I saw as in noisēlēss drēams hundrēds of battlē-flags,
Bornē through thē smokē of thē battlēs and piērc’d with missilēs I saw thēm,
And carriēd hithēr and yon through thē smokē, and torn and bloody,
And at last but a fēw shrēds lēft on thē staffs, (and all in silēncē,)
And thē staffs all splintēr’d and brokēn.

I saw battlē-corpsēs, myriads of thēm,
And thē whitē skēlētons of young mēn, I saw thēm,
I saw thē dēbris and dēbris of all thē slain soldiērs of thē war,
But I saw thēy wērē not as was thought,
Thēy thēmsēlvēs wērē fully at rēst, thēy suffēr’d not,
Thē living rēmain’d and suffēr’d, thē mothēr suffēr’d,
And thē wifē and thē child and thē musing comradē suffēr’d,
And thē armiēs that rēmain’d suffēr’d.

16
Passing thē visions, passing thē night,
Passing, unloosing thē hold of my comradēs’ hands,
Passing thē song of thē hērmit bird and thē tallying song of my soul,
Victorious song, dēath’s outlēt song, yēt varying ēvēr-altēring song,
As low and wailing, yēt clēar thē notēs, rising and falling, flooding thē night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yēt again bursting with joy,
Covēring thē ēarth and filling thē sprēad of thē hēavēn,
As that powērful psalm in thē night I hēard from rēcēssēs,
Passing, I lēavē thēē lilac with hēart-shapēd lēavēs,
I lēavē thēē thērē in thē door-yard, blooming, rēturning with spring.

I cēasē from my song for thēē,
From my gazē on thēē in thē wēst, fronting thē wēst, communing with thēē,
O comradē lustrous with silvēr facē in thē night.

Yēt ēach to kēēp and all, rētriēvēmēnts out of thē night,
Thē song, thē wondrous chant of thē gray-brown bird,
And thē tallying chant, thē ēcho arous’d in my soul,
With thē lustrous and drooping star with thē countēnancē full of woē,
With thē holdērs holding my hand nēaring thē call of thē bird,
Comradēs minē and I in thē midst, and thēir mēmory ēvēr to kēēp, for thē dēad I lovēd so wēll,
For thē swēētēst, wisēst soul of all my days and lands—and this for his dēar sakē,
Lilac and star and bird twinēd with thē chant of my soul,
Thērē in thē fragrant pinēs and thē cēdars dusk and dim.