In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

Table of Contents
Color Key

leaf 1 recto
Decoration Day May 30

Ashes of Roses

        The dust & debris below
        in all the cemeteries
        not only in Virginia &
        Tennessee but all through
         the land
  • The names of the flowers.
early lilies
  • the colors,
purple & white
& red & yellow
& red—
—the graves—
Ashes of Armies
The Unknown
? Army‑Ashes
        The dust of each mingling
        fused all with in the dust
        of each—(i.e. the rebel & the Union)
[Begin pasted-on section]
Are we to have a National Hy[mn by] Centennial time?
[End pasted-on section]
leaf 1 verso
leaf 2 recto

? Ashes of Roses

Dust of the dead—
ashes of blue & gray,
—ashes of battle-pits,
solemn & strange cement—
        not a field crop grows hence in
        the field, of north or south
        —Not Nor moisture of the river, nor
        falling rain
leaf 2 verso

This manuscript was likely composed around 1870-1871, when Whitman was revising and expanding the poem "Hymn of Dead Soldiers," originally published in Drum-Taps (1865), for republication as "Ashes of Soldiers."
Editorial note
This manuscript appears to be draft material for the two linegroups Whitman added in 1871. The added lines, along with the title change, introduce the new imagery of ashes. Decoration Day was first proclaimed in 1868.
Ashes of Roses  |  The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Whitman Archive ID


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.