In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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leaf 1 recto

[Beat! beat! drums!]

Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through every door—burst in like a
        force of armed men [deletion, illegible]
In to the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
In to the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom any in quiet—no happiness ^must he have now with his bride;
Leave not Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field,
        or gathering his crops, grain,
So strong you beat fierce you whirr and pound, you drums—So long and shrill you
        bugles blow.
leaf 1 verso

[Thou West that gave'st him to us]

Thou West that gave'st him to us
Thou gavest him to us, Land.
Thou That ^for our sake, rear'dst him in on thy fresh & ample prairies,
        and on the breasts of thy great, fresh,
        musical flowing rivers;
This day we return to thee his with bearing his body.

This leaf has manuscript material that was written at two distinct times during the Civil War. The lines on the recto were likely written in the summer of 1861 during the early days of the conflict, before the publication of "Beat! Beat! Drums!" in September of that year. The lines on the verso were probably written in the spring of 1865, shortly after the death of Abraham Lincoln.
Editorial note
The manuscript on the recto is a draft of "Beat! Beat! Drums!" which was first published simultaneously in Harper's Weekly and the New York Leader in issues dated September 28, 1861 (though both publications were available on September 21, 1861). The lines on the verso, beginning "Thou West that gave'st him to us," constituted the draft lines of a poem never published in Whitman's lifetime. An elegy for Abraham Lincoln, the poem does not share lines or specific imagery with Whitman's most famous elegy, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," or the other poems in the cluster "Memories of President Lincoln."
Beat! beat! drums!  |  The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
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