Published Works

Periodicals

About this Item

Title: Death's Valley

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: April 1892

Publication information: Harper's Monthly Magazine 84 (April 1892): 707-709.

Source: Our transcription is based on a digital image of an original issue.

Whitman Archive ID: per.00028

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, April Lambert, Heather Morton, Leslie Ianno, Ramon Guerra, and Susan Belasco




image 1

image 2

DEATH'S VALLEY.1

(To accompany a picture; by request.)

BY WALT WHITMAN.
NAY, do not dream, designer dark,
Thou hast portray'd or hit thy theme entire:
I, hoverer of late by this dark valley, by its confines, having glimpses of it,
Here enter lists with thee, claiming my right to make a symbol too.
For I have seen many wounded soldiers die,
After dread suffering—have seen their lives pass off with smiles;
And I have watch'd the death-hours of the old; and seen the infant die;
The rich, with all his nurses and his doctors;
And then the poor, in meagreness and poverty;
And I myself for long, O Death, have breathed my every breath
Amid the nearness and the silent thought of thee.
And out of these and thee,
I make a scene, a song, brief (not fear of thee,
Nor gloom's ravines, nor bleak, nor dark—for I do not fear thee,
Nor celebrate the struggle, or contortion, or hard-tied knot),
Of the broad blessed light and perfect air, with meadows, rippling tides, and trees
and flowers and grass,
And the low hum of living breeze—and in the midst God's beautiful eternal right
hand,
Thee, holiest minister of Heaven—thee, envoy, usherer, guide at last of all,
Rich, florid, loosener of the stricture-knot call'd life,
Sweet, peaceful, welcome Death.

Notes:

1. Reprinted in Leaves of Grass (1897). [back]


Comments?

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.