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Title: November Boughs

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: November 1887

Publication information: Lippincott's Magazine 40 (November 1887): 722-723.

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

Whitman Archive ID: per.00138

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




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NOVEMBER BOUGHS.1

YOU LINGERING SPARSE LEAVES OF ME.

YOU lingering sparse leaves of me on winter-nearing boughs,
And I some well-shorn tree of field or orchard-row;
You tokens diminute and lorn—(not now the flush of May, nor July
clover-bloom—no grain of August now;)
You pallid banner-staves—you pennants valueless—you overstay'd of
time,
Yet my soul-dearest leaves—the faithfullest—hardiest—last.

"GOING SOMEWHERE."

My science-friend, my noblest woman-friend,
(Now buried in an English grave—and this a memory-leaf for her dear
sake,)
Ended our talk—"The sum, concluding all we know of old or modern
learning, intuitions deep,
"Of all Geologies—Histories—of all Astronomy—of Evolution, Meta-
physics all,)
"Is, that we all are onward, onward, speeding slowly, surely bettering,
"Life, life an endless march, an endless army, (no halt, but it is duly
over,)
"The world, the race, the soul—in space and time the universes,
All bound as is befitting each—all surely going somewhere."

AFTER THE SUPPER AND TALK.

After the supper and talk—after the day is done,
As a friend from friends his final withdrawal prolonging,
Good-bye and Good-bye with emotional lips repeating,
(So hard for his hand to release those hands—no more will they meet,
No more for communion of sorrow and joy, of old and young,
A far-stretching journey awaits him, to return no more,)
Shunning, postponing severance—seeking to ward off the last word
ever so little,
E'en at the exit-door turning—charges superfluous calling back—e'en
as he descends the steps,
Something to eke out a minute additional—shadows of nightfall deepen-
ing,
Farewells, messages lessening—dimmer the forth-goer's visage and
form,
Soon to be lost for aye in the darkness—loth, O so loth to depart!
Garrulous to the very last.

NOT MEAGRE, LATENT BOUGHS ALONE.

Not meager, latent boughs alone, O songs! (scaly and bare, like eagles'
talons,)
But haply for some sunny day, (who knows?) some future spring, some
summer—bursting forth,
To blossoms, verdant leaves, or sheltering shade—to nourishing fruit,
Apples and grapes—the stalward limbs of trees emerging—the fresh,
free, open air,
And love and faith, like scented roses blooming.
Walt Whitman.

Notes:

1. The four poems that comprised "November Boughs" in Lippincott's Magazine were reprinted in the "Sands at Seventy" annex to Leaves of Grass (1888). [back]


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