Leaves of Grass (1881-82)

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AS I ponder'd in silence,
Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,
A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,
Terrible in beauty, age, and power,
The genius of poets of old lands,
As to me directing like flame its eyes,
With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,
Know'st thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?
And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,
The making of perfect soldiers.

Be it so, then I answered,
I too haughty Shade also sing war, and a longer and greater one
          than any,
Waged in my book with varying fortune, with flight, advance and
          retreat, victory deferr'd and wavering,

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(Yet methinks certain, or as good as certain, at the last,) the field
          the world,
For life and death, for the Body and for the eternal Soul,
Lo, I too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
I above all promote brave soldiers.
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