In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Ashes of Roses

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1868 and 1871

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00050

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from The Walt Whitman Archive I: Whitman Manuscripts at the Library of Congress, ed. Joel Myerson (New York: Garland, 1993), 1:153. The transcription was then checked against digital images of the original. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: 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."

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Andrew Jewell, Kenneth Price, Brett Barney, Nick Krauter, Lisa Renfro, Zach Bajaber, and Alice Rutkowski

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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)

Are we to have a National Hy[mn by Cen]tennial time?

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? 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

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