In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Beat! beat! drums!

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1861

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00051

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), 1:156. 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 is a draft of "Beat! Beat! Drums!" which was first published simultaneously in Harper's Weekly and the New York Leader on September 28, 1861. The manuscript was probably written in the summer of 1861 during the early days of the conflict, shortly before the poem's publication.

Related item: On the back of this leaf are draft lines of a poem never published in Whitman's lifetime, probably written in the spring of 1865, shortly after the death of Abraham Lincoln. See loc.07461.

Contributors to digital file: Nick Krauter, Lisa Renfro, Melissa Sinner, Justin St. Clair, Nicole Gray, Andrew Jewell, Kenneth Price, and Brett Barney

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Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!

Through the windows—through every door—burst in like a
force of armed men [illegible]

Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,

Into 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.

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