In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: After certain disastrous campaigns

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1862 and 1865

Whitman Archive ID: pml.00006

Source: The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. Transcribed from 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: According to Sculley Bradley and Harold W. Blodgett, the "year of repulses may well have been 1862, the disastrous campaigns being those of Major General George B. McClellan, who was halted by General Robert E. Lee until the battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862. Or possibly the year may have been 1863 when Lee and Jackson pushed northward until Lee was halted at Gettysburg, July 1–3" (Leaves of Grass: Comprehensive Reader's Edition, ed. Harold W. Blodgett and Sculley Bradley [New York: New York University Press, 1965], 666–67n). The manuscript was likely composed between 1862 and 1865, while Whitman was writing his 1865 volume Drum-Taps. A poem unpublished in Whitman's lifetime, "After Certain Distastrous Campaigns" was published first in The Uncollected Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman, ed. Emory Holloway (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page, 1921).

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Andrew Jewell, Kenneth Price, Brett Barney, Nick Krauter, Lisa Renfro, Leslie Ianno, and Ashley Lawson

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Answer me, year of repulses
After ^certain disastrous campaigns.

Answer me, traitor! year of

How will the poets, the lecturers
of ages hence, look back to you,
& to me also?

What themes will they make ^ O year out of
you, O year? (themes for ironical sarcastic

What are the ballads & proofs to
be finally made shown of out of you?

Are they not indeed to be shown
with pride, as by poets bards descended of
mine own from me? by my children?

Are to be they really of failures? of
^are they sterile, incompetent yieldings after all?

Are they not indeed to be as
victorious shouts from my

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