Published Works


About this Item

Title: The Dead Tenor

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: November 8, 1885

Whitman Archive ID: per.00031

Source: Critic 5 (8 November 1884): 222. Our transcription is based on a digital image of a microfilm copy of an original issue. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the periodical poems, see our statement of editorial policy.

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

image 1

cropped image 1

The Dead Tenor.1

As down the stage again,
With Spanish hat and plumes, and gait inimitable,
Back from the fading lessons of the past, I'd call, I'd tell
and own,
How much from thee! the revelation of the singing voice
from thee!
(So firm—so liquid-soft—again that tremulous, manly
The perfect singing voice—deepest of all to me the lesson—
trial and test of all:)
How through those strains distill'd—how the rapt ears, the
soul of me, absorbing
Fernando's heart, Manrico's passionate call, Ernani's, sweet
I fold thenceforth, or seek to fold, within my chants trans-
Freedom's and Love's and Faith's unloos'd cantabile,
(As perfume's, color's, sunlight's correlation:)
From these, for these, with these a hurried line, dead tenor,
A wafted autumn leaf, dropt in the closing grave, the
shovell'd earth,
To memory of thee.
NOVEMBER 4, 1884.


1. Reprinted in the "Sands at Seventy" annex to Leaves of Grass (1888). [back]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.