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About this Item

Title: We All Shall Rest at Last

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: July 14, 1840

Whitman Archive ID: per.00036

Source: The Long Island Democrat 14 July 1840: [1]. Our transcription is based on a photocopy 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 and Susan Belasco


On earth are many sights of woe,
And many sounds of agony,
And many a sorrow-withered cheek,
And many a pain-dulled eye.
The wretched weep, the poor complain,
And luckless love pines on unknown,
And faintly from the midnight couch
Sounds out the sick child's moan.
Each has his care: old age fears death;
The young man's ills are pride, desire,
And heart-sickness, and in his breast
The heat of passion's fire.
All, all know grief; and at the the close,
All lie earth's spreading arms within,
The pure, the black-souled, proud and low,
Virtue, despair, and sin.
Oh, foolish, then, with pain to shrink
From the sure doom we each must meet.
Is earth so fair, or heaven so dark?
Or life so passing sweet?
No: dread yet not the fearful hour;
The coffin, and the pall's dark gloom;
For there's a calm to throbbing hearts,
And rest, down in the tomb.
Then our long journey will be o'er,
And throwing off this load of woes,
The pallid brow, the feebled limbs,
Will sink in soft repose.
Nor only this; for wise men say
That when we leave our land of care,
We float to a mysterious shore,
Peaceful, and pure, and fair.
So, welcome, death; whene'er the time
That the dread summons must be met,
I'll yield without one pang of awe,
Or sigh, or vain regret;
But like unto a wearied child,
That over field and wood all day
Has ranged and struggled, and at last,
Worn out with toil and play—
Goes up at evening to his home,
And throws him, sleepy, tired, and sore,
Upon his bed, and rests him there,
His pain and trouble o'er.


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