Published Works


About this Item

Title: The End of All

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: September 22, 1840

Whitman Archive ID: per.00039

Source: The Long Island Democrat 22 September 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


Behold around us pomp and pride;
The rich, the lofty, and the gay,
Glitter before our dazzled eyes,
Live out their brief but brilliant day;
Then, when the hour for fame is o'er,
Unheeded pass away.
The warrior builds a mighty name,
The object of his hopes and fears,
That future times may see it where
Her tower aspiring glory rears.
Desist, O fool! Think what thoul't be
In a few fleeting years.
The statesman's sleepless, plodding brain
Schemes out a nation's destiny;
His is the voice that awes the crowd,
And his the bold, commanding eye:
But transient is his high renown;
He, like the rest, must die.
Beside his ponderous, age-worn book,
A student shades his weary brow;
He walks philosophy's dark path,
A journey difficult and slow:
But vain is all that teeming mind,
He, too, to earth must go.
And beauty, sweet, and all the fair
That sail on fortune's sunniest wave,
The poor, with him of countless gold,
Owner of all that mortals crave,
Alike are fated soon to lie
Down in the silent grave.
Why, then, O, insects of an hour!
Why, then, with struggling toil, contend
For honors you so soon must yield,
When Death shall his stern summons send?
For honor, glory, fortune, wit,
This is, to all, the end.
Think not, when you attain your wish,
Content will banish gief and care!
High though your stand, though round you
The robes that rank and splendor wear,
A secret poison in the heart
Will stick and rankle there.
In night go view the solemn stars,
Ever in majesty the same;
Creation's worlds: how poor must seem
The mightiest honors earth can name;
And, most of all, this silly strife
After the bubble, fame!


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.