Published Works


About this Item

Title: Twenty Years

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1888

Whitman Archive ID: per.00046

Source: The Magazine of Art (August 1888): [348]. 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 and Susan Belasco

image 1

Twenty Years.


Down on the ancient wharf, the
sand, I sit, with a new-
comer chatting:
He shipp'd as green-hand boy,
and sail'd away (took some
sudden, vehement notion;)
Since, twenty years and more have circled round and round,
While he the globe was circling round and round,—and now
How changed the place—all the old land-marks
gone—the parents dead;
(Yes, he comes back to lay in port for good—
to settle—has a well-fill'd purse—no spot
will do but this;)
The little boat that scull'd him from the sloop,
now held in leash I see,
I hear the slapping waves, the restless keel, the
recking in the sand,
I see the sailor kit, the canvas bag, the great
box bound with brass,
I scan the face all berry-brown and bearded—
the stout, strong frame,
Dress'd in its russet suit of good Scotch cloth:
(Then what the told-out story of those twenty
years? What of the future?)


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.