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About this Item

Title: No Turning Back

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: August 14, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: per.00050

Source: Sunday Times 14 August 1842: [1]. Our transcription is based on Thomas Ollive Mabbott, "Walt Whitman Edits the Sunday Times, July, 1842-June, 1843, American Literature 39 (March 1967): 99-102. 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


"A dismal blighted way. Is there no turning back, my child?"
"There is none!" cried Nell, pressing forward.


No turning back!
I knew a man unto whom God had given
To be ruler 'mid his fellows. High
Towered he over all the multitude.
Renown, and rank, and popular applause
Were his. And then a season more passed by,
And by the fickle mass the man was scorned.
Now sick at heart, and clouds upon his path,
And danger o'er his head, and hope away,
And scowls, and clenched fists at his advance
Assailing him—yet he stood forth and smiled:
Loftily waiving his symbol in the air,
And as his eye lit up with sparkling fire,
Loudly he pealed the inspiring battle-phrase,
No turning back! Then, those, his drooping friends,
Took heart once more, and fought in his behalf;
And foes, who would have crushed him in the dust,
Had he but yielded aught, were filled with fear;
And on this noble man a conquerer marched,
Doubly renowned, and doubly great again.
No turning back! O, youth, a weary road
Spreads out before you! Hidden grief lurks there,
And burning fires of vice lie smouldering there,
And disappointment's clutching fangs wait there;
But far ahead, up in the height of heaven,
Glitters a star. O, let thy constant gaze
Be fixed upon that star; step not away,
But gazing on the brightness of the guide,
Press forward to the end and falter not!


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