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About this Item

Title: The Death and Burial of McDonald Clarke

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1864

Whitman Archive ID: per.00056

Source: The New York Aurora 18 March 1842: [1]. Our transcription is based on a digital image 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, Vanessa Steinroetter, Janel Cayer, and Susan Belasco

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For the Aurora.

The Death and Burial of McDonald Clarke.


Not a sigh was heard, not a tear was shed,
As away to the "tombs" he was hurried,
No mother or friend held his dying head,
Or wept when the poet was buried.
They buried him lonely; no friend stood near,
(The scoffs of the multitude spurning,)
To weep o'er the poet's sacred bier;
No bosom with anguish was burning.
No polish'd coffin enclosed his breast,
Nor in purple or linen they wound him,
As a stranger he died; he went to his rest
With cold charity's shroud wrapt 'round him.
Few and cold were the prayers they said,
Cold and dry was the cheek of sadness,
Not a tear of grief baptised his head,
Nor of sympathy pardon'd his madness.
None thought, as they stood by his lowly bed,
Of the griefs and pains that craz'd him;
None thought of the sorrow that turn'd his head,
Of the vileness of those who prais'd him.
Lightly they speak of his anguish and woe,
And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him,
But whatever he was that was evil below,
Unkindness and cruelty made him.
Ye hypocrites! stain not his grave with a tear,
Nor blast the fresh planted willow
That weeps o'er his grave; for while he was here,
Ye refused him a crumb and a pillow.
Darkly and sadly his spirit has fled,
But his name will long linger in story;
He needs not a stone to hallow his bed;
He's in Heaven, encircled with glory.


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