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Title: Death of the Nature-Lover

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: March 11, 1843

Whitman Archive ID: per.00153

Source: Brother Jonathan 4 (11 March 1843: 290. 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, April Lambert, and Susan Belasco

image 1

The following wants but a half hour's polish to make of it an effusion of very uncommon beauty.—ED.


Not in a gorgeous hall of pride
Where tears fall thick, and loved ones sigh,
Wished he, when the dark hour approached
To drop his veil of flesh, and die.
Amid the thundercrash of strife,
Where hovers War's ensanguined cloud,
And bright swords flash and banners fly
Above the wounds, and groans, and blood.
Not there—not there! Death's look he'd cast
Around a furious tiger's den,
Rather than in the monstrous sight
Of the red butcheries of men.
Days speed: the time for that last look
Upon this glorious earth has come:
The Power he served so well vouchsafes
The sun to shine, the flowers to bloom.
Just ere the closing of the day,
His fainting limbs he needs will have
Borne out into the fresh free air,
Where sweet shrubs grow, and proud trees wave.
At distance, o'er the pleasant fields,
A bay by misty vapors curled,
He gazes on, and thinks the haven
For which to leave a grosser world.
He sorrows not, but smiles content,
Dying there in that fragrant place,
Gazing on blossom, field, and bay,
As on their Maker's very face.
The cloud-arch bending overhead,
There, at the setting of the sun
He bids adieu to earth, and steps
Down to the World Unknown.


1. An earlier version of this poem entitled "My Departure" appeared in the Long Island Democrat, 23 October 1839. [back]


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