Walt Whitman

Here you will find the Poem A March In The Ranks, Hard-prest of poet Walt Whitman

A March In The Ranks, Hard-prest

A MARCH in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown;
 A route through a heavy wood, with muffled steps in the darkness;
 Our army foil'd with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating;
 Till after midnight glimmer upon us, the lights of a dim-lighted
 We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by the dim-lighted
 'Tis a large old church at the crossing roads--'tis now an impromptu
 --Entering but for a minute, I see a sight beyond all the pictures
 and poems ever made:
 Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving candles and
 And by one great pitchy torch, stationary, with wild red flame, and
 clouds of smoke;
 By these, crowds, groups of forms, vaguely I see, on the floor, some
 in the pews laid down; 10
 At my feet more distinctly, a soldier, a mere lad, in danger of
 bleeding to death, (he is shot in the abdomen;)
 I staunch the blood temporarily, (the youngster's face is white as a
 Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o'er the scene, fain to absorb
 it all;
 Faces, varieties, postures beyond description, most in obscurity,
 some of them dead;
 Surgeons operating, attendants holding lights, the smell of ether,
 the odor of blood;
 The crowd, O the crowd of the bloody forms of soldiers--the yard
 outside also fill'd;
 Some on the bare ground, some on planks or stretchers, some in the
 death-spasm sweating;
 An occasional scream or cry, the doctor's shouted orders or calls;
 The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the glint of the
 These I resume as I chant--I see again the forms, I smell the
 odor; 20
 Then hear outside the orders given, Fall in, my men, Fall in;
 But first I bend to the dying lad--his eyes open--a half-smile gives
 he me;
 Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to the darkness,
 Resuming, marching, ever in darkness marching, on in the ranks,
 The unknown road still marching.