Walt Whitman

Here you will find the Long Poem President Lincoln's Burial Hymn of poet Walt Whitman

President Lincoln's Burial Hymn

When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom'd

 WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard bloom'd,
 And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night,
 I mourn'd--and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

 O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
 Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,
 And thought of him I love.

 O powerful, western, fallen star!
 O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!
 O great star disappear'd! O the black murk that hides the star!
 O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me! 10
 O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!

 In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the white-wash'd
 Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich
 With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume
 strong I love,
 With every leaf a miracle......and from this bush in the door-yard,
 With delicate-color'd blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich
 A sprig, with its flower, I break.

 In the swamp, in secluded recesses,
 A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

 Solitary, the thrush, 20
 The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
 Sings by himself a song.

 Song of the bleeding throat!
 Death's outlet song of life--(for well, dear brother, I know
 If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would'st surely die.)

 Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
 Amid lanes, and through old woods, (where lately the violets peep'd
 from the ground, spotting the gray debris;)
 Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes--passing the
 endless grass;
 Passing the yellow-spear'd wheat, every grain from its shroud in the
 dark-brown fields uprising;
 Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards; 30
 Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
 Night and day journeys a coffin.

 Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
 Through day and night, with the great cloud darkening the land,
 With the pomp of the inloop'd flags, with the cities draped in black,
 With the show of the States themselves, as of crape-veil'd women,
 With processions long and winding, and the flambeaus of the night,
 With the countless torches lit--with the silent sea of faces, and the
 unbared heads,
 With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
 With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong
 and solemn; 40
 With all the mournful voices of the dirges, pour'd around the coffin,
 The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs--Where amid these you
 With the tolling, tolling bells' perpetual clang;
 Here! coffin that slowly passes,
 I give you my sprig of lilac.

 (Nor for you, for one, alone;
 Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring:
 For fresh as the morning--thus would I carol a song for you, O sane
 and sacred death.

 All over bouquets of roses,
 O death! I cover you over with roses and early lilies; 50
 But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
 Copious, I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes;
 With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
 For you, and the coffins all of you, O death.)

 O western orb, sailing the heaven!
 Now I know what you must have meant, as a month since we walk'd,
 As we walk'd up and down in the dark blue so mystic,
 As we walk'd in silence the transparent shadowy night,
 As I saw you had something to tell, as you bent to me night after
 As you droop'd from the sky low down, as if to my side, (while the
 other stars all look'd on;) 60
 As we wander'd together the solemn night, (for something, I know not
 what, kept me from sleep;)
 As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west, ere you
 went, how full you were of woe;
 As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze, in the cold
 transparent night,
 As I watch'd where you pass'd and was lost in the netherward black of
 the night,
 As my soul, in its trouble, dissatisfied, sank, as where you, sad
 Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.

 Sing on, there in the swamp!
 O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes--I hear your call;
 I hear--I come presently--I understand you;
 But a moment I linger--for the lustrous star has detain'd me; 70
 The star, my departing comrade, holds and detains me.

 O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
 And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?
 And what shall my perfume be, for the grave of him I love?

 Sea-winds, blown from east and west,
 Blown from the eastern sea, and blown from the western sea, till