Walt Whitman

Here you will find the Long Poem Sing Of The Banner At Day-Break of poet Walt Whitman

Sing Of The Banner At Day-Break


 O A new song, a free song,
 Flapping, flapping, flapping, flapping, by sounds, by voices clearer,
 By the wind's voice and that of the drum,
 By the banner's voice, and child's voice, and sea's voice, and
 father's voice,
 Low on the ground and high in the air,
 On the ground where father and child stand,
 In the upward air where their eyes turn,
 Where the banner at day-break is flapping.

 Words! book-words! what are you?
 Words no more, for hearken and see, 10
 My song is there in the open air--and I must sing,
 With the banner and pennant a-flapping.

 I'll weave the chord and twine in,
 Man's desire and babe's desire--I'll twine them in, I'll put in life;
 I'll put the bayonet's flashing point--I'll let bullets and slugs
 (As one carrying a symbol and menace, far into the future,
 Crying with trumpet voice, Arouse and beware! Beware and arouse!)
 I'll pour the verse with streams of blood, full of volition, full of
 Then loosen, launch forth, to go and compete,
 With the banner and pennant a-flapping. 20


 Come up here, bard, bard;
 Come up here, soul, soul;
 Come up here, dear little child,
 To fly in the clouds and winds with me, and play with the measureless


 Father, what is that in the sky beckoning to me with long finger?
 And what does it say to me all the while?


 Nothing, my babe, you see in the sky;
 And nothing at all to you it says. But look you, my babe,
 Look at these dazzling things in the houses, and see you the money-
 shops opening;
 And see you the vehicles preparing to crawl along the streets with
 goods: 10
 These! ah, these! how valued and toil'd for, these!
 How envied by all the earth!


 Fresh and rosy red, the sun is mounting high;
 On floats the sea in distant blue, careering through its channels;
 On floats the wind over the breast of the sea, setting in toward
 The great steady wind from west and west-by-south,
 Floating so buoyant, with milk-white foam on the waters.

 But I am not the sea, nor the red sun;
 I am not the wind, with girlish laughter;
 Not the immense wind which strengthens--not the wind which lashes; 20
 Not the spirit that ever lashes its own body to terror and death;
 But I am that which unseen comes and sings, sings, sings,
 Which babbles in brooks and scoots in showers on the land,
 Which the birds know in the woods, mornings and evenings,
 And the shore-sands know, and the hissing wave, and that banner and
 Aloft there flapping and flapping.


 O father, it is alive--it is full of people--it has children!
 O now it seems to me it is talking to its children!
 I hear it--it talks to me--O it is wonderful!
 O it stretches--it spreads and runs so fast! O my father, 30
 It is so broad, it covers the whole sky!


 Cease, cease, my foolish babe,
 What you are saying is sorrowful to me--much it displeases me;
 Behold with the rest, again I say--behold not banners and pennants
 But the well-prepared pavements behold--and mark the solid-wall'd


 Speak to the child, O bard, out of Manhattan;
 (The war is over--yet never over.... out of it, we are born to real
 life and identity;)
 Speak to our children all, or north or south of Manhattan,
 Where our factory-engines hum, where our miners delve the ground,
 Where our hoarse Niagara rumbles, where our prairie-plows are
 plowing; 40
 Speak, O bard! point this day, leaving all the rest, to us over all--
 and yet we know not why;
 For what are we, mere strips of cloth, profiting nothing,
 Only flapping in the wind?


 I hear and see not strips of cloth alone;
 I hear again the tramp of armies, I hear the challenging sentry;
 I hear the jubilant shouts of millions of men--I hear LIBERTY!
 I hear the drums beat, and the trumpets yet blowing;
 I myself move abroad, swift-rising, flying then;
 I use the wings of the land-bird, and use the wings of the sea-bird,
 and look down as from a height;
 I do not deny the precious results of peace--I see populous cities,
 with wealth incalculable; 50
 I see numberless farms--I see the farmers working in their fields or
 I see mechanics working--I see buildings everywhere founded, going
 up, or finish'd;
 I see trains of cars swiftly speeding along railroad tracks, drawn by
 the locomotives;
 I see the stores, depots, of Boston, Baltimore, Charleston, New
 I see far in the west the immense area of grain--I dwell awhile,
 I pass to the lumber forests of the north, and again to the southern
 plantation, and again to California;