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Walt Whitman : Vigil Strange I kept on the Field One Night

Vigil strange I kept on the field one night;
When you my son and my comrade dropt at my side
	that day,
One look I but gave which your dear eyes return'd
	with a look I shall never forget,
One touch of your hand to mine O boy, reach'd up
	as you lay on the ground,
Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested
Till late in the night reliev'd to the place at last again
	I made my way,
Found you in death so cold dear comrade, found your
	body son of responding kisses, (never again on 
	earth responding,)
Bared your face in the starlight, curious the scene,
	cool blew the moderate night-wind,
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around
	me the battle-field spreading,
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant
	silent night,
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh, long I
Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side
	leaning my chin in my hands,
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with
	you dearest comrade—not a tear, not a word,
Vigil of silence, love and death, vigil for you my son
	and my soldier,
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones
	upward stole,
Vigil final for you brave boy, (I could not save you,
	swift was your death,
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living, I
	think we shall surely meet again,)
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the
	dawn appear'd,
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop'd well his
Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over
	head and carefully under feet,
And there and then and bathed by the rising sun, my
	son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I
Ending my vigil strange with that, vigil of night and
	battle-field dim,
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on
	earth responding,)
Vigil for comrade swiftly slain, vigil I never forget,
	how as day brighten'd,
I rose from the chill ground and folded my soldier
	well in his blanket,
And buried him where he fell. 

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)	1865


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