Word over all, beautiful as the sky,
Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must in time
be utterly lost,
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night incessantly
softly wash again, and ever again, this soil’d world;
For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is dead,
I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin––
I draw near,
Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face
in the coffin.
When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much
applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
Like Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman understood that genuine reconciliation after the Civil War was the only way to heal the nation. More essentially, Whitman appears to have been a man in love with all existence and spiritually incapable of ego-centered hatreds and resentments. During his lifetime many of his admirers felt that he was as great a spiritual teacher as he was a master of poetry. His friend, Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke, believed that “something of that spiritual elevation can still be seen” in this photograph. It was probably taken in 1854 by the photographer Gabriel Harrison. Born in 1819, Walt Whitman died on May 31, 1892.