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"Reconciliation," by Walt Whitman

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;

I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in

the coffin.


Walt Whitman (1819–1892 ), America’s most revered poet, spent much of the American Civil War as a volunteer wound-dresser in hospitals in Washington, D.C., nursing injured Union soldiers, helping them write letters to their wives and families, witnessing their agonies, and not infrequently watching them suffer and die. Like Lincoln, whom he loved, Whitman understood that once the war was over, national reconciliation would become the country’s foremost task. As “Reconciliation” so powerfully indicates, he also knew that the self-serving mythology believed by peoples at war — that the enemy is savage, despicable, all but inhuman and the embodiment of evil — masks the far more unsettling truth that the enemy is made up of people much like oneself. “Reconciliation” is now among the most loved of Whitman’s shorter poems.

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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;

I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in

the coffin.


Walt Whitman (1819–1892 ), America’s most revered poet, spent much of the American Civil War as a volunteer wound-dresser in hospitals in Washington, D.C., nursing injured Union soldiers, helping them write letters to their wives and families, witnessing their agonies, and not infrequently watching them suffer and die. Like Lincoln, whom he loved, Whitman understood that once the war was over, national reconciliation would become the country’s foremost task. As “Reconciliation” so powerfully indicates, he also knew that the self-serving mythology believed by peoples at war — that the enemy is savage, despicable, all but inhuman and the embodiment of evil — masks the far more unsettling truth that the enemy is made up of people much like oneself. “Reconciliation” is now among the most loved of Whitman’s shorter poems.

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Comments
3

this man was a poet God!!!

Aug. 3, 2011

In the 20th century there was Edna St. Vincent Millay . . .

Here in San Diego, there was LoVerne Brown and Judy van der Veer . . .

"Gods?" Not quite, but quite close enough for me, thank you.

Aug. 3, 2011

Nikki Giovanni is one of my faves Twister...of the modern bunch

ever been kidnapped by a poet if i were a poet i'd kidnap you put you in my phrases and meter you to jones beach or maybe coney island or maybe just to my house lyric you in lilacs dash you in the rain blend into the beach to complement my see play the lyre for you ode you with my love song anything to win you wrap you in the red Black green show you off to mama yeah if i were a poet i'd kidnap you


"lyric you in lilacs" is my favorite line ;-D

the power of poetry is lost on many..but some like u feel the refrain...thank you

Aug. 7, 2011

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