Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"Memorial Day"

The other night I was reading the prose of Walt Whitman. In particular his Civil War journals. This below he wrote after his account of the battle of Chancellorsville.

This for "Memorial Day"

Of scenes like these, I say, who writes—whoe’er can write the story? Of many a score—aye, thousands, north and south, of unwrit heroes, unknown heroisms, incredible, impromptu, first-class desperations—who tells?

No history ever—no poem sings, no music sounds, those bravest men of all—those deeds.
No formal general’s report, nor book in the library, nor column in the paper, embalms the bravest, north or south, east or west. Unnamed, unknown, remain, and still remain, the bravest soldiers.

Our manliest—our boys—our hardy darlings; no picture gives them.

Likely, the typic one of them (standing, no doubt, for hundreds, thousands,) crawls aside to some bush-clump, or ferny tuft, on receiving his death-shot—there sheltering a little while, soaking roots, grass and soil, with red blood—the battle advances, retreats, flits from the scene, sweeps by—and there, haply with pain and suffering the last lethargy winds like a serpent round him—the eyes glaze in death.

Perhaps the burial-squads, in truce, a week afterwards, search not the secluded spot—and there, at last, the Bravest Soldier crumbles in mother earth, unburied and unknown.

Walt Whitman.

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