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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

111. 1861

ARM’D year! year of the struggle!

No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you, terrible year!

Not you as some pale poetling, seated at a desk, lisping cadenzas piano;

But as a strong man, erect, clothed in blue clothes, advancing, carrying a rifle on your shoulder,

With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands—with a knife in the belt at your side,

As I heard you shouting loud—your sonorous voice ringing across the continent;

Your masculine voice, O year, as rising amid the great cities,

Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you, as one of the workmen, the dwellers in Manhattan;

Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois and Indiana,

Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and descending the Alleghanies;

Or down from the great lakes, or in Pennsylvania, or on deck along the Ohio river;

Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers, or at Chattanooga on the mountain top,

Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs, clothed in blue, bearing weapons, robust year;

Heard your determin’d voice, launch’d forth again and again;

Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-lipp’d cannon,

I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.