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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Prose Works. 1892.

IV. Pieces in Early Youth

13. Wounded in the House of Friends

  • “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thy hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”—Zechariah, xiii. 6.
  • IF thou art balk’d, O Freedom,
  • The victory is not to thy manlier foes;
  • From the house of friends comes the death stab.
  • Virginia, mother of greatness,
  • Blush not for being also mother of slaves;
  • You might have borne deeper slaves—
  • Doughfaces, crawlers, lice of humanity—
  • Terrific screamers of freedom,
  • Who roar and bawl, and get hot i’ the face,
  • But were they not incapable of august crime,
  • Would quench the hopes of ages for a drink—
  • Muck-worms, creeping flat to the ground,
  • A dollar dearer to them than Christ’s blessing;
  • All loves, all hopes, less than the thought of gain,
  • In life walking in that as in a shroud;
  • Men whom the throes of heroes,
  • Great deeds at which the gods might stand appal’d,
  • The shriek of the drown’d, the appeal of women,
  • The exulting laugh of untied empires,
  • Would touch them never in the heart,
  • But only in the pocket.
  • Hot-headed Carolina,
  • Well may you curl your lip;
  • With all your bondsmen, bless the destiny
  • Which brings you no such breed as this.
  • Arise, young North!
  • Our elder blood flows in the veins of cowards:
  • The gray-hair’d sneak, the blanch’d poltroon,
  • The feign’d or real shiverer at tongues
  • That nursing babes need hardly cry the less for—
  • Are they to be our tokens always?