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

I. Specimen Days

209. A Contralto Voice

May 9, Sunday.—VISIT this evening to my friends the J.’s—good supper, to which I did Justice—lively chat with Mrs. J. and I. and J. As I sat out front on the walk afterward, in the evening air, the church-choir and organ on the corner opposite gave Luther’s hymn, Ein feste berg, very finely. The air was borne by a rich contralto. For nearly half an hour there in the dark, (there was a good string of English stanzas,) came the music, firm and unhurried, with long pauses. The full silver star-beams of Lyra rose silently over the church’s dim roof-ridge. Varicolor’d lights from the stain’d glass windows broke through the tree-shadows. And under all—under the Northern Crown up there, and in the fresh breeze below, and the chiaroscuro of the night, that liquid-full contralto.