The Patriotic Poems of Walt Whitman
Must I indeed learn to chant the cold dirges of the baffled, And sullen hymns of defeat?
FIRST O SONGS FOR A PRELUDE
First O songs for a prelude,
Lightly strike on the stretch'd tympanum pride and joy in my city, How she led the rest to arms, how she gave the cue,
How at once with lithe limbs unwaiting a moment she sprang, (O superb! O Manhattan, my own, my peerless.
O strongest you in the hour of danger, in crisis! O truer than steel!) How you sprang--how you threw off the costumes of peace with
How your soft opera-music changed, and the drum and fife were heard in
How you led to the war (that shall serve for our prelude, songs of
How Manhattan drum-taps led.
Forty years had I in my city seen soldiers parading,
Forty years as a pageant, till unawares the lady of this teeming and