Beat! Beat! Drums!
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891-92): 222. PS 3201 1891 Robarts Library.
1Beat! beat! drums! -- blow! bugles! blow!
2Through the windows -- through doors -- burst like a ruthless force,
3Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
4Into the school where the scholar is studying;
5Leave not the bridegroom quiet -- no happiness must he have now with his bride,
6Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
7So fierce you whirr and pound you drums -- so shrill you bugles blow.
8Beat! beat! drums! -- blow! bugles! blow!
9Over the traffic of cities -- over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
10Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
11No bargainers' bargains by day -- no brokers or speculators -- would they continue?
12Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
13Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
14Then rattle quicker, heavier drums -- you bugles wilder blow.
15Beat! beat! drums! -- blow! bugles! blow!
16Make no parley -- stop for no expostulation,
17Mind not the timid -- mind not the weeper or prayer,
18Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
19Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties,
20Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
21So strong you thump O terrible drums -- so loud you bugles blow.
Publication Start Year:
Harper's Weekly (1861)
RPO poem Editors: