On the Beach at Night

Original Text: 
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891-92): 205-06. PS 3201 1891 Robarts Library.
1On the beach at night,
2Stands a child with her father,
3Watching the east, the autumn sky.
4Up through the darkness,
5While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
6Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
7Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
8Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
9And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
11From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
12Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,
13Watching, silently weeps.
14Weep not, child,
15Weep not, my darling,
16With these kisses let me remove your tears,
17The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
18They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,
19Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,
20They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
21The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
22The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.
23Then dearest child mournest thou only for Jupiter?
24Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?
25Something there is,
26(With my lips soothing thee, adding I whisper,
27I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
28Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
29(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
30Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter
31Longer than sun or any revolving satellite,
32Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades.


10] Pleiades: the seven daughters of Atlas, made into stars in the constellation Taurus. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.