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  • WigWag

    Memorial Day used to be called “Decoration Day” and the holiday was originally celebrated in honor of the Civil War dead from the North. I recently heard that the American Civil War was the first large war in history where a majority of the combatants were literate; I wonder if that is true.

    Walt Whitman attended to many injured Civil War soldiers after his brother (who survived) was hurt in battle. Whitman took care of numerous soldiers with truly horrendous injuries; many did not survive and not a few died with him at their bedside.

    Whitman wrote one of his most beautiful poems, “Pensive on Her Dead Gazing” to commemorate the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.

    Pensive On Her Dead Gazing (Walt Whitman)

    PENSIVE on her dead gazing I heard the Mother of All,
    Desperate on the torn bodies, on the forms covering the battlefields
    (As the last gun ceased, but the scent of the powder-smoke
    As she call’d to her earth with mournful voice while she stalk’d,
    Absorb them well O my earth, she cried, I charge you lose not my
    sons, lose not an atom,
    And you streams absorb them well, taking their dear blood,
    And you local spots, and you airs that swim above lightly
    And all you essences of soil and growth, and you my rivers’ depths,
    And you mountain sides, and the woods where my dear children’s
    blood trickling redden’d,
    And you trees down in your roots to bequeath to all future trees,
    My dead absorb or South or North-my young men’s bodies absorb,
    and their precious precious blood,
    Which holding in trust for me faithfully back again give me many a
    year hence,
    In unseen essence and odor of surface and grass, centuries hence,
    In blowing airs from the fields back again give me my darlings, give
    my immortal heroes,
    Exhale me them centuries hence, breathe me their breath, let not an
    atom be lost,
    O years and graves! O air and soil! O my dead, an aroma sweet!
    Exhale them perennial sweet death, years, centuries hence.

  • Anthony


  • Corlyss

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