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POTD - The Sleepers - Parts 5 & 6 by Walt Whitman

POTD - The Sleepers - Parts 5 & 6 by Walt Whitman

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The Sleepers

by Walt Whitman

5

Now of the older war-days, the defeat at Brooklyn, 
Washington stands inside the lines, he stands on the 
intrench'd hills amid a crowd of officers, 
His face is cold and damp, he cannot repress the 
weeping drops, 
He lifts the glass perpetually to his eyes, the color 
is blanch'd from his cheeks, 
He sees the slaughter of the southern braves confided 
to him by their parents.

The same at last and at last when peace is declared, 
He stands in the room of the old tavern, the 
well-belov'd soldiers all pass through, 
The officers speechless and slow draw near in their 
turns, 
The chief encircles their necks with his arm and kisses 
them on the cheek, 
He kisses lightly the wet cheeks one after another, he 
shakes hands and bids good-by to the army.

6

Now what my mother told me one day as we sat at dinner 
together, 
Of when she was a nearly grown girl living home with 
her parents on the old homestead

A red squaw came one breakfast-time to the old 
homestead, 
On her back she carried a bundle of rushes for 
rush-bottoming chairs,

Her hair, straight, shiny, coarse, black, profuse, 
half-envelop'd her face, 
Her step was free and elastic, and her voice sounded 
exquisitely as she spoke.

My mother look'd in delight and amazement at the 
stranger, 
She look'd at the freshness of her tall-borne face and 
full and pliant limbs, 
The more she look'd upon her she loved her, 
Never before had she seen such wonderful beauty and 
purity, 
She made her sit on a bench by the jamb of the 
fireplace, she cook'd food for her, 
She had no work to give her, but she gave her 
remembrance and fondness.

The red squaw staid all the forenoon, and toward the 
middle of the afternoon she went away, 
O my mother was loth to have her go away, 
All the week she thought of her, she watch'd for her 
many a month, 
She remember'd her many a winter and many a summer, 
But the red squaw never came nor was heard of there 
again.


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