Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, YEAR OF METEORS (1859-60), by WALT WHITMAN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

YEAR OF METEORS (1859-60), by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Year of meteors! Brooding year!
Last Line: What am I myself but one of your meteors?
Subject(s): Meteors

Year of meteors! brooding year!
I would bind in words retrospective some of your deeds and signs,
I would sing your contest for the 19th Presidentiad,
I would sing how an old man, tall, with white hair, mounted
the scaffold in Virginia,
(I was at hand, silent I stood with teeth shut close, I watch'd,
I stood very near you old man when cool and indifferent,
but trembling with age and your unheal'd wounds, you
mounted the scaffold;)
I would sing in my copious song your census returns of the States,
The tables of population and products, I would sing of your
ships and their cargoes,
The proud black ships of Manhattan arriving, some fill'd
with immigrants, some from the isthmus with cargoes of gold,
Songs thereof would I sing, to all that hitherward comes
would I welcome give,
And you would I sing, fair stripling! welcome to you from
me, young prince of England!
(Remember you surging Manhattan's crowds as you pass'd with
your cortege of nobles?
There in the crowds stood I, and singled you out with attachment;)
Not forget I to sing of the wonder, the ship as she swam up my bay,
Well-shaped and stately the Great Eastern swam up my bay,
she was 600 feet long,
Her moving swiftly surrounded by myriads of small craft I
forget not to sing;
Nor the comet that came unannounced out of the north
flaring in heaven,
Nor the strange huge meteor-procession dazzling and clear
shooting over our heads,
(A moment, a moment long it sail'd its balls of unearthly
light over our heads,
Then departed, dropt in the night, and was gone;)
Of such, and fitful as they, I sing -- with gleams from
them would I gleam and patch these chants,
Your chants, O year all mottled with evil and good -- year
of forebodings! Year of comets and meteors transient
and strange -- lo! even here one equally transient and strange!
As I flit through you hastily, soon to fall and be gone,
what is this chant,
What am I myself but one of your meteors?

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