KЛИHOM


Walt Whitman’s “Beat! Beat! Drums!” by Rob
January 27, 2009, 12:01 pm
Filed under: literature

Today, a special inaugural double-post! Aren’t you lucky devils. This poem, one of the rare instances in which Walt Whitman resisted the temptation to keep talking until everyone was bored to tears, is called “Beat! Beat! Drums!” It was written and published as a patriotic piece, meant to inspire the North, but it seems to betray a bit of Whitman’s true attitudes toward the disruptions caused by war. Let me know what you think!


Beat! beat! drums!–Blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows–through doors–burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation;
Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet–no happiness must he have now with his bride;
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, plowing his field or gathering his grain;
So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums–so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums!–Blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities–over the rumble of wheels in the streets:
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? No sleepers must sleep in those beds;
No bargainers’ bargains by day–no brokers or speculators–Would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums–you bugles wilder blow.

Beat! beat! drums!–Blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley–stop for no expostulation;
Mind not the timid–mind not the weeper or prayer;
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man;
Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties;
Make even the trestles to shake the dead, where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump, O terrible drums–so loud you bugles blow.

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The metonymy is striking.

Comment by Bernadette

I like how the first couple of lines in each stanza set up something rhythmical and then it just sorta breaks down from there.

Also, “Leave not the bridegroom quiet–no happiness must he have now with his bride”, totally Kalevalan mirite.

Comment by Guy Tabachnick




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