English: Black-and-white photographic portrait...

Black-and-white photographic portrait of Walt Whitman. Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are coming up on the 121st anniversary of Walt Whitman’s death, on March 26, 1892.

He wrote this poem after Lincoln was assassinated.

These are the first three of 16 stanzas, from poetryfoundation.org.

 

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

1

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,

And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,

I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

 

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,

Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,

And thought of him I love.

 

2

O powerful western fallen star!

O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!

O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star!

O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!

O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

 

3

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,

Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,

With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,

With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,

With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,

A sprig with its flower I break.

 

Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892)

 

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