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As the resident poet at EcoHealth, my verse finds inspiration these days in the spectre of global pandemics. At LMU Munich's Amerika-Institut, where I tutor composition and poetics, I'm anatomizing the sonnets of E. A. Robinson for my dissertation. I also teach at Münchner Volkshochschule and Amerikahaus.

20150710

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd

by Walt Whitman

15


To the tally of my soul, 
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird, 
With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night. 


Loud in the pines and cedars dim, 
Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume, 
And I with my comrades there in the night. 


While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed, 
As to long panoramas of visions. 


And I saw askant the armies, 
I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags, 
Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierc’d with missiles I saw them, 
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody, 
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in silence,) 
And the staffs all splinter’d and broken. 


I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them, 
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them, 
I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war, 
But I saw they were not as was thought, 
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not, 
The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d, 
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d, 
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.

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