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The Mystic Trumpeter Analysis

Author: Poetry of Walt Whitman Type: Poetry Views: 347

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HARK! some wild trumpeter--some strange musician,

Hovering unseen in air, vibrates capricious tunes to-night.

I hear thee, trumpeter--listening, alert, I catch thy notes,

Now pouring, whirling like a tempest round me,

Now low, subdued--now in the distance lost.

Come nearer, bodiless one--haply, in thee resounds

Some dead composer--haply thy pensive life

Was fill'd with aspirations high--unform'd ideals,

Waves, oceans musical, chaotically surging,

That now, ecstatic ghost, close to me bending, thy cornet echoing,


Gives out to no one's ears but mine--but freely gives to mine,

That I may thee translate.

Blow, trumpeter, free and clear--I follow thee,

While at thy liquid prelude, glad, serene,

The fretting world, the streets, the noisy hours of day, withdraw;

A holy calm descends, like dew, upon me,

I walk, in cool refreshing night, the walks of Paradise,

I scent the grass, the moist air, and the roses;

Thy song expands my numb'd, imbonded spirit--thou freest, launchest


Floating and basking upon Heaven's lake.20

Blow again, trumpeter! and for my sensuous eyes,

Bring the old pageants--show the feudal world.

What charm thy music works!--thou makest pass before me,

Ladies and cavaliers long dead--barons are in their castle halls--the

troubadours are singing;

Arm'd knights go forth to redress wrongs--some in quest of the Holy


I see the tournament--I see the contestants, encased in heavy armor,

seated on stately, champing horses;

I hear the shouts--the sounds of blows and smiting steel:

I see the Crusaders' tumultuous armies--Hark! how the cymbals clang!

Lo! where the monks walk in advance, bearing the cross on high!

Blow again, trumpeter! and for thy theme,30

Take now the enclosing theme of all--the solvent and the setting;

Love, that is pulse of all--the sustenace and the pang;

The heart of man and woman all for love;

No other theme but love--knitting, enclosing, all-diffusing love.

O, how the immortal phantoms crowd around me!

I see the vast alembic ever working--I see and know the flames that

heat the world;

The glow, the blush, the beating hearts of lovers,

So blissful happy some--and some so silent, dark, and nigh to death:

Love, that is all the earth to lovers--Love, that mocks time and


Love, that is day and night--Love, that is sun and moon and stars; 40

Love, that is crimson, sumptuous, sick with perfume;

No other words, but words of love--no other thought but Love.

Blow again, trumpeter--conjure war's Wild alarums.

Swift to thy spell, a shuddering hum like distant thunder rolls;

Lo! where the arm'd men hasten--Lo! mid the clouds of dust, the glint

of bayonets;

I see the grime-faced cannoniers--I mark the rosy flash amid the

smoke--I hear the cracking of the guns:

--Nor war alone--thy fearful music-song, wild player, brings every

sight of fear,

The deeds of ruthless brigands--rapine, murder--I hear the cries for


I see ships foundering at sea--I behold on deck, and below deck, the

terrible tableaux.

O trumpeter! methinks I am myself the instrument thou playest!50

Thou melt'st my heart, my brain--thou movest, drawest, changest them,

at will:

And now thy sullen notes send darkness through me;

Thou takest away all cheering light--all hope:

I see the enslaved, the overthrown, the hurt, the opprest of the

whole earth;

I feel the measureless shame and humiliation of my race--it becomes

all mine;

Mine too the revenges of humanity--the wrongs of ages--baffled feuds

and hatreds;

Utter defeat upon me weighs--all lost! the foe victorious!

(Yet 'mid the ruins Pride colossal stands, unshaken to the last;

Endurance, resolution, to the last.)

Now, trumpeter, for thy close,60

Vouchsafe a higher strain than any yet;

Sing to my soul--renew its languishing faith and hope;

Rouse up my slow belief--give me some vision of the future;

Give me, for once, its prophecy and joy.

O glad, exulting, culminating song!

A vigor more than earth's is in thy notes!

Marches of victory--man disenthrall'd--the conqueror at last!

Hymns to the universal God, from universal Man--all joy!

A reborn race appears--a perfect World, all joy!

Women and Men, in wisdom, innocence and health--all joy!70

Riotous, laughing bacchanals, fill'd with joy!

War, sorrow, suffering gone--The rank earth purged--nothing but joy


The ocean fill'd with joy--the atmosphere all joy!

Joy! Joy! in freedom, worship, love! Joy in the ecstacy of life!

Enough to merely be! Enough to breathe!

Joy! Joy! all over Joy!


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