Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field. by Walt Whitman
VIGIL strange I kept on the field one night: When you, my son and my comrade, dropt at my side that day, One look I but gave, which your dear eyes returnâ€™d, with a look I shall never forget;
One touch of your hand to mine, O boy, reachâ€™d up as you lay on the ground; Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested battle; Till late in the night relievâ€™d, to the place at last again I made my way; Found you in death so cold, dear comradeâ€”found your body, son of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding;) Bared your face in the starlightâ€”curious the sceneâ€”cool blew the moderate night-wind;
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battlefield spreading; Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet, there in the fragrant silent night; But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sighâ€”Long, long I gazed; Then on the earth partially reclining, sat by your side, leaning my chin in my hands; Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you, dearest comradeâ€”Not a tear, not a word; Vigil of silence, love and deathâ€”vigil for you my son and my soldier, As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones upward stole; Vigil final for you, brave boy, (I could not save you, swift was your death, I faithfully loved you and cared for you livingâ€”I think we shall surely meet again;) Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the dawn appearâ€™d, My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelopâ€™d well his form, Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head, and carefully under feet; And there and then, and bathed by the rising sun, my son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I deposited; Ending my vigil strange with thatâ€”vigil of night and battlefield dim; Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding;) Vigil for comrade swiftly slainâ€”vigil I never forget, how as day brightenâ€™d, I rose from the chill ground, and folded my soldier well in his blanket, And buried him where he fell.