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Best Famous Walt Whitman Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Walt Whitman poems. This is a select list of the best famous Walt Whitman poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Walt Whitman poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of walt whitman poems.

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by Walt Whitman |

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather'd every rack, 
the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, 
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! 
O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. 
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up- for you the flag is flung- for 
you the bugle trills, 

For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths- for you the shores 
a-crowding, 
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; 
Here Captain! dear father! 
This arm beneath your head! 
It is some dream that on the deck, 
You've fallen cold and dead. 

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, 
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, 
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, 
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; 
Exult O shores, and ring O bells! 
But I with mournful tread, 
Walk the deck my Captain lies, 
Fallen cold and dead. 


by Walt Whitman |

I Hear America Singing

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, 
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, 
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, 
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, 
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand 
singing on the steamboat deck, 
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, 
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or 
at noon intermission or at sundown, 
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of 
the girl sewing or washing, 
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, 
The day what belongs to the day--at night the party of young fellows, 
robust, friendly, 
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs. 


by Walt Whitman |

A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless patient spider,
I marked where on a promontory it stood isolated,
Marked how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launched forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be formed, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.


by Allen Ginsberg |

A Supermarket in California

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whit- 
man, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees 
with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon. 
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, 
I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of 
your enumerations! 
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole fam- 
ilies shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives 
in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, 
Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the 
watermelons? 

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old 
grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator 
and eyeing the grocery boys. 
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed 
the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my 
Angel? 
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of 
cans following you, and followed in my imagination 
by the store detective. 
We strode down the open corridors together in 
our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every 
frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier. 
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors 
close in an hour. Which way does your beard point 
tonight? 
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the 
supermarket and feel absurd.) 
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? 
The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, 
we'll both be lonely. 
Will we stroll dreaming ofthe lost America of love 
past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent 
cottage? 
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage- 
teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit 
poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank 
and stood watching the boat disappear on the black 
waters of Lethe? 


by Walt Whitman |

When I read the Book.

 WHEN I read the book, the biography famous, 
And is this, then, (said I,) what the author calls a man’s life? 
And so will some one, when I am dead and gone, write my life? 
(As if any man really knew aught of my life; 
Why, even I myself, I often think, know little or nothing of my real life;
Only a few hints—a few diffused, faint clues and indirections, 
I seek, for my own use, to trace out here.)


by Walt Whitman |

To Foreign Lands.

 I HEARD that you ask’d for something to prove this puzzle, the New World, 
And to define America, her athletic Democracy; 
Therefore I send you my poems, that you behold in them what you wanted.


by Walt Whitman |

When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d.

 1
WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard 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. 

O 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 door-yard 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 door-yard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green, 
A sprig, with its flower, I break. 

4
In the swamp, in secluded recesses, 
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song. 

Solitary, the thrush,
The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements, 
Sings by himself a song. 

Song of the bleeding throat! 
Death’s outlet song of life—(for well, dear brother, I know 
If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would’st surely die.)

5
Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities, 
Amid lanes, and through old woods, (where lately the violets peep’d from the ground,
 spotting the gray debris;) 
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes—passing the endless grass; 
Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown
 fields
 uprising; 
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards;
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave, 
Night and day journeys a coffin. 

6
Coffin that passes through lanes and streets, 
Through day and night, with the great cloud darkening the land, 
With the pomp of the inloop’d flags, with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves, as of crape-veil’d women, standing, 
With processions long and winding, and the flambeaus of the night, 
With the countless torches lit—with the silent sea of faces, and the unbared heads, 
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces, 
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn;
With all the mournful voices of the dirges, pour’d around the coffin, 
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—Where amid these you journey, 
With the tolling, tolling bells’ perpetual clang; 
Here! coffin that slowly passes, 
I give you my sprig of lilac.

7
(Nor for you, for one, alone; 
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring: 
For fresh as the morning—thus would I carol a song for you, O sane and sacred death. 

All over bouquets of roses, 
O death! I cover you over with roses and early lilies;
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first, 
Copious, I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes; 
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you, 
For you, and the coffins all of you, O death.) 

8
O western orb, sailing the heaven!
Now I know what you must have meant, as a month since we walk’d, 
As we walk’d up and down in the dark blue so mystic, 
As we walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night, 
As I saw you had something to tell, as you bent to me night after night, 
As you droop’d from the sky low down, as if to my side, (while the other stars all
 look’d on;)
As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something, I know not what, kept me
 from
 sleep;) 
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west, ere you went, how full you were
 of
 woe; 
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze, in the cold transparent night, 
As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black of the night,

As my soul, in its trouble, dissatisfied, sank, as where you, sad orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone. 

9
Sing on, there in the swamp! 
O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes—I hear your call; 
I hear—I come presently—I understand you; 
But a moment I linger—for the lustrous star has detain’d me;
The star, my departing comrade, holds and detains me. 

10
O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved? 
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone? 
And what shall my perfume be, for the grave of him I love? 

Sea-winds, blown from east and west,
Blown from the eastern sea, and blown from the western sea, till there on the prairies
 meeting:

These, and with these, and the breath of my chant, 
I perfume the grave of him I love. 

11
O what shall I hang on the chamber walls? 
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,
To adorn the burial-house of him I love? 

Pictures of growing spring, and farms, and homes, 
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright, 
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, expanding
 the
 air; 
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific;
In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here and
 there; 
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows; 
And the city at hand, with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys, 
And all the scenes of life, and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning. 

12
Lo! body and soul! this land!
Mighty Manhattan, with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships; 
The varied and ample land—the South and the North in the light—Ohio’s
 shores,
 and flashing Missouri, 
And ever the far-spreading prairies, cover’d with grass and corn. 

Lo! the most excellent sun, so calm and haughty; 
The violet and purple morn, with just-felt breezes;
The gentle, soft-born, measureless light; 
The miracle, spreading, bathing all—the fulfill’d noon; 
The coming eve, delicious—the welcome night, and the stars, 
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land. 

13
Sing on! sing on, you gray-brown bird!
Sing from the swamps, the recesses—pour your chant from the bushes; 
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines. 

Sing on, dearest brother—warble your reedy song; 
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe. 

O liquid, and free, and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul! O wondrous singer! 
You only I hear......yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart;) 
Yet the lilac, with mastering odor, holds me. 

14
Now while I sat in the day, and look’d forth, 
In the close of the day, with its light, and the fields of spring, and the farmer
 preparing his
 crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land, with its lakes and forests, 
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb’d winds, and the storms;) 
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and
 women,

The many-moving sea-tides,—and I saw the ships how they sail’d, 
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of
 daily usages; 
And the streets, how their throbbings throbb’d, and the cities pent—lo! then and
 there, 
Falling upon them all, and among them all, enveloping me with the rest, 
Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail; 
And I knew Death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.

15
Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me, 
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me, 
And I in the middle, as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions, 
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night, that talks not, 
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars, and ghostly pines so still. 

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv’d me; 
The gray-brown bird I know, receiv’d us comrades three; 
And he sang what seem’d the carol of death, and a verse for him I love. 

From deep secluded recesses,
From the fragrant cedars, and the ghostly pines so still, 
Came the carol of the bird. 

And the charm of the carol rapt me, 
As I held, as if by their hands, my comrades in the night; 
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.

DEATH CAROL.16
Come, lovely and soothing Death, 
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving, 
In the day, in the night, to all, to each, 
Sooner or later, delicate Death. 

Prais’d be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious; 
And for love, sweet love—But praise! praise! praise! 
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death. 

Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet, 
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?

Then I chant it for thee—I glorify thee above all; 
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly. 

Approach, strong Deliveress! 
When it is so—when thou hast taken them, I joyously sing the dead, 
Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death. 

From me to thee glad serenades, 
Dances for thee I propose, saluting thee—adornments and feastings for thee; 
And the sights of the open landscape, and the high-spread sky, are fitting, 
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night, in silence, under many a star; 
The ocean shore, and the husky whispering wave, whose voice I know; 
And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veil’d Death, 
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee. 

Over the tree-tops I float thee a song!
Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields, and the prairies
 wide; 
Over the dense-pack’d cities all, and the teeming wharves and ways, 
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death! 

17
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. 

18
I saw askant the armies; 
And 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 dead 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.

19
Passing the visions, passing the night; 
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands; 
Passing the song of the hermit bird, and the tallying song of my soul, 
(Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying, ever-altering song, 
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy, 
Covering the earth, and filling the spread of the heaven, 
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,) 
Passing, I leave thee, lilac with heart-shaped leaves; 
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring,
I cease from my song for thee; 
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee, 
O comrade lustrous, with silver face in the night. 

20
Yet each I keep, and all, retrievements out of the night; 
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul, 
With the lustrous and drooping star, with the countenance full of woe, 
With the lilac tall, and its blossoms of mastering odor; 
With the holders holding my hand, nearing the call of the bird, 
Comrades mine, and I in the midst, and their memory ever I keep—for the dead I loved
 so
 well;
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands...and this for his dear sake; 
Lilac and star and bird, twined with the chant of my soul, 
There in the fragrant pines, and the cedars dusk and dim.


by Walt Whitman |

To a Historian.

 YOU who celebrate bygones! 
Who have explored the outward, the surfaces of the races—the life that has
 exhibited itself; 
Who have treated of man as the creature of politics, aggregates, rulers and
 priests; 
I, habitan of the Alleghanies, treating of him as he is in himself, in his own
 rights, 
Pressing the pulse of the life that has seldom exhibited itself, (the great
 pride of man in himself;)
Chanter of Personality, outlining what is yet to be, 
I project the history of the future.


by Walt Whitman |

As the Time Draws Nigh.

 1
AS the time draws nigh, glooming, a cloud, 
A dread beyond, of I know not what, darkens me. 

I shall go forth, 
I shall traverse The States awhile—but I cannot tell whither or how long; 
Perhaps soon, some day or night while I am singing, my voice will suddenly cease.

2
O book, O chants! must all then amount to but this? 
Must we barely arrive at this beginning of us?... And yet it is enough, O soul! 
O soul! we have positively appear’d—that is enough.


by Walt Whitman |

World Take Good Notice.

 WORLD, take good notice, silver stars fading, 
Milky hue ript, weft of white detaching, 
Coals thirty-eight, baleful and burning, 
Scarlet, significant, hands off warning, 
Now and henceforth flaunt from these shores. 5