Five Poems of Walt Whitman

Song Cycle by Ned Rorem (b. 1923)

1. Reconciliation [sung text checked 1 time]

Word over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage,/
   must in time be utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, /
   incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil'd world:
...For my enemy is dead -- a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin -- I draw near;
[I bend]1 down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.


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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Réconciliation", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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1 Rorem: "Bend down"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. Sometimes with one I love [sung text checked 1 time]

Sometimes with one I love, 
I fill myself with rage, for fear I effuse unreturn'd love; 
But now I think there is no unreturn'd love -- 
the pay is certain, one way or another; 
I loved a certain person ardently, my love was not return'd; 
Yet out of that I have written these songs.


Researcher for this text: John Versmoren

3. Look down, fair moon [sung text checked 1 time]

Look down, fair moon and bathe this scene,
Pour softly down night's nimbus floods, on faces ghastly, swollen, purple;
On the dead, on their backs, with [their]1 arms toss'd wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon.


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Confirmed with Drum-Taps, ed. by Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, The Walt Whitman Archive

1 omitted by Rands.

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Joost van der Linden [Guest Editor]

4. Gliding o'er all [sung text checked 1 time]

Gliding o'er all, through all,
Through Nature, Time, and Space,
As a ship on the waters advancing,
The voyage of the soul--not life alone,
Death, many deaths I'll sing.


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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Gods [sung text checked 1 time]

Lover divine and perfect Comrade,
Waiting content, invisible yet, but certain,
Be thou my God.

Thou, thou, the Ideal Man,
Fair, able, beautiful, content, and loving,
Complete in body and dilate in spirit,
Be thou my God.

O Death, (for Life has served its turn,)
Opener and usher to the heavenly mansion,
Be thou my God.

Aught, aught of mightiest, best I see, conceive, or know,
(To break the stagnant tie - thee, thee to free, O soul,)
Be thou my God.

All great ideas, the races' aspirations,
All heroisms, deeds of rapt enthusiasts,
Be ye my Gods.

Or Time and Space,
Or shape of Earth divine and wondrous,
Or some fair shape I viewing, worship,
Or lustrous orb of sun or star by night,
Be ye my Gods.


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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
Total word count: 331