by Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892)

Beat! beat! drums!
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE
Beat! beat! drums! - blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows - through doors - burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
[Into the school where the scholar is studying;
Leave not the bridegroom quiet - no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums - so shrill you bugles blow.]1

Beat! beat! drums! - blow! bugles! blow!
[Over the traffic of cities - over the rumble of wheels in the streets;]1
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? 
No sleepers must sleep in those beds --
[No bargainers bargains by day - no brokers or speculators - would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums --]1 you bugles wilder blow.

[Beat! beat! drums!]1 - blow! bugles! blow!
[Make no parley - stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid - mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums - so loud you bugles blow.]1

E. Bacon sets stanza 1

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Omitted by Neidlinger.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

The text above (or a part of it) is used in the following settings:

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Johannes Schlaf (1862 - 1941) [an adaptation] ; composed by Paul Hindemith, Othmar Schoeck.

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

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

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2003-11-04
Line count: 22
Word count: 237