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Walt Whitman – Boston Town


To get betimes in Boston town, I rose this morning early;
Here’s a good place at the corner鈥擨 must stand and see the show.


Clear the way there, Jonathan!
Way for the President’s marshal! Way for the government cannon!
Way for the Federal foot and dragoons鈥攁nd the apparitions copiously

I love to look on the stars and stripes鈥擨 hope the fifes will play “Yankee
How bright shine the cutlasses of the foremost troops!
Every man holds his revolver, marching stiff through Boston town.


A fog follows鈥攁ntiques of the same come limping,
Some appear wooden-legged, and some appear bandaged and bloodless.

Why this is indeed a show! It has called the dead out of the earth!
The old graveyards of the hills have hurried to see!
Phantoms! phantoms countless by flank and rear!
Cocked hats of mothy mould! crutches made of mist!
Arms in slings! old men leaning on young men’s shoulders!

What troubles you, Yankee phantoms? What is all this chattering of bare
Does the ague convulse your limbs? Do you mistake your crutches for
firelocks, and level them?

If you blind your eyes with tears, you will not see the President’s
If you groan such groans, you might baulk the government cannon.

For shame, old maniacs! Bring down those tossed arms, and let your white
hair be;
Here gape your great grandsons鈥攖heir wives gaze at them from the windows,
See how well-dressed鈥攕ee how orderly they conduct themselves.

Worse and worse! Can’t you stand it? Are you retreating?
Is this hour with the living too dead for you?

Retreat then! Pell-mell!
To your graves! Back! back to the hills, old limpers!
I do not think you belong here, anyhow.


But there is one thing that belongs here鈥攕hall I tell you what it is,
gentlemen of Boston?

I will whisper it to the Mayor鈥擧e shall send a committee to England;
They shall get a grant from the Parliament, go with a cart to the royal
Dig out King George’s coffin, unwrap him quick from the grave-clothes, box
up his bones for a journey;
Find a swift Yankee clipper鈥攈ere is freight for you, black-bellied
Up with your anchor! shake out your sails! steer straight toward Boston


Now call for the President’s marshal again, bring out the government
Fetch home the roarers from Congress,鈥攎ake another procession, guard it
with foot and dragoons.

This centre-piece for them!
Look, all orderly citizens! Look from the windows, women!

The committee open the box; set up the regal ribs; glue those that will not
Clap the skull on top of the ribs, and clap a crown on top of the skull.

You have got your revenge, old bluster! The crown is come to its own, and
more than its own.


Stick your hands in your pockets, Jonathan鈥攜ou are a made man from this
You are mighty ‘cute鈥攁nd here is one of your bargains.

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