Walt Whitman

How Solemn as One by One

HOW solemn, as one by one, As the ranks returning, all worn and sweaty—as the men file by where I stand; As the faces, the masks appear—as I glance at the faces, studying the masks; (As I glance upward out of this page, studying you, dear friend, whoever you are;) How solemn the thought of my whispering soul, to each in the ranks, and to you; I see behind each mask, that wonder, a kindred soul; O the bullet could never kill what you really are, dear friend, Nor the bayonet stab what you really are: ... The soul! yourself I see, great as any, good as the best, Waiting, secure and content, which the bullet could never kill, Nor the bayonet stab, O friend!

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