This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"1861" by Walt Whitman

Wade Spees/The (Charleston) Post and Courier
Cannon blasts from Fort Johnson across Charleston Harbor toward Fort Sumter at daybreak signal the beginning of the Civil War 150 years ago.

Fort Sumter sits in the mouth of
Charleston Harbor, South Carolina
By Walt Whitman

ARM’D year! year of the struggle!
No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you, terrible year!
Not you as some pale poetling, seated at a desk, lisping cadenzas
But as a strong man, erect, clothed in blue clothes, advancing,
      carrying a rifle on your shoulder,
With well-gristled body and sunburnt face and hands–with a knife in
      the belt at your side,
As I heard you shouting loud–your sonorous voice ringing across the
Your masculine voice, O year, as rising amid the great cities,
Amid the men of Manhattan I saw you, as one of the workmen, the
      dwellers in Manhattan;
Or with large steps crossing the prairies out of Illinois and
Rapidly crossing the West with springy gait, and descending the
Or down from the great lakes, or in Pennsylvania, or on deck along
      the Ohio river;
Or southward along the Tennessee or Cumberland rivers, or at
      Chattanooga on the mountain top,
Saw I your gait and saw I your sinewy limbs, clothed in blue, bearing
      weapons, robust year;
Heard your determin’d voice, launch’d forth again and again;
Year that suddenly sang by the mouths of the round-lipp’d cannon,
I repeat you, hurrying, crashing, sad, distracted year.

Alice Keeney/AP
The lights shine at Fort Sumter at 4:30 a.m. EDT to
commemorate the moment the first shots of the Civil War
were fired in Charleston on Tuesday morning, April 12.
The South Carolina ceremony Tuesday begins the four-year
national commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the
Civil War.
Confederate troops in South Carolina fired on Fort Sumter 150 years ago this week, April 12 and 13, touching off the American Civil War. There are more than 70,000 books about the American Civil War, so there's no need for me to touch on that aspect, but I think discussing the poetry from and about the period from 1861-1865 will be fun to explore between 2011-2015.

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