Leaves of Grass.
The tops alone seconded the fire of this little battery, especially the maintop,
They all held out bravely during the whole of the action.
Not a moment’s cease,
The leaks gained fast on the pumps .... the fire eat toward the powder-magazine,
One of the pumps was shot away .... was generally thought we were sinking.
Serene stood the little captain,
He was not hurried .... his voice was neither high nor low,
His eyes gave more light to us than our battle-lanterns.
Toward twelve at night, there in the beams of the moon they surrendered to us.
Stretched and still lay the midnight,
Two great hulls motionless on the ae of the darkness,
Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking .... preparations to pass to the one we had conquered,
The captain on the quarter deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance white as a sheet,
Near by the corpse of the child that served in the cabin,
The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curled whiskers,
The flames spite of all that could be done flickering aloft and below,
The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty,
Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves .... dabs of flesh upon the masts and spars,
The cut of cordage and dangle of rigging .... the slight shock of the soothe of waves,
Black and impassive guns, and litter of powder-parcels, and the strong scent,
Delicate sniffs of the seabreeze .... smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore ... death-messages given in charge to survivors,
The hiss of the surgeon’s knife and the gnawing teeth of his saw,
The wheeze, the cluck, the swash of falling blood .... the short wild scream, the long dull tapering groan,
These so .... these irretrievable.
O Christ! My fit is mastering me!
What the rebel said gaily adjusting his throat to the rope-noose,
What the savage at the stump, his eye-sockets empty, his mouth spirting whoops and defiance,
What stills the traveler come to the vault at Mount Vernon,
What sobers the Brooklyn boy as he looks down the shores of the Wallabout and remembers the prison ships,
What burnt the gums of the redcoat at Saratoga when he surrendered his brigades,
These become mine and me every one, and they are but little,
I become as much more as I like.