Beat! Beat! Drums!

The American Civil War (1861 – 1865) made a great impression on the American poet Walt Whitman. Before he even started his voluntary job as a nurse, he wrote a poem for the northern states in this conflict. This is his poem Beat! Beat! Drums!

About the poem

The poem Beat! Beat! Drums! became part of his book Leaves of grass. This poem wasn’t in the initial publication of 1855. This poem was added later.

The poem is actually form of propaganda for the cause of the Union. The poem was probably inspired by the many letters he received from his brother George. At one moment, he feared that his brother might have died. Whitman travelled south, to find his brother alive, but wounded.

This poem is a clear example of the free verse that Whitman wrote during his life. Today, this poet still forms an inspiration for many poets.

More information

Read more about the life of Walt Whitman in our biography. Click here for the biography of Walt Whitman or visit our poets page, to see what other biographies are available on our website.

Beat! Beat! Drums!

Beat! Beat! Drums!

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.
Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
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—you bugles wilder blow.
Beat! beat! drums!—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.

– Walt Whitman

Beat! Beat! Drums!
Article Name
Beat! Beat! Drums!
A poem written by Walt Whitman about the American Civil War.
Publisher Name
The Ministry of Poetic Affairs
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