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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Born on May 31, 1819, Walt Whitman is the author of Leaves of Grass...
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FURTHER READING
Poems About Sons
A Boy and His Dad
by Edgar Guest
Another Country
by Ryan Teitman
Epigrams: On my First Son
by Ben Jonson
Fishing in Winter
by Ralph Burns
Goodnight Moon
by James Arthur
Like Him
by Aaron Smith
Odysseus to Telemachus
by Joseph Brodsky
On My First Son
by Ben Jonson
The Bee
by James Dickey
With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach
by William Stafford
Yesterday
by W. S. Merwin
Lesson Plans
The Literature of War
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Come Up From the Fields Father

 
by Walt Whitman

Come up from the fields father, here's a letter from our Pete, 
And come to the front door mother, here's a letter from thy
   dear son.

Lo, 'tis autumn, 
Lo, where the trees, deeper green, yellower and redder,
Cool and sweeten Ohio's villages with leaves fluttering in the
   moderate wind,
Where apples ripe in the orchards hang and grapes on the 
   trellis'd vines,
(Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines?
Smell you the buckwheat where the bees were lately 
   buzzing?)

Above all, lo, the sky so calm, so transparent after the rain, 
   and with wondrous clouds,
Below too, all calm, all vital and beautiful, and the farm 
   prospers well.

Down in the fields all prospers well,
But now from the fields come father, come at the daughter's 
   call,
And come to the entry mother, to the front door come right
   away.

Fast as she can she hurries, something ominous, her steps 
   trembling,
She does not tarry to smooth her hair nor adjust her cap.

Open the envelope quickly,
O this is not our son's writing, yet his name is sign'd,
O a strange hand writes for our dear son, 0 stricken 
   mother's soul!
All swims before her eyes, flashes with black, she catches the
   main words only,
Sentences broken, gunshot wound in the breast, cavalry
   skirmish, taken to hospital,
At present low, but will soon be better.

Ah now the single figure to me,
Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio with all its cities and 
   farms,
Sickly white in the face and dull in the head, very faint, 
By the jamb of a door leans.

Grieve not so, dear mother, (the just-grown daughter speaks 
   through her sobs,
The little sisters huddle around speechless and dismay'd,)
See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will soon be better.
Alas poor boy, he will never be better, (nor may-be needs to 
   be better, that brave and simple soul,)
While they stand at home at the door he is dead already, 
The only son is dead.

But the mother needs to be better, 
She with thin form presently drest in black, 
By day her meals untouch'd, then at night fitfully sleeping,
   often waking,
In the midnight waking, weeping, longing with one deep 
   longing,
O that she might withdraw unnoticed, silent from life escape 
   and withdraw,
To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead son.



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