THROUGH the soft evening air enwrinding all,
Rocks, woods, fort, cannon, pacing sentries, endless wilds,
In dulcet streams, in flutes’ and cornets’ notes,
Electric, pensive, turbulent artificial,
(Yet strangely fitting even here, meanings unknown before,
Subtler than ever, more harmony, as if born here, related here,
Not to the city’s fresco’d rooms, not to the audience of the opera house,
Sounds, echoes, wandering strains, as really here at home,
Sonnambula’s innocent love, trios with Norma’s anguish,
And thy ecstatic chorus Poliuto;)
Ray’d in the limpid yellow slanting sundown,
Music, Italian music in Dakota.

While Nature, sovereign of this gnarl’d realm,
Lurking in hidden barbaric grim recesses,
Acknowledging rapport however far remov’d,
(As some old root or soil of earth its last-born flower or fruit,)
Listens well pleas’d.

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1 Comment

  1. art chapman says:

    I like the way Whitman elevates music as being at one in all cultures in nature’s sovereign realm. He illustrates this in “Italian” music, though far removed from its native land, finds its presence to be pleasing and welcome in the relative starkness of the Dakotas of an alien land.

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