To a foil’d European Revolutionaire.

1
COURAGE yet! my brother or my sister!
Keep on! Liberty is to be subserv’d, whatever occurs;
That is nothing, that is quell’d by one or two failures, or any number of failures,
Or by the indifference or ingratitude of the people, or by any unfaithfulness,
Or the show of the tushes of power, soldiers, cannon, penal statutes.

Revolt! and still revolt! revolt!
What we believe in waits latent forever through all the continents, and all the islands
and
archipelagos of the sea;
What we believe in invites no one, promises nothing, sits in calmness and light, is
positive
and composed, knows no discouragement,
Waiting patiently, waiting its time.

(Not songs of loyalty alone are these,
But songs of insurrection also;
For I am the sworn poet of every dauntless rebel, the world over,
And he going with me leaves peace and routine behind him,
And stakes his life, to be lost at any moment.)

2
Revolt! and the downfall of tyrants!
The battle rages with many a loud alarm, and frequent advance and retreat,
The infidel triumphs—or supposes he triumphs,
Then the prison, scaffold, garrote, hand-cuffs, iron necklace and anklet, lead-balls, do
their
work,
The named and unnamed heroes pass to other spheres,
The great speakers and writers are exiled—they lie sick in distant lands,
The cause is asleep—the strongest throats are still, choked with their own blood,
The young men droop their eyelashes toward the ground when they meet;
—But for all this, liberty has not gone out of the place, nor the infidel
enter’d
into full possession.

When liberty goes out of a place, it is not the first to go, nor the second or third to
go,
It waits for all the rest to go—it is the last.

When there are no more memories of heroes and martyrs,
And when all life, and all the souls of men and women are discharged from any part of the
earth,
Then only shall liberty, or the idea of liberty, be discharged from that part of the
earth,
And the infidel come into full possession.

3
Then courage! European revolter! revoltress!
For, till all ceases, neither must you cease.

I do not know what you are for, (I do not know what I am for myself, nor what anything is
for,)

But I will search carefully for it even in being foil’d,
In defeat, poverty, misconception, imprisonment—for they too are great.

Revolt! and the bullet for tyrants!
Did we think victory great?
So it is—But now it seems to me, when it cannot be help’d, that defeat is great,

And that death and dismay are great.

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2 Comments

  1. Luigi Buttazzoni says:

    I’m looking everywhere and asking lot of people for some lines about the poem of Walt Whitman :”To a foiled european revolutionaire”,but nothing.

    Someone would help me to know some books on the subject and overall :who was this “european revolutionaire”? Courtesy: answer by mail. Many thanks.

  2. Erin says:

    I find this poem very inspiring. especially where he says that liberty is not the first to leave, or even the secound, but the last.

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