Weekly Whitman: “Camps of Green”

Lauderdale Springs Confederate Cemetery

I watched the arrival of the soldiers, sailors, and marines who returned from Afghanistan to America in metal containers. President Biden had his hand over his heart, and those in uniform saluted. Dead is still dead, no matter how efficient we have become at processing it. Whitman knew this well—too well.

 Camps of Green

NOT alone those camps of white, old comrades of the wars,

When as order’d forward, after a long march,

Footsore and weary, soon as the light lessens we halt for the night,

Some of us so fatigued carrying the gun and knapsack, dropping
asleep in our tracks,

Others pitching the little tents, and the fires lit up begin to

Outposts of pickets posted surrounding alert through the dark,

And a word provided for countersign, careful for safety,

Till to the call of the drummers at daybreak loudly beating the

We rise up refresh’d, the night and sleep pass’d over, and resume
our journey,

Or proceed to battle.

Lo, the camps of the tents of green,

Which the days of peace keep filling, and the days of war keep

With a mystic army, (is it too order’d forward? is it too only halt
ing awhile,

Till night and sleep pass over?)

Now in those camps of green, in their tents dotting the world,

In the parents, children, husbands, wives, in them, in the old and

Sleeping under the sunlight, sleeping under the moonlight, content
and silent there at last,

Behold the mighty bivouac-field and waiting-camp of all,

Of the corps and generals all, and the President over the corps
and generals all,

And of each of us O soldiers, and of each and all in the ranks we

(There without hatred we all, all meet.)

For presently O soldiers, we too camp in our place in the bivouac-
camps of green,

But we need not provide for outposts, nor word for the counter-

Nor drummer to beat the morning drum.

Union Bethel Civil War Cemetery in Lower Township, NJ

2 Responses to Weekly Whitman: “Camps of Green”

  1. 1865
    A Civil War soldier in a final bivouac of green
    Now passed on from the horrors that he saw and felt
    With pride he fought and now he lies, shot dead.
    He’s the last soldier, the last one.
    The war is over. The Union Is saved (or is it?).
    So we go on and continue to grow
    because we must fulfill our Manifest Destiny.

    Thirteen proud American soldiers standing guard at a gate
    In a war in a faraway country called Afghanistan.
    The last soldiers, the last ones. Blown up, shot at, losing their lives,
    Helping others to gain theirs.
    Because for a Superpower like The United States,
    The war will never be over:
    the price for achieving Manifest Destiny.

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