Thanks in Old Age


Cockney Life at the Elephant and Castle, Salvation Army Hotel, Bert Hardy, 1949

 
 

Thanks in old age—thanks ere I go,

For health, the midday sun, the impalpable air—for life, mere
life,

For precious ever-lingering memories, (of you my mother dear
—you, father—you, brothers, sisters, friends,)

For all my days—not those of peace alone—the days of war the
same,

For gentle words, caresses, gifts from foreign lands,

For shelter, wine and meat—for sweet appreciation,

(You distant, dim unknown—or young or old—countless, un-
specified, readers belov’d,

We never met, and ne’er shall meet—and yet our souls embrace,
long, close and long;)

For beings, groups, love, deeds, words, books—for colors, forms,

For all the brave strong men—devoted, hardy men—who’ve for-
ward sprung in freedom’s help, all years, all lands,

For braver, stronger, more devoted men—(a special laurel ere I
go, to life’s war’s chosen ones,

The cannoneers of song and thought—the great artillerists—the
foremost leaders, captains of the soul:)

As soldier from an ended war return’d—As traveler out of
myriads, to the long procession retrospective,

Thanks—joyful thanks!—a soldier’s, traveler’s thanks.

Walt Whitman

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