Notes on The Bridge (4_1)

IV. Cape Hatteras (s. 12)

What memories of vigils, bloody, by that Cape,--
"vigils" of this line might be an echo of Whitman's "Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night" in Drum-Taps (cf. "O Mourner," which appears three lines below):

Vigil strange I kept on the field one night;
When you my son and my comrade dropt at my side that day,
One look I but gave which your dear eyes return'd with a look I
      shall never forget,
One touch of your hand to mine O boy, reach'd up as you lay on the
Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested battle,
Till late in the night reliev'd to the place at last again I made my
Found you in death so cold dear comrade, found your body son of
      responding kisses, (never again on earth responding,)
Bared your face in the starlight, curious the scene, cool blew the
      moderate night-wind,
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the
      battlefield spreading,
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent night,
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh, long, long I gazed,
Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side leaning my
      chin in my hands,
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you dearest
      comrade--not a tear, not a word,
Vigil of silence, love and death, vigil for you my son and my
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones upward stole,
Vigil final for you brave boy, (I could not save you, swift was your
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living, I think we shall
      surely meet again,)
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the dawn
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop'd well his form,
Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head and
      carefully under feet,
And there and then and bathed by the rising sun, my son in his
      grave, in his rude-dug grave I deposited,
Ending my vigil strange with that, vigil of night and battle-field
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth
Vigil for comrade swiftly slain, vigil I never forget, how as day
I rose from the chill ground and folded my soldier well in his
And buried him where he fell.
Note: "It is to be recalled that many young boys were present in the ranks both North and South, some of them under age." (Norton Critical Edition of Leaves of Grass, eds. Bradley and Blodgett, p. 303)

This is a page of interlinear reading of, and notes on, Hart Crane's The Bridge by Eiichi Hishikawa. Copyright (c) 1996 Eiichi Hishikawa.
The source of Crane texts is The Bridge (NY: Liveright, 1970). Copyright (c) 1933, 1958, 1970 Liveright Publishing Corporation.

Updated: 13 November, 1996
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