The Dead Tenor

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from Leaves of Grass: BOOK XXXIV. SANDS AT SEVENTY - by Walt Whitman.

  As down the stage again,
  With Spanish hat and plumes, and gait inimitable,
  Back from the fading lessons of the past, I’d call, I’d tell and own,
  How much from thee! the revelation of the singing voice from thee!
  (So firm—so liquid-soft—again that tremulous, manly timbre!
  The perfect singing voice—deepest of all to me the lesson—trial
      and test of all:)
  How through those strains distill’d—how the rapt ears, the soul of
      me, absorbing
  Fernando’s heart, Manrico’s passionate call, Ernani’s, sweet Gennaro’s,
  I fold thenceforth, or seek to fold, within my chants transmuting,
  Freedom’s and Love’s and Faith’s unloos’d cantabile,
  (As perfume’s, color’s, sunlight’s correlation:)
  From these, for these, with these, a hurried line, dead tenor,
  A wafted autumn leaf, dropt in the closing grave, the shovel’d earth,
  To memory of thee.


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