Song of My Beard
(with apologies to the original Whitman poem!)
I celebrate my beard, and sing my beard,
And what I grow you shall grow
For every follicle belonging to me as good as belongs to you.
I loafe and stroke my beard
I lean and stroke my beard at my ease observing the other bushy mustaches.
My hair, every follicle of my face, form’d this beard, this ’stache
Grown here of my hair grown from hairs the
same, and their hairs the same,
I , now ageless forever in photographs begin,
Hoping to inspire more beard growing.
Walt Whitman spent many months with wounded soldiers in the hospitals of Washington, DC, while one of his brothers fought in numerous battles. Walt and his family were prolific letter writers. You can read more about his correspondence and experiences in the Civil War in this new Author on the Record interview with Robert Roper in the Summer 2010 issue of Prologue.
Whitman also worked as a clerk in the attorney general’s office during the Civil War. Recently, a researcher discovered over 3,000 documents in Whitman’s handwriting from his time as a civil servant in the holdings of the National Archives. You can read more about this fascinating discovery “Whitman, Walt, Clerk” in the Winter issue of Prologue magazine.