Song of America Project
from the Library of Congress | Link to Source
“Look Down, Fair Moon” is from Walt Whitman’s collection of Civil War poetry, Drum-Taps, published in 1865.
The audio recording, provided in the audio player to the right, features Thomas Hampson, baritone, and Craig Rutenberg, piano. This song was recorded for Instant Encore as part of American Public Media’s Performance Today series, presented by Classical Minnesota Public Radio. To listen, please click on the track name itself. You can download a recording of this entire recital for free through the Instant Encore website with the download code: THSOA2009.
Walt Whitman volunteered in the hospitals of Washington, D.C. during much of the Civil War, and he was profoundly moved by the experience. In Naginski’s setting of “Look Down, Fair Moon,” piano and voice reflect as stunned comrades upon the tragic essence of the poet’s words.
Look Down, Fair Moon
by Walt Whitman
Look down, fair moon and bathe this scene,
Pour softly down night’s nimbus floods, on faces ghastly, swollen, purple;
On the dead, on their backs, with arms toss’d wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon.
Look Down, Fair Moon (1940)
Music by Charles Naginski
Text by Walt Whitman