"Inauguration Ball" is the fourth song of Rorem's War Scenes cycle, which sets five texts of Walt Whitman relating to his experiences of the Civil War.
by Walt Whitman
At the dance and supper room, I could not help thinking
what a different scene they presented to my view a while since.
Filled with a crowded mess of the worst wounded of the war
Tonight beautiful women, perfumes, the violin's sweetness,
the polka and the waltz.
There the amputation, the blue face, the groan
The glassy eye of the dying, the clouted rag, the odor of blood
And many a mother's son amid strangers passing away untended there.