The Artillery Man's Vision Analysis

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In Walt Whitman’s poem, The Artillery Man's Vision, a returned soldier wakes from his sleep to find a vision of his war memories appears before him. In it, Whitman uses the appearance of the man's vision to show the urgency and vividness present in the flashbacks of veterans suffering from PTSD, through the objective narration of the scene.
The poem opens with a soldier waking in the middle of the night in the depths of his domestic life. Yet despite “wars [being] over long”, the former soldier finds that he is unable to forget what had happened on the battlefield, conjuring up flashbacks from a battle he took part in. In the first half of the poem, through descriptions of “the sounds of the different missiles—the short t-h-t! t-h-t! of the rifle balls” and the sight of “the gaps cut by the enemy’s volleys,” it seems that the narrator is may be simply be an outside observer of the action. However, it is when
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The vividness of these descriptions works to further portray what the author wants the reader to see, while also keeping the objective narration of the soldier. The narrator’s sensory imagery can be seen throughout the flashback, including when Whitman is describing the “patter of small arms, the warning s-s-t of the rifles” and the “sound of the cannon far or near, (rousing even in dreams a devilish exultation and all the old mad joy in the depths of my soul,)” In addition, a sense of urgency can be found through the flashback, as there is more punctuation in these lines, making the descriptions sound more detached and separate from each other. In the line, “the skirmishers begin—they crawl cautiously ahead—I hear the irregular snap! Snap!”, every few words is separated by dash, causing the narration of the poem to be more staccato and each of the descriptions to be more distinct from each other. This disconnection of phrases also adds to the sense of urgency found in the scenes of the
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