Walt Whitman's A March In The Ranks, Hard-Prest

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A March in the Ranks Hard-prest Walt Whitman is famous for his heart wrenching and thought provoking poetry. "A March in the Ranks, Hard-prest" is one of his best, and most profound poems. Whitman is able to put so much emotion and imagery into a few short stanzas. In this poem Whitman shows many different images of pain and suffering. Of the horrors that went on during the bloody Civil War. It shows a young soldier marching with his unit when they come across an old Church turned field hospital. Whitman paints an erie picture of the doctors and nurses preforming surgery, of men lying on the floor in their own blood, of people seeing the flickering of candle light for the last time. All of these terrible images are used to illustrate the…show more content…
In the spacing of the stanzas, however, we see framing. The first and last stanza are only five lines long while the middle three are all six lines long. The poem is also framed by the idea of moving forward into the unknown. "A MARCH in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown; [. . .] unknown road still marching."(Whitman 1, 25). In both the first and last lines of the poem we see the narrator moving forward on his journey. The idea of darkness is prevalent throughout the poem. From the darkness of the woods at the beginning and end, to the dark corners of the hospital where men are bleeding and dying. Whitman also uses cataloging in this poem to show the death and destruction that the narrator is seeing. One of the strongest points in this poem is the imagery used. Whitman is able to describe a horrible and complicated scene with just a few sentences. First he describes how the hospital itself looks, "Shadows of deepest black, just lit by moving candles and lamps, / And by one great pitchy torch, stationary, with wild red flame, and clouds of smoke;"(Whitman 8-9). From just these two lines an image of poor flickering light in a room whose corners and crevices are as dark as they can possible be. Then Whitman describes the people and the movement in the room
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