Walt Whitman: Poems

Drum Taps and Battle Pieces: The Civil War Poetry of Walt Whitman and Herman Melville

Walt Whitman and Herman Melville were both affected by the Civil War to such a degree that they each published a volume of poetry concerning the conflict. Although both men confront similar issues and feelings, particular in their poems about death, they do so through means as significantly different as each man's Civil War experience. Whitman spent a large part of the war visiting with wounded soldiers in Washington, witnessing their physical and emotional devastation and talking with them about their experiences. He wrote letters home on behalf of those who were unable, and sometimes even wrote to inform parents of their son's death. Meanwhile, Melville, although emotionally involved throughout the conflict, waited until the war was in its final phases to begin gathering information, which was culled largely from newspaper accounts (Garner 388). Their different approaches, as well as the name of each author's collection of Civil War poetry, are very indicative of what is printed within. Whitman's Drum Taps, named after the tune played at military funerals, is largely concerned with the profound effects of the war on individuals, a technique made more powerful by the reader's knowledge that each individual...

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