Walt Whitman: Poems

Equality in “The Wound-Dresser” and “Song of Myself” College

Equality in “The Wound-Dresser” and “Song of Myself”

The theme of equality permeates both “The Wound-Dresser” and “Song of Myself”. Whitman remarks upon judgments that others make and refutes them with his own ideas of impartiality. These manifest particularly strongly in Whitman’s attitude towards the bravery of soldiers in “The Wound-Dresser” and section 18 of “Song of Myself”. The narrators of both poems point out the valor of the men who fought for either army. The ways in which Whitman arrives at this depiction of equality, however, differ by poem. Through the vehicles of imagery and repetition, Whitman creates a certain tone for each work, which ultimately enables him to effectively demonstrate the equality of soldiers on both sides of the Civil War.

In section 18 of “Song of Myself”, Whitman does not recognize the traditional values of winning and losing. He plays “music strong” for the soldiers on both sides of the war, stating, “I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for conquer’d and slain persons” (“Song” 362-363). He takes the inevitable byproduct of war, winners and losers, and demonstrates the worth of all men who fight. Whitman first emphasizes the schism, the “accepted victors” and “slain...

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