Civil War Poetry Essay

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Civil War Poetry

The American Civil War and the Spanish Civil War were primarily wars of principle. The conflicts represented a critical point for each respective nation, a time of either death or continuation for the countries. Both Whitman and Neruda exibit a key shared element in the poets' works of the concept of a cosmic rebirth illustrated in their poetry through a celebration of the perpetual cycle of life and death fostering optimism. This mutual philosophy is manifested in Neruda and Whitman's poetry in several interesting ways. One of the most striking biographical parallels between the two poets originates from their direct involvement in civil war. Whitman served as a nurse in war hospitals during the American
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In the section "Arrival in Madrid of the International Brigade" Neruda shows the troops from the international forces arriving in the desolate city of Madrid. This section mirrors Whitman's Drum Taps section of poetry "Eighteen Sixty-One" which also focuses on the war as it is reaching a critical point of expansion. Centered on the time of most profound national crisis, the poets use the image of gathering soldiers to validate their cause. The solider becomes the embodiment of the poets' war philosophies of reconstruction out of destruction. Neruda and Whitman concentrate on the soldier's sacrifice as requisite for societal salvation.

Each poem reflects the desolation resulting from the beginning stages of the conflict and subsequently presents the gathering soldiers as a reason for hope. The sections begin submerged in the bleak solemnity of the turmoil of war. This represents a shift from the booming patriotism in the proceeding section in Drum Taps. Whitman's speaker shifts to a grave tone, lamenting the "Arm'd year-year of struggle, / No dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses for you terrible year" (lines 1-2). The "terrible year" is replete with the profound disintegration of societal structures as the order of the United States is destroyed. The gravity presented in "Eighteen Sixty-One" assumes a physical manifestation in "Arrival in Madrid" as Neruda observes the completely devastated…

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