Walt Whitman and Drumtaps Essays

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Walt Whitman and Drumtaps

War is hell; there is no other way to put it. No matter how many times bards romanticize war and battle, there is that ultimate, inherent ugliness involved in the business of killing. There is no honor or heroism in dying for your country, you just die, it is a great tragedy and there is nothing you can do about it. Mortality is always present on both sides fighting the battle; there will continuously be casualties. Suffering, misery and destitution are constant whether on the march, sitting in the trench or charging across no man's land. The pain is felt on both warring sides, everyone suffers, war brings nothing but anguish, joy and happiness are non-existent. No one rejoices war, unless they are zealous
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Even though the southerners are technically his enemy, he still loves them tenderly as he would his own kin. His family has been killed at the hands of his family. There were many pale-faced men as this who were unfortunate victims of civil warfare. This is a terrible tragedy, and Whitman challenges this by asking what happens after these "hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous? What deepest remains" (The Wound-Dresser, l 12)? The answer, only those who survive to tell the tale remain. Is it really something to celebrate after massacring your fellow countrymen? One might point out the heroics and bravery exhibited in the war, men have been made stronger and is just a growing experience for the country, but "was one side so brave? The other was equally brave" (The Wound-Dresser, l 8). The heroics and bravery are without direction in this war. If you commit a great act of sacrifice, then the results only hurt those whom you share land with, your countrymen, your brethren. Whitman grieves for these people, "for my enemy is dead. A man as divine as myself is dead" (Reconciliation, l 4). There is no purpose to this feud; it has extinguished a man, who is an equal, from this world. By speaking of his enemies as his equals and as divine as himself, he captures their humanity and in effect how inhumane it is to destroy them utterly. Through this portrayal of parity in the humanness of those who endure torture, Whitman thrusts out that the war ultimately

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