Cavalry crossing a ford by walt whitman a poem analysis

Analysis of Whitman’s Cavalry Crossing a Ford Every poem has a story. Every story is an experience. Experience is what sets apart a poet to the rest of the other creatures. Whitman is one of those lucky few who had the brilliance to turn their experiences into a masterpiece. Worked as a nurse in the Civil War; he had witnessed soldiers at their weakest and had watched them bleed out to death. He has seen what a war can do to a person and a country.
In his poem Cavalry Crossing a Ford, Whitman became an illustrator. His every word depicted scenery. With each line, the reader can vividly imagine the story behind the imagery. The poem is more than just a picture, it’s an experience.
A line in long array, where they wind betwixt green islands;
They take a serpentine course–their arms flash in the sun–Hark to the musical clank; (Whitman)
These first two lines show a group of soldiers holding their guns as they arrive marching together. With the imagery used in their arms flash in the sun to describe something as dark as soldiers with guns geared up to kill and be killed for something that all human beings are born with— freedom, he shows how an event such as a war can be portrayed as something less daunting, hence the readers get the courage to dig deep and understand those who symbolize valor while experiencing inner turmoil — the soldiers. This descriptive aspect of Whitman’s poetry makes his works a classic. His works know no time.
Behold the silvery river–in it the splashing horses, loitering, stop to drink;
Behold the brown-faced men–each group, each person, a picture—the negligent rest on the saddles;
Some emerge on the opposite bank–others are just entering the ford– while,
Scarlet, and blue, and snowy white,
The guidon flags flutter gaily in the wind (Whitman)
As the soldiers ride with pride and risk their lives for what the one thing they believe in at that time — their country. This is regardless of what other people’s thoughts on what soldiers stand for. Soldiers are made to protect their people, no matter what it takes; even their own lives. Thoreau, a philosopher, once said that of civil disobedience law is inconsequential as long as an individual thinks of the act as what should be done in that particular moment and considers it as moral then they have no choice but to do it.
Behold the brown-faced men–each group, each person, a picture—the negligent rest on the saddles;
On a personal note, this line makes the readers reflect on life and how a soldier views it. This line is the most beautiful line not because of the technicality Whitman used in this particular group of words, but because of the story this line conveys — a life must be taken during war. There is a question that lingers, what then is cavalry?
Works Cited
Harding, Walter Roy. The Lectures of Henry David Thoreau :. ” Thoreaus Ideas” in Harold Bloom, Ed. ed. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2003. Print.
Whitman, Walt. ” Calvary Crossing a Ford.” Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Ph. D. and Douglas Fisher, Ph. D. Glencoe Literature. American Literature ed. Columbus: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2009. 340-341. Print.