Monday, July 4, 2011

beat! beat! drums!

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In the poem tilted, Beat! Beat! Drums!, written by Walt Whitman, Whitman uses a fierce tone to emphasize his expressions and views of war. At the beginning of each stanza, Whitman repeats the phrase, beat! beat! drums!- blow! bugles! blow! in order to allow his readers to picture how important the loud noise is and that the drums are never ending. Whitman’s poem focuses on the idea of war rather than war itself, and its force into people’s lives. The structure of the poem reflects that urgency rises and rushes itself of sound. Through the windows, through doors, burst like a ruthless force, () into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation, () into the school where the scholar is studying. (4) These are just a few examples of Whitman trying to express the symbolism between the loud noise and its entrance in the world.

In this poem Whitman signifies the sounds of war. As the narrator listens to the banging of war drums and shrill sounds of bugles, relates the interruption these war sounds have on people’s lives. Whitman uses the sounds of drums as an audible image to show its effects on the common people, as described specifically in the beginning of the poem. Imagery is applied in this poem when Whitman uses the loud banging of drums and the blows of bugles that creates a war atmosphere throughout the poem. Whitman expresses his view on the sound of war by making the sound seem to get louder and louder as the poem is read. “So fierce you whirr and pound you drums-so shrill you bugles blow. (7) Whitman brings upon the readers two different levels of affection against war. In the beginning Whitman shows of how the sounds of war effect the personal lives of the people. He uses imagery to make the sounds seem like they are traveling. “Through the windows-through doors-burst like a ruthless force,” () as if the drums and bugles are shattering through the homes of the citizens.

There is a lot more said to Whitman’s descriptions about the outcome of war. For an example, Whitman uses images to show how the war affects people’s jobs. “No bargainers by day-no brokers or speculators-would they continue?” (11) This tells us that even wealthy people of a community cannot carry on with their jobs. The meaning of this specifically states that because of war an economic depression could occur in the future. Turning each section into a part of war, Whitman explains how war would take its place in a community. In the beginning Whitman mentions all quiet and peaceful places; “church”, “school”, and “field.” The drums disrupt these calm places. By the end the drums get louder and the war gets more concerning. “Over the traffic of cities-over the rumble of wheels in the streets.” () This states that the noise is now so loud that it can be heard over the sounds of large cities. Whitman then uses more imagery of jobs in the city to note that war is taking over all aspects of the common people’s lives. “Would the talkers be talking? Would a singer attempt to sing? / Would the lawyer rise in court to state his case before the judge?” (1) (1) He is simply asking would these people be willing to continue with their lives even though they have these feelings and emotions that have corrupted their lives. At the end of the second stanza Whitman refers back to the drums and bugles getting louder and heavier. “Then rattle quicker, heavier drums-you bugles wilder blow.”

In the last stanza Whitman uses sarcasm in lines 16-1. He tries to express that the war has no desire to stop and will progress until it decides to stop. Mind not the timid-mind not the weeper or prayer.” (17) Whitman is saying not to pay any mind to the things that people may try to stop the war because the war will keep going and people will have to keep their lives on hold. Whitman also uses an “old” man and a “young” man to show that the war takes on all kinds of people and affects every age group. “Mind not the old man beseeching the young man.” (18) In the next line Whitman tries to get the point across that the drums will stop for no one and the war will continue until its resolved. At the end of the poem Whitman states the sound of war once more. “So strong you thump O terrible drums-so loud you bugles blow.

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With all of the imagery Whitman uses throughout this poem he expresses the true terrors of war. This poem presents itself with the horrible effects of war. War not only has negative effects on the citizens but negative effects on the future as well. Whitman’s strong points stated in this particular poem gives the reader a different view of war and not only how it can interrupt daily activities, but can involve in a major conflict that could take time to resolve. The sound of war can be frightening, but there is nothing that is more frightening when it actually approaches.

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