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Civil War Poetry and Prose

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Walt Whitman experienced the agonies of the Civil War firsthand, working, in his forties, as a dedicated volunteer throughout the conflict in Washington's overcrowded, understaffed military hospitals. This superb selection of his poems, letters, and prose from the war years, filled with the sights and sounds of war and its ugly aftermath, express a vast and powerful range Walt Whitman experienced the agonies of the Civil War firsthand, working, in his forties, as a dedicated volunteer throughout the conflict in Washington's overcrowded, understaffed military hospitals. This superb selection of his poems, letters, and prose from the war years, filled with the sights and sounds of war and its ugly aftermath, express a vast and powerful range of emotions. Among the poems include here, first published in Drum-Taps (1865) and Sequel to Drum-Taps (1866), are a number of Whitman's most famous works: "O Captain! My Captain!" "The Wound-Dresser," "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," and "Come Up from the Fields, Father." The letters and prose selections, including Whitman's musings on the publication of his works, on the wounded men he tended, and his impressions of Lincoln traveling about the city of Washington, offer keen insights into an extraordinary era in American history.


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Walt Whitman experienced the agonies of the Civil War firsthand, working, in his forties, as a dedicated volunteer throughout the conflict in Washington's overcrowded, understaffed military hospitals. This superb selection of his poems, letters, and prose from the war years, filled with the sights and sounds of war and its ugly aftermath, express a vast and powerful range Walt Whitman experienced the agonies of the Civil War firsthand, working, in his forties, as a dedicated volunteer throughout the conflict in Washington's overcrowded, understaffed military hospitals. This superb selection of his poems, letters, and prose from the war years, filled with the sights and sounds of war and its ugly aftermath, express a vast and powerful range of emotions. Among the poems include here, first published in Drum-Taps (1865) and Sequel to Drum-Taps (1866), are a number of Whitman's most famous works: "O Captain! My Captain!" "The Wound-Dresser," "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," and "Come Up from the Fields, Father." The letters and prose selections, including Whitman's musings on the publication of his works, on the wounded men he tended, and his impressions of Lincoln traveling about the city of Washington, offer keen insights into an extraordinary era in American history.

30 review for Civil War Poetry and Prose

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ayne Ray

    Whitman experienced the Civil War in several ways, including serving as a volunteer hospital aide in Washington, touring battlefields, and searching for his brother, George, reported to be wounded in action. The impact of the war on the author was profound, and this collection of writings illustrates the horror, loneliness, and anguish of warfare as seen through the eyes of one of our greatest poets.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melly

    I'm not big on poetry, but this was on my shelf. I enjoyed the prose ( journal entries and letters) for more.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Whitman's poetry style is not a favorite of mine, but you can not discount his passion. And, even if poetry's not your bag and you're not a Whitman fan, I bet you can't read the tribute poems to Abraham Lincoln without a hankie in your hand. But, aside from the Civil War poetry here, the second section of this little book is comprised of Whitman's journal entries and letters he wrote during the war. These are first-hand accounts of the war, stories from the make-shift hospitals and the recountin Whitman's poetry style is not a favorite of mine, but you can not discount his passion. And, even if poetry's not your bag and you're not a Whitman fan, I bet you can't read the tribute poems to Abraham Lincoln without a hankie in your hand. But, aside from the Civil War poetry here, the second section of this little book is comprised of Whitman's journal entries and letters he wrote during the war. These are first-hand accounts of the war, stories from the make-shift hospitals and the recounting of Lincoln's assassination (Whitman actually saw the President regularly and was in town when it happened). I could not put down his journal entries, and I was incredibly moved by his personal contribution to history.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I bought this little collection at a church book sale because it was too cheap to pass up. It contains poetry, letters, and prose in kind of an odd mish-mash. I think I found the letters the most fascinating, especially so soon after my other Civil War reading. It made me really want to read a biography of Whitman -- he led such an odd life. Of course I liked the poetry as well, but I think I'll prefer reading Leaves of Grass and any other collections (if I ever get around to it -- jeez.) Juxtapo I bought this little collection at a church book sale because it was too cheap to pass up. It contains poetry, letters, and prose in kind of an odd mish-mash. I think I found the letters the most fascinating, especially so soon after my other Civil War reading. It made me really want to read a biography of Whitman -- he led such an odd life. Of course I liked the poetry as well, but I think I'll prefer reading Leaves of Grass and any other collections (if I ever get around to it -- jeez.) Juxtaposed with the letters I kept struggling to make narrative sense of them and connect them to his life story.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jackson Cyril

    A stark contrast to the Whitman of "Song of myself"; here he is sad, pensive and rather weary of life. The war has touched him deeply; but I venture to say that his poetic ability has not suffered. His work here can very easily rank among his best.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    I haven't gotten through this cover to cover, but have sampled quite a bit. I've also listened to song adaptations of several of these poems. As one professor portrayed to me in college, Walt Whitman came out of the Civil War a changed man. As one of the great eye-witnesses of the event, Whitman was moved him to write poems both stirring and haunting to commemorate the war and its victims. If you’ve only read “O Captain! My Captain!”, I recommend exploring further. Some of it strikes me as mostly I haven't gotten through this cover to cover, but have sampled quite a bit. I've also listened to song adaptations of several of these poems. As one professor portrayed to me in college, Walt Whitman came out of the Civil War a changed man. As one of the great eye-witnesses of the event, Whitman was moved him to write poems both stirring and haunting to commemorate the war and its victims. If you’ve only read “O Captain! My Captain!”, I recommend exploring further. Some of it strikes me as mostly brassy, blaring vamp. Still, Whitman has quite a poetic voice.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    Although it contained graphic descriptions of the battlefield, wounds, and so on-- I found this book much more enjoyable to read than Bierce's. It felt much more real. This was partly due to the fact that it was written partially in a journal format (which is one of my favorite formats to read). His words are heartfelt, honest, and blunt.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    Bought solely to own a printed copy of the long poem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Holly

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    None

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marshall

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eve

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Jones Scheidecker

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Murray

  17. 4 out of 5

    Austin Bachman

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leena

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joebill

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leah Linduff

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  24. 4 out of 5

    Angelina

  25. 4 out of 5

    Luna Bookish

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tricia Berry

  27. 5 out of 5

    Doug Walters

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kim Gauthier

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Anderson

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