Whitman's Civil War Revisited: Drum-Taps at 150 | Summary and Q&A

May 26, 2015
Harvard University
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Whitman's Civil War Revisited: Drum-Taps at 150


Walt Whitman's "Drum Taps" vividly captures the emotional and transformative power of war through striking imagery and powerfully written poetry.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the significance of the color green on the cover of the new edition of "Drum Taps"?

The green color on the cover is a reference to Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," symbolizing his commitment to incorporating "Drum Taps" into this larger work of literature.

Q: How does Whitman navigate the tension between violence and compassion in "Drum Taps"?

Whitman showcases both the fervid enthusiasm for war and the deep care for wounded soldiers in "Drum Taps," exploring the complex and contradictory nature of human emotions during times of conflict.

Q: What role does photography play in Whitman's depiction of war in "Drum Taps"?

Whitman draws inspiration from the emerging field of photography to capture the vivid detail and documentary-like quality of war, aiming to convey the raw reality of the battlefield to his readers.

Q: Why did Whitman choose to link "Drum Taps" with "Leaves of Grass" after initially intending them to be separate works?

The connection between the two works allowed Whitman to create a more comprehensive portrayal of American life and history, integrating the transformative and emotional experiences of war into the broader narrative of "Leaves of Grass."

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • "Drum Taps" is a collection of poems written by Walt Whitman during the Civil War, exploring the varied emotions and experiences of soldiers and the impact of war on society.

  • Whitman delves into the duality of war, showcasing the passion and ferocity of battle alongside the compassion and care for wounded soldiers.

  • The poems in "Drum Taps" are a combination of vivid, documentary-like descriptions and powerful elegies, creating a comprehensive portrayal of the transformative effects of war.

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