Comparing and Contrasting Two of Walt Whitman’s Pieces Walt Whitman

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Comparing and Contrasting Two of Walt Whitman’s Pieces Walt Whitman was an amazing American poet, essayist, and journalist. He wrote many pieces surrounding Civil War experiences. He wrote a poem describing the nighttime dreams of a Civil War veteran called The Artilleryman’s Vision. Another piece of writing he wrote surrounding Civil War was a letter to his mother describing a meaningful encounter with a wounded Union soldier following the Battle of Fredericksburg. A poem and a letter are two different pieces of writing, so how can Whitman’s poem and his letter compare? Though the poem and letter both surround Civil War, they differ in theme, genre, events, and speaker but compare in characters, and author. To begin with, the poem and the letter both include Civil War soldiers.

However they still differ in many ways. In the poem, it states that the character is a Civil War veteran. “While my wife at my side lies slumbering and the wars are over long” (Whitman 76). The line “the wars are over long” shows that the wars are over and ended (Whitman 76). The letter states that the character was a current soldier. “Here’s a case of a soldier I found among the crowded cots in the patient Hospital” (Whitman 78). The quote talks about the soldier in present tense. Even though both the characters are Civil War soldiers, they differ as one was a soldier, but now a veteran and one being a current Soldier.

Secondly, the poem The Artilleryman’s Vision and the letter have different themes. In the poem, it gives the idea that the war veteran is suffering from PTSD. “I hear the sounds of the different missiles, the short t-h-t t-h-t of the rifle balls” (Whitman 76). This quote is showing the struggle the character is going through. In the letter it states that the wounded soldier is explaining a story about the war. “Our soldier is from Pennsylvania; has had a pretty serve time; the wounds proved to be bad ones, but he remains a good heart and is at present on the gain” (Whitman 79). The quote shows that Walt got to know the soldier. Both of the quotes can also be examples of the poem and letter having a similar theme. The common theme of Civil War can compare both of Whitman’s pieces. The more specific theme of the poem is a description of the nighttime dreams of a Civil War veteran after the war ended. However, the theme of the letter is a description of a meaningful encounter with a wounded Union soldier. Furthermore, the poem and the letter have a different speaker.

The author is the same person in both pieces, Walt Whitman. However the speaker in the two pieces is different. In the poem you can tell that the speaker is the Civil War veteran. “I see the shells exploding leaving small white clouds, I hear the great shells shrieking as they pass”(Whitman 76). This quote shows that the speaker is using first person when describing the after war terrors, and that means the speaker is the veteran. In the letter the speaker is obvious because it is signed with the name Walt at the end. Therefore the poem and the letter have the same author but different speakers. Additionally the genres of the poem and the letter are also quite different. The poem falls under the category realistic fiction since poem is not from Walt Whitman’s perspective. It is possible that a Civil War veteran did have nighttime dreams from the war. However the letter falls under the category nonfiction because the letter is told in Whitman’s perspective talking to his mother. On top of all the other things the poem and letter differ from, genre is another. Lastly, the events that happened in the two writing pieces are also different.

In the poem it talks about a Civil War veteran waking up from his sleep and getting reminded of all the tragedies and flashbacks from the war, with very detailed descriptions. For example in line 25 it says “And bombs bursting in air and at night the vari-color’ d rockets” (Whitman 77). The bombs bursting in air shows the detailed image he had in mind. In the letter it talks about Whitman being a nurse at a hospital and talking to a wounded soldier about how Rebels treated him.

For example in lines 19-22 it says “This man treated our soldier kindly bound up his wounds, cheered him, gave him a couple of biscuits, gave him a drink and water, asked him if he could eat some beef” (Whitman 79). The long quote above shows what the soldier told Whitman happened with the Rebels. In conclusion, the poem The Artilleryman’s Vision and the letter differ in many ways such as theme, genre, events, and speaker but compare in characters, and author. The letter and the poem have the same author, Walt Whitman. Even the characters are the same in a way. Overall since the pieces were both written on the same topic, which was the Civil War so there had to be similarities in the two.