Analysis Of The Poem ' Cavalry Crossing A Ford ' By Walt Whitman

833 Words Sep 18th, 2015 4 Pages
The purpose of poetry is to share an emotion, an idea, or an impression. Sometimes poets use traditional forms such as a sonnet or haiku to aid in communication. Some forms are crafted to create expectations within the reader, for example an elegy is a mournful poem crafted for the dying or deceased. However, lack of traditional form does not prevent the poet from communicating his point, nor does it indicate a lack of shape. Walt Whitman argues that poetry is better left unfettered by the mathematics of strict form. His poetry is moving and emotive with variable and non-traditional structure, form, and shape.
According to Whitman, inspiration determines the structure of poetry. The soulful expression of the writer provides what rhyme, uniformity, abstractions, complaints, and rules are followed or abandoned (“On Rhyme” 267). In “Cavalry Crossing a Ford” Whitman shares an impression of union troops moving through space during the civil war. Devoid of rhyme, the short poem paints a picture of men and horses, gear and landscape. The image is evocative because of word choice and grammar used to illustrate the length of the line of men, and the way they switch back and forth through the field like a snake in the grass. The mention of “the guidon flags flutter[ing] gaily” at the far end of the line belies the snake in the grass imagery (“Calvary” 107). The contradiction is a metaphor for the peaceful individual soldiers and the viciousness of war. The metaphor is Whitman’s…

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