Walt Whitman's

A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest and the Road Unknown

Walt Whitman

Whitman is an American poet who lived in the 19th century. He is most known for his book of poems, "Leaves of Grass".

The Poem

A march in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown,

A route through a heavy wood with muffled steps in the darkness,

Our army foil’d with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating,

Till after midnight glimmer upon us the lights of a dim-lighted building,

We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by the dim-lighted building,

’Tis a large old church at the crossing roads, now an impromptu hospital

Entering but for a minute I see a sight beyond all the pictures and poems ever made,

Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving candles and lamps,

And by one great pitchy torch stationary with wild red flame and clouds of smoke,

By these, crowds, groups of forms vaguely I see on the floor, some in the pews laid down,

At my feet more distinctly a soldier, a mere lad, in danger of bleeding to death, (he is shot in the abdomen,)

Poetry Out Loud: Langston Ward Recites "A March In The Ranks Hard-Prest, And The Road Unknown"

The Tragedies of War

This poem shows how war can be extremely destructive and how death can easily occur in great masses. Whitman is effected deeply by the young man at his feet as he watches him slowly die. However, Whitman knows that life keeps moving even after all the death, so he has to as well even though the death that surrounded him has scarred him.