A Yankee Journey from the South
In merely one sitting, a reader of Walt Whitman's piece Calvary Crossing a Ford might have the inclination to interpret the work as a simple depiction of some unknown band of horseman and the aesthetic scenery they encounter on their travels. With an eye that is more attentive to detail, literary elements such as the speaker's tone and Whitman's presentation of detail bring to light a deeper revelation; the Yankees are coming home.
The speaker's diction is not only sensory but also aesthetically so. He speaks of flags that, "flutter gayly in the wind," and rivers of a "silvery" hew. The speaker's personal image of the horseman is one of admiration as he sees, "each group, each person a picture." With the inclusion of onomatopoeia's such as the "musical clank" of arms, and the "splashing" of horses a peaceful mood is set and for the audience one of joy. This peaceful and joyful mood supports the existence of a jovial tone since mood is a byproduct of tone.
While it is the speaker who deserves the credit for influencing how we feel about the piece, Whitman receives all the credit for showing us whom to show our feeling for as a result of his presentation of detail. The reader first learns of the identity of the horsemen in the opening as a "line in long array." The secondary denotation of array- a military force- fits in with further descriptions of the Calvary unit having "arms" or weapons that "flash in the sun," and of Calvary wielding "guidon flags."
Secondly, through Whitman's presentation of detail the reader learns of the Calvary's journey beginnings. The journey is a long one "horses loitering stop to drink," "negligent (riders) rest on the saddles." However, the most prominent images are of "Scarlet and blue and snowy white" guidon flags and men "brown-faced." The "Scarlet and blue and snowy white" guidon flags are a symbol for the flag of the American people. In keeping with the time period of this...
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