Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

A Sight In Camp



A SIGHT in camp in the day-break grey and dim,
As from my tent I emerge so early, sleepless,
As slow I walk in the cool fresh air, the path near by the hospital
tent,
Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there, untended
lying,
Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woollen blanket,
Grey and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.

Curious, I halt, and silent stand;
Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest, the first,
just lift the blanket:
Who are you, elderly man so gaunt and grim, with well-grey'd hair,
and flesh all sunken about the eyes?
Who are you, my dear comrade? 10

Then to the second I step--And who are you, my child and darling?
Who are you, sweet boy, with cheeks yet blooming?

Then to the third--a face nor child, nor old, very calm, as of
beautiful yellow-white ivory;
Young man, I think I know you--I think this face of yours is the face
of the Christ himself;
Dead and divine, and brother of all, and here again he lies.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Rookie - 4 Points Martin O'Neill (2/10/2012 11:14:00 AM)

    Now I understand it is not the done thing to find fault with famous names, however, i find this poem below average for a number of reasons. The use of archaic sentence constructions at odd intervals when the remainder of the poem is contemporaneous smacks of pretentiousness at worst and laziness at best. I really didn't like this one. Sorry Walt. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Lyndse Kenderson (12/5/2011 10:49:00 AM)

    Walt Whitman wrote this poem during the Civil War. Initially he was a huge supporter of the war but as it continued, he realized that it was doing harm to all involved. As a Transcendentalist he believed all were one and no one was better than any other.
    In this poem people are dying: the young, the old...and YOU. The third figure is everyone reading the poem because nobody thinks of themselves as a child or as 'old.'
    Whitman has seen it all during the war - he has watched all these people die, all having divine souls. He is finally seeing the reality behind his rhetoric and displays it vividly in this poem.
    There is a sadness because innocence has died.
    The grey is death, the brown blanket represents the earth and its acceptance of bodies of the deceased.
    Christ is dead before his is divine which is an important thing because although he is known for his God complex his true message is that we are all the same, everything is wonderful and we should strive to be Christ-like. Regardless of race, religion, creed or sex we all are equal, we feel the same things because we are all the same. Wherever you are right now, you are perect.
    It is why we all feel the sadness. :) (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Alain Ilan Braun (9/19/2011 7:27:00 PM)

    So sad and so beautiful a poem! I still wonder how the poet was involved? Was it during the Civil War? I guess so. This poem is telling us much about war is really: ugly even for the noblest cause! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ricardo Vargas (12/2/2005 10:40:00 AM)

    I thought the poem had a lot of meaning to it because he talks about how there were all kinds of men fighting, young and old, and it talks about his experiences during the war. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Shelly P (12/2/2005 10:30:00 AM)

    I like this poem because it is very sentimental. I read about Whitman's life and how he helped the wounded soldiers, but never have read anything he had written about his experiences. It is neat to read his feelings for the soldiers. (Report) Reply

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