Adieu To A Soldier: by Walt Whitman - Summary & Analysis

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Adieu O soldier,
You of the rude campaigning, (which we shared,)
The rapid march, the life of the camp,
The hot contention of opposing fronts, the long maneuver,
Red battles with their slaughter, the stimulus, the strong terrific
Spell of all brave and manly hearts, the trains of time through you and like of you all fill’d,
With war and war’s expression.
Adieu dear comrade,
Your mission is fulfill’d-but I, more warlike,
Myself and this contentious soul of mine,
Still on our own campaiging bound,
Through untried roads with ambushes opponents lined,
Through many a sharp defeat and many a crisis, often baffled,
Here marching, ever marching on, a war fight out-aye here,
To fiercer, weightier battles give expression.


      Summary. Adieu To A Soldier is a small poem of fifteen short lines. The earlier part of this poem is used up in bidding good bye to a fellow soldier whose mission has come to an end. The latter half reveals that the poets mission in another type of campaign full of opponents and dangerous hazards is not yet over and so he has to continue the war.

      The poet had already shared the experience of hot contention of opposing fronts, long maneuvers, slaughtering red battles, spell of all brave and manly hearts, with war and warriors - all these with a fellow soldier to whom he bids goodbye. The other one is an ordinary soldier. When the hostilities ceased, his mission had become fulfilled. But the poet says he is more warlike. His soul is contentious. Both of them are still bound on their campaigning work. Their pathway is untried. The enemies are lying hidden to take them by surprise and attack them. So the poet and his soul are bound to face many defeats and meet with crises. Their fights are not likely to end soon. They become fiercer and weightier.

      Critical Analysis. The poet was a soldier in the ordinary battles where the game was terrific because he had to slaughter and massacre many of his enemies. The bravery was in the effective withstanding of the attacks of the enemies. They had to raise all types of slogans and war cries. In this type of physical warfare he had a comrade to whom he bids farewell now. But the poet reminds his friend that he (the poet) cannot rest complacent now that he has life’s struggles to meet with in an altered atmosphere. He has to traverse along untrodden paths. Crises and defeats abound in this battlefield of life’s struggles. One thing is certain, he has not to indulge in massacre and slaughter. He may become baffled and his marching campaign may be never-ending. His battle cries are different. Maybe they are fiercer and weightier.

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