Cavalry Crossing A Ford: Poem - Summary & Analysis

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A line in long array where they wind betwixt green islands,
They take a serpentine course, their arms flash in the sun-hark to the musical dank.
Behold the silvery river, in it the splashing horses loitering stop to drink,
Behold the brown-faced men, each group, each person, a picture, the negligent rest on the saddles,
Some emerge on the opposite bank, others are just entering the ford-while,
Scarlet and blue and snowy white,
The guidon flags flutter gayly in the wind.


      Introduction. Cavalry Crossing A Ford is a short poem of only seven lines giving a snapshot picture, as it were, of a long line of cavalrymen crossing a silvery river. The poet had composed this fragment during the American Civil War when everyone was obsessed with events and objects connected with war.

      Summary. A long line of soldiers on horseback had been crossing the ford. Evidently they could not go in a straight line. Their course was serpentine. The weapons they had, flashed in the sun. The army band was in attendance. The poet calls the attention of the readers to the silvery river where some of horses had already begun to drink the water. The brown-faced men were in groups with their guidon military unit flags fluttering in the wind. They are of various colors-some scarlet, some blue, and some snowy white. Since they were not in regular parades they were resting on the saddles in an easy-going fashion. At one end in the far distance, the cavalrymen could be seen emerging from the river while at the other end groups were only just entering the ford.

      Critical Analysis. The poem Cavalry Crossing A Ford is only a fragment giving a glimpse of the entire group of horsemen, but the details furnished fit into a realistic picture in a remarkably smooth manner making us visualize the entire scene in our mind’s eye.

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