Whitman's "A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim" is one of his Civil War poems, and it has a mournful but conversational tone. As the narrator walks through the tents set up in a Civil War camp, he sees three forms and reveals to the reader what they look like, making the reader feel as if he or she is there with Whitman.
In the first stanza, he says, "Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there untended lying,/ Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woolen blanket, /Gray and heavy blanket, folding, covering all." These three forms lie under the same type of blanket, implying that they have commonalities. Again, the reader feels as if he or she is present at the camp.
In the second stanza, he sees an "elderly man so gaunt and grim," and in the third stanza, he comes across a "sweet boy with cheeks yet blooming." These two figures suggest that both the old and young are affected by the brutality of the war. Finally, in the last stanza, the narrator sees "the face of the Christ himself." The third figure he sees is of Christ, and three is a symbolic number, as it refers to the Holy Trinity. The sight of Christ implies that the dead are saintly.
Even though the themes in this poem are weighted and symbolic, the poem is easy to follow. We as readers follow the narrator as he wonders about the war camp and tells us what he sees.