What is the theme of Walt Whitman's poem "Beat! Beat! Drums!"?This poem  "Beat! Beat! Drums!" is from book xxi Drum-Taps. What does it stand alone, and what is the theme?

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troutmiller | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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This section of Drum Taps is different than those in the beginning parts.  There all were excited to go off to war. None knew what war was really like.  They glorified it and many were killed or wounded.  Later on the poems show the negative effects war has on people and communities.  This particular section wants to call all to war, so the drums must be loud and beckon to all to come forward, yet many don't want to. They know what they're in for.

The theme of this poem revolves around people's reactions to war. The cry for war is very loud and disturbing.  The people listed throughout the poem don't want to hear about it.  They are not happy about being involved in (what is referred to in this poem) the Civil War.  Whitman wants the drums and bugles to be loud and fierce--enough to even wake the dead.  He doesn't care who is there to hear the war cry, but it affects all people young and old: 

"Mind not the old man beseeching the young man;   Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties"

He wants the drums to beat so loudly that it drowns out their disagreeing replies.  All must be called to war. 

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