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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 381

Here are some quotes from the poem "The Wound-Dresser" by Walt Whitman:

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"(Arous’d and angry, I’d thought to beat the alarum, and urge relentless war,
But soon my fingers fail’d me, my face droop’d and I resign’d myself,
To sit by the wounded and soothe them, or silently watch the dead;)"
In a parenthetical aside, the narrator speaks about how he had wanted to go to war but instead decided to become a nurse to the wounded.
"Now be witness again, paint the mightiest armies of earth,
Of those armies so rapid so wondrous what saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?"
In the first stanza, the narrator asks an older man, who has seen earlier wars, to recall what he has seen. Though the young people around him think he will recall scenes of wondrous battle maneuvers, he instead recalls sad and painful memories of the wounded.

"While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on, So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the sand"

The narrator speaks about how the world of the well goes on while the wounded struggle. All too quickly, the blood is washed off the battle field like waves washing footprints off the sand, and the world goes on without remembering the dead and wounded, as if the war had never happened.


"One turns to me his appealing eyes—poor boy! I never knew you,/Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you."

The narrator thinks that he would give anything to save the dying soldier, including dying in his place.


"(Come sweet death! be persuaded O beautiful death!
In mercy come quickly.)"

Watching a suffering soldier, the narrator speaks directly to death, which is personified and referred to as someone who is wanted. The soldier is struggling so much that death is welcome.


"His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look on the bloody stump,
And has not yet look’d on it."

The narrator sees a soldier whose leg has been amputated but who dares not look at his leg.

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