Lesson 3 – Paragraph Assignment. Free Verse Prose. Begin with this idea :. Everything does not have to be stated in so many words in poetry. Show evidence throughout the poem where information is understood rather than given word for word. Reveal how this adds suspense to the reading.
With his poem Come Up from the Fields Father, Whitman draws a picture of the emotional distress so many families experienced during the Civil War.
The poem describes a family receiving a letter that their son has been wounded. He places the setting in the autumn season where all of nature is reaching its prime of life just before the death of winter:
Above all, lo, the sky so calm, so transparent after the rain, and with wondrous clouds,
Below too, all calm, all vital and beautiful, and the farm prospers well. (9-10)
With this, Whitman depicts the unfairness of a young man having everything stripped away in the prime of his life. He wasn't even given the opportunity to reach his full potential before he was robbed of his future.
Even though the letter says her son will soon recover, the mother senses that something is horribly wrong. The fact that the words were written in the hand of someone other than her son troubles her greatly. Since all the men have gone off to war, the only people at home are the women and young girls left in a vulnerable and empty state. Their livelihood depends upon men, and without their only son the family will struggle to survive. The poem conveys the sheer hopelessness of the mother's grief:
better, that brave and simple soul,)
While they stand at home at the door he is dead already,
The only son is dead. (29-31)
Any hope they may have had for his survival is futile. Perhaps he was alive at the time the letter was written, but by the time it reaches their hands his life has come to an end.
While the poem could have ended here, Whitman wanted his reader to feel and understand in some respect the sorrow of the mother and the deepest pain possible for a human being to experience:
Life no longer held as much meaning as before. The only thing she wanted was to be reunited with her son. A part of herself was now missing. She was incomplete with no possible way to become whole again. The loss was so deep and the pain so unbearable that she felt the only way to make it better would be to end her own life in order to be with him. Perhaps Whitman felt that it was important for Americans who had not been through the loss of their loved ones to know to a certain extent what others were going through in order to come together and support each other in the midst of the national crisis.