“Beat! Beat! Drums!” Literary Analysis

In Walt Whitman’s “Beat! Beat! Drums!”, he uses alliteration and strong use of metaphor and simile to express his frustration and passion for his call to arms and end slavery. Whitman uses hard consonants to imitate drums and unique language to leave a mark on his readers.

The first line of the poem, you read these hard consonants and begin to realize Whitman is imitating a drum. He goes on and tells these bugles to blow – he is making the reader picture war. “Into the school where the scholar studies…” He turns and uses hard ‘s’s to imitate a whip, as used as a common punishment for slaves in the North Atlantic slave trade. Whitman “beat, beat, drums! -blow you bugles, blow!” is the way he starts each stanza, further etching this dark gloom of war into the reader’s head. As the poem goes on, these drum beats seem to grow louder. “No bargainers bargains by day – no broker of speculators…” One may picture this dark image of war as the drum beats and the bugles blow.

Walt Whitman’s use of metaphor and simile puts the reader right into the time era. Whitman urges for no peace, no happiness, and no tears till this issue is at an end. He personifies slavery and says it’s “ a ruthless force”. Without saying, Whitman uses the bugles and drums as a call to action. Not only that, but he is referring to the instruments as his audience and having them be the bugles and drums. Whitman” readers are the ones who are being called to arms.

Walt Whitman uses adequate use of alliteration and simile and metaphor in his poem “Beat! Beat! Drums!” By doing so, he expresses deep frustration and intense passion to put an end to slavery. Whitman writes in a way to leave such a clear impact on the audience – as he did.


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