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[Detail] Battle [drawing], Hillen

Analyzing Poetry

Read the poem “Back to the North! A Song of the Returned Volunteer” by William Oland Bourne.

  • Who is the speaker in the poem? What is the speaker’s tone?
  • What two places is the speaker describing in the poem? What languages and images are used to describe the two places?
  • What words or phrases repeated? What is the effect of this repetition?
  • What is the central idea Bourne is expressing through the poem? Is the poem effective in conveying that idea?

Research other poems written during the war, such as the poetry of Walt Whitman, Francis Miles Finch, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., John Greenleaf Whittier, and Catherine Warfield. How does “Back to the North!” compare with other poems of the period? Are any of the poems written from a similar perspective? Which poem is your favorite? Why?