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In this poem, Whitman uses the word drums in a symbolic style to imply a war. The poem has three stanzas, the first talks of the looming war, the second talks about the situation in the streets and villages as a result of the war. The third describes the sorrowful scene of people mourning the dead – an aftermath of the war.

The sound of drums is a wake up call to the people to leave their duties and join forces at the battlefield. The drums getting louder indicate that the war has turned into a fully blown, extended warfare, unlike what everyone expected to be a short-lived battle. The use of alliteration and repetition by the poet communicates the idea that it is time to face the war, there is no time to waste, they have no option other than go to the battlefield and face their opponents in the war or else they risk being wiped out by their enemies.

It is clear that people are restless, with the idea of war in their mentality, the people can only think of how the war shall interfere with their normal lives. The remorseful tone used in the last stanza and the use of the hearse being awaited means that a lot of people have succumbed to death in the battlefield.

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