Everything you need to understand or teach Cavalry Crossing a Ford by Walt Whitman.
The "they" of the first line refers to the soldiers who make up the cavalry troop mentioned in the title. This abrupt beginning differs greatly from the majority of Whitman's verse, in which he uses the 5 first-person "I" as the filter through which the poem is conveyed. Here, the "I" of the poem, the speaker, is merely implied. Instead of coloring the scene with his own perception, he relates it journalistically—objectively and with a nonjudgmental tone—presenting the image of the cavalry as it crosses a ford, a shallow place in a river. The scope of the image is so broad as to imply that the scene is being viewed from a distance and likely from some higher ground. The whole of the cavalry is presented as a vast single line twisting and turning snake-like through the landscape. The "arms" that glint sunlight in the second line refer then to... View more of the Cavalry Crossing a Ford Summary