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Pioneers! O Pioneers!

Pioneers! O Pioneers!


by Walt Whitman

Stanzas 25-26 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 97-100

Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,
Pioneers! O pioneers! 

  • This is a bit more mysterious than the other stanzas. He seems to be asking: "Have things been tough recently? Is it dark? Are we discouraged?"
  • All right, all right, he says. We'll rest for an hour or so. And then it's back to work!
  • He seems to want to acknowledge the weariness that comes with being a pioneer. We have his sympathy.

Lines 101-104

Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the daybreak call-hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind,
Swift! to the head of the army!-swift! spring to your places,
Pioneers! O pioneers! 

  • But not for long. Every rest, every stop is temporary. At the break of day we set off again. Pioneering never ends. 
  • That trumpet is yet another item that makes this sound like an army. And then he comes right out and calls it an army. Jeez. Must you be so obvious, Captain Obvious? No need to hit us over the head with it or anything.
  • This living as a pioneer seems to be the most important battle to our speaker. 
  • It's waged against excessive comfort as much as against the dangers of the world. It's all about fighting complacency.
  • We get this message of action, and not lingering too long, again as he urges us to "spring" back to our places. It comes on the wind. It's our calling. It's our destiny.
  • Each day we must continue this lifelong battle. 
  • And the future generations will, too.

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