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Wallabout Bay is one of the oldest areas of Brooklyn, which is now known as The Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument is erected in Fort Greene Park, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, consisting of a 100-foot (30 m)-wide granite staircase and a central Doric column 149 feet (45 m) in height. At the top is an eight-ton urn. It was designed by renowned architect Stanford White (1853–1906), and its design is similar to doric column monuments around the nation and the globe. The monument marks the site of a crypt for more than 11,500 prisoners of war who died in captivity, known as the prison ship martyrs during the revolutionary war.


Achilles is a Greek Mythological character who was a Trojan war hero in Homer’s Illiad.

Ulysses, Greek Odysseus, is another of Homer’s Trojan war heroes. Alfred Lord Tennyson also wrote a poem about Ulysses, portraying him in a heroic fashion as well.

Alexander was the Greek King of Macedon who was known for creating one of the largest empires in ancient history.


Here Whitman juxtaposes the memories of famous Greek Heroes and the tomb of Alexander with the “cart loads” of remains of Revolutionary War heroes. Whitman suggests that the memory of Homer’s ficticious heroes, and the legend and tomb of Alexander are not as great as the courage, aspiration, strength, and impact of the men who fought in the Revolutionary War. Whitman beleives that these soldiers fight for freedom and equality laid the stepping stones for today’s America. He seems to beleive that their contribution has a greater impact than Achilles, Ulysses, and Alexander.

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[In Brooklyn, in an old vault, markd by no special recognition, lie huddled at this moment the undoubtedly authentic remains of the stanchest and earliest revolutionary patriots from the British prison ships and prisons of the times of 1776-83, in and around New York, and from all over Long Island; originally buried many thousands of them in trenches in the Wallabout sands.]

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Greater than memory of Achilles or Ulysses,
More, more by far to thee than tomb of Alexander,
Those cart loads of old charnel ashes, scales and splints of
mouldy bones,
Once living men once resolute courage, aspiration, strength,
The stepping stones to thee to-day and here, America.