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In Ann Fisher-Wirth’s poem “Vicksburg National Military Park,” she utilizes memory to emphasize the shift to the present. This shift that is created between lines 7 and 8 allows for a shift from speaking in memory to the present, resulting in a major turn emotionally. Wirth is utilizing the memory to create a moment of sentiment and tenderness. This then creates a startling shift to the present. When Fisher-Wirth shifts to the present in describing what can be seen now in the Vicksburg National Military Park with a cemetery, the tone shifts dramatically.

The poem began in a place where there was sentiment created from a memory of a mother, or some larger presence, tucking children away to bed. This first stanza grounds the reader in a place of delicacy, comfort, and tenderness. Instantly, the shift occurs to a change to the present with the speaker describing the “gingko leaves” that create “golden blankets around the tombstone(s).” This shift from the naive to the heartbreaking aftermath of Vicksburg allows for a genuine understanding of the tragic and often forgotten personal backstory of each tombstone in the Vicksburg battlefield cemetery.

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