Robert Roper traces Walt Whitman's writings on death to his experience as a nurse in the Civil War:
He was attracted to the dying. Before he became a nurse in Civil War hospitals, before he sat at the bedside of tens of thousands of wounded or sick soldiers as they passed over, he haunted hospitals and assisted at operations, preparing himself, intentionally it seems, for the war that was to come. People needed to know what death was, in his era, and Walt also needed to know. From his researches at New York hospitals came at least one useful answer: Death is not the struggle before the end, the pain and the terror, but rather the deliverance:Prais’d be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy….
And for love, sweet love…O praise and praise,
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death.