Whitman Poems Interperted Essay, Research Paper
Walt Whitman?s poem ?A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim?, sets the picture of a solider camp near a battlefield. (This was probably around the time when he served as a volunteer nurse and comforter in the army.) In line two Whitman wakes up early due to little sleep, perhaps from going to battle. As he goes outside near the hospital tent, he sees three people on stretchers brought outside untended. He describes the blankets covering the soldiers over each stretcher. In the next lines seven to ten he pauses and lifts the blanket from the stretcher nearest to him. He asks himself ?who is the grayed-hair elderly man lying on the stretcher?? From lines eleven to fourteen he looks at the body on the second stretcher and sees a sweet young boy. Whitman asks himself again. ?Who is he?? When he saw the third body lying on the stretcher, it appeared to be in a peaceful state. Whitman could have been saying that the solider suffered allot of persecution but his face seemed to be at peace just like Christ?s. Then again, he probably was referring to the person as being Christ in the last two last lines. (Young man I think I know you-I think this face is the face of Christ himself, (15) Dead and divine and brother of all, and here again he lies). By reading line fifteen and taking it to a literal point of view, Walt was saying that Christ reincarnated into a soldier and died again. Even though he does not explain why he relates to or calls the person Christ, it may be somewhat easy for him to relate the soldier’s suffering to Christ?s. Walt Whitman?s mode of tone in this poem was very sentimental. Since he was talking about the soldiers who suffered and died, he talked about their innocence. For instance, he referred to the old man as his dear comrade. Secondly, he described the young boy as being his child and darling with sweet cheeks. In addition, he complemented the third person for having a face of Christ. This must have been Walt?s way of paying his respects to the deceased.
Whitman went to a big city possibly looking for work or new ideas in printing that could have been inspired by shows, architecture, customs and traditions. Instead of remembering any tactic to help him in printing, he only remembered a woman that he unintentionally met. The well-remembered women confined Walt and slept with him day by day and night after night. The relationship that he had with her must have made the biggest impact on him passing through the populous city considering that everything else was forgotten. While Walt?s lover clung to him, they had intercourse repeatedly over and over again according to lines four and five (I remember I say only that a women who passionately clung to me, Again we wonder, we love, we separate). When she clung to him again he said, ?I must not go?. This shows that Walt enjoyed being with her so much that he did not want to leave the city. While she lay beside him silent, she was sad and tremulous. It may possibly be that she was sad and tremulous to see Walt leave. Then again, the casual meeting of the two leaves room to say that she could have possibly been a prostitute. This may account for her silence, sadness and fear. The silence may be guarding her personal life while the sadness is from soliciting herself to someone she doesn?t love. She may be fearful from not knowing Walt so well. It is also possible for Walt to characterize the women in place of a man that he may have met. This may have avoided optimum controversy of homosexuality in the middle to late 1800s. Since Walt did not clearly say who his lover was in this poem, this leaves room for investigation. Maybe it?s just his English admirer Anne Gilchrist (who came to the U.S hoping to marry him). Who ever the character truly was, Walt obviously cherished her.
In Walt Whitman?s poem ?I Heard a Learned Astronomer?, he repeated the title two times in the first line. Walt?s repetition hinted that he must have been surprised or over whelmed at the astronomer?s actions. When he was shown figures and proofs organized in columns, and methods to calculate them, Walt became upset (or tired and sick). The audience applauding the astronomer in the lecture room also contributed to upsetting Walt. In this poem Walt Whitman set a surprised mood by starting off the first four lines with the word ‘When’. All of the first four lines contributed to him feeling tired and sick in line five (How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick). Since Walt felt this way, he wondered out of the crowd by himself obviously to go outside. In the night setting he repeatedly looked up at the sky observing the stars. In this poem he does not make it clear why he felt sick and tired. It could have been towards the astronomer?s lecture or from Walt finding out there is so much he doesn?t know about the world that he is in. He could have possibly felt inferior or insignificant to astronomy at that point of time. Maybe the lecture defied the laws and beliefs that he followed. Despite of his feelings toward the astronomer?s lecture, he probably looked at the universe in a different view realizing that he knows so little but yet he writes so much.
A Sight in the Daybreak Gray and Dim
A sight in the daybreak gray and dim,
As from my tent I emerge so early sleepless,
As slow I walk in the cool fresh air the path near by the hospital tent,
Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there untended lying,
Over each blanket spread, ample brownish woolen blanket, 5
Gray and heavy blanket, folding covering all.
Curious I halt and silent stand,
Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest the first just lift the blanket;
Who are you elderly man so gaunt and grim, with well-grayed hair, and flesh
all sunken about the eyes?
Who are you my dear comrade? 10
Then to the second I step-and who are you my child and darling?
Who are you sweet boy with cheeks yet blooming?
Then to the third a face nor child very old, very calm, as of beautiful yellow-white ivory;
Young man I think I know you-I think this is the face of Christ himself,
Dead and divine and brother of all, and here again he lies 15
Once I Pass?d Through a Populous City
Once I pass?d through a populous city imprinting my brain for future use with its shows, architecture, customs, traditions,
Yet now all of that city I remember only a women I casually met there who
detain?d me for love of me,
Day by day and night by night we were together-all else has been long forgotten by me,
I remember I say only the women who passionately clung to me,
Again we wander, we love, we separate again, 5
Again she holds me by the hand, I must not go,
I see her close beside me with silent lips sad and tremulous.
When I heard the Learn?d Astronomer
When I heard the Learn?d Astronomer
When I heard the learn?d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, add divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause
In the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wonder?d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look?d up in perfect silence at the stars
Whitman, Walt, Leaves of Grass (New York: Modern Library, 1954)
Mc Quade, Atwan, Banta, Kaplan, Minter, Stepto, Tichi, Vendler The Harper American Literature 3rd:edition. (Addison Wesley Longman)