The world of literature is represented by the numerous genres and styles. Each period in literature reflects the moods of people as well as the social and historic challenges of that time. The works of Walt Whitman embody the spirit of the social changes, love of labor and freedom, which reflect the moods of the American society of the XIX century.
The aim of this essay is to analyze the anthology of literature consisting of the works of Walt Whitman.
The Leaves of Grass by Walth Whitman
Walt Whitman was the outstanding American poet of the XIX century. He made a significant contribution in the development of the American literature and his works became the integral part of the world literature heritage. The works of the poet had been collected in one single anthology named The Leaves of Grass. In his collection, Whitman touched upon the important problems of the American society and mankind as a whole. The book embodied the philosophical views of the author reflecting his emotional stance and world perception. The Leaves of Grass became the work of his whole life.
The poems included in the collection are characterized by the special rhythm and structure. They represent the novel approach of Walt Whitman in literature. When reading his works, we notice that he frequently uses slang in his poems in order to reproduce the speech of the ordinary Americans and to enrich his poems emotionally. Whitman’s poems reflect the noise of the industrial city of the XIX century, the rumble of rallies and the warlike thunder of the drum.
The Analysis of Poems
The first poem, which I am going to analyze, is Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd. The poem is emotionally deep and makes you feel the influence of the crowd on the person. The poet touches upon the themes of personal identity, society, and the place of individual in it. “In the Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd, Whitman explores the individual self at a moment lost among masses” (Heinlein 4).
The poet compares the person in the crowd to the drop in the ocean. “I too am part of that ocean, my love, we are not too much separated” (Whitman, “Out of the Rolling” n.pag.). He compares the crowd to the “irresistible sea”, which introduces people to each other but separates them at the same time. The sea symbolically represents the uneasiness in life. I think that the poet tries to emphasize how important it is for everyone not to be lost in this “sea” and to overcome even the strongest waves.
Dirge for Two Veterans is the second poem. The central theme of this work is the burial of two veterans, a son and a father. Whitman emphasizes the tragedy of war in his poem. The lines of Dirge for Two Veterans are dramatic and emotionally deep. “The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin’d, (tis’ some mother’s large transparent face, in heaven brighter growing)” (Whitman, Dirge for Two Veterans n.pag).
The description of nature plays an important role in the poem. In particular, the poet depicts the evening time when “the last sunbeam lightly falls” and “the moon is ascending” (Whitman, Dirge for Two Veterans n.pag). The evening and the sunset symbolize the souls of veterans fading away. Whitman uses a number of literature techniques to reflect the dramatic effect. In particular, he uses the allegory and metaphors.
Reconciliation is one more poem from the collection of works by Walt Whitman. “Breaking with traditional poetic expectations immediately, Whitman uses the title as an integral part of the poem; the “word over all” is reconciliation” (McMichael n.pag.). Although the poem is short, each of its lines coveys a meaning. In Reconciliation, the poet tries to find the answers on the philosophical questions.
He makes us think about the inanity of war, which is the main theme of his poem. In Reconciliation, he allegorically describes the human ruthlessness and foolishness at the same time. The poem depicts the scene when the soldier sees his enemy dead. He says “a man is divine as myself is dead” (Whitman, Reconciliation n.pag.). These words reflect the contradictions of the war and its inhumanity.
In order to sum up all above mentioned, it should be said that the poems of Walt Whitman take an important place in the world literature. The works of the poet are gathered in his singly collection The Leaves of Grass. In order to describe some themes uncovered in the anthology, the following poems have been analyzed: Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd, Dirge for Two Veterans, and Reconciliation.
Each of them has a symbolic meaning. The main theme of Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd is the place of the individual in the crowd. The other two poems touch upon the problems of war, its sorrows and inanity, life and death. Overall, the works of Walt Whitman represent the invaluable part of the American literature. Their emotional deepness and meaningfulness, undoubtedly, touch the hearts of the readers.
Heinlein, Mark 2009, Everything we call ordinary. PDF file. Web.
McMichael, Barbara. “Under a Brighter Light”. Barbaramcmichael.com. 2010. Web.
Whitman, Walt. “Dirge for Two Veterans”. Classiclit.about.com. n.d. Web.
Whitman, Walt. “Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd”. Poetryfoundation.org. n.d. Web.
Whitman, Walt. “Reconciliation”. Poemhunter.com. n.d. Web.