Walt Whitman Research Paper
Walt Whitman is considered one of America’s greatest poets. During his lifetime, Whitman wrote hundreds of poems about life, love and democracy, among many others. In particular, Whitman’s poetry reflects the spirit of the age in which he lived, the Civil War. In taking a closer look at one of his most renowned and brilliant pieces, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”, three particular themes are observed; his love for nature, the cycle of life, as represented by both life and death, and rebirth.
This poem was written around the end of the Civil War and after Abraham Lincoln’s death. As he was the president of the United States at that time, he is considered one of the most important leaders in …show more content…
Another major theme of the poem is Whitman’s expression of the cycle of life. Whitman focused on the life cycles of individuals: people are born, they age and reproduce, and then they die. The continual recurrence of the spring season symbolizes the cycle of life and death and rebirth. As the poem goes on, Whitman tells his readers about a shy, lonely thrush, like a secluded hermit, singing "death's outlet song of life" (“Lilacs” 24). This song is an expression of its innermost grief and describes the poet's intense grief for the death of Lincoln. In the second stanza of the poem, each line begins with "O," (“Lilacs” 7-11). It is understood that Whitman used the O’s to give more meaning to the pain and suffering in each line.
Whitman then describes the journey of the coffin which will pass "over the breast of the spring" through cities, woods, wheat fields, and orchards (“Lilacs” 26). He also describes the somber faces, solemn voices, and mournful songs that mark the journey across the American