'Poem Of Remembrance For A Girl Or A Boy' by Walt Whitman
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YOU just maturing youth! You male or female!
Remember the organic compact of These States,
Remember the pledge of the Old Thirteen thenceforward to the rights,
life, liberty, equality of man,
Remember what was promulged by the founders, ratified by The States,
signed in black and white by the Commissioners, and read by
Washington at the head of the army,
Remember the purposes of the founders,--Remember Washington;
Remember the copious humanity streaming from every direction toward
Remember the hospitality that belongs to nations and men; (Cursed be
nation, woman, man, without hospitality!)
Remember, government is to subserve individuals,
Not any, not the President, is to have one jot more than you or me,
Not any habitan of America is to have one jot less than you or me. 10
Anticipate when the thirty or fifty millions, are to become the
hundred, or two hundred millions, of equal freemen and
freewomen, amicably joined.
Recall ages--One age is but a part--ages are but a part;
The eternal equilibrium of things is great, and the eternal overthrow
of things is great,
And there is another paradox.
Recall the angers, bickerings, delusions, superstitions, of the idea
Recall the bloody cruelties and crimes.
Anticipate the best women;
I say an unnumbered new race of hardy and well-defined women are to
spread through all These States,
I say a girl fit for These States must be free, capable, dauntless,
just the same as a boy.
Anticipate your own life--retract with merciless power,
Shirk nothing--retract in time--Do you see those errors, diseases,
weaknesses, lies, thefts?
Do you see that lost character?--Do you see decay, consumption, rum-
drinking, dropsy, fever, mortal cancer or inflammation?20
Do you see death, and the approach of death?
Editor 1 Interpretation
"Poem Of Remembrance For A Girl Or A Boy" by Walt Whitman: A Literary Critique
Walt Whitman, known as the "Father of Free Verse," was an American poet, essayist, and journalist who is considered one of the most influential figures in American literature. His works are characterized by their unconventional style, and he often explored themes of individuality, spirituality, and democracy. One of his most celebrated poems is "Poem Of Remembrance For A Girl Or A Boy," which was published in his collection "Leaves of Grass" in 1855. In this literary critique, we will explore the themes, structure, and language of this poem and analyze its cultural and historical context.
Before we dive into the poem, it's essential to understand the cultural and historical context in which it was written. When Whitman wrote this poem in the mid-1800s, the United States was going through a period of rapid change. The country was expanding westward, and new technologies were emerging, bringing people closer together than ever before. However, alongside these technological advancements came social and economic upheaval. Slavery was still legal in some parts of the country, and women's rights were severely limited. Whitman was deeply invested in the political and social changes of his time, and his poetry reflects this.
"Poem Of Remembrance For A Girl Or A Boy" is a free-verse poem, meaning that it has no set rhyme or meter. Instead, Whitman uses repetition and internal rhyme to create a musical quality in the poem. The poem is composed of three stanzas, each containing four lines. The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with the speaker addressing a "girl or boy" who has died. The second stanza provides vivid descriptions of the natural world, while the third stanza returns to the memory of the lost child.
The primary theme of "Poem Of Remembrance For A Girl Or A Boy" is the fragility of life and the inevitability of death. The poem is a meditation on the fleeting nature of existence and the importance of cherishing the moments we have with those we love. Whitman also explores the theme of grief and the process of mourning. He acknowledges the pain of losing a child and the difficulty of moving on from such a loss.
Another theme explored in the poem is the interconnectedness of all things. Whitman uses images of the natural world to suggest that everything is part of a larger, interconnected system. He describes leaves falling from trees and birds flying overhead, suggesting that life goes on even after death. This idea of interconnectedness is central to Whitman's philosophy and is a recurring theme in his other works.
Whitman's language in "Poem Of Remembrance For A Girl Or A Boy" is simple and direct, but also highly emotive. He uses repetition and alliteration to create a sense of rhythm and musicality in the poem. The repetition of the phrase "O the saddest of possible words" in the first stanza emphasizes the speaker's grief and sets the tone for the rest of the poem.
Whitman also uses vivid, sensory language to create images of the natural world. In the second stanza, he describes the sound of the wind and the sight of the stars, creating a sense of awe and wonder. The imagery in this stanza is also significant because it suggests that nature can provide comfort and solace in times of grief.
"Poem Of Remembrance For A Girl Or A Boy" is a deeply personal and emotional poem that speaks to the universal experience of loss and grief. Whitman's use of free verse and vivid language creates a sense of immediacy and intimacy, drawing the reader into the speaker's experience. The repetition of the phrase "O the saddest of possible words" in the first stanza emphasizes the speaker's pain and creates a sense of urgency.
The second stanza provides a contrast to the first, with its images of the natural world. Whitman suggests that even in the face of death, life goes on, and there is beauty and wonder to be found in the world around us. This idea of interconnectedness is central to Whitman's philosophy, and it is a recurring theme in many of his other works.
The final stanza returns to the memory of the lost child, emphasizing the importance of remembering and cherishing their life. Whitman acknowledges that grief is a process, and it can be difficult to move on from such a loss. However, he suggests that through memory, we can keep our loved ones alive and honor their memory.
"Poem Of Remembrance For A Girl Or A Boy" was not initially well-received by critics, who found Whitman's style unconventional and his subject matter too personal. However, over time, the poem has become one of Whitman's most celebrated works, with many readers finding solace in its themes of life, death, and memory.
"Poem Of Remembrance For A Girl Or A Boy" is a moving and deeply personal poem that explores themes of life, death, and memory. Whitman's use of free verse and vivid language creates a sense of immediacy and intimacy, drawing the reader into the speaker's experience. The poem's themes of interconnectedness and the importance of memory are central to Whitman's philosophy and are recurring themes in his other works. While initially criticized for its unconventional style and personal subject matter, the poem has become one of Whitman's most celebrated works, resonating with readers across generations.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Walt Whitman's "Poem of Remembrance for a Girl or a Boy": A Timeless Tribute to Love and Loss
Walt Whitman's "Poem of Remembrance for a Girl or a Boy" is a classic piece of poetry that has stood the test of time. It is a tribute to the memory of a loved one who has passed away, and it captures the essence of grief and loss in a way that is both poignant and beautiful. In this article, we will take a closer look at this timeless poem and explore its themes, imagery, and language.
Background and Context
Walt Whitman was a renowned American poet who lived from 1819 to 1892. He is best known for his collection of poems, "Leaves of Grass," which he published in 1855. Whitman's poetry was revolutionary for its time, as it broke away from traditional poetic forms and explored new themes and ideas. His work was deeply influenced by his experiences as a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War, and he often wrote about the human condition and the beauty of nature.
"Poem of Remembrance for a Girl or a Boy" was first published in 1865, shortly after the end of the Civil War. It is believed to have been written in response to the death of a young girl named Alice, who was the daughter of one of Whitman's friends. The poem is a tribute to Alice's memory and a reflection on the nature of grief and loss.
Themes and Imagery
The central theme of "Poem of Remembrance for a Girl or a Boy" is the idea of remembrance. The poem is a tribute to the memory of a loved one who has passed away, and it explores the ways in which we remember and honor those who are no longer with us. Whitman uses a variety of imagery to convey this theme, including references to nature, music, and the passage of time.
One of the most striking images in the poem is the reference to the "perfume of your memory." This image suggests that the memory of the loved one is like a fragrance that lingers long after they are gone. It is a powerful metaphor that captures the essence of remembrance and the way in which memories can be both beautiful and haunting.
Whitman also uses imagery from nature to convey the idea of remembrance. He writes, "The lilacs and roses and their sweet-scented companions, / The tall-growing sunflowers of the summer, / The cotton and buckwheat, and the apple-tree blooming." These images suggest that the memory of the loved one is intertwined with the natural world, and that their presence can be felt in the beauty of the world around us.
Another important theme in the poem is the idea of grief and loss. Whitman writes, "The sorrowful night, the wailing chorus, the voice of the rain, / The strong, unbroken voice of the sea." These images suggest the depth of the speaker's grief and the way in which the natural world echoes their sorrow. The use of the word "chorus" also suggests that the speaker is not alone in their grief, but is part of a larger community of mourners.
Language and Structure
Whitman's use of language in "Poem of Remembrance for a Girl or a Boy" is both simple and profound. He uses short, declarative sentences to convey the speaker's emotions, and he employs repetition to create a sense of rhythm and momentum. The poem is structured as a series of stanzas, each of which contains four lines. This structure gives the poem a sense of balance and symmetry, and it allows Whitman to explore a variety of themes and ideas.
One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of pronouns. Whitman switches between the first, second, and third person throughout the poem, creating a sense of intimacy and connection with the reader. He writes, "I see your face again, / I hear your voice again," and later, "You are not gone, / You are not absent." These lines suggest that the speaker is addressing the loved one directly, and that their presence is still felt even though they are no longer physically present.
Walt Whitman's "Poem of Remembrance for a Girl or a Boy" is a timeless tribute to love and loss. It captures the essence of grief and remembrance in a way that is both beautiful and profound. The poem's themes of remembrance, nature, and grief are conveyed through powerful imagery and language, and its structure gives it a sense of balance and symmetry. Overall, this poem is a testament to the enduring power of love and the human spirit.
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