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Final Essay

In: English and Literature

Submitted By pinkcavy99
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After careful consideration, I elected to write my final paper on the works of author, Walt Whitman. The reason I selected this author is because I have travelled to the Atlantic coast and driven over the Walt Whitman Bridge numerous times, never knowing who he was, or what he did. When I saw his name in the textbook, I was intrigued. I decided I wanted to educate myself and analyze his work. The first poem I studied by him was “Beat! Beat! Drums!”. In this poem he speaks of bugles and drums, and the sounds that originate from them. In the first paragraph, he states “Through the windows-through doors-burst like a ruthless force, Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation, Into the school where the scholar is studying;” I interpreted this to mean the sound of the bugles and drums carry through windows and doors and interrupt those that are around them. They hear the sounds being made, and cannot shut them out. He continues by saying “Make no parley-stop for no expostulation” (Whitman, para 3). To me, this means that that he wants the sounds to keep coming, regardless of any complaints from elsewhere. I am thinking that this has something to do with the military, and the bugles and drums that are being played are a way to express to everyone that it is happening and unavoidable regardless of pleas from mothers and children.

The second poem I read by Walt Whitman was “I Hear America Singing” (Whitman, 644). This poem talks of different labored jobs held by people in America which is noted by the first line of the poem; “I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,” (Whitman, 644). He then goes on to name those laborers such as the mechanics and carpenters, and how they all are singing very similarly, even though they hold different skills. He incorporates repetition in this poem by using the word “The” in each of the final seven lines.

The third and final poem I chose to analyze was “O Captain! My Captain!” (Whitman, 645). In this poem he again uses repetition by saying the phrase “fallen cold and dead” (Whitman, 645). I interpret this to be used to express the loss of the captain, and how deeply it affected him. In each of these 3 poems, Walt Whitman uses repetition to create rhythm. He also writes in free verse, as his lines follow no consistent meter (Kennedy, 2012). All three of these poems seem to be connected to people who made America the way it is today, with the freedom and liberty we currently have. In the first poem, he speaks of men going off to the war, presumably the Civil war. In the second poem he speaks of skilled laborers whose work required physical labor, to which we were spared from completing on our own. The third and final poem spoke of a Captain who was dearly admired, who lost his life fighting for our freedom.

Walt Whitman also writes with alliteration. He does this by using the same Civil War Era theme in each of these poems, and incorporating the repetition such as the word “The” in the beginning of each line in the poem “I Hear America Singing” (Whitman, 644)., using the phrase “fallen cold and dead” (Whitman, 645), and “Beat! Beat! Drums!” throughout the self-titled poem. (Whitman, 396). I am inclined to believe that the Civil War Era had a tremendous impact on Walt Whitman as his poems are centered on that theme. The imagery portrayed in each of these poems really puts a clear picture in your head as you are reading. For example, in “I Hear America Singing” he goes into great detail by describing each of the actions the laborers are doing as they are singing. This encourages the reader to picture each of them in action. In the poem “Beat! Beat! Drum!”, the imagery used here makes you picture people sitting in a church, and a farmer tending their fields while the sounds of the bugle and drums echo in the distance.

I am curious to know if he was a soldier in the war, or perhaps his father or brother or some close relative to him was. This has intrigued me to the point where I am going to do some additional research on Walt Whitman, to see where he gets his inspiration for his work. It is always fascinating to learn what drives a particular author, and if their work has anything to do with them personally, or if it is rather a figment of their imagination. Seeing as Walt Whitman’s poems all have a deep meaning to them, I think that his inspiration behind his work is personal. He must have a spectacular story behind his work; after all he does have a bridge named after him, so one would assume that he had to do something extraordinary to accomplish that honor.
Works Cited

Kennedy, X.J. (Dana Gioia). “Satiric Poetry.” Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X.J. Kennedy, Dana Gioia. 4th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Whitman, Walt. “I Hear America Singing.” Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X.J. Kennedy, Dana Gioia. 4th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Whitman, Walt. “O Captain! My Captain!.” Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X.J. Kennedy, Dana Gioia. 4th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Whitman, Walt. “Beat! Beat! Drum!.” The Literature Collection. X.J. Kennedy, Dana Gioia. Pearson, 2013. eText.

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