The Nation as One
Celebrating the death of a person usually starts with a lamentatious mood and grief. “Celebrating”, perhaps, is a misleading word as in today’s society, celebration is linked with parties and events of fun and joy. In Walt Whitman’s book “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” (“Lilacs”), he describes the “celebration” of Lincoln’s death throughout the country. Whitman conveys the glum mood of America after their beloved president is assassinated and the everlasting grief that follows in (“Lilacs”).
The beginning of “Lilacs” focuses on the event of Lincoln’s death and how the country as one handled the news that its dear president is no more. In stanza one, Whitman speaks of mourning, but also mentions the rejuvenation of his mourning: “I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever returning spring” (27). The grief of the individual that is in the process of mourning for Lincoln is clearly seen; he/she not only experience the strong emotion of death, but also the mindset that Lincoln is not coming back, causing he/she to grieve even more. Also, the death of Lincoln is represented to the people by: “O great star disappear’d – O the black murk that hides the star!” (27). As death takes the soul from one’s body, the star in the sky disappears with Lincoln.
Transitioning to the grieving stage found within the poem, Whitman implements hints of grief experienced by Lincoln’s admirers: “The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements, sings by himself a song” (27). The hermit deals with grieving by singing alone as Lincoln is spiritually no longer present: Whitman shows that America lost its leader and must also go through the grieving process as any other person would. In stanza six, Whitman describes the scene as the American people witness their leader publicly displayed in a coffin: “Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes, with loaded arms I come, pouring for you” (28). The people have not yet accepted the fact that Lincoln is gone. The...