Whitman's Poem "Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking," is not, at first glance, an obvious love poem. Most readers would probably consider this a tragic poem about death and love lost. In spite of the fact that the poem is about intrinsically sorrowful events, or perhaps because of it, Whitman is able to capture a very unique and poignant portrayal of love. There are three major perspectives to examine how Whitman develops the theme of love in Out of the Cradle, and by examining each reoccurring theme in the poem separately, we can come to a more complete understanding of how they work together to communicate Whitman's message about love.
Perhaps the most complicated symbol within the poem "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" is that of the moon. Each time the moon appears, it appears in a way that is a striking reflection of the love of the bird.The most obvious object Whitman uses to communicate about love is the birds, the "feathered guests from Alabama". While the bird symbols in Lilacs and Cradle may seem very similar, the bird in Lilacs is a symbol of a transcendentalist view of death in the scheme of nature, and the bird in Cradle is a symbol of a much different view of deaththe personal, acute pain of a lover left to mourn. Although the birds love is significant, the boy is also an important theme and the relationship between the two may be key to understanding Whitman's intention. Another object of love is the boy in the poem, which the author's voice allows us to assume is Whitman himself.Another major factor affecting the communication of Whitman's ideas on death is the diction and tone of each poem. In Cradle, death is personal, grieving is acutely painful, and death is presented as an inevitable force oppressing the speaker and the reader. However, in Lilacs, Whitman presents death as impersonal, like a star falling or being hidden by black murk .
By examining the poetic devices and how Whitman uses them to heighten the sense of death and different facets of grief it becomes obvious that while both poems intimately explore death, grief, and morbidity, When Lilacs last in the Dooryard Bloom'd presents a more generalized, transcendental, mournful representation of grief, the poem Out of the Cradle Endlessly rocking confronts the reader with the stark pain and reality of death
This is another poem that links Whitman to the Romantics. The "birth of the poet" genre was of particular importance to Wordsworth, whose massive Prelude details his artistic coming-of-age in detail. Like Wordsworth, Whitman claims to take his inspiration from nature. Where Wordsworth is inspired by a wordless feeling of awe, though, Whitman finds an opportunity to anthropomorphize, and nature gives him very specific answers to his questions about overarching concepts. Nature is a tabula rasa onto which the poet can project himself. He conquers it, inscribes it. While it may become a part of him that is always present, the fact that it does so seems to be...