Meaning and Texture of the Seventh Poem in Leaves of Grass
Walt Whitman's seventh poem in his work, Leaves of Grass, displays the subtlety with which the poet is able to manipulate the reader's emotions. In this poem there are no particular emotional images, but the overall image painted by word choice and use of sounds is quite profound. This poem, like many others written by Walt Whitman, is somewhat somber in mood, but not morose. It is serious, but not to the point of gloom. Whitman writes concerning the general idea that everything is merged together and is one. One cannot die without being born, just as one cannot be a mother without first having one. The purpose of the poem is to show those things that are real are true and holy, and even more importantly unified. In this poem he is speaking as some sort of omnipotent being, perhaps God or a soul.
The tone or mood of the poem is delivered in the first stanza of the poem. He delves directly into birth and death, a sure sign that this poem will be no light reading. However, he uses a question to set the stage of the poem when he says, "Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born?" Questions are effective attention grabbers, but even more effective is Whitman's answer to the question. He produces an unorthodox response to the question, posing the answer that it is just as lucky to die. By giving such an odd answer to the question, he sets the stage for the rest of the poem presenting ideas not necessarily considered orthodox. The whole poem revolves around the idea that things must constantly be looked at from other viewpoints, and this initial stanza serves to illustrate this point well.
The primary idea he sets forth in his poem is the idea ...
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...et over. Whitman also uses commas in many of the longer lines. By doing this he forces the reader to slow down and not read the poem too quickly. The commas cause the reader to take in more because he/she will read the poem slower, and therefore read the poem as it was meant to be read.
Whitman stresses the fundamental idea of nature in this, his seventh poem: Everything is dependent-no one can be independent from everything. Therefore, we are all essentially one giant organism. A fundamental unity exists in nature, and we are a part of it. Independence is a concept that nobody can truly understand, because everything is interdependent upon one another. The texture of the poem is very helpful in understanding its meaning. Whitman's structural brilliance shines through in this poem, helping the reader grasp the concept that all things are but one.
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