The poem selected for me after completing the literary quiz for week four was, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” by Walt Whitman. Analyzing this poem through critical lenses was very challenging. In order to present my best analysis, I read the poem several times to truly understand its context. In this poem Whitman does not adhere to the traditional rules of poetry, instead teeters between the closed and free verse forms of poetry; utilizing metaphors, pattern, and cadence to convey the meaning. The two critical approaches I think best used to analyze this poem are New criticism and Psychoanalytic criticism.
Both approaches encourage an in-depth view of the poem’s characteristics, but Psychoanalytic criticism concentrates more on the behavior of the writer. While New criticism focuses on the text and its form, Psychoanalytic criticism focuses on how the author’s positive and negative feelings (within their life) influence their literature. Because Psychoanalytic/Psychological criticism requires additional research into psychology and poetic devices, I believe the New criticism approach is more suited for this poem.
Utilizing the New criticism approach dismisses the need to know the author’s background or belief system. Through this method, I found understanding and meaning by focusing my attention to the irony, point of view, tension and imagery within the text. Whitman writes, “Out of the cradle endlessly rocking, / Out of the mocking-bird’s throat, the musical shuttle, / Out of the Ninth-month midnight,” (Line 1-3). By focusing on the text closely, I can discern the meaning of these lines. Evidently, Whitman is referring to the characters birth; using the mocking bird’s song as an analogy. Because I continued to apply this method throughout the poem, I was able to analyze the importance of the mocking bird’s misery and its relationship to the characters growth.
Whitman, Walt. “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking.” Poets.org, https://www.poets.org/academy-american-poets/mission-history. Accessed 28 November 2018