This week I was assigned Walt Whitman’s poem, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”. Another piece of work from an artist that I have truly enjoyed as I am familiar with a lot of Walt Whitman’s pieces and he is a brilliant poet. The two critical lenses that could be used to analyze this poem are the biographical approach and the reader-response. The reader-response was strong for me as it is a very romantic poem as the father bird continuously call out to his love, his mate, and this is heartbreaking for the boy to witness and understand and is trying to make sense of it. Whitman writes, “0 past! 0 happy life! 0 songs of joy! In the air, in the woods, over fields, Loved! loved! loved! loved! loved! But my mate no more, no more with me! We two together no more.” (Whitman 24) The poem then takes on a more somber tone with the continuous mention of death and demons.
The critical approach that stands out the most would be the biographical approach in this poem. Walt Whitman was famous for writing about nature in a lot of his work, as well as death. In this poem it transforms from a boy that lives near the ocean and is noticing the mother bird and father bird throughout the year where they call to each other and the mother bird sits on her nest protecting eggs, but then one night doesn’t return. The father bird relentlessly calls for the mother bird but to no avail. Whitman was also known for his correlation of death used as a tool for democracy and sympathy and this is prevalent is this poem as well.
Whitman, Walt. “O Me! O Life!” Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, 2 Apr. 2014, www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/out-cradle-endlessly-rocking.