Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

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Walt Whitman (1819—1892) American poet


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Poem by Whitman, published as “A Word Out of the Sea” in Leaves of Grass (1860) and given its present title in 1871.

At night, a boy steals out from his Long Island farm home to listen to the calls of a pair of mockingbirds by the sea. One night the female is gone, and her mate, from the nest to which she will never return, issues his plaintive call. The solitary singer becomes a symbol of the poet's daemon, and his mysterious aria is interpreted by the whispering current of the sea as “Death.” The sea, symbol of the spiritual world, thus shows the boy that physical love is spiritualized through death for poetic creation, and the poet says, “my own songs awaked from that hour.”

Subjects: Literature.

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