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    Poem Analysis: “Facing West from California’s Shores” by Walt Whitman Essay

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    When I read a verse form. I get an thought of what the writer is seeking to convey. When I read it once more. it touches something within. The more times a verse form is read. the more it grows within. until its really thought takes land in some portion or other in our head. and merely so is it to the full understood. But because we all have different holds for the verse form to catch on to. we all come from different backgrounds and even different times. how can we of all time say “this is the right manner ( to construe it ) ” ? The reply is we can non. and so I can merely make my best to reason my point of position in the undermentioned text. and hope that you. the reader. will bear with me.

    After holding read Confronting West from California’s Shores I induced the undermentioned thesis statement: Confronting West from California’s Shores is a verse form about American individuality in the universe. It aims to advance American nationalism. while at the same clip puting the nature of human psychological science in focal point. and do us roll about our hereafter.

    “Walt Whitman revolutionised American poetry” . discoursing subjects considered. if non taboo. so most inappropriate. It is nevertheless non merely what he wrote. but how he wrote. He is frequently considered to be the male parent of the free poetry. a signifier which allows the poet to compose more freely. as if speech production. without idea to rime. meter or other traditional techniques. This does non intend that free poetry is without regulations ; on the contrary. they have but changed. In this signifier one might utilize return with fluctuation of phrases. images and syntactical forms. The pick of exact words and associations are merely some factors that contribute to the beauty of the free poetry.

    If one considers the words used in Confronting West from California’s Shores. one may happen the words that are chosen. and which of these Whitman has chosen to reiterate. are painting a ( metaphorical ) image. Phrases like “facing” . “Inquiring. tireless. seeking what is yet unfound” . “almost” and “long holding wander’d” all give us a sense of an ongoing hunt ; a yearning for something we can non happen. “The circle about circled” tell us something has come to an terminal. so does the past tense of “wander’d” . but in between these two poetries Whitman tells us where we come from. The “from”s letup us into a beat. and in a manner this has a stronger consequence than the traditional rimes in conveying this message. ever switching our focal point from one topographic point to the following ; of all time fluxing gently. In traditional verse forms the linguistic communication is reasonably. the rimes and beat ; here we perceive the images painted by the words in our heads ( both those induced every bit good as those native to our mentality ) .

    One image in peculiar bases out in this verse form: “Facing West from California’s Shores” . Why is this such strong an image? To derive an apprehension of this we must foremost hold an apprehension of the history of the white adult male in America:

    From the minute the white adult male set pes in America. conquering and hoarded wealth hunting has been his chief pursuit. Peoples wanted to settle in this “land of opportunities” . and shortly enlargement began westward in hunt of new land. This western frontier for long was the really image of civilization suppressing the wilderness—of advancement with clear consequences. In short. we had a end. Then. in 1850. California became the 31st province of the USA. The gold haste had come and gone ( 1848-1855 ) . and it would look that all that could be discovered had been so. With no terra incognita left to detect. no more land to suppress. where should they travel? Any farther West and it would be east once more.

    This is rather brightly done by Whitman: “The circle about circled” . “very old” . an ongoing journey about to come to an terminal. While at the same clip “a child” . “Inquiring. tireless. seeking what is yet unfound” . “the house of maternity” . a new beginning. He places the beginning at the terminal. and the terminal at the beginning ; a beautiful ambiguity. placing America both at the beginning and terminal of our history. This brings us to the portion of history Whitman is seeking to convey.

    Whitman is stating us about our lineage ; after all. to cognize where one is traveling. one must cognize whence one is coming. What can we take pride in? In replying this. it is instead obvious that non all of history is every bit relevant. at least non if you want a peculiar position. Further. which parts of history one includes may specify our individuality. Do we desire to be defined as those who come from the ancient Greeks ; the really cradle of western civilization? Or do we desire to be of the ancient warriors from China? Whitman does neither. In his yearss. Asia was considered to be the place of birth of civilization ; he starts at that place. What he tells us of is alien: “from the valleies of Kashmere” . “from the flowery peninsulas. and the spice islands” .

    However. what he doesn’t include is merely as of import: Whitman excludes everything that has to make with Europe. even though most Americans emigrated from thence. Why would he make this? Why does he non desire to give the reader a European feeling of individuality? To me. the reply is far from obvious. He could be seeking to ease a more alien feeling. as Asia frequently feels to Europeans ; or he could merely exclude it to advance a separate American individuality. as America wanted to be independent from Europe. Either manner. with no reminders of Europe and its greatness—America had as of yet non had many great achievements of their own—the American individuality is stronger.

    Identities are of import. and how we perceive and analyse a conversation or a poem depends on who the talker is. In Confronting West from California’s Shores the “I” is described but mistily. At first it seems to be about a individual ; a traveler or a craftsman. possibly even Whitman himself. In the oxymoron “I. a kid. really old…” he could be mentioning to how he was of old age. but still unfastened. asking. like a kid. For Whitman himself travelled rather a batch. but it could besides be a journey of the mind—a journey in which he tries to happen a manner to show himself. to be accepted ; or a journey like the transcendentalists of the clip undertook. These are mere guesss. but Whitman’s work is most surely controversial.

    He was inspired by Emerson to compose about subjects which during Whitman’s clip were extremely polarised. and it has been discussed whether he might hold been bisexual. a subject non less negatively viewed so than it is now by some people. The “circle about circled” could mention to his life. he was after all 41 old ages old. and mid-life crisis are non un-normal. I do nevertheless see this to be the least likely of all the readings one might hold of the verse form in inquiry. Rather. as the “I” in this verse form says “Look of the shores of my Western sea” . it could be America herself. or the spirit of humanity that speaks to us. If America is the speechmaker. it makes great sense for her to be “a kid. really old” . for she was both old as a land and new as a state. Furthermore. as Whitman was loyal. he might utilize the grandiose and overpowering experiencing the verse form gives the reader to animate nationalism. Although this in some ways makes sense. America herself has ne’er travelled anyplace geographically. Therefore I believe the ego of this text to be humanity. or civilization ; perchance merely the American portion of humanity. but humanity however. This makes sense in visible radiation of their ideas on how civilization sprung into being in Asia ( as mentioned above ) . and now stands on California’s shores. looking west towards the topographic point where we all began.

    Having looked merely on the chief organic structure of the verse form therefore far. it is clip to see the last two poetries ( in parentheses ) . The verse form has. in my sentiment. hitherto been instead optimistic. At first we get the image of a hunt. about complete. Then we move on to all the fantastic topographic points we originate from. He ends it all with stating that he is “very pleas’d and joyous” . giving the feeling that after all this traveling. we have reached what we wanted. Had the verse form ended at that place. we might non hold thought more about it ; but it does non. For even though we have wandered. “round the Earth holding wander’d” . even though we “face place once more. really pleas’d and joyous” . there is slightly of a yearning still. For now that we have discovered all of the terra incognita. what else are we to make?

    We have had a great journey. but possibly the journey was a finish in itself. And even after all these achievements. still there is unease and seeking for something greater. For now. what else is at that place to snuff out our tireless asking? What is it that humanity wants to make ; to happen? We have now populated all the ( metaphorical ) corners of this universe. so what now? This is what Whitman asks us. demoing that behind the happy surface lies a uncertainty. a oppugning reconsideration. This could be considered slightly pessimistically. as in “what are we making here on Earth? Do we hold a intent? Does anything we do truly do a difference? ” . but the imagination does its work in doing the verse form bright and hoping.

    This is the manner the human head seems. to me at least. to work. I think most people retrieve a clip in their life when they wondered about life. decease. how stuff plants. if the existence has a boundary. It seems to be in our nature to ask. to “seeking what is yet unfound” . But what happens when we found it all? The verse form urges the reader to appreciate the importance of these inquiries. To sum it up: Confronting West from California’s Shores is a verse form placing America at the completion of our history therefore far ( when it was written ) . and yet at the start of it all. confronting optimism. Giving America such an of import function in history is instead loyal of Whitman. and the manner he at the same time credits the remainder of the universe. makes it a good kind of loyal. He is. though. oppugning it all at the same clip. doing us reconsider what our intent here is. He has discovered an of import point in the human mind ; that which drives us frontward. All this is done elegantly with pleasant imagination. go forthing the reader. non with a depressive reconsideration. but instead satisfied. but oppugning at bosom ; a seed of idea is planted. and the poet has completed his mission.


    [ 1 ] . The Norton Anthology of American Literature ( Shorter Seventh Edition. Volume 1 ) . p. 991 [ 2 ] . hypertext transfer protocol: //en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Walt_Whitman ( 09. 11. 2012 ) [ 3 ] . hypertext transfer protocol: //en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Free_verse ( 14. 11. 2012 )

    [ 4 ] . The Norton Anthology of American Literature ( Shorter Seventh Edition. Volume 1 ) . p. 1057 [ 5 ] . The Norton Anthology of American Literature ( Shorter Seventh Edition. Volume 1 ) . p. 991–995

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