Whitman v. Why? Why's "berkley by hearseback" and Walt Whitman's Verse 52 from Song of myself

Lay me down in a hearseback It's where my new best look is at If I slit a purse or two then I can't curse If my cake is cooked and minor veins are mapped .These tits not filled with milk These cold bones wrapped in hunger Like a bundle of sticks in a fire So slow it leaves them unburned, black and yearning Will this New Year's see my rotting hair's release? Will my new black book pull the sick from my deepest creases? A gift from The Maccabees to mom to me No more flyer-backs or receipts Using magazines for tables A girl's down bed And corresponding naked wings unable When I felt my ribs come closing slow A row of snakes set to strangle I'm survived Lay me down in a hearseback It's where my new best look is at If I slit a purse or two then I can't curse If my cake is cooked and minor veins are mapped But you might find me in the white pages yet My name is next to numbers Like someone's father's father Left listed in the Book of Numbers Like someone's father's father Left listed in the Book of Numbers

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he complains of my gab and my loitering.I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable; I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. The last scud of day holds back for me; It flings my likeness after the rest, and true as any, on the shadow’d wilds; It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk. I depart as air—I shake my white locks at the runaway sun; I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags. I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love; If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles. You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean; But I shall be good health to you nevertheless, And filter and fibre your blood. Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged; Missing me one place, search another; I stop somewhere, waiting for you.

1. Why did you pick this poem/song?

I chose this poem and song combination, because they are closely related in the way both speakers approach death. The poem and song are personal to both me, as the reader, and the authors. This year, I will be turning 30. By no means am I old, but onset of the big "3-OH" has made me increasingly aware of my own mortality. Therefore, these two pieces of art speak to me as they both deal with mortality and death.

2. Identification and analysis of literary devices found in the song:

Metaphor- "Like a bundle of sticks in a fire so slow it leaves them unburned, black and yearning."

The singer is comparing his life to a bundle of sticks in a fire. The sticks have not been burned yet, but they have turned black and will be burned soon. He states that they are "yearning" to be burned. Similarly the singer is yearning to die. He feels that he has already done many things with his life so death does not scare him. He welcomes it.

Allusion- "But you might find me in the white pages yet, my name is next to numbers Like someone's father's father: left listed in the book of numbers"

The singer is making an allusion to both the phonebook and the Book of Numbers from the bible. The singer is alluding to his faith. Symbolically, this line occurs at the end of the song, much like how some people begin to address their faith at the end of their lives.

3. Identification and analysis of literary devices found in the poem:

Personification: "The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he complains of my gab and my loitering."

Whitman states that hawk "complains". Animals can't really complain. At least, not so specifically about "gab and loitering". Whitman does this to give the hawk humanlike qualities. In the next line, Whitman says that he is just like the hawk. So, Whitman may be personifying the hawk to further establish the connection he shares with the bird.

Metaphor: "I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable; I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world."

Whitman is comparing himself to the hawk. Like the hawk, Whitman is untamed and "untranslatable". His comparison to the hawk shows both his wild disposition and his connection to nature.

4. Identification and analysis of the song’s themes:

One theme of the song is death. The first few lines deal with the singer expressing that he has gotten the most out of life and welcomes death. He is even "yearning" for it. To express that he has gotten most the most out of life, he states "these tits not filled with milk". This suggests that life has nothing left to offer the singer. It has dried up. He has accomplished everything he wanted. Another theme is aging. Specifically, the singer is apprehensive about aging. He is unsure what the future holds. The singer wonders if his "rotting hair will release". The theme speaks to me because as I age, I am also apprehensive about what the future holds.

5. Identification and analysis of the poem’s themes

Like "Berkeley by Hearseback", Song of Myself Verse 52 also addresses death. Whitman's approach is similar to Why?'s in that it is positive. Whitman knows that death will bring him closer to nature. Upon death, Whitman will "bequeath" himself to the soil. However, this won't be a bad experience for Whitman, as he will provide good health to those still living.

Credits:

Created with images by sgath92 - "Hearses" • marcelo noah - "Walt Whitman - por Mathew Brady (algo entre 1855 e 1865)" • miss.libertine - "Why?" • Me in ME - "Red Tail Hawk Perched" • sarangib - "university building campus"

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