Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Death as a sweet release

When our society thinks of death, they think of it in mostly negative terms. It is hard to think of loss in a good way, there is a lot of pain associated with loss, and a mourning for the person that is gone. In Whitman's "When Lilacs Last In the Dooryard Bloom'd" poem, he mourns the loss of President Lincoln, but also acknowledges that death is something that can be seen positively. It is a sad poem, a memory of the lost president, but it also calls others to remember him, and to see his death in a positive light.

throughout the poem there is a bird that is singing a mourning song, which can be interpreted as Whitman's voice throughout the poem, or  I think it can be the voice of the people. Some of the good that can come from Lincoln's death is that it will call the people together, to come together and sing together for a common cause. The first bird calls the others to action, "The gray-brown bird i know receiv'd us comrades threee, And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love." It is a song that the nation sang together, it is a sad event, but one that brought people together.

Death is also painted in a almost humanized way, an ideal way, while Whitman describes the song that the birds are singing. Death is talked of as a mother, that soothingly takes in her children, "Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet, Have none chanted for thee a chance of fullest welcome?" The bird is singing a sweet song of death, one where death is something that is a salve, something that is not scary or full of fear, but something that soothes the soul.

I think Whitman is playing with our feelings of death, death is scary, it is unknown but it is also something that is imminent and impending. Everything and everyone dies, it is a part of life, loss is a part of life. one cannot die unless one has sung the song of life. This portrayal of death is looking into how death is a release, something to be striving for in a way because it is escaping life and embracing a relaxing sleep. 

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