On The Beach At Night

Topics: Sun, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson Pages: 2 (502 words) Published: February 23, 2014
Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) paints a scene of a little girl and her father looking up at the stars on an autumn night, at a beach. Notice that Whitman approves of the father teaching his daughter astronomy. Whitman had very liberal ideas about education that were ahead of his time, the 19th century. She sees clouds engulf the stars, blocking her view. The voice of the poet reassures her that one, the stars will return, and two, a force exists that is even more eternal than the stars. Whitman really knows his stars. The astronomy in this poem is quite accurate. In autumn, in the Northern Hemisphere, Jupiter is visible for most of the night. Also, you would find it where Whitman tells you to look, in the East. http://www.ehow.com/how_6398171_jupiter-night-sky.html. He also alludes to the Pleiades, aka, the Seven Sisters, another autumn constellation. The repetition of the word "weep" here is striking. First the child "silently weeps." Then Whitman says twice "weep not." His sensitivity to the weeping of a child shows compassion. There is a touch of realism here too since if one were really consoling a child, one would repeatedly tell the child not to cry. Whitman uses many "w" words throughout this poem like "whisper," "watch," "watching" and "while" among others. These sounds evoke a gentleness, a sense of soothing. It is interesting how Whitman pulls out a profound realization out of a child's simple sadness. The child cries seeing clouds obscure Jupiter, thinking the planet has gone forever. Whitman doesn't mock her simplicity. Far from it, he sees within it a higher truth. He realizes that even though the clouds are a temporary threat to Jupiter, a day will come when the existence of Jupiter will end. In fact, the sun and the stars will all expire. But Whitman has faith that there is a being in the universe that will endure, long after all the stars have burned out. Whitman hints at the existence of a deity here, but the characteristics of that deity are...
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