I Sit and Look Out

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If, ‘I Hear America Singing’ depicts a brighter and more up-beat society; ‘I Sit and Look Out’ describes a dark, sad, corrupted, sorrowful world. Walt Whitman uses sad words describing emotion and just all sorts of corruption imaginable. In this sense the entire poem is a poignant criticism of life, with the speaker acting as a detached observer, finally leaving it upon the reader to react and judge against the malady of life that the poet shows within the framework of just ten lines.

To begin with, the speaker simply opens a window for everyone to see what he sees while he "sit and look out". What he sees is a complete sorrowful world which seems to be afflicted with unending misfortune. In the first three lines, the speaker reports of hearing the secret sobbing of young people, regretting their own mistakes. Among the poor lives, he sees the pathetic picture of mother being awfully neglected by her children. Consequently, the helpless mother grows "scepter thin and die" and her children are hardly bothered about her pathetic death. Both the pictures are extremely moving along with the other pictures that follow.

However, in the fourth line, the speaker speculates the picture of a wife being badly abused by her husband. He also sees the malicious womanizer or the seducer of young women. Moreover, he also notes the frustrations involved in the unreciprocated love as well as the jealousy of the young lovers because of the denial of love. All these pathetic sights he sees "on the earth" while he "sit and look out."

In the seventh line of the poem, the speaker keenly observes the famine at the sea. The famine however, goads the sailors to throw away people into the sea and save themselves from being starved. Even he observes the tyranny of the haughty men, victimizing the working class, the poor people as well as the Negroes. But despite recording the series of misfortunes that affects healthy living, the speaker chooses to remain "silent". In other words,...
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