Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.
It is as if the meditation on death that this poem represents places our lives in the scheme of the natural cycle of life. As we read through the poem we see many more such examples that celebrate life and the rebirth inherent in nature. Every leaf of the lilac plant is said to be a "miracle" as it grows and blossoms, just as the poet mourns the death of his friend. At every stage, death is coupled with new life, as in the following stanza: Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes, and through old woods, (where lately the violets peep'd from the ground, spotting the grey debris;)
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes--passing the endless grass; Passing the yellow-spear'd wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprising; Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards; Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.
Note here how there is ample evidence of the phoenix-like qualities of nature. Violets are emerging, the wheat is "yellow-spear'd" and growing, the apple trees are blossoming, all alongside the corpse that "shall rest in the grave." Thus in this poem it is clear that Whitman is keen to set this tragic event against a wider framework that celebrates life and affirms it. This is not a...