In this poem by Walt Whitman, one of the most conflicted questions asked by humans (What is the point of life?) is asked. He writes in his typical freeverse style with the employment of anaphora in the first stanza. The first part of the poem asks the question while the second part answers the question.
He uses his own perspective to express the meaning of life and by the end has given the reader his own philosophy.Following the first point, what is the plot / speaker / structure / action of the poem, we know that the plot is a question that is answered with a personal response. The speaker is Whitman and the structure is freeverse with anaphora.
He uses anaphora by using the word “Of” at the beginning of half of the lines. The action of the poem is analyzing the concept and point of life. He is very criticizing of other beings, including himself.The second point asks to divide the poem into parts. There is a clear turn that Whitman made himself: between the two stanzas. As already mentioned, the first stanza asks the question.
It ponders life and how others deal with the journey of life. The second stanza is a poetic answer, and gives the same answer as a part time therapist, part time author.The next point has us look at 1 section at a time and look for diction, syntax, use of figurative language, sounds, parts of speech, tenses, pronouns, and points of view. As already said, “Of” is used in half of the lines. This engages the reader into the train of thought that Whitman is thinking.
When he says “endless trains of the faithless” and “cities fill’d with the foolish” he expresses how everyone betrays each other at some point (or train station) in life. He explains that everyone is foolish and that they cannot nor should they be able to control life. Later, in the next line “for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless”, he criticizes himself for being no better than everyone else.
After learning that sordid meant ignoble actions, I realized that when he said “of all the plodding and sordid crowds” he was trying to explain how they too were struggling with the journey of life. When he says “empty and useless years” he shows how people often waste the limited time they have. He follows his traditional form of syntax, with no rhyme or specific format. One example of figurative language is the personification he uses in the last lines. He doesn’t specifically use any sounds but uses every part of speech. A noun is “train”, a pronoun is “me”, an adjective is “endless”, a verb is “see”, an adverb is “forever”, a preposition is “of”, a conjunction is “and”, and an interjection is “oh”.
As for tenses, it is in the passive voice. Most of the pronouns are in the first person, including me, myself, and I. Twice, in the last two lines, come the pronouns you. Other than that, the only other pronoun is who. The point of view is clearly Whitman’s as he asks the question, gives his own example and opinion, then responds to the question with his own answer.
Finally, the last point, AGENCY. AGENCY asks who’s in control / leading the way. The answer is Walt Whitman. As said above, this is in his point of view. He is the one in control and directing the path that has been created by our imaginations after reading the poem. Although he leaves us a bit negative from the first stanza, he ends positively by reminding us that we should be grateful for what we have.
Instead of convincing us further that we always want something better and that we always believe things never turn out the way they should, he reminds us that the purpose of life is to live. He combats his own despair and depression by giving us an answer to look up to.