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Research Papers on From Pent-Up Aching Rivers

Poetry is one of the most difficult forms of literature to explain in a research paper. If you are assigned a research paper on Walt Whitman's poems, including "From Pent-up Aching Rivers", our literary experts will custom write you an explication of the poem.

Here are a few suggestions of topics to write a research paper on regarding Whitman's From Pent-up Aching Rivers:

  • Discuss the symbolism of a river in the poem
  • Discuss Whitman's use of nature to reflect feelings
  • Explain the sexual overtones of the poem
  • Answer the question - Is the poem about love or sexuality?

Though a river also is part of the title, From Pent-Up Aching Rivers by Walt Whitman, speaks of a different kind of “river” – that of a person’s human desires, which ebb and flow like a tidal river. It is the cry of a lonely man seeking love, a person who is lonely and who longs for the “perfect body” (line 24) to come to him.

From Pent-Up Aching Rivers

From Pent-Up Aching Rivers and Whitman

This is a soul deeply agitated: “—The furious storm through me careering—I passionately trembling” (l 34), where the poet longs to talk to “the perfect girl who understands me” and to share her body with his (l 45-46). Yet, this does not happen; the poet’s soul is tortured because he is alone.

It is only at the end of the poem that we learn Whitman is daydreaming in a restaurant, observing people moving around him. Yet, the one he has dreamed about does not appear: “From plenty of persons near, and yet the right person not near” (l 48).

Who is this “right person” of whom Whitman speaks? I interpret this climactic part of the poem to be not the girl of his dreams, but rather the perfection he seeks in his own soul. This is because Whitman’s last two lines (62-63) call upon the divine act to celebrate, while his “stalwart loins” long not for sexual fulfillment (though that is certainly a possible interpretation), but rather the human desire to reach out and touch God and goodness.

Whitman's Poetry

This is an enigmatic poem that can be read from several perspectives. Here, the soul becomes “The female form approaching” (l 26) which the poet longs to embrace, for “I love you—O you entirely possess me” (l 31). In the end, the poet appears to have satisfied his quest for divine love, for he appears happy and ready to celebrate.

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