Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking
Walt Whitman, in Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, presents the reader with metaphors and a glimpse of life’s turbulence. Unlike that, and the second poem discussed, there is little relief from the dark mood the poet sets. Using italics through much of the poem, Whitman emphasizes loneliness and loss. In Section 5, he calls upon the sea winds to blow, while “I wait and I wait, till you blow my mate to me.”
That section is preceded by a series of meanderings, in which Whitman recalls memories of not-so-happy times, where a boy (Whitman?) sheds tears and throws himself upon the sand, reminiscing darkly about a more innocent childhood (1). This same theme re-emerges in Section 6: “Down, almost amid the slapping waves, Sat the lone singer, wonderful, causing tears.” And in Section 7, Whitman calls upon the waves to soothe him and asks nature – from the land to the moon – to give him back the mate he loves so much. The section ends in despair, following a series of “O” plaints, in which Whitman expresses the despair his soul feels, and concludes with finality of his emotional grief: “But my love no more, no more with me! We two together no more.”
There also is regret expressed, for in Section 9 Whitman longs for the “peaceful child” he once was, something that he will never experience again. The downward emotional spiral continues when the poet says the sea answers him, saying over and over: “Death, Death, Death, Death, Death” (Section 10).