Out of the Cradle or Out of the Mind?
English Literature and Composition 103
12 May 2015
Walt Whitman: father, husband, poet. According to the Poetry Foundation, “Whitman is regarded as one of America’s most significant nineteenth century poets.” One piece of his was written in the late 1800’s. Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking is a poem about the reminiscence of life. This poem features a boy walking along the beach and finds two mockingbirds. These birds interact with one another everyday. However, one day the female bird fails to appear, and the male cries “Out of the mocking-birds throat,” for her (Whitman 2). When the young ...view middle of the document...
Another element illustrating the theme is repetition. Repetition in Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking encases Whitman’s view on the beginning of life between the mockingbirds. Repetition produces thought, emphasis, clarity, and emotion for the reader. There are many forms of repetition. However, Whitman specifically chose Conduplicatio. Conduplicatio is a figure of repetition in which the key word or words in one phrase are repeated at or near the very beginning of successive sentence. Initially Whitman focuses on the repetition of the first three words of each line: “Out of the cradle endlessly rocking, / Out of the mocking-birds throat, the musical shuttle, / Out of the Ninth-month midnight” (Whitman 1-3). Whitman repeats “Out of the” at the beginning of each sentence. The phrase repeated represents the significance of life. Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking takes the reader through a cycle of life. Everything starts with love and ends with death. Those three words repeated reflect back to the cycle of life and where something comes out of. This serves as an outline for the poem and it’s theme of love and death. However, this isn’t the only way Whitman uses Conduplicatio.
Another way Whitman uses Conduplicatio is by repeating the word from. This repetition provides a powerful and effective rhetorical device allowing the reader to recall back on past experiences:
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
From your memories sad brother, from the fitful risings and
fallings I heard,
From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen as if
From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in the
From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease,
From the myriad thence-arous’d words,
From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
From such as now they start the scene revisiting, (lines 8-15.)
The Conduplicatio used here allows the reader to reminisce and remember their personal memories and connections with the lines in the poem. Love is delineated when reading “From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in the / mist, / From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease,” (Whitman 11, 12). Love is reflected in these two lines by talking about it’s presence and how the persona’s heart responds. Death is shown by the depressed emotions Whitman portrays. In lines 1 and 2, the author mentions memories between the birds and persona’s sad brother. Memories were specified to give the reader a thought of grieving for a lost one and connect to back to the theme, death. The repetition of from is crucial for the reader in order to understand Whitman’s mindset expressed as the poem progresses.