Death and Regeneration in Walt Whitman's Poem, When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom'd

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Death and Regeneration in Walt Whitman's Poem, When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom'd Whitman in 1865 wrote an elegy for President Lincoln entitled "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." The "Lilacs" elegy is an outpouring of the deep sense of loss that Whitman felt after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The President's death was a great shock to the poet; it overwhelmed him in a very personal way. Whitman recognized Lincoln's excellence and importance. When Whitman first heard of the assassination, it was the spring of the year and the lilacs were in bloom. The poem is heavily symbolic. In this first section, Whitman introduces two of the three central symbols used in development. The poet appears in…show more content…
The poet mourns and "shall mourn" with the arrival of spring. Spring, with its character of rebirth and life, will bring reminders of the dead Lincoln - "thought of him I love." "When Lilacs Last" is an elegy on the death of Abraham Lincoln as well as a philosophical poem on death itself. Through the symbolic use of a star, a lilac, and a bird, the poet journeys through grieving love to a final acceptance of death. In spite of the involved symbolism, Whitman's method of arriving at the truth of death follows a pattern far less artificial and more typically human. The acceptance of Lincoln's death, as well as an understanding of death's place in the human pattern, is attained only after an encounter with love and grief. Whitman does not forsake the mournful sense of loss once the full meaning of immortality and peace in death is understood. He discovers them to be compatible parts of a more complete realization. There is agonized emotional distance to travel for the poet to grasp an understanding of the notions of rebirth and immortality that he finds in death. There is room for a thoroughly human awareness of grief. The poet's personal sorrow that is found in "Lilacs." The treatment of death in "Lilacs" indicates how deeply grieved Whitman was by his war experiences and by Lincoln's assassination. In the Lincoln elegy, the poet's beliefs are challenged by exposing the emotions to attack by grief. In

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