The Ship Poem

Decent Essays
Within The Ship Starting, there are three notable instances of repetition. For one, the word “ship” occurs three times (including in the title). Given that ships are the topic of interest in the poem, this instance of repetition has the basic effect of bringing the locus of the text back to the title, or central theme. The second example can be observed in the second and third lines, where the word “sails” is followed by “moonsails,” a made-up compound version of the former word. Using the same word twice, and in this case, by adding on and modifying its second appearance, the reader is likely to acquire a clear picture of the scene that Whitman lays out in the poem. Emphasizing the image of the ship’s “sails” by preceding the words with diction such as “all” and “even” attributes the sails to a sense of abundance or freedom. The third instance of repetition occurs in line four, where “she speeds she speeds” is used to describe the motions that the ship is making. Whereas it would be considered grammatically correct to include a comma after the first mention of “she speeds,” leaving it out better reflects the content of the poem: “she speeds she speeds” gives the impression of a ship slicing through the water quickly. In many cases, using the same word twice in a row takes away from a text’s message, but in The Ship Starting, this repetition instead works in Whitman’s favor by supporting the visual imagery he seeks to create.

Walt Whitman’s The Ship Starting is a poem that
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