Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

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"Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" is a poem by Walt Whitman.

Overview[edit]

The poem features a young boy walking on the beach, who finds two mockingbirds nesting and watches them. The female bird fails to appear one day, and the male bird cries out for her. The bird's cries create an awakening in the boy, who translates what the male is saying in the rest of the poem. As this happens, the boy recognizes the impact of nature on the human soul and his own burgeoning consciousness.[1]

Publication history[edit]

Title page of the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass, which included "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"

Originally titled "A Child's Remembrance", the poem was first published in the Saturday Press on December 24, 1859.[2] The newspaper included this introduction: "Our readers may, if they choose, consider as our Christmas or New Year's present to them, the curious warble by Walt Whitman".[3]

The poem was later included in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass[4] under the title "A Word Out of the Sea" (and occasionally erroneously referred to, even by Whitman himself, as "A Voice Out of the Sea").[5] "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" is found in the title section, Sea-Drift. Several of Whitman's individuals poems, including "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking", focus on the seashore; his first was "A Sketch".[6]

Analysis and response[edit]

The poem is an excellent example of Whitman's romanticism and his recurring themes of love, sexuality, death, and loss.[citation needed]

Upon its first publication, a reviewer for the Cincinnati newspaper Daily Commercial called the poem "unmixed and hopeless drivel". and a disgrace to its publisher.[3] Shortly after, on January 7, 1860, the Saturday Press published a response to that review titled "All About a Mocking-Bird", celebrating Whitman's poem.[7] This article may have been written by Whitman himself.[3][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bauerlein, Mark. The Walt Whitman Archive http://www.whitmanarchive.org/criticism/current/encyclopedia/entry_43.html
  2. ^ Genoways, Ted. Walt Whitman and the Civil War: America's Poet During the Lost Years of 1860–1862. University of California Press, 2009: 19. ISBN 978-0-520-25906-5
  3. ^ a b c Kaplan, Justin. Walt Whitman: A Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980: 241. ISBN 0-671-22542-1
  4. ^ Walt Whitman Archive
  5. ^ Traubel, Horace; Schmidgall, Gary (2001). Intimate with Walt: selections from Walt Whitman's conversations with Horace Traubel, 1888-1892. University of Iowa Press. p. 29. ISBN 9780877457671. 
  6. ^ Loving, Jerome. Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself. University of California Press, 1999: 84. ISBN 0-520-22687-9
  7. ^ a b Loving, Jerome. Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself. University of California Press, 1999: 237. ISBN 0-520-22687-9