Literary Analysis Of “Give Me The Splendid Silent Sun” By Walt Whitman

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Analysis of “Give Me the Spolendid Silent Moon”



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Walt Whitman clearly stated his ambition in Drum Taps poetry collection in an unambiguous January 6, 1865 note to William O’Connor. . . to express. . . With all (its) despair, the impending action of this place and time. . . “The unimaginable anguish caused by the suffering, the beautiful youth men, in wholesale blood and agony.” Whitman says Drum Taps is a collection which resonates with “the blasting trumpet and the undertones. . . “comradeship, human love, and the clear notesof faith and triumph,” (Bradley 765).

Whitman’s poem “Give Me the Silent Silent Sun,” published first in Drum Taps in May 1865, describes how he felt about the Civil War based on his own experiences in New York City. Nearly everyone in the city was discussing the war efforts in the North. F.O. Whitman’s landmark book American Renaissance, F.O. Matthiessen explains that Whitman’s increased perception of the meanings of suffering was caused by his decision to volunteer as a nurse during Civil War. Whitman, who was living in Manhattan at the time, heard “the sound and rustle of drums” and “the clang and clang of muzzles” (line 29). He also saw “the soldiers in companies and regiments” and “the dense brigade”. . . with high-piled military carts” (lines 34 and 35), which all refer to the ongoing struggle between Unions and Confederates over state’s rights. Whitman’s anthem Beat! Beat! He also discusses his commitment to the military principles in the North in Drums! Whitman explores two opposing viewpoints in “Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun”, where he argues that peaceful coexistence with the environment can only be achieved by a total indifference to war. While the second view is one of a calm, peaceful coexistence of the elements with nature, while the first is one that involves a peaceful attitude of co-existence, with no need for war.

Whitman’s use of recitation or declamation in songs like “Song of Myself” is also prominently displayed in “Give Me the Slendid Moon.” Here, he defends his ideals of the natural world with commands such “Give Me the Field”, (line 3), “Give Me an Arbor”, (line 4), and “Give Me the Perfect Night” (6). Whitman, on the other hand, displays his ambivalence by using lines like “Keep Your Woods O Nature”, “Keep Your Fields of Clover” and “Keep the Blooming Buckwheat Fields” to show his love of city life.

Analysis of “Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun”. Whitman paints a portrait of nature apart from the “noise in the world” line 12. This is a metaphor that reflects the urban dissonance created by the Industrial Revolution. The “splendid silence sun” symbolises the source of all human life. “Splendid” refers to the changing seasons that produce ripe fruits, crops of wheat, trees, and fresh vegetables. While “silent”, refers to the sun’s indifference toward the man-made societies. Whitman’s connection to nature is illustrated in lines 8 and 12. Line 12 reads, “Give Me a Perfect Child” and line 11.

Whitman’s poetic vision is centered on music in “Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun”, which also includes a focus on poetry that must communicate a sense and tone of rhythm and structure. Whitman is a musical being that depends on nature’s music. His “spontaneous song,” which reflects his need to improvise and expresses his personal harmony to nature, is a contrapuntal fugue tuned to his spiritual self. Line 12

Whitman’s love for his city is reinforced by his desire to return to it (lines 16-17). In line 27, Whitman reverts to the first stanza with images of his city. “Give Me Faces and Streets” (line 27), and “Give Me Women – Give me comrades in arms and lovers by the thousand!” lines 28-29. Whitman uses this second way to describe his love of music, through the singing and dancing of the people on the streets and Broadway.

The music continues at the end with “soldiers moving” (line 29, the blaring and banging of drums, which is Whitman’s love for military parades. The musical finale is “People.” . . with strong voices” in line 36, “Manhattan streets are filled with powerful throbs” in line 37 and “The endlessly loud chorus.” . . The turbulent musical chorus (line 39) is composed of New York City’s lively crowds singing and shouting about their victory over Confederacy.

Whitman’s last line of “Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun”, is Whitman making his final decision. He wishes to have “Manhattan faces, eyes and ears forever.” Whitman has accepted the chaotic and turbulent city without reservation.


The editors Bradley, Scully, and Blodgett edited the work. “Whitman’s Art: Comments, 1855-1892.” Leaves of Grass. NY: W.W. Norton, 1973.

Matthiessen, F.O. American Renaissance: Art and Expression during the Ages of Emerson and Whitman. Oxford University Press published a book in New York in 1979.


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    Jamie Lane is a 31-year-old blogger and traveler who loves to share his educational experiences with others. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has been traveling the world ever since. Jamie is always looking for new and interesting ways to learn, and he loves to share her findings with others.

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