Poets To Come: by Walt Whitman - Summary & Analysis

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Poets To Come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood , native, athletic, continental, greater than before known,
Arouse! for you must justify me.
I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness,
I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.


      Summary. The poem, Poets To Come is an address to the future poets and future singers in the making. Whitman is an optimist. He places much responsibility on the future poets. He elucidates what the poets have got to do. He instills as it were, a robustness in the new generation of poets, orators, and musicians. America had emerged a new Nation after the Civil War. As an optimist Whitman expects the best for his Nation. He wants every individual to deem it his important duty to contribute to the prosperity of his Nation.

Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.

      These lines form the theme of the poets to come. It is a wishful thinking of the poet. He asks the future poets to continue the job from where he stopped. He expects a lot from the future generation of poets, orators and singers. He expects them to serve humanity in general. They would become the voice of the people. He asks them to justify their respective professions of poets, musicians and orators. He wants them to guide the country’s future towards prosperity. The country and its people would welcome them if they do justice to their profession. Whitman banks a lot on the poets of posterity.


      The poem, Poets To Come is a welcome song to the future poets. “Whitman tells that he has paved the path for the future poets, or singers to come. He says he has justified his role as a poet and has contributed as much as he could to the realm of poetry. He has great faith in the poets of posterity. He wants them to justify him. He wants them to do bigger things, splendid things in life and make a niche for themselves in the world of poetry.”

      A poet according to Whitman himself is not a dreamer living in a world of fantasy, but he is destined to play a significant role in shaping the course of human history. A poet according to him is the equalizer of his age and land: “He is the arbiter of the diverse, he is the key.”

      With optimism to the brim, he places the destiny of the country and its people in the hands of the future bards. The future poets will be acceptable to the people also if they justify Whitman’s own words: “The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.”

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