Tears: Poem by Walt Whitman - Summary & Analysis

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Tears! tears! tears!
In the night, in solitude, tears,
On the white shore dripping, dripping, suck’d in by the sand,
Tears, not a star shining, all dark and desolate,
Moist tears From the eyes of a muffled head;
O who is that ghost? that, Form in the dark, with tears?
What shapeless lump is that, bent, crouch’d there on the sand?
Streaming tears, sobbing tears, throes, choked with wild cries,
O storm, embodied, rising, careering with swift steps along the beach!
O wild and dismal night storm, with wind-O belching and desperate!
O shade so sedate decorous by day, with calm countenance and regulated pace,
But away at night as you Fly, non e looking-O then the un loosen’d ocean,
Of tears! tears! tears!


      Summary. Tears is a poem of thirteen short lines wherein the poet addresses the wild and dismal night storm with incessant down pour of rain. But he metaphorically calls the continuous downpour of rain as the tears of the eyes of a muffled head. That form in the dark is likened to a ghost. That sedate shade is decorous during the day time with a calm countenance and regulated pace.

      On the white shore or the beach the poet is crouched on the sand. He sees his own spirit or ghost with a muffled head weeping desperately and shedding moist tears. His ghost is a shapeless lump. While shedding tears it is choked with wild cries. With none to observe him the ghost sheds tears creating an unloosened ocean.

      Critical Analysis. The suggestiveness that lies throughout the poem is something that gives the poet great credit. The masterly development of the first impression created in the minds of the readers by the first few lines is unique. The sonorous alliteration present throughout the poem adds significance to the choice of words. The following comments of a critic are noteworthy: “The storm and the human creature out in it exchange Forces, appearance and personality almost From line to line. The tears are the rain but who is it that is weeping? The night, the tempest, the sea-shore are part of the solitude and the despair they cover-part of the out-pouring of passion and sorrow which they liberate, echo and absorb.”

      The conversational style and the technique of soliloquy heighten the imaginative nature of the content of many of the poems of Whitman. It is true of this poem also.

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