On the Beach at Night

by: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
On the beach at night,
Stands a child with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.
Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter,
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades.
From the beach the child holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.
Weep
not,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears,
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition,
Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure,
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine.

child,

Then dearest child mournest thou only for Jupiter?
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?
Something there is,
(With my lips soothing thee, adding I whisper,
I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,)
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter
Longer than sun or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades.
[Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892) paints a scene of a little girl and her father looking up at the
stars on an autumn night, at a beach. Notice that Whitman approves of the father teaching his
daughter astronomy. Whitman had very liberal ideas about education that were ahead of his
time,
the
19th
century.
She sees clouds engulf the stars, blocking her view. The voice of the poet reassures her that
one, the stars will return, and two, a force exists that is even more eternal than the stars.
Whitman really knows his stars. The astronomy in this poem is quite accurate. In autumn, in
the Northern Hemisphere, Jupiter is visible for most of the night. Also, you would find it
where Whitman tells you to look, in the East. http://www.ehow.com/how_6398171_jupiter-

Whitman portrays himself as a public spokesman of the masses. These long lists that he uses set the mood of the poem. First of all. It certainly possesses immortality (“Something there is more immortal even than the stars. “All spheres. the Seven Sisters. civilizations languages. barbarisms. Yet for Whitman. one can still take away something. the sun and the stars will all expire. Similarly. the length of the lines in the poem vary. His work shows considerable influence from Thoreau and Emerson. Whitman was probably a Unitarian. The sentence structure remains the same throughout the poem.] In “On the Beach at Night Alone. “All nations. both Unitarians.” (10) furthermore emphasize Whitman’s belief in the Over-Soul. He marvels at a being that can exist while Jupiter. These sounds evoke a gentleness. the repetition and parallel structure that his poems contain reinforce the connection between everything in nature.html.” Then Whitman says twice “weep not. Even if one comes to this poem as an atheist. grown. but the characteristics of that deity are uncertain.night-sky. But Whitman has faith that there is a being in the universe that will endure. thinking the planet has gone forever. Whitman uses many “w” words throughout this poem like “whisper. one would repeatedly tell the child not to cry. large. aka. There is a touch of realism here too since if one were really consoling a child. Whitman’s’ use of catalogues stands as the most recognizable Whitman characteristic that illustrates his beliefs. planets. First the child “silently weeps. ungrown. What is it like for a star to die? Is there something older than the stars? Is there something that will exist when the stars are gone? Whitman doesn’t give us dogmatic answers to these questions. In fact. and the other stars pass away. a sense of soothing. colors. He realizes that even though the clouds are a temporary threat to Jupiter. however. The usage of “All” 11 times emphasizes the inclusion of everything in the universe. but gives every little detail. informative tone that grabs . He likely believed in a God who expressed Himself through the creation of nature.”) but beyond that there is little we can say about it. he sees within it a higher truth. small. Whitman doesn’t mock her simplicity. Whitman does not do directly to the point. this immortality itself is an incredible thing. “A vast similitude interlocks all” (4) shows his verbose nature. long after all the stars have burned out. without any drastic change.” His sensitivity to the weeping of a child shows compassion. The repetition of the word “weep” here is striking.” “watching” and “while” among others.” “watch. To the extent that he was anything. Although Whitman uses a great deal of structural ways to stress his ideas. the moon. He is content to simply raise the questions. In addition. Whitman uses a variety of writing techniques to get his point across. the sun. moons. a day will come when the existence of Jupiter will end.” Walt Whitman develops the idea that everyone has a connection with everything else. Whitman’s’ extravagance with his words further illustrates his idea of the Over-Soul. another autumn constellation. It is interesting how Whitman pulls out a profound realization out of a child’s simple sadness. The tone of the poem is a very loud. Whitman hints at the existence of a deity here. including nature. First. Most importantly. perhaps a sense of wonder.” (5) shows the idea that everything is connected in nature. he also uses many other ways of delivering his ideas. Far from it. The child cries seeing clouds obscure Jupiter. He also alludes to the Pleiades. For example. suns.

Whitman moreover illustrates the connection between everything in life. most of all. The emphasis placed on the word “all” adds to the characterization of Whitman as a powerful speaker. Lastly. Participating in his own poem. celebrates universal brotherhood and democracy.ones attention. Furthermore. Whitman. Once again. Ultimately. Whitman’s belief in the Over-Soul reveals the bond between nature and the universe. . Whitman stresses the fact that all humans are equal in that “All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe” (11) share similar connections with nature. Whitman takes part in his own poem. the inclusion of the word “all” so many times demonstrates Whitman’s belief in that everyone is connected no matter what their position is in society.