My initial impression? It’s certainly different from other poetry we tend to see in classroom settings. I don’t really like the cluttered style, it makes it difficult for me to find a pattern or rhythm. I have nothing against free-verse, but the length of the individual lines makes it extremely tiresome for the reader. My group was assigned section 52, his last section before death. I dislike this because all the different lines, symbols, and word choices seem to have dual meanings. I think it means one thing, but it could also mean these other eighteen things. It’s quite frustrating because I think it’s OK for people to have differing views on poetry. It’s like if you have two different people read the same book. They are not going to interpret it the same, and that’s fine. The most important thing is what they get out of reading it.
It makes him include a lot of comparisons and references to nature. Some include the spotted hawk, grass, and dirt. It also influenced his writing in the effect that he is very accepting of his coming death and frequently makes analogies that indicate his link to nature.
I would say that the most important lines in this particular piece of the poem are the ones that are meant to help pass on lessons to the reader. “The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering” is important because it is reflective of the poem as a whole (he spent all this time writing down the lessons he has learned when he should have been sharing them) and directs the reader to take this philosophy and spread it to the world through actions and deeds. This helps mold the theme in that he, Walt Whitman, is dying soon and wishes to pass his beliefs to others who can implement the ideas into their actions and lives.
I am mostly just having difficulties interpreting this as is wanted for the grade. I see things in my own perspective, but it is frequently “wrong” from the view of the grade book. Then again, I think that is the purpose of all poetry at this point.