James Perrin Warren

James Perrin Warren: On "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"

The long stanza opens the poem with a phrasal catalogue, featuring a series of prepositional repetends: "out of" becomes "out from," and then "from" structures the central portion of the passage. All of the prepositions denote a starting point, a point of departure, and they indicate a multitude of sources for the genesis of the poet. Out of this multitude Whitman creates an integral poetic self, and the key to the creation is "the word stronger and more delicious than any." When the poet arrives at "the word," he moves from the simple past to a mixture of past and present, and he moves away from the prepositional phrases denoting origins, from "the word" to "from such as now they start the scene revisiting." The punctuation of the 1860 edition clarifies the line, for it indicates that "they" refers to the dynamic words of Whitman’s poems: "From such, as now they start, the scene revisiting."