Mark Bauerlein: On "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"

"Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" is not so much a dramatic poem staging the activation of Whitman’s innate poetic genius as it is a "reminiscence" describing his conscious entry into reading and writing, discourse and interpretation. The boy is interpolated into a particular semiotic order, a vocal chain of signifiers bound together, in this case, by a common emotive signified, "lonesome love." Recognizing the temporal origin and destiny of his utterance, Whitman joins the procession of singer-signmakers, knowing that others will follow and "translate" his words just as he has "translated" his "brother’s" "notes." The boy’s singular version of the bird’s lament, therefore, is less a spontaneous outburst of love springing from his awakened heart than it is a transient permutation of elegaic narrative.


Title Mark Bauerlein: On "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Mark Bauerlein Criticism Target Walt Whitman
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 18 May 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Whitman and the American Idiom
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