Symbolism In Walt Whitman's 'The Leaves Of Grass'

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Walt Whitman the Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855 on the independence day of America. As title itself suggests, the central symbol of The Leaves of Grass is ‘grass’. The grass is symbolic of the mystery of the universe and it has multilayers of meanings. The sea and the related symbols of river, lake, brook and ponds emerge only next to the grass. The hermit – thrush lures the poet down to the shores of the water. The bird symbol appeared first in ‘Staring from Paumanok’. The beauties of the bird have become symbolic of the beauty of the modern human being. The mocking bird symbolizes love, the hawk democracy and hermit thrush is a symbol of religion. The heavenly bodies, the earth, the sun, the moon and the stars have symbolic significance. These symbolize order and balance in the midst of chaos and disorder. The city also carries important symbolic significance. The celestial bodies like earth, sun, moon stars are the poet’s symbols of gradual evolution of the celestial sphere pertaining to spiritual world. The star in ‘When Lilacs Last’ is a profound symbol of the great leader of America – Abraham Lincoln. ‘When Lilacs Last’ and ‘Crossing Brooklyn Ferry’ are two of Whitman’s most striking poems, memorable for powerful, beautiful and significant use of symbols. He is a revolutionary poet of symbolism and his poems are full of symbolism in which various types of symbols have been employed by the poet. This poem introduces the three principal symbols. The ferry
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