Essay_Two_Final_Draft - Pham 1 Stephanie Pham A. Shaw...

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Pham 1 Stephanie Pham A. Shaw English 1102 13 October 2010 The Grieving Process in “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom” “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom” is a public elegy about Lincoln's assassination, but it is also an outlet for author Walt Whitman to privately mourn the death of a beloved figure. Extensive figurative language is prominent throughout the poem, which tracks the speaker's progression through the grieving process as he attempts to cope with a substantial loss. In particular, Whitman employs symbols associated with nature, such as lilacs and stars to convey the enormity of loss he felt at Lincoln's passing as well as birds to express his eventual acceptance of death as a part of life. Lilacs, the first symbols introduced in the text, are important because they highlight Whitman's devastation at Lincoln's death in two ways: they either represent Lincoln directly or they are used as a metaphor for the assassination. For the duration of the poem, Whitman writes the text in such as way that each stanza follows the speaker's journey as he travels to various places and reflects on his grief. For example, in the beginning, he stands next to a lilac bush, nothing that the flowers are perennial and reemerge each spring. He is reminded of Lincoln, who was killed in April, and perceives the continual blooming of the lilacs as a reminder of his death, remarking that “[he] mourn'd and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring”(line 3). This contrasts the usual perception of the season, which is generally classified as a time of happiness, awakening, or rebirth; in other words, the exact opposite of death is associated with the spring season. Consequently, the speaker's mourning of such a joyful time reveals the extent of his pain over Lincoln because it is never-ending, and it prevents him from experiencing spring as a fresh
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Pham 2 and renewed start; instead, the speaker is continually loaded with emotional baggage. As the speaker continues to observe the lilac bush, he notes that the flower is “delicate,” and in a sudden motion, the speaker snaps off a sprig of lilac from the bush (line 16). The act of breaking the
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This note was uploaded on 09/28/2011 for the course ENGL 1102 taught by Professor Cantremember during the Fall '08 term at University of Georgia Athens.

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Essay_Two_Final_Draft - Pham 1 Stephanie Pham A. Shaw...

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