Literature Study GuidesLeaves Of GrassEurope The 72d And 73d Years Of These States Summary

Leaves of Grass | Study Guide

Walt Whitman

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Leaves of Grass | Europe, The 72d and 73d Years of These States | Summary

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Summary

Fed up with their poor treatments, the common people of Europe take up arms against their royal rulers. The "shape" of "Liberty" comes to support the men who died for her sake. These martyrs live on "in other young men ... ready to defy" the kings. Tyrants cannot control the spirit of Liberty, and though others may give up their belief in it, Whitman's speaker never will. He advises the people to be ready for the messengers of Liberty that will come.

Analysis

Whitman was proud of American democracy, and he wrote this poem in support of the revolutions going on in Europe. It is Whitman's ode to liberty and freedom.

In the first stanza, Whitman personifies Europe, describing it like someone dressed in rags leaping out of a "stale and drowsy lair," grabbing at the "throats of kings" while "half startled at itself." He later personifies liberty, giving her "red robes" and a hidden face. These are the two protagonists of the poem, and he personifies them to provoke an intense emotional response in the reader. He wants the reader to root for these two working together to unseat kings and tyrants, the clear antagonists. Whitman underlines his support for "the People" and "Liberty" by capitalizing their first letters while leaving "kings" and "tyrants" lowercase.

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