In "Song of Myself", section 10, what repetitions of sentence patterns help to create cadence? What feelings does cadence create?

2 Answers

mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In the first few lines, he starts each phrase off with present-tense verbs-"wandering...kindling...falling," and ties them all together with commas.  This makes for one very long sentence that is balanced with the verbs and commas (a technique called parallelism).  When a sentence has parallelism, it is rhythmic, bouncy, balanced, going along like a ship on the waves.

In the last segment of section 10, he starts most of his phrases off with the word "and"; each segment is about the same length, ending again in a comma.  He repeats this pattern 5 times.  Beginning with the same word and having them all about the same length again adds to the parallelism of the phrases, making it seem balanced, well-thought out, rhythmic and cadenced:

"And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him,

And brought water and fill'd a tub for his sweated body and bruis'd feet,

And gave him a room that enter'd from my own, and gave him some coarse clean clothes,

And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness,

And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles;"

Cadence creates a calmness, a peacefulness, and a song-like rhythm that is soothing to the ears and mind.  It also makes the poem seem more connected and flowing.  I hope that helps a bit!

cneukam1379's profile pic

cneukam1379 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Another aspect of sentence fluency that can create a gentle or peaceful cadence is consonance.  Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds within words. Take a look at the first stanza of the section:

Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt, 
Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee, 
In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night, 
Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill’d game, 
Falling asleep on the gather’d leaves with my dog and gun by my side. 
The "ell" sound throughout this stanza creates a lilting tone to the opening of this story that Whitman is telling.  He wants to create a peaceful mood as he takes the reader on this journey with him.  The consonance also helps to create a cadence that is like that of a conversation, which is what Whitman also wanted to achieve with his use of free verse, not using the traditional rhyme schemes and metrics of poets in the past.