Walt Whitman

Start Your Free Trial

What is the theme of "On the Beach at Night Alone"?

Expert Answers info

Harrison Murray, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Clemson University

calendarEducator since 2019

write1,318 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

One theme that emerges in "On the Beach at Night Alone" is the reality that darkness and hardship cannot last forever.

The poem begins with a young girl standing with her father on a beach at night. The imagery and tone are serene, yet an abrupt shift occurs in the second stanza. Suddenly, darkness overtakes the sky. The speaker uses words such as "ravening," "burial," and "black masses" to connote the intensity of the hardship that metaphorically spreads around and encompasses the world of this young girl and her father.

Sure that the darkness will "devour all," the girl begins to weep.

And then the tone shifts again. Her father assures her that he is there to comfort her through the darkness; she does not have to face it alone. And these clouds are temporary, reinforced by his comments that "the ravening clouds shall not long be victorious." He reminds her to be patient in watching for the light to return, as it always does.

Through these contrasting images of light and darkness, the poem...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 685 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Shayna Schuster eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write100 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from University of Oxford

bookPh.D. from University of Leicester

calendarEducator since 2017

write2,217 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial