What is Whitman's view on death in "What Lilacs Last on the Dooryard Bloom'd"?
mwestwood | Certified Educator
Whitman's view on death is not as morose as that of many; instead, he perceives death as natural and not something frightful:
Come lovely and soothing death,Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,In the day, in the night, to all, to each,Sooner or later delicate death.
For Whitman, it is a "delicate" death that is connected to nature "serenely arriving" when it is timely. It is universal, and this universality is conveyed with his sweeping lines that cover field and lane, day or night.
He also employs what is called a democratic principle of art, carrying his readers along with him throughout America:
Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep’d from the ground, spotting the gray debris,Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the endless grass,
Traveling from the Eastern sea to the Western sea, the poet unites all in the celebration of a life. The poet declares that he will "perfume the grave" of the man whom he honors. Always with Whitman there is unification, democracy of thought, deep sympathy, and comradeship. Thus, with the portal of life and death, Whitman unites a nation. Death is universal; while the end of life, it is celebrated, exalted, and finalized.