Walt Whitman "Song at Sunset"


Splendor of ended day floating and filling me,
Hour prophetic, hour resuming the past,
Inflating my throat, you divine average,
You earth and life till the last ray gleams I sing.

  • Prophetic of Life/Death
  • In between time, divine average, deep breath, awe
  • Celebration of death, end of life

Open mouth of my soul uttering gladness,
Eyes of my soul seeing perfection,
Natural life of me faithfully praising things,
Corroborating forever the triumph of things.

  • Life faithfully praising because no easy connection between him and soul
  • Things have souls and are imbued with life, so they triumph

Illustrious every one!
Illustrious what we name space, sphere of unnumber'd spirits,
Illustrious the mystery of motion in all beings, even the tiniest insect,
Illustrious the attribute of speech, the senses, the body,
Illustrious the passing light--illustrious the pale reflection on
the new moon in the western sky,
Illustrious whatever I see or hear or touch, to the last.

  • Mystery of motion: soul, divine
  • Seeing from the soul, not just physical eyes

Good in all,
In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals,
In the annual return of the seasons,
In the hilarity of youth,
In the strength and flush of manhood,
In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age,
In the superb vistas of death.

  • Good due to soul, perfection

Wonderful to depart!
Wonderful to be here!
The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood!
To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak--to walk--to seize something by the hand!
To prepare for sleep, for bed, to look on my rose-color'd flesh!
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large!
To be this incredible God I am!
To have gone forth among other Gods, these men and women I love.

  • Doesn't matter everything is perfect, imbued with soul

Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself
How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles around!
How the clouds pass silently overhead!
How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun, moon, stars, dart on and on!
How the water sports and sings! (surely it is alive!)
How the trees rise and stand up, with strong trunks, with branches
and leaves!
(Surely there is something more in each of the trees, some living soul.)
  • More soul imbued goodness

O amazement of things--even the least particle!
O spirituality of things!
O strain musical flowing through ages and continents, now reaching
me and America!
I take your strong chords, intersperse them, and cheerfully pass
them forward.

I too carol the sun, usher'd or at noon, or as now, setting,
I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth and of all the
growths of the earth,
I too have felt the resistless call of myself.



As I steam'd down the Mississippi,
As I wander'd over the prairies,
As I have lived, as I have look'd through my windows my eyes,
As I went forth in the morning, as I beheld the light breaking in the east,
As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and again on the beach
of the Western Sea,
As I roam'd the streets of inland Chicago, whatever streets I have roam'd,
Or cities or silent woods, or even amid the sights of war,
Wherever I have been I have charged myself with contentment and triumph.

  • He sees perfection everywhere, even in the middle of a war
  • Because of this he is powered by the contentment of souls and their triumphs

I sing to the last the equalities modern or old,
I sing the endless finales of things,
I say Nature continues, glory continues,
I praise with electric voice,
For I do not see one imperfection in the universe,
And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last in the universe.

  • He sings to things that don't have ends, because death brings life
  • Nature, and all its glory, continues
  • And for this reason, everything is perfect

O setting sun! though the time has come,
I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated adoration.

  • Even though the time has come for the sun to set, and death to come, Whitman still sings the song of absolute undying adoration for the sunset.


Whitman views the sunset as death, but it leads into new life. He talks about his soul, which sees everything as perfect and only has good things to say. But every object in Nature has this soul, not just him, making everything in the universe perfect. He lists a large amount of things that are perfect, including war. Because of this perfection, he is able to energize himself from the happiness and triumph of these soul imbued objects. He continues to sing his song, of things that cannot end, because with the death of the sun setting, life resumes. And he will sing this song for the setting sun, no matter what.