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I Sit and Look Out

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 535
  • Category: Poverty

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‘I Sit and Look Out’ describes a dark, sad, corrupted, sorrowful world and shows the realism of the world. It talks about a man who sees evil in the world but does nothing to stop it or extinguish it. He leaves all of the misery and bitterness alone and acts as though he does not witness it.

Whitman argues that no one stands up to the injustices of the world, to make things right. He is urging us, not just to see and hear the meanness and the agony of people suffering in the world, but to correct what is unjust. He uses sad words describing emotion and all sorts of corruption imaginable. The poem is a poignant criticism of life, with the speaker acting as a detached observer, finally leaving it upon the reader to react and judge against the malady of life that the poet shows within the framework of just ten lines. He sees and notes the woes of the world, but does or cannot do anything about it by himself. Through his poetry he shows the true reality of world we live in.

To begin with, the speaker simply opens a window for everyone to see the world we live in. What he sees is a complete sorrowful world which seems to be afflicted with unending misfortune. In the first three lines, the speaker reports of hearing the secret sobbing of young people, regretting their own mistakes. Among the poor lives, he sees the pathetic picture of a mother being awfully neglected by her children. Consequently, the helpless mother grows scepter thin and dies and her children are hardly bothered about her pathetic death.

The speaker then describes the picture of a wife being badly abused by her husband. He also sees the malicious womanizer or the seducer of young women. Moreover, he also notes the frustrations involved in the unreciprocated love as well as the jealousy of the young lovers because of the denial of love. He sees all these pathetic sights on the earth while he sits and looks out.

The speaker keenly observes the famine at the sea. The famine however, goads the sailors to throw away people into the sea and save themselves from being starved. He observes the tyranny of the haughty men, victimizing the working class, the poor people as well as the Negroes. But despite recording the series of misfortunes that affects healthy living, the speaker chooses to remain “silent”. In other words, though the speaker describes the malady of life, he doesn’t judge, get involved, make commentary, or pass some sort of overall moral or lesson regarding the problems of life. Instead, he freely allows his reader to think and react in their own way.

Whitman, a great believer of individualism wanted to let the reader trust his own instincts without telling him how to feel about it. This fits the theme of individualism, a movement that Whitman was a part of. In this poem, the need for change in society is also a stressed theme. Society is full of sorrow, turmoil, and other evils and change is vital to keep everything and everyone in order.

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