Submit Comment

show all (16)
There are no comments. Click the text to your left to make a new comment.

First to briefly explain the title and poem. Whitman uses Waves as a synonym for Life, and this is a look or “scan” at his life experiences both good and the bad, minute and monumental.


Whitman uses this line to introduce his objective. Hes going to bring himself back in time to recall his memories. He interestingly uses the word “resume” to indicate he’ll relive his experiences.


“every crest” suggests to me he wants to relive even the smallest of things as they occurred in their wave like motion aka undulating. The “light or shade” meaning both the good and the bad experiences.


Here is the all to familiar tell tale sign of Whitman, a list. He gets more specific in what he recalls. The two more eloquent memories are those that were the shortest and his silent surveys of life.


The poem seems to progress following his age and experiences. In this part of his life he reflects on the war, his role as a union nurse, and the images that have been burnt into his memory.


Again Whitman reiterates hes calling on memories from his time as a child to his present later years.


Whitman’s use of the numerical reference “score” indicates a sense of accomplishment for the years hes lived.


In contrast to the previous line Whitman humbles himself explaining his life to have been without intention and not to have been of much more significance than any others.


Whitman explains some are lucky enough to fall into God’s plan even if he makes the smallest impact.


Closing the poem Whitman explains that all of our individual lives including his are just another wave in God’s ocean some larger than others but ultimately a part of the same.


Undulating: To cause to move in a smooth wavelike motion.


Part one of the film Glory. This Clip shows a brutal battle and a gruesome hospital scene. Reenactments of the horrible sights Whitman experienced.


Multitudinous: Very numerous; existing in great numbers.


This first photo is of Whitman between February and May 1848 at the age of 29. It was taken in New Orleans while he worked at the New Orleans Crescent. The photo may be the earliest of Whitman.

The second photo dates to 1891, making it one of the last photos of him. It was taken at the Whitman house in Camden. Those of you who have been there will probably agree it was taken in his living room where you can see the famous windowsill in the background.


Hello, you used to write excellent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring… I miss your super writings. Past few posts are just a bit out of track! come on!

1 1

By that long scan of waves, myself calld back, resumed upon myself,

2 2

In every crest some undulating light or shade some retrospect,

3 1

Joys, travels, studies, silent panoramas-scenes ephemeral,

4 2

The long past war, the battles, hospital sights, the wounded and the dead,

5 2

Myself through every by-gone phase my idle youth old age at hand,

6 1

My three-score years of life summd up, and more, and past,

7 1

By any grand ideal tried, intentionless, the whole a nothing,

8 1

And haply yet some drop within Gods schemes ensemble some wave, or part of wave,

9 2

Like one of yours, ye multitudinous ocean.