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**Correction: flowers that exist through all seasons of the year (perennial); earlier I alluded to "annuals".
This stuff is actually for the next poem, "After the Dazzle of Day" but it is not posting properly to that poem, so here it is: The two words of interest from this section are "clangor" and "athwart". Clangor can be defined as "a clang or medley of clangs" ( Athwart can be defined as "in opposition to" or "across especially in an oblique direction"( Whitman is apparently separating the day into two periods, one of which is more important to discuss for the purpose of this poem. That time period would be the night, where he experiences the synchronization of the musical instruments that seem to take over his soul in a way that neither he, nor anyone else, expected. Things he experiences in the night are much different than in the day, where he may believe he seeing things much more clear because of the sunlight, but the experience within his soul is much more clear in the evening.
Whitman has some more nautical symbolism in this section of "Fancies at Navesink". This time, he is actually describing the way the ship looks, whom or what it is carrying, and the throbing/dilation of the waves on which it is carried. There is also patriotic symbolism here through the use of the words "pennants" (from the line "steamers' pennants of smoke") and flag (from "Flaunting from many a spar the flag that I love"). Although there are sailors on the ship and the ships create smoke on the way to war or wherever, each ship carries the national symbolism of its country, America (which Whitman is absolutely proud of).
throbs: to pulsate or pound with abnormal force or rapidity dilates: to become wide : swell jibs: the small triangular headsail on a sloop freighted: to load with goods for transportation flag: a usually rectangular piece of fabric of distinctive design that is used as a symbol (as of a nation), as a signaling device, or as a decoration ***all definitions from***
Words of interest: throbs, dilates, jibs, freighted, flaunting, flag
Centripetal: proceeding or acting in a direction toward a center or axis Centrifugal: proceeding or acting in a direction away from a center or axis Rapport: relation marked by harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity Sirius: a star of the constellation Canis Major that is the brightest star in the heavens —called also Dog Star Capella: star of the first magnitude in Auriga (star found between Perseus and Gemini) ***All definitions found from***
The definitions that will be of importance are centrifugal, centripetal, and rapport.
Now that we've established the definitions of the key words in this section of "Fancies at Navesink" we can get into what Whitman is speaking about: He is speaking about the universe as if it were a ship with the forces of space. Centripetal and centrifugal are exactly the opposite of one another, signifying that Whitman is experiencing the opposite sensations within one event. He also experiences that rapport of the sun, moon, earth, and constellations; that is the combination of all of these atrological factions together at one time. Whitman continues to ask questions regarding the messages that constellations (specifically Sirius, the Dog Star, and Capella, the constellation found between Perseus and Gemini) are sending to him. He asks if there is a central "heart" to everything in the universe. Perhaps Whitman believes that the ship is a representation of humankind and those that are on the ship are the central heart that keeps the ship sailing.
Centripetal: proceeding or acting in a direction toward a center or axis ( Centrigual: proceeding or acting in a direction away from a center or axis ( Rapport: relation marked by harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity (
The two words that are of interest in this poem would be "clangor" and "athwart". Clangor can be defined as "a resounding clang or medley of clangs" ( Athwart can be defined as "in opposition to" or "across especially in an oblique direction" ( Knowing the two definitions, it is apparent that Whitman is expressing two periods of the day - the first is when the sun is out and lighting up the world for him to see things (perhaps much more clear or even the way that he prefers to see things). The other period is at night when the sounds of the different musical instruments come together to create a sound that maybe he would not have particularly enjoyed, had it not been for the sounds "athwarting" his soul. The sounds seem to touch him in an opposite direction that he, or anyone else, was not expecting.
The ultimate point that Whitman desires to make comes in the very last couple of lines. The point here is that all of the people, events, histories, and the others Whitman lists, of Time (with a capital "t" to emphasize the importance of time) at some point must all come together to create a present. The present that is created includes each and every reader, or simply person, that experiences the learning processes of each of the elements of the past. The ultimate position of the "thee" in the poem is that he/she is currently in the "to-day", the present, finally understanding all that had to occur to get to today.
Whitman discusses in this very short poem the wonderfulness of tracing back through memories of all kinds. He states that the backwards experiences (reliving the memories) are silent because they are experienced within one's own mind, unless specifically spoken aloud with another, but they are all sweet to remember. He describes them as "dreams" because they are simply images replayed as the mind captures them; no memory can ever be lived again because it happened in the past. He finalizes the poem with the different aspects/types of memories that can be experienced - love, joy, people, travels, as well as many other types of memories that he must have left out. Others may include, but are not limited to, sorrow, death, trauma, etc. Whitman decidedly takes the much more positive approach to recapturing memories.
In this poem, Whitman seems to be reiterating a common theme among a number of his poems in regards to the equality that is shared in America. The sharing spreads beyond simple daughters and sons (girls and boys, women and men); it is a part of each and every person that lives and breathes on American soil. When Whitman says, "Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love" he is alluding to the idea of flowers that spring every year, without a hitch; that is, that Freedom, Law and Love all exist in America and repeatedly appear in the context of not just American soil, but they are ever-present across international borders for the world to understand the liberties that Americans experience. In regards to the last bit about the "seated Mother, chair'd in the adamant of Time": Whitman is stating that America is like the Mother of all nations that is "seated" (positioned) in this particular position of power (which does include responsibilities) for an adamant (unbreakable) length of time. Whitman probably capitalized the "t" in "Time" to emphasize the importance of America and what she represents.