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This phrase is repeated throughout the poem. The poem is in an alternating tonal pattern, from joyous to somber to joyous to somber and so on. Anywhere this phrase or an exclamation point appears the poem seems to be in a joyous section or stanza.


first notice the usage of the word “fancy” anywhere in the poem, note that it is capitalized. Then, read this line and recognize that Whitman is speaking to “Fancy” as if it were a person. Whitman personifies his fancy, “dear mate, dear love.” This continues through the entirety of the poem.


Another point of the word “Fancy,” probably the most important word in the poem, in this poem fancy is not used as the adjective for special or extravagant, nor is it the verb that means to like or enjoy something but, here, “Fancy” is a noun meaning the creative ability of an artist. (fancy.” Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 18 Oct. 2009. .)

The meaning of the word fancy is extremely necessary to understand the meaning of the poem.


In this line, Whitman is using a technique called cataloging or enumeration. He lists a set of ideas that all paint the same picture of a moment. Here the moment is death, “Exit, nightfall, and soon the heart-thud stopping.”


This line has the longest syllable count of any line in the poem, at 21 syllables. In this poem Whitman uses syllable length in two different ways. First, to illuminate tone, the longer the syllable length the more somber the tone. And, second, to demonstrate a waive technique, each stanza starts with a relatively short line and climbs towards longer lines only to crash back down to sea level on the last line of the stanza with another short line.


To speak on general meaning, this poem is about letting go of life. Whitman wrote it right before his death in his 72nd year. During the poem Whitman is contemplating death in a speech to his “dear mate” Fancy. While the last stanza is the saddest stanza of the deathbed poem, the last line ends the poem on a happy note(the repetition, the exclamation point, the language “and hail!). This poem must express a great deal about Whitman’s own views of death.

1 1

GOOD-BYE my Fancy!

2 1

Farewell dear mate, dear love!

3 0

Im going away, I know not where,

4 0

Or to what fortune, or whether I may ever see you again,

5 1

So Good-bye my Fancy.

6 0


7 0

Now for my last—let me look back a moment;

8 0

The slower fainter ticking of the clock is in me,

9 1

Exit, nightfall, and soon the heart-thud stopping.

10 0


11 0

Long have we lived, joyd, caressd together;

12 0

Delightful!—now separation—Good-bye my Fancy.

13 0


14 0

Yet let me not be too hasty,

15 0

Long indeed have we lived, slept, filterd, become really blended into one;

16 0

Then if we die we die together, (yes, well remain one,)

17 0

If we go anywhere well go together to meet what happens,

18 0

May-be well be better off and blither, and learn something,

19 0

May-be it is yourself now really ushering me to the true songs, (who knows?)

20 1

May-be it is you the mortal knob really undoing, turning—so now finally,

21 1

Good-bye—and hail! my Fancy.